FCP X: Move Libraries, Events and Projects

Apple has continued to refine the process of moving Final Cut Libraries, Events and Projects. And, based on my email, a lot of folks find this process confusing. So, let me explain.

NOTE: For these techniques to work, you must be running FCP X version 10.1.2 or later.


There are three articles that are related to this subject that you may find useful:


The easiest way to move a library is using the Finder.

First, and most important, quit Final Cut. Never move a library with Final Cut Pro X running.

Then, drag the library from wherever it is to wherever you want it to be.

At this point, one of two things will happen:

  1. If the media for that library is managed (stored inside the library), all your media will move with the library and all the links inside your project will continue to work.
  2. If the media for that library is external (stored outside the library), then none of the media will move with the library. This means, depending upon where the media is stored, that links may or may not work. If media becomes unlinked when you next open the library, you’ll need to relink it. This article explains how.

NOTE: I generally store all media that I use for my projects outside the library. Also, in general, when moving libraries, my links don’t break.


An Event is a “folder” that stores stuff inside Final Cut. An event can store media, projects or both. You can have as many events in a library as you want.

BIG NOTE! Unlike earlier versions of FCP X, do NOT move Events into or out of a library using the Finder. Things will break, media will become unlinked and chaos will rain havoc on your hard disks. This is a bad idea, don’t do it. (Well, maybe not havoc, but, gosh, it won’t be good.)

While you can only move one event at a time, the process is easy:

Open both libraries in Final Cut Pro X

Select the event you want to move and choose File > Move Event to Library > [ Name of other library ]. Only those libraries that are currently open in Final Cut are displayed in this menu.

Final Cut then asks what media you want to move: native media, optimized media, or proxy media. If nothing is checked in this dialog, only the camera native media will be moved.

Click OK and Final Cut starts moving media. You can track the progress of the move using the Background Tasks window. To display this, either click the small clock face in the Toolbar next to the Timecode display, or type Cmd+9.

NOTE: You can achieve these same results by dragging the event you want to move on top of the name of the library where you want to move it in the Library List, while at the same time pressing the Command key.


The process of copying an event to a different library is exactly the same as moving a library, with one change and one big benefit.

The benefit is that you can copy more than one event at once (as illustrated here by selecting two different events in this screen shot). However, you can only select multiple events contained in the same library.

The menu change is that you need to choose File > Copy Event to Library > [ Name of other library ].

As before, Final Cut asks what media you want to copy. (Again, if nothing is checked, only camera native media is copied.) If you look closely at this dialog versus the earlier one, the only change is the word “Copy” in the title.

As before, you monitor the copy using the Background Tasks window.

NOTE: You can achieve these same results by dragging the event(s) you want to move on top of the name of the library where you want to copy it in the Library List, without pressing any keys.


You can also move or copy one event at a time to a new library. In this case, open the library containing the event you want to copy or move.

Select the event.

In the next dialog, give the new library a name and location and click SAVE.

FCP immediately creates a new library and transfers the media.


We can also move selected clips from one library to another. (Footage courtesy John Putchwww.route30too.com.)

NOTE: To move selected clips between events in the same library simply drag them from the Browser in FCP X to the name of the new event as displayed in the Library list.

To copy or move clips to a different Library, open both libraries in Final Cut Pro X.

Select the clips you want to move in the Browser (you only only select clips in one event at a time).

NOTE: You can also copy clips from one library to another by dragging them from the Browser to the name of the new event in the Library list.  (You need to drag to the event name, not the library name.)

You can move clips from one library to another by dragging them from the Browser to the name of the new event in the Library List while pressing the Command key.


By now, you probably suspect how this process is going to work.

NOTE: You can also copy a project from one library to another by dragging it from the Browser to the name of the new event in the Library list. However, you can not move projects by dragging them, nor can you copy a project by dragging it to the name of the library.


The key point you need to keep in mind is that whenever you are moving something that is stored inside a Library, always move it using tools supplied inside Final Cut Pro X. Don’t move library elements using the Finder.

Because of how FCP utilizes Unix, the actual copy and move process is extremely fast, even for large files.

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42 Responses to FCP X: Move Libraries, Events and Projects

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  1. Steve says:

    Hi Larry,
    As always an interresting newsletter. Here is my question: I make regular backups of my clients libraries (I always copy the entire library to an external disk, that I keep on a different location). Further on in these projects, I am not adding new material/clips to the library but I am making many different versions of the projects. Is there a way to just copy the edits/projects information(database) without having to copy all the media associated with this projects, to a different disk. This would make it possible to make very quick back-ups of my edits on a small portable disk which I can always have with me. Would exporting a XML file work and if so does this contain all my editing information. I know if I import an XML exported from FC7, al lot of editing information is lost.
    Please keep up the good work, because I really like your newsletters.
    Steve de Reus

    • LarryJ says:


      A better way to work is to use the Library Backups. This is a complete backup of the entire library – events and projects.

      OR, you can move the project to a new library, then backup that library.

      You are always better off backing up libraries, than elements within the library.


      • Steve says:


        Thanks for the info, making a backup of the entire folder – Final Cut Backups.localized – does not take much time and seems like a good thing to do every now and then. I will have to do a test how to rebuild a entire library/client with this backup and the media from a (different from the original) external disk.
        I hope FCX will be able to relink all the media.


  2. seth says:


    I’ve begun using your shuttle library method with an assistant editor who is supporting me on project. We both have media EXTERNAL to our identical libraries. So far so good. We are also using multiclips in the library. Anyway, when he is ready to hand off a project to me, he copies the project to a shuttle library (deselecting all the media settings as he copies). After I get hold of the shuttle library, I copy the project into MY library. All is working fine but there is ONE problem, With each copy of from one shuttle library into my library, I am accumulating copies of each multiclip that is associated with the project (or library, not sure) with every update! This is making a mess of things, creating many like mcs and creating issues if/when I have to tweak any multiclip going forward. What to do?


  3. Patrick Donegan says:


    would using snapshots assist your situation?

  4. James Tigchelaar says:

    Hi Larry

    I cannot seem to change the order of my libraries in the viewer – they just seem to appear in the order they were created. I would like to reorder them in order to group “like” libraries together. Nothing I do seems to make any difference. Any hints?

  5. Austin says:

    I wish I would have read this before I screwed my Events up.

    “BIG NOTE! Unlike earlier versions of FCP X, do NOT move Events into or out of a library using the Finder. Things will break, media will become unlinked and chaos will rain havoc on your hard disks. This is a bad idea, don’t do it. (Well, maybe not havoc, but, gosh, it won’t be good.)”

    I moved 6 ‘Events’ from my main library using finder. Now they will not open back up in FCP. Do you know if there is any hope?

    • Larry says:


      Um, not really.

      The best you can do is create a new Event, then reimport the media contained in the Events you moved into a new library.


  6. Paul Sutton says:

    Q re: moving clips within browser: I have a project in which I need to import lots of audio and files, AS THEY come in to me. FCPX stores them by date of import. That is USELESS to me. How can I move or display them according to how I want to group them? The closest thing I have found is organize BY ROLE. Is there a way to just drag them into what FCP previously called BINS? Thanks

    • Larry says:


      Yes. What FCP 7 called “bins” FCP X calls “Events.” Both are simply folders that hold stuff. Create as many Events as you need and drag clips into them.


  7. Paul Sutton says:

    wow. that was quick! thanks. I found my answer, which is a couple of steps beyond what you are talking about. My Q was about how to DISPLAY stuff appropriately (to my ends, so that I can locate them quickly) WITHIN all of my events folders. While playing around, I discovered that the answer to my Q, indeed, lies in creating my own SUBROLES and then assigning them to various clips. That solution groups my clips according to my criteria, not just date or some random criterion that FCPX automatically assigns to all clips when they are imported. I am sure this is a problem for a LOT of folks, since clip management and organization is critical. You might think about creating a tutorial on ROLES. As a long-time FCP user, I am disappointed that I NEVER knew anything about this until I just started messing around with it today–after my post to you.

  8. Danika says:

    Hey Larry!
    I too have a question. Actually quite similar to the first one here. I’m new to fcpx after years of working with fcp7. I use to back up my projects just by copying the project file to a different location. I just can’t seem to do that in FCPX. I mean, if I have a library with managed media in it. when I copy-paste my library it copies the media too. (I know I have the option to only copy the native and not the optimised- but why can’t I de-select ALL the media? I have my media stored in a hard drive. I just need the library/project DATA…don’t understand why this important function is so not intuitive…or is it just me? thanks for the help!

    • Larry says:


      The biggest problem most FCP 7 editors had with media was that when they moved project files all their links would break. I can’t count how many hundreds of emails I’ve received on this problem.

      To fix this, Apple allowed Libraries to store media and projects so that wherever a Library moves, the links would not break. Moving a Library that contains media, without also moving the media in the Library, would break all the links in the project, something that we don’t want to do.

      If you know you want to move libraries, and not move media, be sure to select “Leave Files in Place,” during import.


      • Danika says:

        Thank you Larry! I do understand the library logic of fcpx. I think it makes a lot of sense. For me however there’s still a need for the option to save a copy of the “empty” library/project just as data because the media is being kept elsewhere (with cameraman). I don’t need to keep 500 giga of a library. just an “emergency” library data file I could re-link if necessary someday..I prefer to work with “managed media” and not leaving my media “in place” because it slows down my work. I don’t see why I have to change the way I prefer to manage my media while editing just in order to keep a back up copy of the library at the end. Is exporting an XML my only option? or is saving the latest library backup would do the job? thanks in advance, I’ve been a fan of your posts for a long time:)

        • Larry Jordan says:


          This is EXACTLY what the Library backup file is: just databases, no media.

          If you want to make copies of the essentials of your Library, simply make a copy of the Library backup.


  9. Les Bradley says:

    Within a FCPX Library of say, Season’s Greetings, I will have different Projects for different clients. Is there a way to create a simple text list of the names of the Projects (and maybe some descriptive terms) that I can view outside of FCPX? FCP 10.2.1, OS 10.10.5.

    In other words, I don’t want to have to open a Library to see which Projects it contains. It seems I can select and copy to the clipboard only one text field at a time. Hoping there is a quicker way.

  10. Sam says:

    Hello Larry,
    I have a massive issue about the new update, I have checked many video of yours but could not find the answer to my problem.
    I had an old version of FCPX which doesn’t include at all the Library system, all the source files were only “Finalcut Events” and “Final cut projects”. At this time i use to backup all my project by just copying all the files of “Final cut projects” on my external harddrive, and be able to erase the same file on my internal hardrive to leave more space without touching at any time my file “Final cut Events”.
    Since i updated to the new version of FcpX 10.2.3, i can’t anymore just drag back files of my projects from my external hardrive to “Final cut projects” cause this file no longer exist and the library system took over.
    Is there any way to make my project saved on my external hardrive work again in this new version on FCPX 10.2.3?

    best regards,

    • Larry says:


      When FCP X 10.0 was released, Events were stored in the Final Cut Events folder and Projects were stored in the Final Cut Projects folder.

      With the release of FCP X 10.1, Apple replaced that folder system with Libraries – which are MUCH better. However, you now needed to convert those folders into Libraries. You can do that using FCP X 10.1 OR FCP X 10.2 but NOT FCP X 10.3.

      Here’s a video that explains the conversion process for 10.1 or 10.2. Remember, you need to use one of these earlier versions to convert your Events and Projects folders, because FCP X 10.3 won’t.



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