FCP X: Open in Timeline

Posted on by Larry

While it is a true statement to say that you can not apply effects to a clip in the Event Browser, it is not a completely true statement.

That’s where “Open in Timeline” comes in — provided you know where to find it.


Open in Timeline is a hidden menu item in Final Cut Pro X that allows you to modify a clip in the Event Browser. This technique allows you to solve problems that are not easy to solve any other way.

For example, you can use Open in Timeline to:


You can only open one clip at a time in the Timeline. To do so, right-mouse click on a clip in the Event Browser and select Open in Timeline.

The clip opens in the Timeline, with any audio tracks detached but grouped into a single audio clip. The clip can be treated like a new compound clip, though it doesn’t necessarily display the compound clip indicator in the Event Browser.

At this point, many options open up. For example, with audio, you could:

Here, for example, I added a sound effects clip and music clip to this silent video clip.

To save your changes, click one of the Timeline History arrows in the top left corner of the Timeline to switch to a different clip, compound clip, or project.

Notice that once you add audio, as in this example, the icon for the clip in the Event Browser now shows that it is a compound clip. Notice that now, the audio waveform shows the results of adding both the wind sound effect and the music stinger at the end.

The benefit of this is that now, whenever we edit this clip to the Timeline, the sound effects and music will accompany it as though they were part of the original clip.


However, for me, the real benefit of using Open in Timeline is that we can apply an effect to a clip once, then reuse that clip as many times, in as many projects, as we want.

For example, here’s a silent clip. I used “Open in Timeline” to display it in the Timeline for editing. From the Effects Browser, I applied:

The screen shot above shows the results so far.

Then, and this is the cool part, I added a Title (Lens Flare, using font: Bernard MT Condensed at 125 point). In other words, I just created a reusable info graphic that is stored in the Event Browser and can be reused at any time, without having to recreate all these steps!

If all we add to a clip are effects, the icon in the Event Browser doesn’t change. As soon as we add another clip, either a title or audio, the icon for a compound clip is added to the top left corner of the Event Browser clip.


Another very helpful use of this function is color correction. Using Open in Timeline, you can color correct a clip once, without having to color correct it each time you edit it to the Timeline.

Play with this a bit, and I suspect you’ll discover a variety of ways this hidden menu can save you a ton of time.

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27 Responses to FCP X: Open in Timeline

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  1. Thomas says:

    each one at Apple who is responsible for that software release should be fired AND arrested.
    This is just ridiculous!

  2. Shorty says:

    Sorry, but I really see no advantage to doing it this way. In fact there’s a huge DISadvantage. You’re FAR better off simply creating a new compound clip with the clip and doing all the changes with THAT, since that way you don’t lose your original in the Event. The result is exactly the same only you don’t lose your original within the compound from where there NO WAY of getting it back out of and into your event.

    From that perspective: BAD advice, if anything. Going this route makes no real sense.

    • Larry Jordan says:

      I agree this approach is not for everyone. However, I can see a use for it to, say, add color correction to a clip, or wild sound to act as natural sound.

      To each his own, and at least now we have a better idea of what it does.


  3. Shorty says:

    As long as you *at least* recommend DUPLICATING the clip first (which creating a compound clip in essence does also) before you make any of the additions/changes, sure. But you don’t. That’s where I’d say the big pitfall lies. Since, again, if you don’t, you’re at a point of no return and have lost your raw clip. That was my actual point, not that it’s a bad idea *in general*.

    • Larry Jordan says:


      This is a GREAT reminder! Thanks for adding it.


    • Duplicating is not always necessary. If you’re going to do something unrecoverable, like deleting the audio, then yes, duplicating would be a good idea. But any changes you make with the Inspector can be reset to original parameters if required. There’s no need to fill your Events with unnecessary duplicates if you’re making simple, reversible changes.

      • Shorty says:

        Yeah. Only that’s not we’re talking about here. If you actually understand what the talk is about, then you’ll equally understand how necessary prior duplication is. No one is somehow advocating mindless duplication with no purpose.

        • I do understand what the talk is about. I don’t normally use Open in Timeline myself, but I know what it does and why it’s useful. Still, I would not recommend duplicating every clip that I chose to Open in Timeline, only those to which I planned to make irreversible changes — like deleting the audio.

          • James says:

            In any event Shorty I think the purpose of al this is sharing exploration and I don’t see the need for the belligerent tone…

  4. […] Have you ever wanted to apply a color correction or effect to an entire clip in FCPX without having to do it after making all of your cuts in the timeline? If you’ve tried applying an effect to a clip in the Event Browser, it doesn’t work. But, there’s a neat little trick that Larry Jordan points out on his website. […]

  5. canelson says:

    It´s a shame we can´t use the color correction tip to footage already edited in the timeline (project).

  6. Ron Priest says:

    I’m wondering if this would be a good method of applying a Neat Video noise filter to any source clip that need to be cleaned up prior to using that source clip in a project. It would seem by opening and editing the clip in the timeline and rendering out that Neat Filter on the clip first before dropping it into a project timeline, would eliminate any additional extended render times to the clip when adding or changing other filters on the clip in the project timeline because it would not need to re-render the neat filter every time you made changes to the clip.

  7. Brian Olson says:


    Thanks for all of your fantastic tutorials! I’m having a problem with a Multicam clip I have open in the Multicam Editor and was hoping you could help me out.

    I can’t get out of the Angle Editor mode. The Timeline History Arrows are grayed out, so I can’t go backward or forward in my time line history to get out of the Angle Editor as I have seen you do in your videos.

    How do I get back to the screen set up for doing the actual cutting and creating of my Multicam Project where just the one, combined multicam clip is present in the timeline?

    Thank you!

    (FCPX Novice)

    • Larry says:


      Create a new project (File > New > Project)

      Then, in the Browser, double-click the project to open it into the Timeline.

      I suspect you created the multicam clip, but didn’t also create a project, which means there is no where to go when you want to exit the multicam clip.


  8. Terence Morris says:

    Thanks for this Larry. This may sound like a silly question. I read this post and so tried playing around with a compound clip using Open in Timeline. Great so far. So now I want to close the clip back up. I know you said click on something else to save changes, but I don’t have any other clips (other than the compound) in my timeline to click on as it happens. I can’t find any commands for “close in timeline” and it appears I’m stuck with that view unless I close and open the project, which is a bit clunky to say the least. Is that really the only option in this scenario?

    • Larry says:


      Not a silly question at all.

      When you open something into the Timeline, whether it is a compound clip, a clip, or a project, a small white arrow in the top left corner of the TIMELINE window appears. (These are right below the Toolbar in the middle of the window.)

      The LEFT pointing arrow takes you back to where you were, or closes the open compound clip. Think of this as similar to the Go Back button in a Browser. The right pointing arrow, which only lights when you’ve opened multiple projects, allows you to Go Forward (again, similar to a Browser).

      Use these small white left/right pointing arrows to get back to where you were.


      • Robert says:

        Thanks for more great info, Larry. Like Terence, I want to remove the clip from the timeline, but the arrows you refer to are dimmed (as this is the only element I’ve opened in the Timeline so far). How can I return to an empty Timeline without deleting the media? Thanks.

        • Larry says:


          You can’t go to an “empty Timeline,” you can only go to an empty Project.

          If the arrows are grayed out, it means that you have not yet created a Project. Create a project, and you’ll be able to close the clip from the Timeline.


  9. MFS says:

    Hi, I need help looking for my previous project timeline. I can’t seem to find it anywhere after I started on creating a new project. Please help. Thank you!

    • Larry says:


      Assuming the timeline (which FCP X calls “Projects”) is in the same Library, twirl down the Smart Collections folder in the Library, then click the Projects folder. All projects in that Library will be displayed there.

      If the Project is not in the same Library, go up to File > Open Library and open the Library that contains the project you are looking for.


  10. Joe Belanger says:

    On the latest version of FCPX, you can no longer right click the clip and open in timeline”. You have to go to the menu to do it or drag. Do you know if there is a way to activate the right click feature?


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