FCP X: Relinking Media [u]

Posted on by Larry

(This article was first written as an update to my book: Final Cut Pro X – Making the Transition. However, this update was never published.)

[ Updated: July, 2014, with new features from the 10.1.2 FCP X update
 Dec. 21, 2014, with the new Locate behavior. ]

One of the biggest frustrations with the initial version of Final Cut Pro was that if you lost the connection with your media, you were out of luck, as you couldn’t reconnect to it. Now, with the 10.0.3 update, you can. Here’s how.

Sigh… You open Final Cut Pro and, suddenly, you’re seeing red in the Event Browser.

Or, you open a project and red indicators glare at you from the Timeline.

These red indicators (which flag clips that are “off-line”) can be caused by:

With the exception of accidentally switching to Proxy files – which you can fix by going back to Preferences > Editing and changing the preference setting back to Original/Optimized media – the rest of these problems can be solved by relinking.

NOTE: The key rule for working with media in Final Cut Pro X is that once you import media, don’t move it or rename it. Let FCP X (or Event Manager X, which is a separate utility) do all your media management.

In the case of moving a folder, quit Final Cut, move the folder back into the Final Cut Events folder and restart FCP. Everything is all good again. The key is to quit FCP X before moving folders.

However, sometimes missing media is caused by renaming folders, turning off a hard disk, deleting the wrong data, or a host of other calamities. In which case, you need to reconnect the links in Final Cut to the correct media. Here’s how.

In either the Event Browser or the Timeline, select the clips that are off-line (red). Then, choose File > Reconnect Project Files. (If the off-line files are in the Event Browser, select the clips and choose File > Reconnect Event Files. This menu is context-sensitive.)

The Relink window appears with the missing clips listed at the top. If you want to reconnect ALL the selected clips, click the All radio button at the top. This is a good choice if you totally messed up reconnecting your clips and want to try again.This will relink both missing and online clips.

Most of the time, though, you’ll want to just click the Missing radio button to just reconnect the clips that are missing.

Unlike FCP 7, which has an automatic search built into the Reconnect dialog, with FCP X you need to find the clips manually. So, click the Locate All button.

Look in the lower third of this window; you may need to stretch it wider to see everything. FCP displays the path and file name of the missing file. This not only shows the file name, but the path of folders that held the clip. For me, looking at this path helps me find exactly the file I need a whole lot easier and faster. Remember, you need to match the missing file exactly, not just indicate the folder it is in.

When you find the missing file, click Choose.

When a missing file is relinked, it is displayed at the bottom of the Relink window. If other missing files are in the same folder, they will all be linked at the same time and displayed in the lower portion of this window.

Click the twirl-down arrow to the left of the number of files found to reveal all linked files.

If you mistakenly linked to the wrong file, select the incorrect file in this list and press Delete. The selected file(s) are disconnected and the unlinked clip goes back up to the top of this window so you can relink it to the correct file.

To minimize files becoming unlinked in the the future, I recommend you check Copy files into Final Cut Events folder. This is a good idea for all linked files. The only downside to copying files is that they take more storage space.

When you have found all missing files, click Relink Files and everything is “all well better” again.


Sometimes if you are working with multiple versions of the same media, you may see this error message. It means that the clip you selected for relinking doesn’t match the source clip.

Click OK, and look for the original file. If, for some reason, it no longer exists, you will need to replace the missing clip in the Timeline with a new clip. FCP X won’t allow you to relink clips that don’t match.

UPDATE – July 19, 2014

The 10.1.2 update to Final Cut adds additional robustness to relinking. For example, if you store media in folders within folders, you can now relink media by selecting just the top folder. All missing media contained in folders within that top folder will be relinked, without needing to navigate to them individually.

NOTE: It is always a good idea not to change the file names of media once it has been imported into Final Cut. However, the new symlinks that FCP X uses can often relink media even though the file name has changed.

UPDATE – Dec. 21, 2014

I learned this tip last week from Michael Wood, when I was teaching a Final Cut Pro X class to his team. I don’t know when Apple added this feature to the software, but this is new behavior, at least to me.

As we’ve learned, nothing causes more frustration than the dreaded red Unlinked Media icon. To relink media, select the clips you want to relink in either the Browser or the Timeline and choose File > Relink Files.

This displays the relink dialog. Either select a specific clip to relink and click Locate Selected, or leave everything unselected and click Locate All.

Here’s the cool part. Normally, I never pay attention to the message at the bottom of the file picker screen because, in the past, it simply said the file was missing. Since I already knew that I ignored it.

However, here, it is saying that the file does not exist anywhere in the selected path: “/Volumes/OWC RAID (Fast)/Training Media/Jim Walker Underwater/” Hmm…

But! I know that that file is somewhere on that hard disk, so on the left in the Sidebar, I clicked the name of the hard disk and – poof! – FCP X found the file. I had moved it into a different folder on the same hard disk.

All I need to do is click Continue to relink to the file.

Here you can see the file was successfully relinked. Click the Relink Files button in the lower right corner of this dialog and you are done.


Rather than require us to figure out where the file is, all we need to do now is select the drive or folder that probably contains the file and – if it is there – Final Cut will find it and allow us to link to it. (However, this technique won’t help at all if you’ve deleted the missing file because then it is actually missing.)

Very cool and MUCH faster than navigating to a file manually.

Bookmark the permalink.

148 Responses to FCP X: Relinking Media [u]

← Older Comments Newer Comments →
  1. Ki says:

    Hi Larry,
    PLEASE PLEASE HELP! I have 10.0 version of FCPx which i can’t update, because my friend bought and put on my computer. It won’t let me go to the iTunes store and update. The bigger problem is I have made a biggish project, and it WILL NOT share.. and by that I mean, I can’t make a MOV, send to FB YouTUbe or DVD. The share menu is not grayed out but does nothing when I try to make an MOV. and when i try to share i get this error message.
    The operation couldn’t be completed. (com.apple.Compressor.CompressorKit.ErrorDomain error -1.)
    I have compressor. SO.. There is another project but NOT the same one.. just stored in a different project but I can see the clips and they have an exclamation point, and i CANNOT RECONNECT them because i don’t have the option when i right click. I tried to delete them but they won’t delete, and I don’t know what to do. !! I’m thinking of making a screen shot video now my hard drive is being funny agh! Help! This is really important to me. Thanks!

    • LarryJ says:


      First, if its really important, spend the money and buy your own version of Final Cut Pro X.

      Second, try Sharing a Master file. This bypasses Compressor and should allow you to export your file. At which point, you can compress it separately using Compressor, or MPEGStreamclip for posting to Facebook.

      Third, if you are getting hard disk errors, its time to call Apple Support because your hardware could be failing.


  2. Dave says:

    Hi Larry –
    I am trying to finish a 5.5 minute fcpx movie this weekend for a client. Last night, I reopened the project and all footage except one clip went missing. Each clip says “missing proxy”. I didn’t create proxy files- I only imported optimized media. All of my logos and titles are located working. All attempts to relink according to your post have not worked. I am stumped. Any words of knowledge, wisdom, humor? Your input or others input would be fantastic.

    • LarryJ says:


      You may not have created proxies, but FCP X is looking for them.

      Go up to the Switch in the top right corner of the Viewer and change it back to use Original/Optimized.

      That should fix it.


  3. Lara says:


    I updated and relinked which helped mostly but now Im left with several “missing camera files’, what should i do next. I promise this is the last situation. :))


    • LarryJ says:


      Missing camera means the file did not import correctly – and, most likely, you’ll need to go back to the camera card or the location storing the original camera card media, and reimport.


  4. Tucker Horan says:

    Hey Larry,

    Strange Scenario but it looks like you’re replying to these peoples questions so im hoping you write me back!

    So. I did not have enough space on my Mac’s Hard drive when I needed to edit this Film, so I sourced the files from my SD card from my camera. Now, even with the SD card plugged in, I cannot export the Film. I tried all of your instructions above, attempting to link them to the actual files on my Mac’s HD (now that I have room) and the files say they do not match… Trying to get 10.1.3 right now..

    Really just want to get this Film done for this client.

    Thanks much!

    • Larry Jordan says:


      I’m not sure what you are asking. If you created optimized media, you don’t need the cards at all. The cards are too slow for editing media, so copies need to exist somewhere on your hard disk.

      What error message are you getting and why do you feel you need to access the cards again?


  5. Andrew says:

    Hi Larry, Thanks for all the informative info. I cant seem to identify the exact resolution for my issue. if there is some other thread with the same issue fixed please let me know where I can find that.

    My Issue is relinking files stored in “CONTENTS” folders. I save all my data from my Panasonic as contents folders on my hard drive. FCPX has read this folder once and imported the proxy. I have tried to reopen the project file and some files are no longer linked. FCPX wont link to the original CONTENTS folder. Curious if you have seen this issue and know how to resolve?

    Thanks in advance – Andrew

    • LarryJ says:


      I haven’t seen this problem – my suggestion is to contact Apple Support.


      • Andrew says:

        Thanks Larry, I have found a work around without needing to call FCP help people. So far a complete “re-upload” seems to be fixing the issues. But its tough finding the clips and events to know where to exactly upload.

        Do you happen to know why FCPX imports files with Year-Month-Day and Timecode? Can I change that somewhere to be file name and other info?

        Thanks in advance.


  6. Nick says:

    Hey Larry:

    I’m having a good bit of trouble trying to move a Project from one computer to my G-tech RAID. In the project file I had some connected clips that I thought might be causing an issue once I got to my second computer. I could find the files to re-link, but it made no difference in the timeline. So, I went back to the project file and broke apart all my connected clips. Then I re-copied the project to the external and went back to my other computer. This time, the thumbnails in the timeline are correct, but in the viewer it still has the Red error box with the yellow sign. I’m at a loss now. I have no idea what to do, since this seems like an easy scenario without the connected clips. Any help?



    • Larry Jordan says:


      My guess is that you have media stored on the boot drive of the first computer. When you move the Project to computer #2, it can’t find the original files, because they are on the boot drive.

      The Timeline clips are accessing render files, which is why you see the thumbnails, which are stored on your external drive.

      Take a closer look at your boot drive and see if you can find the missing media.


  7. Nick says:

    I had all my media copied onto the external drive for me to re-link on the 2nd computer. It finds the files when I run re-link but makes no difference. Is it possible that a missing Red Giant plugin on the 2nd computer is causing this?

  8. Ferdous says:

    Hello Sir,

    In this offline media problem, I cannot relink it cause there is no relink option in “File”

    I am using FCP X 10.0.0 … What should I do?

    • LarryJ says:


      Well, first of all, the 10.0.0 release of FCP X is very limited and buggy. I would upgrade to a later version as soon as possible.

      I can’t speak to the initial release, but relinking was definitely in all upgrades.


  9. Hi Larry,
    I have a library with 6 projects. These projects have a similar structure and start with a bumper. These bumpers differ only in content (title – name and all that). The bumpers are in 6 separate generated video files.

    I can easily change the bumper in a project to fit with the desired one (project 1 with bumper 1 project 2 with bumper 2 etc).

    When I change the bumper with the relink option in that project: ALL files in the other projects are also relinked ( so when I relink p2 with b2 also p1 p3 etc are relinked to b2). But I only want to change the one in this particular project.

    Is there a way to relink files only in a specific project within a library or can files only be relinked in complete libraries….

  10. another relinking challenge:

    I download preview stock audio tracks. these are mp3 but the purchased track is wav. before I could easily relink the preview mp3 with the wav final. Now this options seems to be over complicated and files mut match type.

    Why?? Is there a work around? Drives me nuts by the way, because this is standard practice.

    • Max says:

      Did you find any workaround for this? Same problem with standard work flow here :/

      • Max says:

        Just answered my own question…. It was indeed a length problem when fcpx said it was a type problem. Just had to add 77 beats to the original wav to fit the preview mp3. The music creator just had a bad work flow I guess…

← Older Comments Newer Comments →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Larry Recommends:

FCPX Complete

NEW & Updated!

Edit smarter with Larry’s latest training, all available in our store.

Access over 1,900 on-demand video editing courses. Become a member of our Video Training Library today!


Subscribe to Larry's FREE weekly newsletter and save 10%
on your first purchase.