How to Use Comparison Viewer for Color Grading in Apple Final Cut Pro

Posted on by Larry

As I was researching a recent webinar on all the new features in Final Cut Pro 10.5, I re-discovered the Comparison Viewer. This feature, which first appeared in FCP 10.4.4, is easy to overlook, but really helpful when you are doing color grading.

Let me show you how this works.

Here’s a dramatic scene that I want to color grade. Because I want to compare the flow from one shot to the next, it would be really helpful to see more than one clip on-screen as I’m grading. That’s where the Comparison Viewer comes in.

Select Window > Show in Workspace > Comparison Viewer (Shortcut: Control + Cmd + 6).

(Footage courtesy of John Putch “Route 30, Too!” (

This displays the Comparison Viewer to the left of the Viewer.

There are four key buttons in this screen:

The Comparison Viewer only displays stills. However, when doing color grading, that’s all you need.


As an example, let’s say I want to give this scene the feeling of a memory or flashback. (For this screenshot I applied Effects > Looks > Dry Heat to the left-hand clip.)

However, we can also use the Comparison Viewer with traditional color grading tools, such as the color wheels. In either case, the Comparison Viewer is a fast way to compare how the clip you are currently grading “compares” to the clip before or after it.


When you switch to the Saved button at the top, you can save a frame from the timeline by clicking the Save Frame button.

To review and select a specific saved frame, click the Frame Browser text button and select the image you want.

NOTE: You can save up to 30 still frames.

While there are no keyboard shortcuts to switch between Previous Edit and Next Edit, there are several other unassigned shortcuts that can make using the Comparison Viewer even faster.


The Comparison Viewer is tricky to find, but very useful once you open it; especially when you are trying to compare the look between multiple shots.

To close the Comparison Viewer, choose Window > Show in Workspace > Comparison Viewer, or type the shortcut: Control > Cmd > 6.

Bookmark the permalink.

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Your email address will not be published.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.