Relinking Media in Apple Final Cut Pro

Posted on by Larry

The last time I wrote about relinking media in FCP was ten years ago. While much remains the same, it is long past time for an update.


While each project is unique, here’s my general advice on where to store media:

For multicam editing:

These suggestions provide the greatest flexibility and performance for most edits.


When you import media into Final Cut, you are presented with two choices:

Copy Files. This option copies imported media into the library. The benefit to this is that wherever the library goes, all the media you imported into that library travels with it. This means that is it almost impossible for media links to break. The disadvantage is that it makes the library very big (which is not really that big a deal) but, more importantly, that media can’t be easily accessed accessed by another library, software or editor.

NOTE: While Final Cut has provisions for copying and moving media between libraries, as well as the ability to open multiple libraries at once, accessing media is not as easy as linking to media stored on a hard disk.

Leave Files. This option links to, but doesn’t copy, media files. When you choose “Leave files in place,” Final Cut imports the path name only to the file, not the media file itself. (The path name is a very small piece of text that describes where on your hard disk the media file is stored.) The big advantage to leaving media files in place is that it does not increase the size of the library nor use extra storage duplicating media. The disadvantage – and it is a big one – is that if you rename the storage volume or any folder that contains media or the media file itself, it breaks the connection between the media file and FCP.

NOTE: In general, I recommend that new users copy files into the library, while experienced users should leave files in place.

Leave files in place makes importing very fast without requiring any extra storage. However, if you move or rename that media file – or any folder containing that media – outside of Final Cut, the path to the file is no longer the same and FCP loses track of that media file. This is called “breaking the link.”


Over the years, Final Cut has improved how it relinks missing files. In fact, it is more powerful than you might think.

Assuming that you want to relink missing media:

NOTE: Most of the time, I just relink original files. Proxy media is easy to recreate using File > Transcode Media. As well, most of the time, proxy files are stored in the library and even unlinked files can be deleted by selecting the library and choosing File > Delete Generated Library Media.

NOTE: If you know where the file is, navigate to it and select it. That’s the fastest option. But, if you only have a rough idea, select a folder that contains the missing file and let FCP do the search. This folder can be several levels up from the file, including the hard disk name itself.

NOTE: Final Cut displays the name of the missing file it is currently looking for (middle arrow) at the bottom of this window. If this link is not displayed, click the Options button (bottom arrow).

When all the files are found, clicked Relink Files to update all missing media links in Final Cut.


Relinking provides two big benefits to editors:

  1. You can replace all existing media, for example proxies, with high quality media after the edit is started.
  2. You don’t need to know the exact location of a missing file. FCP will search selected folders and connect to the missing media automatically.

While the best way to prevent missing media is to store it in the library, the relinking options make reconnecting media fast and simple.

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