Six Hidden Editing Keyboard Shortcuts in Apple Final Cut Pro

Posted on by Larry

When I’m not reading dictionaries for their plot, I’m looking through lists of keyboard shortcuts to discover interesting, but hidden, features. (Well, ah, it keeps me busy.) Which brings me to today’s tutorial.

There are six hidden keyboard shortcuts in Final Cut Pro that can simplify editing dialog and action scenes – four of which are not even assigned to keys!

Here’s what they are and how they work.


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

Normally, when we edit, we edit a shot, followed by another shot, followed by another and so on. Shots are trimmed in the Browser, the timeline or both. All normal.

Then, things get trickier. For example, say we want to add B-roll (covering footage) to a talking head. One way to do this is to drag a clip from the Browser into the timeline. This works, but it’s slow.

A faster method is to use the keyboard shortcut: Q. This places the selected clip at the position of the playhead, or the end of all edited clips, but on a higher layer.

Again, no surprises. Normal behavior.


But… what if you want to edit a clip into the timeline and have it END at the position of the playhead? This is called a “backtime” edit, because it edits from the Out, not the In.

You create this by setting an In and Out in the timeline where you want the clip to start and end.

NOTE: The In is optional, the Out is not. If the In is not set, the clip begins either at the start of the project timeline or the start of the Browser clip, whichever is shorter.

Then, set an Out for a clip in the Browser where you want the shot to end. This often involves specific action or dialog to match the next shot in the timeline.

NOTE: You can also set an In for the Browser clip. If no In is set, the start of the Browser clip automatically becomes the In.

Now, the problem becomes: How do you edit that clip so it ends in the right spot? You could drag it. But, that is finicky, slow and frustrating.

A much better way is to type: Shift + Q. This edits the Browser clip so the Out of the Browser clip matches the Out set in the timeline.

This is both blindingly fast and frame-accurate! And very useful


But, wait! There’s more.

Go to Final Cut Pro > Commands > Customize and display the Command (Keyboard Shortcuts) Editor. Search for “connect”. A list of shortcuts containing the word “connect in their description appear in the Command list at the bottom.

There you see the two existing keyboard shortcuts (yellow box):

Along with four other – unassigned, but useful – shortcuts (red arrows):

I find it very useful to assign the backtime video-only shortcut to a key when editing action footage. Often, I care more about where an action clip ends than where it starts. And all the sound of that action will be added later in the audio mix.


Exploring the Commands panel often yields highly useful discoveries. In fact, just knowing a very fast way to do an audio-and-video backtime edit can speed even routine editing.

Now you know.

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2 Responses to Six Hidden Editing Keyboard Shortcuts in Apple Final Cut Pro

  1. Scott Newell says:

    Very useful shortcuts, Larry. We all have our frequently used shortcuts that we use all the time. It’s always nice to have a reminder about those we DON’T. The more we use shortcuts, the better we remember them. And that’s what efficient editing is all about.

  2. Dave M says:

    I learned to use Shift-1/2/3 for all, video, and audio years ago (e.g. Shift-2 for video only edits). So, for me, I change the “edit mode” with one of the above then just use Q or Shift-Q, then switch back. More keystrokes, perhaps, but my “muscle memory” is already conditioned… 😉

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