An Illustrated List of Icons, Symbols and Alerts in Final Cut Pro X [u]

Posted on by Larry

Logo-FCPX.jpg[Updated July, 2016, May, 2018, Jan. and June 2019 with more icons.]

I don’t think there is anyone outside of Apple who knows what all the icons, symbols and alerts in Final Cut Pro X are, much less what they mean. Still, I had some extra time this weekend and decided to put together an illustrated list.

So, here are more than 50 icons and indicators, grouped by the panel in which they appear, with a short description of what they mean.

NOTE: For the most part, I excluded icons which you click to do something; in other words, buttons.


Blue indicates something that is active (turned on), gray is something that is inactive.


A Library.

An Event

An Event with Missing Media

A folder in the Library containing Smart Collections or, in an Event, containing keyword or smart collections; used for organization.

A Smart Collection, whether associated with the Library or an Event.

Keyword Collection associated with an Event.


A yellow box means the clip, or a portion of the clip, is selected.

A green bar at the top means the clip, or a portion of the clip, is a Favorite.

A red bar at the top means the clip, or a portion of the clip, is Rejected.

An orange bar at the bottom of the clip means the clip, or a portion of the clip, is used in the Timeline.

A blue bar at the top indicates a clip, or portion of a clip, with keywords applied.

Earlier versions of Final Cut also displayed a purple bar, indicating the clip had been analyzed, generally during import.

The ghosted-back waveforms indicate Reference Waveforms, enabled in Preferences.

A file that was linked to the project is now missing. Generally caused when the file was renamed, moved or deleted.

Similar to this is the “Missing Camera” icon which indicates that a media file was captured from a camera or camera card, which is now missing.

Missing proxy file. This will appear if you switch to Proxy mode in the Viewer and proxies were not created for this file. Proxies can be created at anytime (File > Transcode Media).

A Compound Clip.

A Compound Clip that contains no media.

A Multicam Clip.


An Audition clip.

A Synchronized clip, which combines a separate audio and video clip to act as though they were one clip.


This icon indicates source footage that was shot at a high frame rate to enable high-quality slow motion; most commonly shot on an Apple iPhone. Modify > Retime > Automatic speed enables slow-motion playback.)


That little circle in the lower left of your clip indicates how much of a newly imported clip still needs to have thumbnails and waveforms created. This icon disappears when creating these auxiliary files is complete.

The small camera icon means the underlying media for the clip still resides on the camera. This happens if you stop the import using the Background Tasks window or remove the camera cord (or card) while importing. Restart the import by choosing File > Import > Reimport from Camera/Archive.  Once the import is done, the icon goes away.

This means that you’ve applied an audio effect to an audio clip that has more than one Role assigned to the audio channels it contains.

Apple’s Help states: “It signifies that there is a clip-level audio effect. That is, the user placed an audio effect at the clip-level as opposed to the audio component level and so the clip is mixing down to a single role. This is done since an effect at the clip-level will mix all of the audio from all of the clip’s audio components. If the user places an effect on the individual role, then we can keep the audio separated by role when playing back and when exporting.”

(Thanks to Scott Brown for this icon.)

Apple’s Help states: This icon is for captions. In Final Cut Pro, you can import clips with embedded captions, then extract them to display those captions as separate, editable elements in the timeline. That icon indicates a source clip with embedded captions. Read more here:

A Synchronized Clip that contains no media.

The yellow tips at the tops of the waveforms indicate audio that is close to peaking or distortion.

A Browser clip that is expanded and continues to the line below (torn right edge).

A Browser clip that is expanded and continues from the line above (torn left edge).

The end of a Browser clip (clean edge).


An empty Browser search box.

The Browser search box with an active text search.

The Browser search box with an active Keyword search (blue key icon).

The Browser search box with an active search (blue icon).


Playhead with skimmer active.

Playhead with skimmer inactive.

From the left, Skimming is active, Audio Skimming is active, Solo is active, and Snapping is Active. When any of these icons are gray, it means they are inactive.

A selected clip, group of clips, or region of clips.

A disabled clip (top) is invisible/inaudible; the image of the  clip is dimmed.

A soloed clip (top), all other clips are silenced and indicated in black-and-white.

A selected transition.

A portion of the Timeline that needs rendering (orange bar).

A Timeline marker.

An unaccomplished Timeline To-Do marker (To-Do).

An accomplished Timeline To-Do marker (Done).

A Timeline Chapter marker with poster frame indicator (the round thingy).

A gap clip.

A placeholder clip.


The first frame of a Project in the Timeline, the filmstrip on the left.

The In of a selected clip, square angle bracket in lower-left corner.

The Out of a selected clip, square angle bracket in lower-right corner.

The last frame of a Project in the Timeline, the filmstrip on the right.

Past the last frame of video in the Timeline, the dark band on the right.

Transform controls are active in the Viewer.

Trim controls are active in the Viewer.

Crop controls are active in the Viewer.

Ken Burns controls are active in the Viewer.

Distort controls are active in the Viewer.


Here is a link to a summary of alert icons that Apple has available on-line.

I’m sure there are more that I haven’t found. Send me what you find and I’ll add it to the list. As always, I’m interested in your opinions.

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59 Responses to An Illustrated List of Icons, Symbols and Alerts in Final Cut Pro X [u]

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  1. What about a broken purple line at top?

  2. Donald Van Wyk says:

    >>>>>>> This symbol, much thicker arrows and in a gray background horizontally
    long, box comes upon my screen on top portion of a media illustration box. What
    does it signify? Thanks

  3. Kenny Holl says:

    I’m confused about an icon that is next to the arrow tool. The arrow is in white and to it’s lower left is a yellow icon that is rectangular with little nodules on the right and left sides. I have no idea what it is, but it prevents me from being able to left click on the clip and I can’t move the clip or disable the clip, among other things. Any idea what this might be?

    • Larry says:


      Well, I’m confused, too. Send me a screen shot and I’ll identify it. And, if necessary, add it to my glossary.

      (larry at larryjordan dot com)

    • Chris Forinash says:

      This is an icon from the Tools. It’s called a range selector. You can change the arrow cursor back to just an arrow (or select) by pressing on the arrow button (Tools) that is on the left hand side of the screen above the timeline (it is next to “index” and the four clip placement icons. The Tools icon gives you seven different ways your cursor may be used to edit the timeline.

  4. Jerone says:

    Many of my icons and symbols are not on my page. Also the bottom task bar is missing. I just downloaded Final Cut Pro X and so much is not there. For example, the iTunes icon is missing also, so many others. How do I get all the icons & symbols on my task bars. I can’t figure out how to get the bottom task bar either! HELP!!! Thank you so much in advance

    • Larry says:


      Not to worry – this article was written for FCP X 10.2, with the 1.03 update, Apple did a major interface overall. Most of the icons are still there, just moved into new locations.

      Also, you won’t see many of these during normal editing. My goal, in writing this, was to explain the various potential icons, so that when they appear, you have a good idea of what they mean.


      • Jerone Howard says:

        Aaahhh. I see! Ok! Thanks so much for getting back and explaining that. I’m not sure what version I have but I just downloaded it a couple of days ago. Thanks much Larry… I’ll just keep on searching!

  5. Alejandro Agulto says:

    can you help me out. i think i might of did something wrong. i deleted my backup footages to make space for my new project and i notices final cut looks different when i opened it. the icons look basic and and some aren’t showing

    • Larry says:


      Deleting backup footage won’t change FCP X’s operation. Try resetting your system by trashing FCP’s preferences.

      Quit the application, then press and hold Option and Command while launching Final Cut from the Dock. Click the blue Delete Preferences button and see if that restores things again.


  6. Thomas says:

    The mouse turned into {}, how do i change it back

    • Larry says:


      I’d suggest restarting Final Cut. IF that doesn’t work, trash FCP X preferences: Restart FCP X from the Dock while pressing the Option and Command keys.


  7. Ken Ba says:

    Hi Larry, I imported some Dv tape footage into FCPX.4 and the project thumbnails are showing up as green. They are playing back the video footage but taking a lot longer to start the playback. Was wondering what this issue is? Thanks,
    Ken Bahr

    • Larry says:


      Make sure you download the latest version of the Pro Video codecs, Mac App Store, as well as all the additional content, inside FCP X, choose “Final Cut Pro > Download Additional Content.”

      If that doesn’t work, contact Apple Support.


  8. Pat Pintus says:

    There is a symbol in the Mark menu to Go To the beginning or Go To the end, It is a dash with an up or down arrow under the dash. Haven’t been able to find anything that tells me how to use the symbol. Any ideas?

    • Larry says:


      Those symbols are the Home and End keys on a full-size keyboard, or Function + left / right arrow on a small keyboard such as a laptop.


  9. Alan Birkinshaw says:


    An oblong symbol suddenly appeared on the screen. When i right clicked on it, a stop down menu says TRANSFORM, CROP, DISTORT, NONE

    IT has the effect of tightening ALL the shots. I can’t work out from whence it came, so i can’t turn it off

    I changed all the shots in the project i was working on, only to discover that when i closed the programme, and opened a new one, it is now doing the same to that.


    • Larry says:


      This appears when you right-click inside the Viewer. It is a fast way to select the most popular tool options in the Video Inspector.

      Pressing ESC should cancel this, otherwise, click None.


  10. Wendy says:

    HELP!!! I have dotted (purple) lines just above the playhead. When the video runs where these dotted lines are, the screen goes black. Adding clips over the top still makes the screen black so I have obviously clicked something that applies to a specific time period in the video, but what?!

    • Larry says:


      I suspect you made a clip invisible. Select the clips with the purple line over it and type “V” (without the quotes). This toggles clip visibility on or off.


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