Apple Final Cut Pro X: Reader Interface Suggestions

Posted on by Larry

In January, 2018, I asked my newsletter subscribers to suggest interface improvements for Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Apple Final Cut Pro X. 53 readers from around the world submitted more than 200 suggestions.

Here are their responses for Final Cut Pro X, listed in no particular order. Almost everyone expressed their love for the software, but…

Aside from cleaning up the formatting, I didn’t make any changes to the comments. I found all these comments fascinating and hope you enjoy them, as well.



P.S. I have forwarded a copy of these comments to the Final Cut development team at Apple, in hopes they can add some of these to their next series of updates.


Larry Jordan

Dennis Andrews

Shortcuts for Custom Workspaces

Don Hertz

Keyframing. Make it more like After Effects.

Meagan Margaret Thomas

While I like roles, I would also like tracks, as that is what the rest of the world (and I do mean world) of Video Production uses.

Roles are powerful, they’re great, but I would like a button, one for Video, one for Audio that if you pressed it, your roles would display as tracks.

Probably would never happen, but, for most Video Pros this would make using FCPX a lot easier.

Brian Thomas

Here’s one for us multicam people: allow more flexibility for the multicam window, the Angle Viewer, please.

Currently we’re allowed a rigid 2, 4, 9 or 16 on each pane and each thumbnail has to be the same size. I frequently use 5 camcorders or maybe 10 (I really did recently but I had to borrow the last one) but the point is I’d like to size each of the thumbnails according to my needs at any particular point in the edit. To go one step further I’d even like to ‘save’ a particular arrangement (in the same way that we can ‘save’ so many other things in FCPX) so I could reuse it or another one on another day.

Alan Nesbitt

I was brought up on 1” and BetaCam Linear Tape – to – Tape Editing, Avid and earlier versions of FCP when I worked in educational multimedia here in Northern Ireland and in retirement I have more time to enjoy the technology using FCP X.

I appreciate having Source and Timeline together in the Interface and I know it is easier to use shortcuts like ‘E’ BUT I do miss the feel of grabbing the source with the mouse and dropping it in the Timeline ie Program window as opposed to the timeline itself. Options on the viewfinder window eg insert kept the whole process clear. It really felt that the source was actually dropped into the program.

I know this was not part of the new style X which was moving on but I wonder now that a high level of success has been reached, would Apple let us have back that small but original feeling of editing program material.

Peter Snowdon

  1. My biggest gripe with FCP 7 and X is the lack of a moving timeline as you are playing. This was such a basic feature of earlier non Apple edit systems that it is still unbelievable to me that nothing has been done about it. It is always the first thing people comment on when they come to a mac system and is a real head scratching moment for them. It could be available as an option surely – and I can guarantee that 90% would use it.
  2. Select all clips forward tool
  3. Moving timeline in Play (as previously stated)
  4. Be able to delete projects from timeline. It can get very cluttered especially if you keep dipping into different Libraries as I do with multi jobs on the go.
  5. After closing and reopening, I want it to keep the projects that are open as they were before closing. Very irritating to have to reopen projects again.
  6. Would like a ‘workbench’ to save commonly used titles, transitions, etc. I had this on the first edting system I had in 1992 and it was brilliant. FCP 7 you could use bins for this I think. I want to see a greater ability to lift things from the Timeline and put them in the Browser for future use.
  7. Want to be able to change the default on the Gap in Preferences or in anywhere.

Tim Helms

I would like to see a HUD for FCP X like in Motion 5!

I would also like seamless integration into Logic like the seamless integration between FCP X and Motion…even making effects and generators, etc.

Stu Aull

PLEASE: some sort of one-click (heck, I’ll accept TWO-step…) way to SAVE an effect/transition into a user-created FAVORITES folder within the FX browser a la FCP 7!?

Darcy Peters

I find the interface’s grays and soft whites to be challenging to see at times. (I don’t have the best vision) It would be nice to have some options to make the interface a little brighter, or perhaps with enhanced contrast settings.

Jean-Claude Rowland

I prefer the interface of FCPX 10.2, with 10.3 it’s all over the place.

Hans Douma

After all these years keyword support in FCPX is still very basic. Staying consistent in using keywords is next to impossible, because FCPX is sadly missing a central keyword repository for defining and assigning keywords.

Although when adding keyword to a clip the keyword window is showing existing keywords as you start typing, it is then only looking for existing keywords in clips of events that have been open since you started FCPX.It is therefor very easy and most likely to end up with similar keywords where you actually mean the same thing. I find this very confusing and it makes the search on keywords very unreliable. It is about time Apple brings FCPX up to speed in the area of metadata management

Philip Snyder

  1. Frequently and for no apparent reason, the customized metadata in my Events (Start, End, Frame Size, Codec, etc.) re-sets to the default categories (Content Created, Camera Angle, Camera Name, Video Roles, etc.) settings. Therefore, I have to keep re-setting my metadata to my custom settings.
  2. Frequently, the metadata in my Events goes dark. Eventually, after clicking on other Events, it returns. Other editors have complained about this well. It wastes time.
  3. After shutting down FCP X and then re-opening the app., a different Event than the one I had left open is often displayed. For example, when I closed FCP X, I had left the Project Event open with a particular Project that I had been working on highlighted. When I re-started FCP X, my Select Take Event was open with one of the Select Take clips highlighted instead. This forced me to take time to close the Select Take Event, open the Project Event and search for the correct Project. In addition, Projects in the Event are often jumbled in random time code order necessitating me to re-order them. All this is fixable but is a waste of time. It was never a problem in FCP 7 or any of the legacy versions.
  4. After adding a color effect in the Inspector such as Color Wheels and the undoing it, FCP X often crashes. Note: Trashing preferences seems to correct this but I’ve had to do this repeatedly.

Simon Morice

So far, the user has very little control over the XML interface. I have been trying for a long time, and with complete lack of success, to get Apple to publish the XML schema needed to swap data between FCP X and Filemaker Pro. You’ll know that Walter Murch used a database to extend the utility of FCP in earlier iterations. It depended upon precisely this XML document.

Since Apple own both FCP and Filemaker it would seem a very sensible and easy thing to do. The benefits would enable us to make even better use of metadata and open up the development of utilities that we can only dream about for now. Linking scripts and transcriptions to shots and sequences, paper edits and performing calculations on projects etc.

Greg A.K.A. The Nobleman

I would like to see Final Cut Pro X bring back the very rewarding Media Manager that was in Final Cut 7. It was really nice to media manage projects from the timeline instead of saving hundreds of unused Gigs of footage. This would be very nice especially when one would like to archive a project for safe keeping.

Bruno Debas

It would be nice to have the option to close any opened Synchronized clips, Multicam clips or project in the timeline. Once you open anything in the timeline it stays there opened. It would be nice to have the option to close and empty the timeline.

Tom Cummings

Quickly scroll to a typeface in the selection list by typing in the first few letters of the name.

Scott Newell

I don’t know if this is an interface thing or new feature, but I’ll put in my 2 cents worth.

When you go to import media, there should be a search box that lets you put in the name of the file you are looking for. FCP7 had it and it was VERY handy. Now, I have to go to Spotlight, find the location of the desired file and figure out what folder it’s in. Then back to import media and manually locate it. What a time waster. I can’t be the only one who misses this dearly!

John Anglim

Is it just me or did we lose the ability to mix audio in real time during the change over to FCP X?

This probably comes out of my radio and music mixing days, but I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the ability to drop a music clip down on the timeline, hit play, grab that track’s fader, and mix in real time. Key frames dropped down onto the track automatically. FC6&7 did it really well.

Adam Cohen

I just want FCP to have real solid edit points on the project timeline that don’t vanish (puff) if you click on the wrong part of the timeline and are then not retrievable! It’s SUCH basic, page 1, rule 1 of editing – creating edit points – I’m constantly having to use markers to substitute for them. Not clever and not funny! I can’t understand why all editors don’t protest! I’ve been using FCPX for 4 years now and this still drives me mad!

Oh, and I still miss the little audio mixes like I used all the time in FCP7 to smooth dialogue at speed. 1f or 2f sound mixes without having to use the fiddly tools in FCPX. Simple and instant!

Proper video and audio tracks would be great to keep things professional and orderly, but I know I can’t have those!

AJV Video

I switch between three WORKSPACES on my two-monitor work station. I would like to be able to highlight my most used buttons on my tool bar with a color of my choice.

Eugen Oprina

  1. OMF export
  2. Real round trip with Motion and Logic Pro
  3. Video out from Motion

Keith Woolford

  1. Support for the direct import of AVI footage
  2. Drag/Drop of favourite plugins/effects in to a specific folder
  3. Ability to author a ‘DVD Studio Pro’ burn within FCP (yes, some of us still use this)

Paul Kelleher

I often find it very difficult to grab the edge of the windows, I.e. browser window to make it wider or narrower. The “change” arrow does not appear easily as I mouse back and forth over the vertical window edge line.

Would love to be able to customize and store all the window sizes, ala FCP 7

Lars Nelson

[Customize] camera stabilization, be able to preset amount of stabilization, my favorite is .25, way less than 1, or the 2.5 which is the default. This way one doesn’t have to do everything twice.

Ryan Chaney

In the FCP X color corrector tool I’d love to see some sort of visual indicator of when you’re in Saturation mode vs. when you’re in Exposure mode, so thatyo you can know at a glance which tool you’re using. So many times I’ve went to adjust exposure but I’ve been in Saturation mode, or vice versa. The tools look identical, other than their little text name tags and it drives me nuts! My suggestion would be to have a different patterned grey background, or have the sliders be squares for one tool and circles for the other, or something like that… easily identified at a glance, without stopping to read which tab you’re on.

My other suggestion would be for FCP X to remember the sizes of the clips in the browser each time I start up the app. As it currently stands, every time I open FCP X all the browser clips are HUGE and I have to resize them smaller every. single. time. =( It’s menial and easy to fix, but it drives me crazy every morning when I come to work. Ditto with the Transitions/Effects browser down in the corner too.

Lynn Beittel

I’m a long time user of FCP and recently upgraded to FCPX. I can’t believe there isn’t a decent authoring program for DVDs. I just figured out how to customize a DVD menu, but it’s really hard to preview the menu. I would like to see more control on creating and previewing menus. I think I’ll give Toast a go for authoring.

Also, when I export to Vimeo, I’m finding my export options are limited. Vimeo keeps complaining about my audio bit rate. Maybe this is operator error.

Ben Curry

A very clear indication that you are in proxy mode. An icon or “PROXY” badge at the top of the Viewer perhaps?

An “Unused Clips” filter in the browser. The current “Unused” filter can show many unused portions of the same clip, making it confusing to find unused B-roll clips. If even a portion of a clip has been used, I don’t want to see it here.
A duplicate media warning on timelines.

Karsten Schlüter

With high risk to get an ‘F – missing the point completely – MOTION needs a fundamental overhaul and I restrict myself, as you asked, to GUI, not features.

(Click to see a larger image.)

  1.  Given the concept of ‘Layers’ (… instead of Nodes…), but nobody can explain to me, why the Layer List occupies screen-estate twice. Asks for some, fundamentally new layout…
  2. That Generic Icons nonsense on the lower left… the submenu tells me, if I’m in Behaviors/Text Animations or …/Parameters. No need for tons of ‘gear-with-a-T’, ’empty gear’, etc. A better Preview would be of higher importance, imho.

Shari Dyer

Carsten Ress

Here are my suggestion for the FCP X interface:

Andrew Griffiths

I would like to see a scrolling timeline on playback.

Stacey Sanner

Hi Larry, the issue I would like to see fixed is my Project in Timeline jumps back to a previous version when viewing clips in the Browser. Here is what I mean:

This was an issue in the previous version of FCP X as well.

Hasan Aslan

The interface is elegant already,

Daniele Bellemare Lee

I have worked since a year an half with FCP X 3 and 4 and I saw many bugs. Before with FCP 7, it was lot of more stable.

Duncan Knowles

The FCPX online “Help … Search” feature is horrible!!! Apple should dedicate a team to fix it.

I can search for topics that are even printed on the interface — for example, “Presets” — and what do I get? Below is a screenshot. Nothing. This happens over and over and over. Recently I needed help on something and I got the “(0)” as below. I went online to Google and a young kid had a YouTube answer!

It is so frustrating. When I truly need help, FCP’s/Apple’s “Help” is not there. This has been true for years. I so welcome your forwarding this to Apple and the FCPX team. They could make our lives happier.

Bill Rabkin

In versions of FCP prior to FCP X, the setting to “Show Title/Action Safe Zones” was persistent. That is, if the zones were displayed before I quit FCP, when I restarted FCP these zones again displayed. In FCP X, if I want to display these zones after I restart FCP X I have to re-select “Show Title/Action Safe Zones” from the View dropdown in the canvas window. I’d like it to persist over a restart.

There are many areas in FCP X where a text field has input focus, but FCP X violates Apple standard conventions for UI when entering text. For example:

In the Browser, select a clip. Then click on its name to edit the name. Pressing Command+[Left Arrow] should move the cursor to the beginning of the name field, and Command+[Right Arrow] should move the cursor to the end of the name. Neither of these keystrokes works.

The same is true when editing the text of a Title in the Inspector’s Text field.

This drives me nuts, because I’m used to hitting these keys, often together with the Shift key, in every other application on my iMac, including those from both Apple and third-party developers. Muscle memory is important!

Larry adds: As you can see, there are a lot of opinions and not all can be implemented.  In fact, not all agree. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.

And thanks! to everyone for contributing.

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18 Responses to Apple Final Cut Pro X: Reader Interface Suggestions

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  1. Philip Snyder says:

    I forget to mention this in my above comment but it’s something that I loved in FCP 7 and dearly miss in FCP X. I wish FCP X would have a clip Source viewer where in and out points could be marked. It would be so much more precise than the way clips are marked in the Browser in FCP X. Very imprecise and I always have to re-adjust after cutting them into the timeline. Maybe the Event viewer in FCP X could be modified with this feature in a future update.

  2. Joseph Stiles says:

    I wish there was a way to solo video clips alone. Sometimes I do multiple layers of stacking video clips and graphics on each other and it would be SO helpful to be able to solo one clip so I can adjust any parameter while seeing only that clip, then turn off the solo to see the blend of all the clips.

    The new “Dark Interface” in 10.3 and 10.4 took so many easily recognizable colored icons, tags, and buttons in 10.2 and made these new gray or purple, hard-to-see, hard-to-distinguish buttons and tags. No idea why markers in the Timeline are colored but in the Timeline Index they are GRAY!!! So I spend all this time trying to look at the SHAPE of a gray marker that should just be the color it is in the Timeline!

    Keyframe markers are now gray as well! It is so hard to know whether a keyframe marker is a marker or not. Before they were YELLOW! Easy to see and helpful!

    All the different frames around each section (i.e. Browser, Event Viewer, Timeline Index, Effects, etc.) are all just black thin lines now that it is hard while working to completely distinguish between each section. Everything runs together now with very little hierarchy. 10.2 frames were super clear and easy to distinguish.

    Return the Photo/Music/Generators/Titles browsers back to their original location. Now I have to lose Viewer space to open up one of those browsers.

    The Render Timer is also too subdued now. I miss the big percentage-numbered COLORED circle right in the center of the app, CLEARLY showing your render state.

    The buttons for adding clips to the timeline are very unclear as well. Before, if you were only going to send Audio from a clip down to the timeline, the buttons turned GREEN. If you would be sending both Audio and Video to the timeline, the buttons were BLUE. Wonderful! Now they’re GRAY! Even if I was using ‘E’ or ‘Q’ or ‘W’, it helped so much to just glance at those buttons and know if I’m sending audio or video only.

    Overall, I feel like Apple took a HUGE step backward with the “Dark Interface” and made it much harder to use this TOOL to edit. I have to look harder and hunt more to find the things I need because all the color is gone and CLEAR delineation between buttons and sections is so sloppy.

    If I had my way, I would take the interface of 10.2 back in a heartbeat and throw out 10.3’s ideas altogether. I have nothing against the flat look but if everything all blends together and I have to look harder to use the tools that were so clearly visible before, I’d say their ideas are only made to be “hip” and not to be used as a tool. Very very frustrating indeed. However, if Apple gave you a preference to have a GRAY button/keyframe/marker environment but offered a COLOR option as well, fine. I’d take that at the very least.

  3. Petr Salz says:

    Hi Larry,

    Here are 3 more suggestions for FCP X:

    1. Show which clip sections have been used in a compound clip. Now the orange marking on the clips disappears when these clips are combined in a compound clip, even when that compound clip is in the current project.

    2. Display which clip is being color corrected. Now the viewer displays wherever the playhead is, not the selected clip that is being corrected. Very confusing!

    3. Move the color picker for white-balancing to somewhere where it can be accessed directly. Now you need several clicks to get it

    Best regards,

    Petr Salz

  4. Ross Hunter says:

    AMEN to all those who want FCPX to remember the state of the library and browser windows when the program closes.

  5. Stéphanie C says:

    Great suggestions !
    One more :
    Keyframes to animate Ken Burns effect

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