FCP X: Optimize Preference Settings

Posted on by Larry

Logo-FCPX.jpgI last wrote about the preferences in Final Cut Pro X a year ago. Since then, we’ve had a couple of upgrades which have changed things a bit. So, let’s take another look and I’ll share my thoughts on how I set my preferences.

By the way, these are called “preferences” for a reason. You can set these however you want. I’m just providing my preferences as a reference, not a requirement. The screens below show my personal settings.

NOTE: You can learn more about preferences in my Final Cut Pro X: Workflow and Editing training.


The first option has been simplified. Now, there are only two choices. I leave the top menu set to the default timecode, though you can change this, if you prefer.

Subframes allow zooming into a portion of a clip that is 1/80th of a frame, which is the smallest increment we can use for audio.

NOTE: We can only cut clips on video frame boundaries, though we can trim and keyframe audio to the nearest subframe, provided you have expanded audio from video.

And, just for the record, I’ve never needed to reset dialog alerts; though this will happen automatically when you trash FCP X preference files.


These options are the same as earlier versions.


This panel is the same as earlier versions.

When I am webcasting a live webinar, or if I am editing camera native media on a slower computer, I always turn background rendering off because it is too taxing on the computer. The rest of the time, I leave background rendering on. The default setting of 0.2 seconds is fine.

The rest of the settings on this screen are fine and I leave them alone.


This has changed since earlier versions. For me, this is the most important, and complex, preference screen. Everyone’s situation is a bit different, so your needs may be different from mine. But, here are the settings I use:


Here, again, everyone is different; which is why Apple gave us so many choices.

To add a destination, drag it from the right side to the left. To change the stacking order of destinations on the left (which also changes the Share menu) drag the option up or down.

To set a particular destination as your default, right-click and chose Make Default. This sets Cmd + E as the default shortcut.

Select any output option and you can modify the default settings that appear in the File > Share menu so that you can set specific parameters as defaults to save time during export.

I output virtually everything I create as a master file, review that master file, then, after I know that everything exported OK, I’ll move it to Compressor or Adobe Media Encoder for final compression.


Preferences allow you to optimize Final Cut to your personal workflow. Once I have these set to my liking, the only ones I change frequently are the Import settings.

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