FCP X: Playback Secrets

Posted on by Larry

Final Cut Pro X includes a variety of helpful playback tricks that can make your editing faster and easier – provided you know where to look.

Here’s a collection of helpful keyboard shortcuts.


We all know that the spacebar starts and stops playback. While Shift + spacebar plays a clip in reverse. But, that’s only the start.

Shortcut What It Does
J Play a clip or Timeline backwards. Press J up to 6 times for speeds up to 32x backwards.
L Play a clip or Timeline forwards. Press L up to 6 times for speeds up to 32x forwards.
K Stops playback
J + K Play in slow-motion reverse (press both at the same time)
K + L Play in slow-motion forward (press both at the same time)
Press K, tap J Move one frame left
Press K, tap L Move one frame right


Shift + Cmd + F plays a video full-screen. Move the mouse to display the playback controller.


Select a clip, or use the Range tool (R) to select a range of clips. Press / to play the selected range.

Put the Playhead somewhere – say near an edit point. Press Shift + / to play around the current position of the Playhead.

Cmd + L Turn on loop playback so the clip or Timeline plays over and over without pause.


NOTE: The amount of Pre-roll and Post-roll is determined in Preferences > Playback.

Shortcut What It Does
Control + Shift + I Play from the beginning of the Timeline, or a clip in the Viewer.
This is faster than pressing Home, then spacebar.
Control + Shift + O Play to the end of the Timeline, or a clip in the Viewer.
(I’m not clear of the difference between this and simply pressing the spacebar.)


These shortcuts exist, but no key has been assigned to them. You can add these yourself using Final Cut Pro X > Commands.


Keyboard shortcuts are fun to discover and play with, because they can make everything we do happen faster. Let me know if there’s a favorite shortcut that I missed.

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24 Responses to FCP X: Playback Secrets

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  1. That Control + Shift + O will play to the end (out point) of a selected range in the TL (but not so in the Browser)


  2. Kay says:

    Thank you for the great article.
    I think that the note below the picture is misleading. One can change the Pre- and Post-roll in “Preferences – Playback” (not “Editing”).
    Regards from Germany

  3. Tommy says:

    Trim End & Trim Start from playhead (Option + Brackets), no need to cut, select then delete.

    Credit goes to a guy who’s name I can’t remember but who was featured in a MacBreak Studio a while back.

  4. Paul says:

    Can’t get slow motion playback to work. Hitting L will go through degrees of fast-forward, hitting K will bring it back to 1x and then stop.

    • Larry says:


      For slow-motion forward, press both K and L at the same time. For slow-motion reverse, press both J and K at the same time.


  5. Any ways for the timeline to move with the playhead when playing back. I have to press the space bar to do so, that’s not good when trying to evaluate a long portion of editing for it’s general flow.

  6. Suzi Pond says:

    HI Larry,

    Do you know of any way to get a 40% playback forward speed while viewing in the event browser? The K-L is too slow I’ve found to mimic a 60fps on a 24fps. The customizations don’t appear to offer it. Thank you!

  7. Patrick Brangers says:

    FCPX–Can I playback multiple clips in an Event without creating a project?. iMovie supports this feature — no need to select multiple clips, iMovie begins playback at the first clip and the playhead jumps to the next clip, and the next, and the next etc. until the last clip.

    • Larry says:


      While you can not play multiple clips at the same time in the FCP X Browser, automatic playback from one clip to the next works the same in FCP X as it does in iMovie.


  8. Yayoi says:

    i’m experiencing major issues with audio in FCPX. it will play a few clips much louder than the rest. but when i go back a few frames and play it again, it sounds normal. however, once i save a MP4 file and play it on Vimeo, the loud clips are there again. i was told to remove Background Rendering and uncheck all Playback options. i also Deleted (Unused) Generated Library Files. well, that worked for about half the clips. but there are still places where FCPX plays a clip louder than it should (it sounds like someone raises the volume temporarily) and when i go back a few frames and replay it, it sounds normal. thank you. this is driving me nuts.

  9. Victor says:

    Hi Larry, I’m trying to create a shortcut for playing *only the audio of a subrole component,* when expanded. It’s the same as placing the mouse pointer inside a subrole/component and clicking space, playing only that audio. This would allow the user to use Command_Arrow Up/Down to solo the audio components when editing dialogue and then quickly, non-destructively, delete each one (by pressing delete), similar to soloing and playing tracks in a Pro Tools session. Right now, the only way to play back the audio in a single component is using the mouse to hover inside the clip. I’ve searched the Keyboard Customizer but can’t find a command. Any ideas?

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

  10. Dmitry says:

    And where is there an analog of the comb l > shift+L (+0.1x to speed), shift+J (-0.1x to speed)?

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