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. Marko Marovic says:

    Hello Mr. Jordan. I would like to thank you for sharing knowledge of video editing. I searched all over the internet and I can’t find one simple answer about workflow in Final Cut Pro X. Is it possible to play events in the timeline, and during playback switch to browser window, select clips and drop them on timeline using connect, insert, append and overwrite without interrupting playback in the timeline window.
    Best wishes,

  2. Livio Hans says:

    Hello !

    I’m a belgian filmaker working on FCPX. I don’t know why but the shortcut “K+L” to play slowmotion doesn’t work. It may be due to the fact that I have an AZERTY keyboard. Do you have any idea if I can edit this shorcut in FCPX ? Or do you know a workaround ?

    Thanks in advance, appreciate the work that you’re doing !

    • Larry says:


      Try trashing your FCP Preferences: Quit FCP. Then, press both Option & Command while restarting FCP from the dock. Click the blue button.

      That should restore all default settings.


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