FCP X: Adding Keywords Manually

Posted on by Larry

In FCP 7, we organized our files using folders and file names. In Final Cut Pro X, we organize files using keywords. There are two ways to apply keywords: automatically and manually. Here’s an article that describes how to apply keywords automatically.

However, most often, we need to organize our clips manually as we figure out the organization we need to make sense of a project. Keywords are perfect for this – and very fast, both to apply and to use.

The purpose of keywording is to allow you to find the files that relate to a particular part of your project. For instance, here are six keywords:

Once applied, it is almost instant to find all clips of the bride at the beach in the daytime. FCP is very fast at categorizing and displaying clips using keywords. (A subset of keywords are Favorite and Rejected, which have their own menu and Toolbar options.)


For instance, here I have a variety of beauty shots on different subjects. I want to create two new keywords: The West and Flowers, so that I can quickly find just the shots in those categories.

In this example, I’ve selected three clips. To apply a keyword, select a clip, or group of clips, in the Event Browser. In general, it is most efficient to select multiple clips and apply a single keyword. If you are always applying the same keywords to a collection of clips, all but one of those keywords is probably unnecessary.

Click the Keyword Editor icon to display the Keyword Editor, or type Command+K.

If this is the first time you’ve opened the Keyword Editor, it will look like this. If you’ve already entered keywords, you’ll see the first nine keywords you entered displayed here.

NOTE: Final Cut allows an essentially unlimited number of keywords, however only the first nine keywords that  you created are displayed in this dialog. You can change them at any time by deleting a reference and adding a new keyword.

In the top text box, type the keyword you want to apply to the selected clips. In our case, I’ve typed “The West”.

Press the Enter key and watch as the keyword animates itself into each of the selected clips, and the keyword itself is added to one of the empty keyword preset slots in at the bottom of this window.

Here’s another example, this time I selected two different clips. They already have two keywords applied: Nature and Scenic. I’m adding another keyword Flowers. Press Enter to apply the keyword “Flowers” to the selected clips.

Notice that past keywords are displayed in this dialog. This provides a fast way to apply past keywords to a selected clip, or group of clips by either typing the keyboard shortcut, or clicking the button next to the keyword you want to apply.

NOTE: To apply an existing keyword, either click it in the Keyword Editor, or type the associated keyboard shortcut: Control+1 – 9. To delete a keyword preset from the Keyword editor, select the word and press Delete. ( For instance, in the screen shot above, The West is selected.”

Notice as soon as you create a new keyword and apply it to a clip, it appears under the Event name in the Event Library; both The West and Flowers are displayed as part of this Event.

The easiest way to view clips by keyword is to click the keyword itself in the Event Library. You can also search on multiple keywords using the Keyword search box – and I’ll write about that in a future article.

To remove a keyword:

BY THE WAY: I cover keywording in detail in Chapter 5 from my FCP X: Editing training. Click here to learn more.

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22 Responses to FCP X: Adding Keywords Manually

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  1. adam says:

    I have applied keywords to my project but every since time I search for them within the search using the magnifying glass they never appear. I do not what I am doing wrong. I have the updated fcp 10.2.2.

  2. Emily says:

    Hi Larry,
    I don’t find keywords useful and I would like to delete my keyword collections…but are the keyword collections tied to storage for the clips and media inside of them?
    ie: If I delete a keyword collection, will the clips associated be safe?

    Also, how do I stop FCX from automatically assigning keywords?


    • Larry says:


      Absolutely, you can delete keyword collections without affecting your media in any way. Right-click on the collection you want to delete and choose “Delete Keyword Collection.”

      Adding or deleting keywords has no material effect on storage.


  3. Luis says:

    Hi Larry,

    My question is not related to the editing workflow, I would like to know if it is possible to add captions to the videos before my export. Just like I do to my photos using Lightroom. So when you open the “info file” of your final export you have the name of the “creator”, a title, a description and keywords so if you collaborate with agencies like Getty Images you know that people can actually find your videos eventually.
    Thanks very much.


    • Larry says:


      Yes. When you export a file, the first screen that appears is the Info screen. This is where you can add metadata that is tracked with your clip.


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