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. Hi Larry

    I am puzzled by FCP X’s keyword searching as i seems you cn only serch events. So far I am unable to search all my evnts globally.



    • Larry Jordan says:


      Not true.

      Select all the Events you want to search FIRST, then open the Keyword Search window – click the small magnifying glass in the top right corner of the Event Browser and you can search on all keywords that exist across all selected projects.


  2. Thanx Larry

    Funny, I’m getting some inconsistent behaviour with regard to Keyword searching. I had tried to do a global search by selecting the media DRIVE icon – it didn’t work at first but now it does.

    Also, do you find that when creating / typing a NEW keyword into the Keyword Editor that it does not display until it is created? Once created it shows up as an autofill when u begin typing but on first creating it my system give no visual feedback as you type leading to misspelt keywords which need to subsequently be deleted.



  3. Larry Jordan says:


    I haven’t noticed this – but what you describe is behavior that might be cured by trashing preferences. Read this:



  4. Steve says:

    I don’t like how you can’t change the name of a clips after it is in a keyword collection. Say I have a long clip names 00001 and I’ve got it keyworded into 10 different “subclips” under the keyword collection YELLOW. I’d like to change the name of each clip in the YELLOW keyword collection, like YELLOW1, YELLOW2, etc.

    This doesn’t seem to work as it changes the name of the main clip right?

  5. Larry Jordan says:

    Correct. The keyword is a piece of metadata, NOT a clip name. Think of this as a street name. If you change the name of the street, all the houses on the street have to change their address as well.

    you are not creating subclips with keywords, you are simply applying index terms.


  6. Steve says:

    True Larry but it seems rather silly that there is no way to pull something like a subclip in fcp-x and then change the name of it. Unless I haven’t found a way.

  7. […] Cut Pro X – Keywords di Steve Douglas, Keywords and Ratings in Final Cut Pro X di IzzyVideo e FCP X: Adding Keywords Manually di Larry Jordan. Come viene sfruttato l’hardware? Il mio Mac è abbastanza […]

  8. Craig Warrian says:


    Is there any way to solo clips being used in my timeline via keyword?
    eg: I want to view or highlight all shots of ‘Frank’ in my timeline. He demands there are 47 shots of him in the film.
    This would be a handy feature.


    • Larry Jordan says:


      This is very easy. Go to the Timeline Index. Click the Tags button at the top. Click the Key icon at the bottom.

      Highlight the keyword you want to select. All clips with that keyword are selected in the Timeline. Click the Solo button in the top right corner of the Timeline and all your highlighted clips are soloed.

      Piece of cake.


    • Michael says:

      Hi Larry,

      Trying Keywords as you’ve outlined. No tags. There are several clips in the timeline with keyword TK1. I typed TK1 in the search at the top of the Timeline index and hit enter but only one of the clips becomes selected. Could you say more about this workflow (esp what is meant by “Highlight”)


  9. Aoise Tutty says:

    Hi Larry,

    I was wondering if you can help. I’ve created quite a few keywords for the data I’m looking through as it’s quite a large project. However when I open the keyword search, the window is too small and cutting out half of my keyword names meaning it’s difficul tto choose the correct ones – I can’t seem to enlarge the search window in order to help with this – any help much appreciated!

  10. Alex says:

    Hey Larry,

    We used multicam to sync a bunch of clips. Now I’m going through the multicam and tagging sections (shot 2a, 2b, etc). Seemed like a great solution to syncing and organizing except one thing: Inside the keyword collection, all the clips have the same name (they originate from the same multicam clip). Is there a way to add unique metadata to each so that I can visually differentiate the clips without having to scrub through?

    • Larry says:


      Easy. Using the Range tool, select the portion of the shot to which you want to add a keyword.

      Then, using the Keyword entry box (Cmd+K) enter the keyword you want.

      Keywords can be applied to ranges within a clip, as well as the clips themselves.


      • Alex says:

        hi larry. I am doing what you described. The issue is when I then browse a particular keyword collection all the clips tagged have the same name. (e.g “multicam_01”). I’m wondering if there is a way to add unique metadata so that I can rename or distinguish these clips from one another without having to scrub.

        My workflow thusfar:
        1. Sync multiple clips using multicam.
        2. Use the range tool to tag parts of the multiclip (e.g. 2a, 2b, 2c, etc)
        3. Browse the clips via these newly created keywords.
        4. All clips of a keyword collection have the same name (because they are borne of the same multiclip)

        But I’d love to be able to visually identify which clip is which so if the director says, “take 2 was best,” i can easily click on the correct clip without having to scrub across the clip and identify by the words on the slate. Does that make sense?

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