FCP X: Relinking Media [u]

Posted on by Larry

(This article was first written as an update to my book: Final Cut Pro X – Making the Transition. However, this update was never published.)

[ Updated: July, 2014, with new features from the 10.1.2 FCP X update
 Dec. 21, 2014, with the new Locate behavior. ]

One of the biggest frustrations with the initial version of Final Cut Pro was that if you lost the connection with your media, you were out of luck, as you couldn’t reconnect to it. Now, with the 10.0.3 update, you can. Here’s how.

Sigh… You open Final Cut Pro and, suddenly, you’re seeing red in the Event Browser.

Or, you open a project and red indicators glare at you from the Timeline.

These red indicators (which flag clips that are “off-line”) can be caused by:

With the exception of accidentally switching to Proxy files – which you can fix by going back to Preferences > Editing and changing the preference setting back to Original/Optimized media – the rest of these problems can be solved by relinking.

NOTE: The key rule for working with media in Final Cut Pro X is that once you import media, don’t move it or rename it. Let FCP X (or Event Manager X, which is a separate utility) do all your media management.

In the case of moving a folder, quit Final Cut, move the folder back into the Final Cut Events folder and restart FCP. Everything is all good again. The key is to quit FCP X before moving folders.

However, sometimes missing media is caused by renaming folders, turning off a hard disk, deleting the wrong data, or a host of other calamities. In which case, you need to reconnect the links in Final Cut to the correct media. Here’s how.

In either the Event Browser or the Timeline, select the clips that are off-line (red). Then, choose File > Reconnect Project Files. (If the off-line files are in the Event Browser, select the clips and choose File > Reconnect Event Files. This menu is context-sensitive.)

The Relink window appears with the missing clips listed at the top. If you want to reconnect ALL the selected clips, click the All radio button at the top. This is a good choice if you totally messed up reconnecting your clips and want to try again.This will relink both missing and online clips.

Most of the time, though, you’ll want to just click the Missing radio button to just reconnect the clips that are missing.

Unlike FCP 7, which has an automatic search built into the Reconnect dialog, with FCP X you need to find the clips manually. So, click the Locate All button.

Look in the lower third of this window; you may need to stretch it wider to see everything. FCP displays the path and file name of the missing file. This not only shows the file name, but the path of folders that held the clip. For me, looking at this path helps me find exactly the file I need a whole lot easier and faster. Remember, you need to match the missing file exactly, not just indicate the folder it is in.

When you find the missing file, click Choose.

When a missing file is relinked, it is displayed at the bottom of the Relink window. If other missing files are in the same folder, they will all be linked at the same time and displayed in the lower portion of this window.

Click the twirl-down arrow to the left of the number of files found to reveal all linked files.

If you mistakenly linked to the wrong file, select the incorrect file in this list and press Delete. The selected file(s) are disconnected and the unlinked clip goes back up to the top of this window so you can relink it to the correct file.

To minimize files becoming unlinked in the the future, I recommend you check Copy files into Final Cut Events folder. This is a good idea for all linked files. The only downside to copying files is that they take more storage space.

When you have found all missing files, click Relink Files and everything is “all well better” again.


Sometimes if you are working with multiple versions of the same media, you may see this error message. It means that the clip you selected for relinking doesn’t match the source clip.

Click OK, and look for the original file. If, for some reason, it no longer exists, you will need to replace the missing clip in the Timeline with a new clip. FCP X won’t allow you to relink clips that don’t match.

UPDATE – July 19, 2014

The 10.1.2 update to Final Cut adds additional robustness to relinking. For example, if you store media in folders within folders, you can now relink media by selecting just the top folder. All missing media contained in folders within that top folder will be relinked, without needing to navigate to them individually.

NOTE: It is always a good idea not to change the file names of media once it has been imported into Final Cut. However, the new symlinks that FCP X uses can often relink media even though the file name has changed.

UPDATE – Dec. 21, 2014

I learned this tip last week from Michael Wood, when I was teaching a Final Cut Pro X class to his team. I don’t know when Apple added this feature to the software, but this is new behavior, at least to me.

As we’ve learned, nothing causes more frustration than the dreaded red Unlinked Media icon. To relink media, select the clips you want to relink in either the Browser or the Timeline and choose File > Relink Files.

This displays the relink dialog. Either select a specific clip to relink and click Locate Selected, or leave everything unselected and click Locate All.

Here’s the cool part. Normally, I never pay attention to the message at the bottom of the file picker screen because, in the past, it simply said the file was missing. Since I already knew that I ignored it.

However, here, it is saying that the file does not exist anywhere in the selected path: “/Volumes/OWC RAID (Fast)/Training Media/Jim Walker Underwater/” Hmm…

But! I know that that file is somewhere on that hard disk, so on the left in the Sidebar, I clicked the name of the hard disk and – poof! – FCP X found the file. I had moved it into a different folder on the same hard disk.

All I need to do is click Continue to relink to the file.

Here you can see the file was successfully relinked. Click the Relink Files button in the lower right corner of this dialog and you are done.


Rather than require us to figure out where the file is, all we need to do now is select the drive or folder that probably contains the file and – if it is there – Final Cut will find it and allow us to link to it. (However, this technique won’t help at all if you’ve deleted the missing file because then it is actually missing.)

Very cool and MUCH faster than navigating to a file manually.

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148 Responses to FCP X: Relinking Media [u]

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  1. John Cole says:

    Thanks for this (and all your helpful work), Larry.
    I just realized my plugin for xavcs is hopelessly out of date (had a sony plugin from 2013 – before my a7s2 with xavcs was even created). Now that I’ve loaded a more current plugin, do I have to reimport my files so they are transcoded with new plugin (and if so, how do I get the timeline to use the new imports instead of the old?), or is relinking enough?

    • Larry says:


      If your assets are already transcoded, and you can play them successfully, then you won’t need to transcode them again.

      If you can’t play the clips, then you’ll need to transcode them.


  2. HY MR. Larry
    thank you for your effort on FCPX please I have aquestion when I import XML file from fcp7 to fcpx all the camera relink wright I have 2 camera 5DMARK3 & Another one (go pro camera ) this one when I make relink the message shows
    The original file and new file have no shared media range.

    Relinked files must have the same media type and similar audio channels as the original files, and must be long enough to cover all the clips that reference the files.
    although the data is the same

    • Larry says:


      Thanks for writing. I suggest you contact the team at IntelligentAssistance.com who wrote the conversion utility 7toX which you need to move files between FCP 7 and FCP X. They should be able to help you figure out why your media is going offline.


  3. Joseph Skelton says:

    Hi Larry,

    I have a project with a ton of edits in it, then I realized that I hadn’t started with the Hi Res version of my source file. FCPX will not allow me to Relink File to the higher res version, even though the name, codecs, audio channels, and runtimes are all identical. Any ideas? All of the files in question are stored on my internal hard drive. The only weird thing I can think of is that I started the project in iMovie and ported it into FCPX.

    Thanks, Joe

    • Larry says:


      You SHOULD be able to relink to the original high-res media. If FCP X is preventing this for some reason, I suggest contacting Apple Support.


  4. Eric Martin says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thank you for being an invaluable resource.

    I am trying to import an xml from Premiere Pro and than relink to the original media files already located in my FCP library. I have the 7toX utility and was able to import the xml, my problem is in trying to relink the files.

    I was shooting with two cameras, and both renamed each clip the same, on multiple cards (i.e. I have six clip c0001’s & six clip c0002’s). I can see which clip I want to relink to in my finder by showing the package contents in my library, but from within the relink media command, I am only able to point it to my overall library. Although in the library each of the six clip c0001’s (for example) have a unique identifier, That identifier is not included in the filename from Premiere Pro.

    Is there a way to get the relink media command dig into the library so I can manually point it at the right file? or try having the other editor rename the clips he is using in Premiere to match the FCP nomenclature.

    We are both using original camera files (XAVC S), I am not using optimized or proxy media.

    Thank you for any advice or help (trying to figure out also the best way to rename the files before FCP ingests them into the library so i don’t have all the dupes)

    • Larry says:


      Oh, yeah, that won’t work.

      The FCP Library is a special kind of folder – called a “bundle” – that other applications can’t see into. Instead, you’ll need to open the Library using the Finder and drag (ideally COPY) the media from the Library into folder outside the Library.

      It will be REALLY helpful, because you have so many duplicate file names to be sure to clearly name the Finder folders you are copying the media into.


      • Eric Martin says:

        Ok, just to be sure – you are talking about relinking the media in my fcp browser to copied (duplicates of files inside the library) files in a folder that is outside the library?

        I am trying to rename the clips before they are imported so there are no duplicates and see if relinking the media will point to the correct file within the library.

        Thanks very much

  5. Eric Martin says:

    Thank you very much for your help! Haven’t had a chance to test it yet, but all the files are in place. Fingers crossed.

  6. Don says:

    This is interesting, I had to relink footage from a project the other day and the origional files were renamed by another co wrker by accident and there was no back up of the origional, the re link worked for 3 out of the 4 projects with one odd issue. One of the projects is importing the wrong footage into the timeline of the project. And I cannot seem to re attach it.

    The bugger is of course it’s a compleated project and it would be a pain to try and find the exact in and outs of the origional roll if i was to start over.

    Any ideas?

  7. Kamran says:

    Hi im free lance video editor and had project in Premier pro cc 2017. i always use to send XML file to my client after project done. Now Recently i have sent project and he is complaining that project is opening in FCP but when he tried to relink files FCP giving error that Frame Rate dose not match. Can any body help why this error coming. thanks

    • Larry says:


      Sending an XML file may still be the best way to send your project.

      If you are both linking to the same media, then frame rates SHOULD match. Try trashing FCP X preferences – press Option and Command while restarting FCP X from the Dock – and see if that fixes the problem.

      If not, contact Apple Support.


  8. Sans M says:

    Hi Larry

    So I have a similar yet unique problem, so I have an almost 2 hour feature which we offline in FCP 7, we shot in 4K on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and some Drone Footage and a few shots with an A7S2 we initially created our own HD proxies in .Mov, finished the edit and created XML for Da Vinci resolve, I have a separate drive with the proxy footage and an identical drive with the exact same 4K footage with the same file name. So the drive with the Proxies is removed and replaced with the drive with the 4K files. About 60% of the files open in Da Vinci but the rest don’t, I import those media manually but it doesn’t link, if I force confirm then it brings that clip and replaces the ‘red’ clip but at the start of that clip not the edit point, it’s too long to try cut each clip at the exact edit point, is there any way I can do this differently?

    • Larry says:


      This is tricky. FCP 7 doesn’t have the same proxy workflow that FCP X does.

      My suggestion is to do the relinking to the source media in FCP 7, then create the XML file for DaVinci Resolve. BE SURE, when you do, to duplicate your sequence so that you have a complete, approved edit using the proxy files that you can use as a reference. That way, if you need to make changes, you have something to compare the new 4K version to the original edit.

      This would also mean that you will have both hard drives connected and mounted to your computer.


  9. alex says:

    hello, thanks for this great post. i am using final cut pro X. I had to reinstall OS on Mac, and so re-download FCP to mac, and relink all files to the event/project, as I was obviously getting a !T symbol appearing next the files and projects in the browser. However, even after relinking all the files, the viewer displays !T and I can’t actually the view the edit, even though all the thumbnails are visible (and without !T) in the timeline. Am stuck. Any idea how what is going on?

    • Larry says:


      Two thoughts:

      1. Choose File > Delete Generated Media and delete all your render files

      2. If deleting render files doesn’t fix this, its time to call Apple Support.


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