FCP 7: Improve Your Timeline Zooming

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the November, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Simon Morton, from somewhere near London, writes:

Firstly can I say how brilliant your training videos are, very informative and very well taught, not to mention very amusing. Normally I loose the will to live during training videos, but yours are great, though my wife looks at me very strangely when I repeat your expressions like ‘hootie- kazootie’!


Anyway, I have final cut studio 3, and really like the new “zoom in on playhead in timeline”. However, I would love my mighty mouse trackball (scroll up) to control the “zoom in on playhead in timeline”, and scroll down to control “zoom out on playhead in timeline”. So basically rather that going to click a custom button in the button bar that I have set up, zooming in and out of the playhead can be done from the mouse.


P. S. In the spirit of international cooperation, can I suggest some cockney rhyming slang for your next training video. Here are some expressions you could slip into the video to keep us Brits attention:

  • “Would you adam and eve it” = would you believe it
  • “the button bar is your best china plate” = the button bar is your best mate/ friend
  • “make sure you have your auntie Nelly set up correctly” – make sure you have your telly set up correctly

Larry replies: Simon, I have two Brits working here with me in the office and they were VERY impressed with your Cockney rhyming slang.

To solve this puzzle, you need to assign an FCP keyboard shortcut to the Zoom In and Zoom Out on Playhead functions. You do this inside FCP using Tools > Keyboard manager.

Once these functions have been assigned to a keyboard shortcut, go to the Apple logo > System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse and assign that keyboard shortcut to the buttons on your mouse.

Now, whenever you push that button, you’ll zoom in, or out, at the location of your playhead in the Timeline. (Note: this shortcut is only available inside Final Cut Pro 7.)


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2 Responses to FCP 7: Improve Your Timeline Zooming

  1. Malcolm says:

    Hi Larry,

    As I explore Final Cut Pro X after having cut my teeth editing through Premiere Pro CS5.5. and then CS6, I have really been appreciating the wealth of knowledge you have distributed around the web with regards to Final Cut Pro. As I google my quandries, you’re consistently featuring as the most useful result either through this site or featuring in YouTube videos.

    While you’ve opened my eyes to a great deal of Final Cut Pro X, there is still something I am yearning for every few seconds of my editing work. That is being able to use keys like Command or Option to modify my mouse scroll wheel from vertical to horizontal or even to zoom scrolling. I only realize it after switching NLE’s, but that simple functionality was the basis of my fluid navigation of the timeline in Premiere Pro and I am missing it SO dearly. I’m finding the pinch or Command +/- zooming, and other gesture based timeline navigation to be less precise and rapidly responsive than the mouse’s scroll wheel.

    I’ve looked into customizing Commands in Final Cut Pro X, but don’t see how to reference the mouse’s scroll wheel from there (e.g. Command + Mouse Scroll = zoom in/out, or Option + Mouse Scroll = horizontal scrolling). I am convinced that this shouldn’t be hard to do, since all sorts of other software (ranging from Premiere Pro to Audacity) let me use keys to modify the scroll wheel function when the cursor is over the timeline.

    Another option that I’ve heard suggested is to find a mouse with Mac compatible drivers that will allow me to change the scroll wheel function from the driver/controller interface. This seems like a less elegant workaround, and so I want to exhaust my options of setting up this function in FCP X before exploring that workaround.

    My question for you: Have you tackled this issue yet? Where have you gotten with it?

    I am really looking forward to your reply. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

    • Malcolm says:

      P.S. I just realized that the Shift key modifies my scroll wheel to horizontal scrolling in FCP X; perfect! I guess that was hidden in plain sight. Perhaps the modifier key for zoom scrolling is also already set and I just don’t know about it yet?

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