FCP X: Trash Preference Files [u]

Posted on by Larry

[Updated March, April, July, 2012, rewritten in Aug. 2013 and updated March, 2014, and July, 2014 with the 10.1.2 FCP X update.]

NOTE: Here’s a video that illustrates how and why to trash Final Cut Pro X preference files. This video ONLY applies to Final Cut BEFORE version 10.1.2.

The most popular questions I get in emails every day generally concern instabilities in Final Cut Pro X and general trouble-shooting tips. I’ve collected my most common suggestions in this article, which contains both trouble-shooting and performance tips.


With the release of Final Cut Pro X v.10.1.2, Apple greatly simplified the process of trashing preference files.

First, quit FCP.

Second, press and hold Option + Cmd while launching FCP X from the Dock. A dialog appears asking if you want to trash Final Cut’s preference files. Click Delete Preference and, poof!, they’re gone! (Click Cancel and Final Cut continues to launch without deleting your preferences.)

Keep in mind that you should only trash preference files when Final Cut is not behaving. If the system is working fine, don’t trash preferences. Deleting preferences resets all preference files to their factory default.


When Final Cut Pro X starts acting “weird,” unstable, or just misbehaves in general, the best thing to do is trash your FCP X preference files.

There are four rules with trashing FCP Preferences:

  1. Only trash preferences when Final Cut Pro is not working correctly. If FCP X is working fine, leave your preference files alone.
  2. Always quit Final Cut Pro X before trashing preference files. Trashing preference files with FCP X running will lead to unexpected crashes.
  3. Always trash all preference files at the same time. Don’t delete just one.
  4. Always empty the trash when you are done. It is not enough to flag the files for deletion, you actually need to delete them.

Final Cut Pro X needs these preference files in order to operate. When the application starts up, it looks for these files. If it can’t find them – either because you’ve never run the application before or the preference files have been trashed – it replaces those missing preference files with new ones using factory-default values.

There could be several FCP X preference files that you need to trash. However, the way you trash them varies if you are running OS X 10.6 or later versions of the operating system. In both cases, start by quitting Final Cut Pro X. Never trash preferences with FCP X running.

Be careful to NOT trash your FCP 7 preferences, if they exist. Pay close attention to the actual spelling of these file names.

NOTE: FCP X (v.10.1) runs ONLY on OS X 10.9 (Mavericks). Earlier versions of Final Cut Pro X support OS X 10.6.8 or later.

OS X 10.7 and later

Starting with OS X 10.7, Apple hid the Home Directory > Library folder. There are several ways to reveal this hidden folder, but this method is the easiest.

  1. Go to the Finder.
  2. Hold down on the Option key and click on the Go menu. The Library folder inside your Home Directory now shows up as a selection inside this menu. (You could also type Shift+Command+G, or select Go > Go To Folder in the Finder; then, type ~/Library/ and click Go.}
  3. Open to the Library > Preferences folder.
  4. Trash com.apple.FinalCut.LSSharedFileList.plist
  5. Trash com.apple.FinalCut.plist
  6. Trash com.apple.FinalCut.UserDestinations.plist
  7. Empty the Trash.
  8. Restart Final Cut Pro X.

OS X 10.6 – Snow Leopard

  1. Type Command+H to open your Home directory.
  2. Open the Library > Preferences folder.
  3. Trash com.apple.FinalCut.LSSharedFileList.plist
  4. Trash com.apple.FinalCut.plist
  5. Trash com.apple.FinalCut.UserDestinations.plist
  6. Empty the Trash.
  7. Restart Final Cut Pro X.

Rebuilding Final Cut Pro X preferences can fix certain types of behavioral issues, but will not increase speed or performance. If a system begins to suddenly respond unreliably, then deleting corrupted preference files is a good place to start troubleshooting.

NOTE: If FCP X has crashed recently, you may also see a variety of other preference files that start with: “com.apple.finalcut.” These strangely named files can also be deleted provided that Final Cut Pro X is not running, and the file name contains “…finalcut…” and not “…finalcutpro…”  Files that contain “Final Cut Pro” are used by Final Cut Pro 7 and should not be deleted.


FCP X takes full advantage of the Mac in terms of processor speed, drive speed, RAM and graphics cards. Decoding common camera codecs like AVCHD, XDCAM HD and others can be extremely difficult mathematically. This is no problem for an up-to-date system, but many people are trying to work with HD codecs on older laptops with slower graphics cards and minimal RAM.

These systems are fully supported as a minimum system requirement and, if you were doing minimum things (editing with DV or ProRes Proxy, for instance), then you will generally be fine. But if you are trying to work with professional formats under pressure, you need a system that is configured properly for that level of work.

The best tip for anyone who is experiencing slow response is add more RAM. I recommend a minimum of 8 GB, if your system supports it. And, if you own a MacPro, buy a faster graphics card with more VRAM. You will notice an immediate difference in speed, no matter what video format they are working on.

Another issue that slows performance, aside from the codec, is the image size. Larger images are harder to work with than smaller images.

UPDATE – MARCH 16, 2012

Another issue that affects performance is your graphics card. Earlier versions of Final Cut were totally dependent upon the speed of the CPU. Final Cut Pro X changed that by tightly integrating the graphics chip with video editing.

Don Smith pointed this out recently to me, when a reader complained of very slow performance on his MacBook Pro:

MacTracker says your computer has the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics card inside with only 256 MB of SDRAM shared with the main memory. That’s your problem I’m afraid. Only ATI (now AMD?) cards will accelerate FCPX and Motion.

I just went through this. My company bought a very nice NVIDIA card for the Mac Pro I work on and I posted a note on CreativeCow about how FCP X was “running like a stubborn mule”. I was guided to replace the NVIDIA GeForce card with an ATI card and the improvement was stunning. With the NVIDIA card simply changing from Safari back to FCP X would take 20 seconds and the spinning pizza of death would appear a couple of times. All clicks took two or three seconds to get a response. Shifting the position of a graphic would lag behind then jump ahead and overshoot.

Now, I’m in editing heaven with the ATI card. FCPX and Motion respond like BUTTAH! Just keep an eye on what graphics card is inside. For example, FCPX and Motion also run like buttah on my 17″ MacBook Pro 8,1 (Early 2011) because it has an AMD (ATI) Radeon HD 6750M graphics card inside along with the power-saving HD 3000 graphics.

Larry adds: Thanks, Don, for the suggestion. Here’s a link to Apple’s list of supported devices for Final Cut Pro X: http://help.apple.com/finalcutpro/cameras/en/index.html?

UPDATE: April 30, 2012

William Hohauser sent in a trouble-shooting tip regarding running FCP X in full-screen mode in Lion. Read it here.

UPDATE: July 1, 2012

After a listening to a presentation by Apple, I wrote up more performance suggestions in a new article. Read it here.


Two other good question to ask are: “What is the camera codec (or video format)? And what is the frame size?” before diagnosing unexpected behavior.

When the system allows you to optimize the native camera format during import (“optimize” means to transcode the video from whatever format the camera shot into ProRes 422) then optimizing is always a good idea. If the optimization choice is grayed out on the import menu, then FCP X has determined that there will be no benefit to optimizing. Optimized files are larger, requiring more storage space, but the import and export much faster and their image quality is optimized for editing.

If you are working with a large frame size on a minimally-equipped system, you may actually be better off working with proxies and waiting until you get to a faster system before finishing at original resolution.

NOTE: A quick note on audio. FCP X prefers uncompressed audio files; specifically WAV and AIF. If you shot a compressed audio format – such as MP3, AAC, or MP4 – convert it to AIF or WAV before importing into Final Cut. Not only will your potential audio quality improve, but this also minimizes problems with audio/video sync.

Don’t forget that Apple has extensive Final Cut Pro X support pages here: www.apple.com/support/finalcutpro/

Also, Apple recently posted a Knowledge Base article on FCP X trouble-shooting. You can read it here: support.apple.com/kb/TS3893


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69 Responses to FCP X: Trash Preference Files [u]

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  1. akhil says:

    fcpx is automatic crashing my system spec are 4gb ram core i3.can u plz provide me fix for this. If u want i ll provide u screenshot of crash report.


  2. GeorgeBonk says:

    You saved may ass!!! Suddenly FCPX was really acting up. The dreaded rotating brolly appeared every time I adjusted a clips settings or applied a filter – almost impossible to work as it was really slow & constantly stalling. After a quick round of trouble searching on the net I ended up here. Your suggestion to clear FCP´s preferences was the magic bullet. Suddenly the program is responsive again & back to normal. THANK YOU ; ))

  3. cutterstudy says:

    I really hate apple and what they do
    sitting here since months and try to resolve all this fcpxs mistakes
    i am very very angry

    you CVAN´T buy a new Imac with another card than nvidia

    fcpx runs good than suddenly after editing 2 projects every hack on the keyboard slows it down
    if i want to type title every letter needs 5-10 seconds to come up
    have a new iMac 27 ” quad core 1024 GB Grapic memory 24 GB RAM and all HDDs have moren than 15 % free

    fcpx is a mess

    but i neeeed to close my projects
    wow apple i hate you

  4. zCharlie says:

    Don Smith stated, “Only ATI (now AMD?) cards will accelerate FCPX and Motion.” If that’s true why does Apple recommend OpenCL cards from Nvidia?

    I have an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512 M installed in my Mac Pro (early 2008) 2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon.

    My performance when using Motion 5 is very sluggish, which makes me think that Don is correct. But i’m curious as to why Apple lists my Nvidia card as a viable choice.

  5. Ereebo says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites
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    to read content from other writers and use something from other web sites.

  6. Mark Dobson says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for your article but surely using digitalrebellion Preference Manager is a lot faster and easier than drilling down into the library and manually trashing files.

    Do you consider that this software does not do a thorough enough job?

    Despite being free software it is well supported and constantly being updated to match any changes in the operating system. I would highly recommend this application.

    • Larry Jordan says:


      The only reason I didn’t consider it is because I didn’t know about it. For those that want to learn more, the website is: http://www.digitalrebellion.com.



    • Mark Dobson says:

      Thanks for your reply Larry,

      I’ve been using it for a couple of years to trash my preferences and once you’ve set up which preferences you want to trash it’s a one click operation, followed by emptying the trash.

      I tend to trash Motion 5 and FCPX preference files at the same time because one never really knows where the problems originate from.

      A huge time saver and highly recommended.

  7. […] And remember to always quit FCP before doing this and to empty trash before re-opening Final Cut. For more information, visit Larry Jordan’s page here. […]

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  9. Trig Simon says:

    Larry, I want to trash my FCPX Preferences, but I do not see the com.apple.FinalCut.LSSharedFileList.plist, com.apple.FinalCut.plist, com.apple.FinalCut.UserDestinations.plist files on my MacPro 10.9.5. I have looked everywhere.

    • LarryJ says:


      If you are running FCP X 10.1.x, re-read this article – there’s a keyboard shortcut that does this automatically.

      If you are running an earlier version of FCP X, make sure you are opening the correct library – its the one in your Home directory.


  10. Ken Hymes says:

    Followed your advice: now libraries and media gone from final cut. So thanks for that.

    • Larry says:


      They aren’t gone. They are still stored on your hard disk, the same as ever.

      As you will note if you re-read this article, what DOES get erased is the list of “last opened” libraries. Not the libraries or the media itself.


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