Problems Importing Text into Final Cut Pro

Posted on by Larry

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

Andy writes:

I enjoy working with the text features in FCP slightly more than going to the dentist, but only slightly less than extracting my own teeth. Whenever I create text somewhere else (InDesign, Word, TextEdit, whatever) and then copy it and paste it into FCP, it automatically brings it in in one really, really long single line. It doesn’t seem to matter how I format it or break the lines or add spaces, it just dumps it into the world’s longest run-on sentence. Is there a trick I don’t know? Or am I forever doomed to reformatting endless lists of names and titles in one of the most user un-friendly features of an otherwise fantastic program. Thank you in advance for your wise, all-knowing answer, and for being gentle if the answer is “you’re screwed.”

Larry replies: Hmmm… this works fine for me.

I just created a new Text Edit document. Added some names, with a return after each line. Copied it to the clipboard. Pasted it into a new Full Text clip in the Viewer of FCP. All carriage returns were displayed properly.

However, Andy couldn’t get this to work the way I did. After an email exchange, we found the source of the problem….

Andy writes:

Using TextEdit, I went into the preferences where, by default, the text format was Rich Text, and I changed it to Plain Text. After that I was able to copy and paste into FCP and the formatting was intact.


Just for the heck of it I then tried copying and pasting from Adobe InDesign into FCP but it did not work. Copy from InDesign then paste into TextEdit then copy and paste into FCP and it does work.

Larry adds: The reason is that all these other programs add hidden codes to help format your text. You don’t see them, but they are carried in the clipboard when you copy the text. FCP doesn’t understand these codes, so it doesn’t know what to do about the text. So it ignore it.

To copy text into a Final Cut Pro clip, copy it from your source application, then paste it into a plain text document in Text Edit. Copy it again, which remove these hidden codes, and paste it into Final Cut.

Works great.

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6 Responses to Problems Importing Text into Final Cut Pro

  1. Tim* says:

    It’s hard to believe that this is the only page I could find regarding this issue. Thanks for the help!

  2. Tim says:

    thanks!! this issue has bugged me forever… not anymore… solution works great!!
    Thanks Larry

  3. Cristine says:

    Thanks Larry for your help on this.
    I have another question, the text does work as you say but how
    can I keep for example the first & last name on the same line?

    Ted Smith
    Sally Bingo

    Hope you can understand what I mean & have a very quick & easy solution, as
    I have so many cast member names & they take me ages to align them the way I got it
    from the clients email. it’s driving me a bit nutso!
    Thanks for your time

  4. Christine says:

    Hi Larry,

    I don’t know if I am in the right comment section for my question, but here goes.
    I made subtitles for a movie (.pac file) and converted it to an .srt.txt file. Is it possible to import this file (with time codes hh/mm/ss/ff (hour, minute, second, frame) into Final Cut Pro X? If yes, how?

    Thank you so much for your help.
    My apologies in advance for being a total noop!

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