Arrange clips in the Timeline

In Final Cut Pro, you can arrange and reorder the clips in your project however you want. If you add or move a clip in the Timeline by dragging, Final Cut Pro moves other clips to make room for it. Other reordering techniques include moving clips numerically by entering a timecode value, nudging clips with keyboard shortcuts, overwriting with the Position tool, and moving clips vertically from and to the primary storyline.

Move clips by dragging horizontally

  • In the Timeline, select one or more clips and drag them to a new location in the project.

As you drag your clips, you see an outline of your selection at the new position in the Timeline. When you release the mouse button, the repositioned clip (or clips) appears at the new location. Final Cut Pro ripples clips (and any connected clips) in the Timeline to make room for the repositioned clips and to close the gap left by the clips that were repositioned. You can also drag clips vertically in and out of the primary storyline.

Clip being dragged horizontally in Timeline

Note: This method of moving clips horizontally is the functional equivalent of a shuffle edit in Final Cut Pro 7, just easier.

Move clips by entering a timecode value

You can move selected clips in the Timeline by entering an amount of time you want the clips to move.

  1. Select one or more clips in the Timeline.

  2. Do any of the following:

    • To move the clips forward: Press the Plus Sign (+) key, and type a timecode duration for the move.

    • To move the clips back: Press the Hyphen (-) key, and type a timecode duration for the move.

    Note: For more information and tips on entering timecode, see Navigate using timecode.

    The timecode entry field (with blue numbers) appears in the Dashboard in the toolbar as you type.

    Timecode entry field in Dashboard
  3. Press Return.

    The clips move forward or back by the duration you entered. The adjacent clips are trimmed to accommodate the change in the clip’s position. If you prefer to fill in the vacated parts of the storyline with a gap clip, select the Position tool by pressing P before entering a timecode value.

    Moved clip in Timeline

Note: Moving clips by entering a timecode value is similar to making a slide edit. For more information, see Make slide edits with the Trim tool.

Nudge clips with keyboard shortcuts

The nudging feature in Final Cut Pro allows you to move selected items by very small amounts, such as frames or subframes (for connected audio-only clips).

  1. Select one or more clips in the Timeline.

  2. To nudge the clips, do any of the following:

    • To move the selection left by one frame: Press Comma (,).

    • To move the selection left by 10 frames: Press Shift-Comma (,).

    • To move the selection right by one frame: Press Period (.).

    • To move the selection right by 10 frames: Press Shift-Period (.).

  3. If you want to nudge connected audio clips by one or more subframes, do any of the following:

    • To move the selection left by one subframe: Press Option-Comma (,).

    • To move the selection left by 10 subframes: Press Option-Shift-Comma (,).

    • To move the selection right by one subframe: Press Option-Period (.).

    • To move the selection right by 10 subframes: Press Option-Shift-Period (.).

    For more information about subframes, see View audio waveforms at the audio sample level.

The nudged clip appears at the new position in the Timeline. The adjacent clips are trimmed to accommodate the change in the clip’s position. If you prefer to fill in the vacated parts of the storyline with a gap clip, select the Position tool by pressing P before nudging clips.

Note: Nudging clips in the Timeline is similar to making a slide edit. For more information, see Make slide edits with the Trim tool.

Overwrite clips using the Position tool

You can move clips by dragging them in the Timeline to overwrite other clips. This allows you to place clips precisely without causing other clips to move to make room.

  1. Choose the Position tool from the Tools pop-up menu in the toolbar (or press P).

    Position tool in Tools pop-up menu

    The pointer changes to the Position tool icon.

    Tip: To switch to the Position tool temporarily, hold down the P key. When you release the P key, the tool reverts to the previously active tool.

  2. Select the clip you want to move.

    Selected clip in Timeline
  3. Drag the clip to a new position in the Timeline.

    Selected clip dragged to new position

    The moved clip overwrites any clips at the new position. A gap clip fills in the vacated part of the Timeline.

    Note: If you prefer to move clips left or right in the Timeline without leaving a gap, you may want to perform a slide edit.

To return to the Select tool (the default), choose it from the Tools pop-up menu in the toolbar (or press A).

Drag clips from and to the primary storyline

You can drag clips from and to the primary storyline. This technique employs ripple edits, which affect the total duration of your project. When you move a clip out of the primary storyline, it becomes either an individual connected clip or part of a connected storyline.

  1. If the Select tool is not the active tool, choose it from the Tools pop-up menu in the toolbar (or press A).

    Select tool in Tools pop-up menu
  2. Select one or more clips (either clips in the primary storyline or connected clips).

  3. Do any of the following:

    • To move clips out of the primary storyline: Drag the clips from the primary storyline to their new position as connected clips (above or below the primary storyline).

      The subsequent clips in the primary storyline ripple left to close the gap left by the clips you moved.

      Clip being dragged to new position in Timeline, causing clips after it to ripple
    • To move clips to the primary storyline: Drag the clips from their position as connected clips to an edit point between two clips in the primary storyline.

      The result is effectively an insert edit: the former connected clips are inserted in the primary storyline and subsequent clips ripple right to make room for the new clips.

      Connected clip being inserted between clips in Timeline, causing clips after it to ripple right

Note: You can drag clips from and to the primary storyline as long as there are no clips connected to them. If there is a connected clip, you must first move or remove the connected clip or use the Lift from Primary Storyline or Overwrite to Primary Storyline command.

Move clips from and to the primary storyline without rippling the project

You can move clips from and to the primary storyline without affecting the total duration of your project.

  1. Select the clips you want to move.

    Clip selected in Timeline
  2. Do any of the following:

    • To move selected clips from the primary storyline to connected clips at the same Timeline position: Choose Edit > Lift from Primary Storyline (or press Option–Command–Up Arrow).

      Clip in primary storyline converted to connected clip at same Timeline position, with gap clip filling vacated spot in primary storyline

      Gap clips fill in the vacated parts of the primary storyline, as needed.

    • To move selected connected clips to the primary storyline: Choose Edit > Overwrite to Primary Storyline (or press Option–Command–Down Arrow).

      Depending on the amount of overlap on the connected clip, the Overwrite to Primary Storyline command either creates a split edit or overwrites any video clips at the new location and converts the audio portion of the overwritten clip to a connected clip. The Overwrite to Primary Storyline command is not available for audio-only clips.

      Note: The Overwrite to Primary Storyline command works on individual connected clips only. To use this command on a clip in a connected storyline, first move the clip out of the storyline.

You can achieve the same results by dragging clips with the Position tool.