What are libraries?

In Final Cut Pro 10.1 or later, you organize your work in libraries. A library contains multiple events and projects in the same location. The first time you open Final Cut Pro 10.1, it creates a library file in the Movies folder. When you create a new project or event, it’s automatically included in the active library. The library tracks all your media files, your editing decisions, and the associated metadata.

Library containing three events, each containing clips and projects

You can have multiple libraries open at the same time, and you can easily copy events and projects between libraries. This makes it simple and quick to move media, metadata, and creative work to another system for mobile work, work with multiple editors, or archiving. You can open and close libraries as needed so that you never have too many libraries open at once.

The following concepts are important to understand when you work with libraries.

Managed and external media

Media that you import into a specific library is stored inside the library and is referred to as managed media. Media can also be imported or copied to any location on a connected volume and linked to the library as external media. Multiple users can access this external media instantly on shared storage.

Managed media can be made external at any time if you want to share access, and external media can be collected as managed media inside the library for easy transport or archiving. For more information, see Consolidate projects, events, and libraries.

Generated media

Render files, optimized files, proxy files, and analysis files are all considered generated media because the system creates them in the background after the original media has been imported. You can store generated media inside your Final Cut Pro library or in an external location you define in the Library Properties inspector. For example, to organize media in a large facility more efficiently, you can put generated media on a SAN or on a storage device outside the library. For more information, see Manage storage locations.

To reduce a library’s size, and to move, copy, or archive a library more quickly, you can delete all the generated media (proxy, optimized, or render files) in one step. For more information, see Manage optimized and proxy media files and Manage render files.

Note: By default, copying a project between libraries does not copy the associated proxy, optimized, or render files because these files can be quickly regenerated. However, you have the option to include proxy or optimized media when you copy a project to another library.