Play back media

You can play back projects and clips in Final Cut Pro. Playback options include playing from the beginning, playing from a certain point, looping playback, and playing at different speeds. You can also play back video in full-screen view.

To control whether Final Cut Pro displays optimized, proxy, or original media in the Viewer, and whether video playback is optimized for quality or performance, choose the corresponding options from the Viewer Options pop-up menu in the upper-right corner of the Viewer. For more information, see Control playback quality and performance.

Play back video and audio clips

  • To play a project or clip from the beginning: Select the project or clip and choose View > Playback > Play from Beginning (or press Control-Shift-I).

  • To play a section of a project, selected clips, or a frame range from the beginning: Select the project, clips, or all or part of a clip, and choose View > Playback > Play Selection, or press the Slash (/) key.

    When you select a clip or a portion of a clip or project, the selected area is marked with a yellow border.

    Clip selection with yellow border
  • To play a project or clip from a specific point: In the Browser or the Timeline, click a point in a project or within a clip where you want to begin (or move the playhead to the point in the Timeline), and either press the Space bar or click the Play button in the Viewer (or press L).

    Playhead positioned in clip, showing point where playback begins
  • To play around the playhead or skimmer: Choose View > Playback > Play Around, or press Shift-Question Mark (?).

    Skimmer positioned in clip
  • To stop playback: Press the Space bar.

Use the J, K, and L keys for playback

You can use the J, K, and L keys on your keyboard to play through a project or clip. Playback begins at the location of the playhead (on a project) or the skimmer (on a clip). You can also use the J, K, and L keys to control a video playback device.

J, K, and L keys used for playback

You can use these keys to speed playback up to 32x normal speed.

  • To begin forward playback at normal (1x) speed: Press L.

  • To begin reverse playback at normal (1x) speed: Press J.

  • To pause playback: Press K.

  • To double the current playback speed: Press L or J twice.

  • To immediately reverse the playback direction: Press J to play in reverse, or press L to play forward.

  • To move the playhead one frame at a time: Hold down the K key, and press J or L.

  • To move the playhead at 1/2x speed: Hold down the K key while holding down J or L.

When you use keyboard shortcuts to control a device (like a camcorder or camera), the speed of forward (L) and reverse (J) playback may differ depending on your video equipment.

Play back media in a loop

You can turn on looping so that a project or a clip (or any portion of either) plays in a continuous loop.

  1. To enable looping, choose View > Playback > Loop Playback (or press Command-L).

  2. Do any of the following:

    • To loop your entire project: Click the Timeline to make it active and press the Space bar.

    • To loop a clip in the Browser: Select the clip and press the Space bar.

    • To loop a portion of a clip or project: Select a range in the Browser clip or the Timeline, or select a Timeline clip, and choose View > Playback > Selection, or press the Slash (/) key.

Play video in full-screen view

  1. Open a project in the Timeline or select a clip in the Browser, and position the playhead where you want the video to begin.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose View > Playback > Play Full Screen (or press Shift-Command-F).

    • Click the Play Full Screen button below the Viewer.

    The item plays in full-screen view starting at the playhead position.

    Tip: You can use all the playback shortcut keys during full-screen playback, including J-K-L and others. For a full list of the available shortcuts, see Keyboard shortcuts.

  3. To leave full-screen view, press the Esc (Escape) key.

When you play back clips, the frames under the playhead or skimmer play in the Viewer. If you need to compare two clips at once, you can use the Event Viewer, a separate viewer for playing back event clips only. The Event Viewer appears to the left of the main Viewer. For more information, see Play back and skim media in the Event Viewer.