Something is not working with my Final Cut system. How do I fix it?

Something is not working with my Final Cut system. How do I fix it?

Video editing systems will have problems. The process of pinpointing the problem is called “troubleshooting”.

Troubleshooting is the art of changing one thing at a time until the problem is pinpointed.

For example, you’re having a problem with a project. Try creating a brand new project. Does the problem persist? If the brand new project works fine, that pinpoints your existing project. Perhaps you should delete the render files, restore from the AutoSave Vault, or paste your clips into a new project.  If the new project has the same symptoms, that points to a system problem.

If you are getting a General Error when opening a project, try renaming your Capture Scratch folder, and deleting your Rendered items folder. If it opens fine then, try relinking little by little.

If you’re having trouble capturing to an external drive, try capturing to the internal drive- if this works fine, this points to your external drive as the culprit. Having trouble capturing? Borrow another camera. Capture work fine now? It’s your camera. If not, it’s your system. Try your camera with a friend’s system. Still no work? It’s the camera. Try capturing with iMovie. If that works, you have proved your firewire cable is good. Either your camera is not compatible with FCP or there is some config problem with FCP.

See how that works? Change a variable, then test. When the problem goes away, you’ve pinpointed the problem.

With a weird or intermittent system problem, you can try trashing the Final Cut Pro prefs:

  1. In the Finder, go to ~/Library/Preferences—the tilde (~) represents your Home folder.
  2. Remove the “” file from the Preferences folder.
  3. Remove the “Final Cut Pro User Data” folder from the Preferences folder.

Remove receipts and reinstall Final Cut Pro

Another approach you might consider is reinstalling Final Cut Pro. To do this effectively, you need to remove the application and its receipts, then install Final Cut Pro and use Software Update to install additional updates. You don’t have to remove everything that was installed with Final Cut Pro. Follow the steps below to completely reinstall a fresh copy of Final Cut Pro. Note: Make sure that you have your installation discs and serial number handy before starting this.

To reinstall Final Cut Pro:

  1. Open the Applications folder.
  2. Drag the Final Cut Pro application to the Trash.
  3. Go to /Library/Receipts.
  4. In the Receipts folder, select the “FinalCutPro.pkg” file.
  5. Choose View > as List to view the contents in a list.
  6. Click the Date Modified column header so you can easily see all of the receipts that were installed at the same time as Final Cut Pro.
  7. Drag the FinalCutPro.pkg receipt to the Trash, as well as any other items that have the same modification date within 3 minutes of the FinalCutPro.pkg’s modification date.
  8. Click the Name column header to sort the list alphabetically.
  9. Drag any other receipts whose names begin with “Final Cut Pro” to the Trash.
  10. Insert your Final Cut Pro installation disc and install Final Cut Pro.
  11. When finished, use Software Update (under the Apple menu) to update your software to the latest version.

Confirm requirements and versions

  1. Check system requirements
    Make sure that you haven’t overlooked any hardware aspect that’s required to use Final Cut Pro. You can view the system requirements on the Final Cut Pro Technical Specifications page.
  2. Update to the latest software versions
    Choose Apple > Software Update and make sure that you have the most recent updates for your versions of Final Cut Pro, QuickTime, and other important system files. Installing the latest updates ensures that your software has the latest improvements and enhancements.
  3. Check compatibility and driver versions for third-party devices
    If you’re using a third-party capture card, storage system, input device, or something else, check the support area on the manufacturer’s website to be sure that you’re using the latest version of the relevant driver or other software for your device. To see if your video device has been qualified for use with Final Cut Pro, check out the Final Cut Studio Device Qualification web page.

To keep a stable system, you have two choices:

1. Find a combo of OS version, FCP version, and QT version that works and stick with it. Once you find the magic combo that works, stick with it!!! Do not upgrade anything. This gives you a stable system that you can edit on for years and years.

2. Be a “bleeding edger”. Always upgrade to the latest everything (unless Apple specifically says not to) You will have more problems, but you can always lock your system and go to option #1 if you get tired of them. From time to time, you may enjoy new features, but things that used to work will break.

Here is a page with good troubleshooting info.


  1. Josh 17 years ago

    Also try fixing disk permissions:
    1. Open Disk Utility (/Applications/Utilities)

    2. select your hard disk volume
    3. click the First Aid tab
    4. click Repair Disk Permissions

    Here‘s an article on permissions.

  2. Josh 17 years ago

    Repair your disk:

    – Insert the Software Install disc that came with your computer into the disc drive.
    – Restart your computer and immediately press and hold the C key to start up from the disc.
    – When you see the Installer screen, choose Open Disk Utility from the Installer menu.
    – Select your hard disk volume in the left pane.
    – Click the First Aid tab, then click Repair Disk.
    – After Disk Utility finishes repairing the disk, restart your computer and test it.

  3. Josh 17 years ago

    Download Mac HelpMate, a freeware tool that will help keep your system running smoothly:

  4. Josh 17 years ago

    Check out FCP Rescue, will will back up your prefs so you don’t lose your settings:


    Instant backup, restore and removal of Apple Final Cut Pro’s preference files using this small utility that helps you if Final Cut Pro crashes and corrupts its preference files. Also very useful if other editors use your login, and you want to be able to go back to YOUR settings afterwards. Very simple interface. One backup per user login. Trashing and restore, affects ONLY the current logged in user.

    The backup includes ALL FCP settings, including:

    • User preferences
    • Audio/Video settings
    • System settings
    • Window settings
    • Keyboard setup
    • Easy setups

  5. Jill 16 years ago

    Thank you Josh!! I was freaking out that FCP wouldn’t start until I searched the internet and followed your advice to trash preferences. Whew!

  6. Josh Mellicker 12 years ago

    If your computer is generally acting weird, zap the PRAM:

    Shut down the computer.

    Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.

    Turn on the computer.

    Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.

    Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.

    Release the keys.

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