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Symbolic Links in Final Cut Pro

Learn how to use symbolic links in Final Cut Pro to manage your media.

Please note: this lesson refers to storing copied media into the Final Cut Pro Events Folder.  In version(s) of Final Cut Pro X (10.1) and beyond, the events folder is now located within a self contanied library Library folder.  Click on the link for an updated video on FCP X media management.

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Okay, let’s take a quick look under the hood so you can see what’s really happening.

For starters, I recommend that you import your media to an external hard disk instead of the system drive.

Now with that being said, Final Cut Pro will automatically create a Final Cut Events folder on a drive when you import media into it.

With the exception of the system drive, this folder is always located at the root level of each drive.

Now, If for some reason you do decide to import media to the system drive, the events folder will be located in the following path: meaning the user’s folder, your user name, and then inside the movies folder.

Okay, regardless of where you import your media, take a close look on what has happened.

First off, here’s a folder labeled Jamaica Promo in the event that I created.

Inside you’ll see a folder that says original media.

Now, at first glance it looks like all my media has been copied into this folder, but if you take a close look, you’ll see a bunch of curved arrows within the clip icons.

These are called SimLinks, which stands for Symbolic Links. 

A SimLink is an alias that points to the original file.

So even though the folder says original media, these SimLinks are referencing the media on another device.

This all happened because I left the ‘copy files to Final Cut Events folder’ turned off when importing my media.

This choice is critical, because it determines where Final Cut Pro is going to look for the media.

If you are referencing media and the device that contains the media is disconnected, then the media will appear offline within Final Cut Pro X.

Okay so now, let’s rewind and see what happens if I were to check the Option to Copy files to the events folder.

At first glance, everything seems the same.

However, in the background Final Cut Pro is actually making full copies of the original media into an Events Folder.

You’ll notice this percentage wheel representing background tasks will give you a percentage of the files that are finished copying.

What’s really incredible is you can begin editing while Final Cut Pro is making the copies.

That’s because those SimLinks that I showed you earlier are created ahead of time.

They will temporarily reference the original location of your media until they have been copied over into the events folder.

So, check this out, you can actually see what’s happening in the finder level. 

As each file is copied over, the curved arrow for each file disappears telling you that the file is no longer being referenced.

This means Final Cut Pro will look for the media in the events folder instead of the original location.

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Transcoding Media in Final Cut Pro X was the previous entry in this blog.

Analyzing Media in Final Cut Pro X is the next entry in this blog.

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