Changing System Settings

Settings apply to capture, sequence, rendering, real time, output, hardware, and format configurations in Final Cut Pro. Once you set up for a particular video format and device, these settings are adjusted relatively infrequently. There are several places you can modify settings in Final Cut Pro:

To open the System Settings window
  • Choose Final Cut Pro > System Settings.

The System Settings window is divided into several tabs:

Figure. System Settings window showing the Search Folders tab.

Scratch Disks Tab

You use the Scratch Disks tab to choose where you want to save captured video and audio media files and where to store the render, cache, and autosave files that Final Cut Pro creates. You can also specify other settings related to the size of captured and exported files and the minimum available space allowed on scratch disks. You can specify a maximum of 12 scratch disks. For more information about scratch disks, see Connecting DV Video Equipment.

About Waveform and Thumbnail Cache Files

Waveform and thumbnail cache files are temporary files Final Cut Pro creates when you import media files. Neither type of file requires much hard disk space, so you can choose to store them on your internal disk or an external scratch disk. If these files are moved or deleted, Final Cut Pro can re-create them when you open a project file.

To set locations for the waveform and thumbnail cache files
  1. In the Scratch Disks tab, click Set next to the appropriate item.

  2. In the dialog that appears, locate and select the disk you want to use.

  3. Click Choose.

    The specified disk is listed next to the Set button, along with the amount of available disk space.

About Waveform Cache Files

A waveform cache file contains a waveform overview for audio in your project.

About Thumbnail Cache Files

Thumbnail cache files store small representative images of your clips that appear in the Browser and Timeline.

The amount of space that the cache files use is determined by the Thumbnail Cache setting in the Memory & Cache tab of the System Settings window. For more information, see Memory & Cache Tab. For information about the autosave feature, see Using the Autosave Feature.

Search Folders Tab

When reconnecting clips to media files, Final Cut Pro uses the folders assigned in this tab to search for media. The folders listed here appear in the Search Folders pop-up menu in the Reconnect Files dialog, allowing you to limit your media search to specific media drives and folders. This is helpful when you have a large number of disks that contain footage for multiple projects, or when you are using a storage area network (SAN).

Tip: Searching a SAN or subdirectories of an HFS Plus volume can be more time-consuming than searching an entire HFS Plus volume, so you can speed up the search processes performed when reconnecting media by limiting which folders Final Cut Pro searches on your SAN.

Figure. System Settings window showing the Search Folders tab.
To add or replace a search folder
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > System Settings, then click the Search Folders tab.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click the last Set button to add a new search folder.

    • Click Set next to an existing search folder to replace it.

    The Choose a Folder dialog appears.

  3. Navigate to the search folder you want to use in the Choose a Folder dialog, then click Choose.

  4. Click OK.

    The current list of search folders appears in the Search Folders pop-up menu in the Reconnect Files dialog.

For more information, see Reconnecting Clips and Offline Media.

To remove a search folder
  • Click Clear next to the search folder you want to remove from the list.

Note: When a mounted volume is missing, Final Cut Pro displays the message “[volume name] is missing.”

Memory & Cache Tab

The settings in this tab affect memory usage in Final Cut Pro.

Figure. System Settings window showing the Memory & Cache tab.
Memory Usage Settings

Use these fields to decide how much of the RAM in your computer is available for Final Cut Pro to use. Your computer’s available RAM is defined as the amount of RAM not used by Mac OS X and other currently open applications. By limiting the amount of RAM Final Cut Pro uses, you can maintain the performance of Final Cut Pro by preventing Mac OS X from using virtual memory unnecessarily. This is especially important when multiple applications are open at the same time.

  • Application: This specifies what percentage of available RAM Final Cut Pro should use. The total amount of allocated RAM appears to the right. The minimum amount of RAM you can allocate to Final Cut Pro is 125 MB. If the amount of available RAM is lower than 125 MB, this slider is dimmed.
  • Still Cache: This specifies the amount of RAM used to hold still images for real-time playback. The still cache that is allocated is a percentage of the excess RAM allocated to Final Cut Pro, so adjusting the Application slider also adjusts the amount of RAM available to the still cache. The more RAM allocated to the still cache, the more still frames can be played back in real time in the currently selected sequence. If another sequence is opened, the contents of the still cache are replaced with stills from the new sequence. If there is no excess RAM available, this slider is dimmed.
Thumbnail Cache Settings

Use these fields to set the size of your cache. The thumbnail cache stores the clip thumbnails displayed in the Timeline and the Browser. When you choose to display thumbnails, the thumbnail cache improves the responsiveness of the Timeline and Browser. There are two settings you can modify:

  • Disk: Enter a number in this field to specify the size of the thumbnail disk cache. You may want to have a large thumbnail disk cache if you’re working with a large number of clips and want to display thumbnails or if you are using the Browser’s large icon view.
  • RAM: Enter a number in this field to specify the size of the thumbnail RAM cache. You may want to have a large thumbnail RAM cache if you’re working with a large number of clips and want to display thumbnails or if you are using the Browser’s large icon view.

    If you often scrub thumbnails in the Browser’s large icon view, you can optimize their playback quality by increasing the thumbnail RAM cache. To set a location for the thumbnail cache, see Connecting DV Video Equipment.

    Note: The thumbnail RAM cache uses part of the RAM available to other parts of Final Cut Pro, so it shouldn’t be made too large.

Playback Control Tab

Playback Control settings affect all sequences and projects currently open. These settings also appear in the RT pop-up menu in the Timeline. Using these settings, you can balance visual playback quality and maximize the available effects that can be played back in real time. For more information, see Using RT Extreme.

External Editors Tab

Final Cut Pro allows you to directly open clips’ media files in other applications. This tab allows you to assign media file types, such as still images or audio, to external applications for editing and processing outside Final Cut Pro.

To open a clip in an external application
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select a clip in the Browser or Timeline, then choose View > Clip in Editor.

    • Control-click a clip in the Browser or Canvas, then choose Open in Editor from the shortcut menu.

      Figure. Browser window showing the Open in Editor command in a shortcut menu.

    Final Cut Pro automatically opens the application associated with the type of media file that you defined in the External Editors tab of the System Settings window.

  2. Make the necessary revisions to the file, then save the changes in the external application.

    When you return to Final Cut Pro, the clip is automatically reconnected to the updated media file.

    In some cases, a clip’s Creator property determines what application will open it, such as Motion clips. However, for generic media types such as audio and video, you can assign any application you want. For example, you could set Peak DV as your audio file editor so you could quickly make permanent changes directly to the source audio files on disk (such as using a noise reduction filter available in that application to clean up a particularly noisy clip). In this way you could apply effects or special sound-sweetening filters before continuing work on your edit.

    Note: If <None Set> appears next to an entry in the list, that type of clip is opened in the same application that would open if you double-clicked the corresponding media file in the Finder. To override the Finder default, you must specify an application to open for each type of media clip.

To set an external editor
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > System Settings, then click the External Editors tab.

  2. Click Set next to the clip type for which you want to assign an external editor.

  3. In the Open dialog that appears, navigate to the location of the application you want to use, then click Open.

    The pathname appears next to the file type in the External Editors tab.

    Figure. System Settings window showing the External Editors tab.
To clear an external editor
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > System Settings, then click the External Editors tab.

  2. Click Clear next to the clip type from which you want to remove an external editor.

    The path changes to <None Set>.

Effect Handling Tab

The Effect Handling tab allows you to assign real-time effects processing to a third-party video effects accelerator card or to Final Cut Pro (native software processing). Each codec that appears here can be assigned to a different video effects accelerator card or to Final Cut Pro. For more details, see Using RT Extreme.