Understanding What’s Currently Selected

Most commands in Final Cut Pro require a selection. Even when you have not explicitly selected items in the Timeline, Final Cut Pro often has a default selection, such as the clip currently beneath the Timeline playhead. In addition to learning different methods for selecting items in a sequence, it’s important to understand which clips Final Cut Pro considers to be selected when you haven’t made an explicit selection.

Identifying Selections in the Timeline

When you click a clip in the Timeline, it’s highlighted to indicate it’s selected.

Figure. Timeline window showing a selected clip.

Even if there are no clips highlighted, Final Cut Pro usually considers something in the Timeline to be selected. This occurs in two situations:

  • If no clips are highlighted and there are no In or Out points set: Clips under the current position of the playhead are considered selected for many commands. For example, if you choose a filter from the Effects menu, it is applied to any clips under the playhead, even if nothing in the Timeline appears to be selected. This makes editing faster because you don’t always need to explicitly select a clip to affect it.
  • If sequence In and Out points are set and no clips are selected: Any content between the In and Out points is selected on all tracks with Auto Select turned on. The selected area is highlighted.
    Figure. Timeline window showing that the tracks with the Auto Select buttons turned on are selected.

Auto Select controls are further explained in Using Auto Select to Specify Tracks for Selections.

How Selections Are Prioritized in the Timeline

With the exception of editing clips into a sequence, operations in the Timeline are prioritized in the following way:

  • If clips are selected: Any operations you perform affect those clips.
  • If no clips are selected: Content between In and Out points on tracks with Auto Select turned on is considered selected.
  • If no In and Out points are set: The clips under the playhead on tracks with Auto Select turned on are considered selected for many commands.

    Note: Some commands operate on the topmost video clip items, regardless of which tracks’ Auto Select controls are turned on. The topmost clip items are the ones you see in the Canvas, and so those are often the items you want to operate on.

For example, if sequence In and Out points are set and a clip is selected, the next operation is performed on the selected clip rather than the content between the In and Out points. If you deselect the clip, the portions of clips between the In and Out points on tracks with Auto Select turned on are affected. For more information, see Using Auto Select to Specify Tracks for Selections.