Moving Items Within the Timeline

Composing a sequence usually involves plenty of arranging and rearranging of content in the Timeline. There are a couple of ways to move clips around in the Timeline:

Moving by Dragging

When dragging a clip to a new location, you can do either an overwrite or insert edit, depending on your use of a keyboard modifier.

To move a clip to a new position by dragging (and do an overwrite edit)
  1. In the Timeline, drag the clip to the new location. (The pointer looks like a down arrow.)

  2. Release the mouse button.

    Figure. Timeline window showing a down arrow over a clip in the video track, indicating that an overwrite edit will be performed.
To move a clip to a new position by dragging (and do an insert edit)
  1. In the Timeline, drag the clip to the new location.

  2. Press and hold down the Option key (after you’ve started dragging the clip).

    The pointer looks like a right arrow.

  3. Release the mouse button.

    Figure. Timeline window showing a clip with an arrow pointing right, indicating that an insert edit will be performed.
To move a clip to another track while keeping its horizontal position in a sequence the same
  1. In the Timeline, select the clip you want to move.

  2. Press the Shift key while dragging it vertically to the new track.

    The clip will be at the same timecode location, but on another track.

Moving Clips Numerically

When you want to move clip items precisely, you can move them by entering positive or negative timecode values.

To move an item by entering a timecode value
  1. In the Timeline, select the clip item or items you want to move.

  2. Type a relative timecode value for where you want the clip to be positioned.

    For example, type “+48” (or simply 48) to move the item 48 frames forward. To move 48 frames backward in time, type “–48”. When you type a number, a Move field appears above the track. You can also type a regular timecode value to move the clip to that location in the Timeline.

    Note: Don’t click in the Current Timecode field before you do this, or you’ll move the playhead instead.

    Figure. Timeline window showing the Move field indicating the number of frames moved.
  3. Press Return.

The clip moves to the new location if there aren’t any other clip items in the way. If there are, you see a “Clip Collision” message indicating which track had a clip that interfered with your edit.

Figure. Timeline window showing the Clip Collision message.

For more information about editing numerically using timecode, see Performing Slip, Slide, Ripple, and Roll Edits and Trimming Clips Using the Trim Edit Window.

Using the Command Key to Drag More Slowly

When you’re dragging clips, edit points, or keyframes, usually the default one-to-one correspondence between the motion of your mouse and the motion of the item you’re dragging works just fine. However, you can drag even more precisely by pressing the Command key to slow, or “gear down,” the dragging speed after you’ve started dragging.

For example, holding down the Command key after you’ve started dragging a clip causes the motion of that clip in the Timeline to be much slower and more precise. This can be helpful if the Timeline is zoomed out so that individual clips look small. It’s also useful if you want to make very small changes to an edit point, a keyframe parameter, a volume level, or anything else.

You can use the Command key to modify nearly any dragging operation in Final Cut Pro.

Performing Shuffle Edits

A shuffle edit (sometimes referred to as a swap edit) allows you to move a clip item to a different position in a track without leaving a gap. When you perform a shuffle edit, you insert a clip item from one position in your sequence to another, and all clip items before or after the clip insertion point are rippled so that the gap left by the moved clip is filled. Shuffle edits do not affect the length of the clips or the overall duration of your sequence, and clips on other tracks are not affected.

Figure. Diagram showing a shuffle edit in which a clip is moved backward before another clip.

Shuffle edits may only be performed with one clip item at a time, and they can’t be performed on clip items with transitions applied.

To shuffle a clip item from one position to another
  1. Select a clip item you want to move in the Timeline with the Selection tool.

    Figure. Timeline window showing a selected clip.
  2. Drag the selected clip item to the beginning of the clip item you want to insert the dragged clip item in front of.

  3. While continuing to hold down the mouse button, press the Option key.

    The pointer turns into the Shuffle Edit pointer. The direction of the small arrow in the Shuffle Edit pointer indicates which direction clip items will be rippled around the insertion point of the moved item.

    Note: Holding down Option after you begin dragging a clip temporarily enables snapping, regardless of whether snapping was turned on when you began dragging the clip. You can also temporarily turn off snapping while you drag the clip by pressing the N key. After you release the mouse button, the snapping mode returns to however it was set before you began dragging the clip. For more information about snapping, see Snapping to Points in the Timeline.

    • If the small arrow points right: All clip items to the right of the insertion point are rippled to the right, filling the gap where the moved clip item was previously located.
      Figure. Timeline window showing the Shuffle Edit pointer as a small arrow pointing to the right, indicating that all clip items to the right of the insertion point will ripple to the right.
    • If the small arrow points left: All clip items to the left of the insertion point are rippled to the left, filling the gap where the moved clip item was previously located.
  4. Release the mouse button to place the selected clip at the insertion point.

    Figure. Timeline window showing that a clip has been relocated before other clips that have rippled forward in the Timeline.

Important: Shuffle edits are only possible if you move a clip item beyond the boundaries of its original position. If you don’t move a clip item far enough, pressing the Option key while you drag the clip item allows you to perform an insert edit, but not a shuffle edit.