Larry Jordan: Trouble-Shoot Your Apple Final Cut Pro X System

by Larry Jordan

[This is the last Monday in August – can you believe August went by that quickly? Next Monday is Labor Day – a holiday here in the US. Which is another way of saying that, since things are a bit slow, this is a perfect time to take a look at your Final Cut Pro X system and fix anything that needs tweaking before fall kicks into gear.]

Most of the time, Apple Final Cut Pro X works reliably. But, every so often, things go weird. Here’s a list of things to try before you call Apple Support. These are listed in order. Try each of these steps, then see if FCP X starts working properly. If it is, then stop there. If not, keep going. If nothing works, then please contact Apple Support.

NOTE: If you are looking for general trouble-shooting procedures, read this. If you are looking for Final Cut Pro 7 trouble-shooting tips, read this.


Quit Final Cut, then restart your computer. It is amazing what gets fixed simply by restarting.


Quit FCP X. Then, press and hold the Option + Command keys while clicking the Final Cut icon in the Dock. This message then appears.

Click the blue Delete Preferences button to restore Final Cut’s preferences to the factory default.

Trashing FCP X preferences does NOT delete any of your libraries, media, edits or projects. It DOES empty the Recent Libraries list in the File menu, resets all FCP X preferences to defaults and resets the internal settings of FCP X to their Apple defaults. For this reason, make sure you know where your libraries are stored before deleting preferences so you can find them manually after this reset.


A Safe Boot cleans up problems with how files are stored on your hard disk. A Safe Boot is also the best way to delete plug-ins that are malfunctioning, files that refuse to be deleted, or files that remain open after an application quits.

While pressing the Shift key, restart your computer. Continue holding the Shift key until the computer restarts AND you see the small, white thermometer start to scroll across the bottom of your screen.

BIG NOTE: YOU CAN NOT RUN FCP X in Safe Mode. This procedure is for maintenance and repair, not operating your computer.

Your computer will prompt you for your user name and password, even if you have auto-logon turned on. You know you’re in Safe Mode because, when the log-in screen appears, the words “Safe Boot” appear in red in the upper right corner of your screen.

This does several things:

  • It makes sure all file directories on your hard disk are cleaned and optimized.
  • It turns off all 3rd-party operating system extensions and plug-ins.
  • It turns off all FCP X extensions and plug-ins.
  • It essentially disables the GPU.
  • It turns off all non-vital operating system elements.

NOTE: Safe Boot is an excellent maintenance procedure for your entire computer, not just Final Cut. It was designed by Apple and I recommend you run this once a week. Personally, once I’m logged into Safe Mode, I also run First Aid, which is detailed next.

To restore your computer to normal operation, simply restart it without holding any keys down.


This used to be called “Repair Permissions,” but now Apple has designed this to do more.

Open Utilities > Disk Utility, select your boot disk on the left (Macintosh HD, in my case), then click First Aid.

First Aid runs a number of repair and maintenance procedures on your hard disk, making sure everything is OK, and fixing things that aren’t. Everything this does is “under-the-hood” stuff, but it keeps your hard disk directories and applications clean and out of problems.

This is designed for the boot disk. I almost never run this on data drives.

A message then appears asking if this is what you really want to do. Click Run.

Because you are repairing your boot disk – which is similar to running while tying your shoelaces – Disk Utility warns you that things will slow way down for a few minutes. Click Continue.

First Aid will take a couple of minutes, then this dialog appears. Click Done.

Then, if you are also in Safe Mode, restart your computer. If you aren’t, you may get along with your business.

NOTE: I like running First Aid within Safe Mode because with so much of the macOS is turned off, there’s less interference when running the utility. However, there’s no harm in running First Aid at any time. I try to run it once a week, whether I have problems or not. This just keeps everything on my system running smoothly.

You can read the rest of Larry’s tutorial, which includes reinstalling applications, creating new user accounts, and finally, contacting AppleCare at

About James DeRuvo 637 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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