LAFCPUG: Troubleshooting FAQs

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Troubleshooting FAQs


How do I trash my preferences?

From Michael Horton

Follow the instructions here: How to trash my Preferences


From Nick Meyers:

Both of these offer support for multiple users:

Mulituser Pro is from the folks who brought you "FCP Attic"

And FCP Manager seems to be a new kid on the block.

Another good preference trasher application is FCP Attic

Also Preference Manager from Digital Rebellion.

And Pro App Reset from InstructorAssets

And another : Final Cut Preference Manager From Jason Perr (Multi user)

FCP won't launch

From Michael Horton

Things to try :

  • Un-hook all external USB and FW devices and try again.
  • If you project is very big, you may need more RAM.
  • Check that your Hard Drives are not more than 90% full. If they are, free up space before continuing.
  • Create a new user account on your Mac and log in as that user and try again.
  • Try launching FCP from the program icon rather than the project file

Also read this from Andrew Balis:

Project Or Sequence Won't Open

Serial number issues

From Michael Horton

If you are having problems with your serial number and you need to delete the original so that you can re-enter it, do this :

  • In your main drive, go to Library > Application Support >ProApps.
  • Drag the 'Final Cut Studio System ID' file to the trash.
  • Empty the trash.
  • Then relaunch FCP and you should be prompted to re-enter your serial number.

I'm getting dropped frame warnings.

From Jude Cotter

The reasons for dropped frames are many and varied. It could be something simple and easy to fix, such as an incorrectly set canvas size, or it could be expensive and difficult, such as having your media stored on a drive that is too slow for the type of work you are doing, requiring you to buy different equipment and transfer all your media to that.

A good places to start the hunt for your cause of dropped frames is the Apple Support site article Final Cut Pro: Dropped Frames Causes and Solutions

How do I reinstall/uninstall FCP?

From Michael Horton

From the Apple Support site 'Troubleshooting Basics' article , which can be found here : Troubleshooting Basics

To [reinstall FCP] you need to remove the application and its receipts, then install Final Cut Pro and use Software Update to install additional updates. You don't have to remove everything that was installed with Final Cut Pro. Follow the steps below to completely reinstall a fresh copy of Final Cut Pro. Note: Make sure that you have your installation discs and serial number handy before starting this.

  • Open the Applications folder.
  • Drag the Final Cut Pro application to the Trash.
  • Go to /Library/Receipts.
  • In the Receipts folder, select the "FinalCutPro.pkg" file.
  • Choose View > as List to view the contents in a list.
  • Click the Date Modified column header so you can easily see all of the receipts that were installed at the same time as Final Cut Pro.
  • Drag the FinalCutPro.pkg receipt to the Trash, as well as any other items that have the same modification date within 3 minutes of the FinalCutPro.pkg's modification date.
  • Click the Name column header to sort the list alphabetically.
  • Drag any other receipts whose names begin with "Final Cut Pro" to the Trash.

[To reinstall]

  • Insert your Final Cut Pro installation disc and install Final Cut Pro.
  • When finished, use Software Update (under the Apple menu) to update your software to the latest version.


Digital Rebellion has a free FCS Uninstaller called FCS Remover which removes everything except your projects, render files, captured footage and third-party plugins. Find it here: FCS Remover

FCP can't see my camera/deck after upgrade

From Jude Cotter

This sometimes happens when you have upgraded to Tiger (OS 10.4) and/or QuickTime 7 and FCP 5.1. To get it working again, you need to remove your old QuickTime receipts. Step by step instructions on how to do this can be found here : Final Cut Pro: Restoring a DV device connection in QuickTime 7

Other things that it could be:

  • Dust in the firewire connections : Quit FCP, make sure all the connections are free of dust, replace the cables and try again.
  • Broken firewire cable : Try using another firewire cable.
  • Fried Firewire card : Try connecting another device, such as an external firewire drive to test whether the firewire is working.
  • Incorrect patching : For testing purposes, remove all external devices connected to your computer except the keyboard, mouse and deck/camera. If you can capture with all external devices removed, check that the connection pathways of your devices (such as hubs) are correct.
  • Momentary tantrum : Shut down the computer, wait ten seconds and then try again.

I'm not getting any picture on my external monitor

From Jude Cotter

Make sure that your View > External Video is set to ‘All Frames’. Also, try clicking Apple-F12, which toggles the external video on and off.

Other things that it could be:

  • Make sure that all cables are connected securely and are not damaged.
  • Make sure that all external devices are connected and turned on before you open FCP.
  • Check that you haven’t left the Log and Capture window open.
  • It could be that you have zoomed in on your canvas or viewer. To fix this, go to the small button at the top middle of your canvas and viewer that has a percentage number in it. Click on this to change it to 'fit to view' or smaller.
  • Sometimes using View > Refresh A/V Devices can also help.

Why does my system seem slow or unresponsive?

From Jim Perry

Final Cut Pro, and working with video in general, requires your Mac to perform at the top edge of its capabilities. Here are some things to look for:

  • Make sure your Mac plenty of free disk space on all volumes. A rule of thumb is to have at least 10% free space on each partition. Your Mac makes use of free space to manage the large files involved in video processing and playback. When you have too little free space on a volume your Mac has to move chunks of data around to make space (kind of like those missing-piece puzzles) to store additional stuff. Then it has to read back from this disjointed mess. My experience is that if you keep sufficient free space on your volumes you do not need to worry about running defragmentation programs (which is a change from OS 9 and previous, where the Mac would run into fragmentation problems no matter what).

  • Shut down any unnecessary programs, especially programs that run in the background like anti-virus utilities (you can scan your Mac for viruses manually when you are not working with video). To see what processes are using resources on your mac, run the application "Process Viewer" in your Applications/Utilities folder. You will see a continually updated list of all the processes (a single program can run more than one process) sorted by CPU usage. You can research what each process is on to help track down any unruly applications.

  • Turn off any settings that put your Mac or disks into sleep mode (System Preferences/Energy Saver).

  • Watch out for troublesome USB or Firewire devices. I have a cordless mouse that slows the whole system down when it is low on batteries.

  • Periodically you should "Repair Permissions" from the Disk Utility (Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility). Also, your Mac runs certain maintenance tasks in the wee hours of the morning - if it is on. If you don't leave your Mac on continually, get a free copy of MacJanitor to run those tasks manually.

If you have optimized these things and performance is still not where you need it, consider these upgrades:

  • Memory upgrades are probably the most bang for the buck in performance. Check your memory by selecting "About this Mac" from your Apple menu. Less than 1GB will definitely slow your performance; more is better.

  • Put in a new drive (internal) as your capture disk. Use this disk only for capture, then wipe it clean between projects.

  • Processor upgrades are expensive, and usually don't solve other performance bottlenecks. With lots of memory and disk space, the only place a slower processor will really show up is in render times.

Also see:

Troubleshooting your FCP System

When Good Apps go Bad

FCP Troubleshooting Basics

FCP 5.1.2 crashes on start up

From Jude Cotter

Apparently there are some Quicktime components that conflict with FCP 5.1.2 and may prevent FCP from starting up.

10/19/06 - UPDATE: Apple has just released a AppleCare doc stating that if you have more than 64 Quicktime Componoents installed, FCP 5.1.2 will fail to open. To work around this issue, you can remove or temporarily relocate some third-party components so that the total number of items in /Library/QuickTime/ is 63 or fewer.

Final Cut Pro 5 may fail to open with 64 or more QuickTime components installed

Final Cut Pro 5.1.2 : Some third-party QuickTime components may cause Final Cut Pro 5.1.2 to unexpectedly quit at while opening.

A number of third-party companies develop QuickTime components (also sometimes referred to as plugins or codecs) that can enhance and extend the capabilities of QuickTime. In some cases, it's possible for Final Cut Pro 5.1.2 to encounter a conflict with a third-party component, preventing Final Cut Pro from starting normally.

Affected Products : Final Cut Pro 5.1.2

Solution : If final Cut Pro is unexpectedly quitting while opening, check to see if you have any third-party QuickTime components installed. You can take the following steps to temporarily relocate your third-party components. This is a way to test whether they are causing a conflict with Final Cut Pro.

  • In Finder, navigate to /Library/QuickTime/.
  • Drag any third-party (non-Apple) components to the desktop.

Note: The following components are not third-party components; they are installed by Apple software, and should not be removed.

  • AppleHDVCodec.component
  • AppleIntermediateCodec.component
  • DVCPROHDCodec.component
  • DVCPROHDMuxer.component
  • DVCPROHDVideoDigitizer.component
  • DVCPROHDVideoOutput.component
  • DVCPROHDVideoOutputClock.component
  • DVCPROHDVideoOutputCodec.component
  • DesktopVideoOut.component
  • FCP Uncompressed 422.component
  • IMXCodec.component
  • LiveType.component
  • Motion.component
  • If you're not sure whether a component is made by Apple or by a third party, you can check its version info to see if Apple made it.
  • Select the component in the Finder.
  • Choose File > Get Info.
  • In the Info window that appears, look at the Version info.

The components made by Apple will be marked with Apple copyright information.

If Final Cut Pro doesn't open normally after taking the steps listed above, then the issue you're seeing probably has a different cause than the one discussed here.
The document, "Final Cut Pro Troubleshooting Basics" is a good reference for general troubleshooting.

What maintenance should I do?

From Jude Cotter

Mac OS X is Unix based, and therefore runs its own maintenance programs in the wee hours of the morning and at other regularly scheduled times. If you tend to turn your computer off at night, these tests may not be being run. This is no cause for alarm.

There are several good free applications you can get to run these tests whenever you like. One is MacJanitor. Another good, but slightly more complex one is Onyx

Also, you should repair your permissions periodically, although a good case can be made that this is a waste of time. To do this :

  • Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  • Select your hard drive in the left hand panel, then click on the First Aid tab.
  • Then click 'Repair Permissions'.

Most Mac OS X versions defragment themselves, to a pretty good degree.

You can also run Diskwarrior now and again just to make sure your directories are in good order. Also read this article (Care and Feeding of Panther) by Charles Roberts for more helpful tips.
NOTE: Despite the "Panther" in the title, this article is relevant to OSX Tiger and above.

Up to this point (June 2008) there are still no virii (viruses), malicious spyware or adware that affects Mac OS X. And in fact if you are running FCP it is recommended that you do not leave anti-virus software running, as it can interfere with capture and cause dropped frames.

Mac OS X has been virus free for five years, but this is not to say that a virus will not happen. If you have a mission critical editing system, your best bet is to keep that system off the internet.

Also, if you buy an AppleCare Protection Plan for your Mac, make sure to install TechTool Deluxe which comes on the install disk. This is an excellent troubleshooting and maintenance application.

Greg Kozikowski adds:
If you do the First Aid tests while the normal system is running, the system files running at that instant will not get checked. Better to run the machine from the install CD and point the test to the now completely available System Drive.

How do I fix an Out of Memory alert?

From Jude Cotter

The 'Out of Memory' alert is a hard one to diagnose, because it could be an indicator of several very different problems. Here is a list, in a loose kind of probability order.

  • Make sure all stills are RGB. Not greyscale or CMYK. Excessively oversized stills can also be a problem.
  • Are there any non alpha numeric characters in file names? Don't use characters such as / ? or * in your file names, as some of these are Unix commands that can confuse the system. Use only numbers, letters, spaces or underscores.
  • Make sure all drives in or connected to your system, whether you are using them or not, have at least 10% headroom. Think of this as 'swap space' - space that the drives need to be able to move things around cleanly.
  • You may have exceeded your computer's ability to continue. Try shutting down the machine, waiting ten seconds and then restarting the machine. If this works, you might want to look into upgrading your RAM or machine if you want to continue working at the level of complexiity of your current project.
  • To finish your current job, try exporting complex parts of your timeline as self contained movies, re-import them and use them in place of the original complicated areas on the timeline to reduce the load on fcp.
  • Also, this could indicate that you had lots of other applications left open that were sapping your resources, Make sure all applications are correctly shut down while using FCP, by choosing File > Quit from inside each application. An application icon in your dock that has a small black triangle below it is still open.
  • Incorrect sequence settings. Do you have to render a lot when you shouldn't have to? It's possible that your sequence settings don't match your clip settings. Check problem clips against the sequence settings in the browser.
  • You may have corrupt render files. Try dumping the render files and re-rendering the piece.
  • You may have a corrupt sequence. Try making a new sequence, cutting the media from your old sequence and pasting it into the new sequence.
  • You may have a corrupt project. Try making a new project, cutting the media from your old sequence and pasting it into the new project.
  • You may have corrupt media. Try making a new project and adding the media in the vicinity of the problem in your old timeline to check for corrupt media. Alternatively, try deleting or disconnecting the media in the vicinity of the problem to see if the media is causing the problem.
  • General confusion. Repair permissions using your Disk Utility. (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility > Select Disk > First Aid > Repair permissions)
  • Genuine memory conflict. Try removing sticks of memory one at a time and see if the problem persists. Be careful to earth yourself correctly before doing this, or get a service department to do it for you.

This is not yet a definitive list.

Can't eject disk.

From Jude Cotter

Here's a couple of different methods for ejecting a stubborn disk, in order of difficulty.

  • Press the eject key on your keyboard. This is the one at the top right of the keyboard that looks like an up arrow with a line underneath it.
  • Quit all applications that may be trying to use information on the disk, then try ejecting again.
  • Restart the machine with the mouse button held down. The disk should eject during start up.
  • Restart the machine. During startup, press and hold Command Option O F to enter Open Firmware. Type 'eject cd' then hit return.
  • Push a paperclip in the small hole at the bottom of the drive to manually eject the disk - if your machine has one.
  • Remove the cd/dvd drive and manually eject the disk.

From Derek Mok

  • Some keyboards don't have an eject button on the top right (for example, many types of colour-coded keyboards). In those cases, try F12, or CONTROL-F12.

Why is my canvas/viewer bright green?

From Jude Cotter

While we don't have any hard and fast rule as to why this happens, we believe that it's related to system resources getting stressed. It seems to happen when something too complex for the system to handle is going on. This could be a very complicated timeline, too many timelines open, too many components attached to the computer, or any other combination of items that could cause your computer to go 'Uh, excuse me, my brain is full'.

Try reducing the strain on your computer by closing all open applications, extra projects and extra timelines, then shutting down the computer, removing all externals and starting up again. If things return to normal, add components back into the mix one at a time, in order of usefulness.

More RAM / a bigger processor might also help if you get this problem a lot.

How do I post a screen capture of my problem?

From Jude Cotter

  • Make sure what you want to take a picture of is displayed on your computer screen.
  • Press Apple - Shift - 4 (together) and your cursor will turn into a small 'target' cross.
  • Move this cross to the top left hand corner of the part of the screen you want to capture.
  • Then click and drag the cross down to the bottom right hand corner of the part of the screen you want to capture. You should see a transparent grey box appear as you drag. Anything inside this box will be captured.
  • Let go of the mouse. If your sound is turned up you will hear the sound of a camera click.
  • Now go to your desktop and there should be a new file there called Picture 1.png. Double click this to open it and check that it is what you want. If not, repeat steps 1 to 5 until you capture what you need. Rename the picture to suit.
  • Now go to somewhere like PhotoBucket and set up a free account.
  • Upload the picture you made to PhotoBucket by clicking on the 'Browse' button, navigating to your picture and hitting the 'Upload' button. You picture is now on the web so other people can access it.
  • Find your picture in your PhotoBucket account and click once on the 'IMG code'. You should get a small text alert that says 'copied'.
  • Come back to the forum and paste the code you just copied into your reply. Your picture should display inside your forum message. You can check if you got it right before posting by hitting the 'Preview' button next to the 'Post Message' button at the bottom of the reply box.
  • Once you're happy, post the message to your favorite forum, such as the Cafe LA.

Andreas Kiel adds:

  • You can hit space bar to capture a window only
  • You can press cmd-ctrl-shift-4. This will put the screen capture to the clipboard. From there you can go to (nearly) any app and paste. The easy thing would be Preview. Just press cmd-n and you get the captured picture. With "File->Save" as you can you can select file type and compression.
  • Another easy one maybe: use Preview without any of the system shortcuts. Select "File->Grab" and use one of the options. Then save it in the format you want.

How do I downgrade QuickTime?

From Jude Cotter

The 'best' way to downgrade QuickTime, if it is causing you trouble, is to completely re-install your operating system. Which, yeah right, we all want to spend hours backing up and re-installing everything. Not.

The real best way is to use a program like Pacifist to uninstall your current QuickTime and then install a previous (working) version.

If you need an earlier version of Quicktime, look on this page: List of Quicktime Downloads

Tom Wolsky adds:

Some versions of the OS cannot be downgraded. 10.4.11 and later cannot be downgraded to a QT version earlier than 7.3 I believe. To get back to 7.2, which is the last version that works properly with FCP earlier than 5.1, you have to downgrade the OS.

From Strypes

Not all Pacifist downgrades go down well. Pacifist is an extremely powerful software that reads into the specific components of an installation package, which in turn allows you to swap those components without going for a full reinstallation. This is helpful when you are faced with issues like a corrupted registry file or missing components and you want to avoid a complete reinstallation. However, going between certain Quicktime versions may result in Quicktime not working very well, as the directory structure may not accurately mirror the previous versions. An improperly installed version of Quicktime may cause the clock and icons on the top right hand corner of the finder to disappear. The spotlight icon will blink slowly. System Preferences may crash when you attempt to run it. Checking the crash logs in Console will indicate that the SystemUIServer crashes every few seconds. The SystemUIServer is a background process that controls several aspects of the OSX user interface including the top right hand side of the menu bar.

A workaround for this is to download the combo update for the version of the OS you are running. This does a proper update of the components in Quicktime and the OS, and you will be back where you started from before you tried downgrading. You may then choose to live with the problem or go for a full reinstallation of the OS/QT/FCS.


Combo Updates for Tiger:

10.4.11 for Intel Macs

10.4.11 for PPC

10.4.10 for Intel Macs

10.4.10 for PPC

10.4.9 for Intel Macs

10.4.9 for PPC

10.4.8 for Intel Macs

10.4.8 for PPC

10.4.7 for Intel Macs

10.4.7 for PPC

Quicktime Version Downloads

Carefully cut n pasted by Jude Cotter

Quicktime 7.5

Quicktime 7.4.5

Quicktime 7.4.1

Quicktime 7.4

Quicktime 7.3.1

Quicktime 7.2

Quicktime 7.1.6

Quicktime 6s

Quicktime 5

Quicktime 4

Why is my canvas white?

From Jude Cotter
You may have your channels set to ‘Alpha’. To return to normal, select View > Channels > RGB. SHIFT W toggles between "Alpha", "Alpha & RGB" and "RGB" modes, so you may have hit this key combo by accident.

Why is my canvas red?

From Jude Cotter
You may have your channels set to ‘Alpha and RGB’. To return to normal, select View > Channels > RGB. SHIFT W toggles between "Alpha", "Alpha & RGB" and "RGB" modes, so you may have hit this key combo by accident.

No image in Canvas

From Nick Meyers

If you can't see an image in the Canvas or Viewer, even though you can hear audio, you may have accidentally changed the view mode of the viewer or canvas. Look under the viewer or Canvas "View Menu". That's a pull down menu at the top of the viewer or Canvas, just right of centre. The icon looks like a little view finder. Under there are all sorts of options for the display of the viewer and canvas, including:

  • Image
  • Image & Wireframe
  • Wireframe

There's a good chance you've switched over to "Wireframe". It's easy to do: the W key toggles between these 3 modes.

From Jude Cotter

Also, if you did have the view mode of the viewer set to 'Image and Wireframe', it's possible that you've accidentally dragged the picture 'offscreen' when trying to drag the clip to the timeline. To fix this, load the clip into the viewer, select the 'Motion' tab at the top of the viewer, and then click all the small red crosses to reset any motion changes.

File Error: The specified file is open and in use by this or another application

From Jude Cotter

We believe that this error may be caused by Mac OSX's 'Spotlight' trying to access files at the same time as FCP is trying to render them. To work around this,

  • From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
  • From the View menu, choose Spotlight.
  • Click the Privacy tab to reveal the areas that Spotlight will not index.
  • In the Finder, open your "Final Cut Pro Documents" folder.
  • Drag the Capture Scratch folder into Spotlight's list.
  • Restart the computer.

If you have dedicated Media drives, you can drag the entire drive(s) to the privacy section to exclude all items on it.

This method is still being tested, but makes sense.

FCP 7.0.1 broke my Desktop Preview! How do I fix that

From Nick Meyers

i managed to get to that file on the FCP7 install disc. here's what to do:

Load up your Final Cut Studio Install disk, or if you've made a disk image (good idea) access that.

Inside that, notice that the "Instal Final Cut Studio" package is actually an Alias, so right-click on that and "Show Original"

You'll be taken to a folder called "Installer" inside of which is another folder called "Packages"

Inside the Packages folder locate the VideoOutSupport.pkg, right-click on it, and "Show Package Contents"

Inside the Contents folder, locate the Archive.paz.gz file. Drag it to the desktop, and double click on it to un-zip it.

This will create a folder called "Library" Open it, go to the QuickTime folder inside it, and there you will find the file "DesktopVideoout.component"

Put this file in Macintosh HD > Library >QuickTime, replacing the similarly named file there.

Digital Cinema Desktop Preview should now work.

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