Those Dang Final Cut Pro Preferences
It doesn’t matter if you keep them away from water, never put them in bright light, and you never feed them after midnight (no matter how much they cry, no matter how much they beg)…usually when you’re under the gun of a hot deadline, the little Mac gremlins like to pop up to wreck their havoc. One of the things that has happened to me is you go to open Final Cut Pro and all you are rewarded with is a bouncing icon in the Dock with application refusing to open. When this happens, your only solution isn’t to delete and reinstall as there are a few quick things to check first that might just save you the headache.
Typically I have found that when FCP won’t open for me, it is usually caused by a preference getting all wacky, a bad font, or a bad plugin (usually in that order). The easiest thing to do first is to check the different FCP preference files which all serve a different purpose and are conveniently located all over your hard drive.
For reference, the main FCP preference files are usually in the following locations:
~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.FinalCutPro.plist Contains basic preference such as the last project that was open, the last locations and sizes for the different windows, etc.
~/Library/Preferences/Final Cut Pro User Data/Final Cut Pro 6.0 Prefs.fcset The ‘grand-daddy’ of FCP preference files. This one contains all the different information for presets, default transitions, etc. I would estimate that if there was a preference problem in FCP, 7 out of 10 times it would come from this file.
~/Library/Preferences/Final Cut Pro User Data/(Custom Settings or Window Layouts) These folders all contain the settings that a user may save for easy recall. Examples are window layouts, button bar settings, and browser column organization.
/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Plugins This is where the FCP plugins are loaded for use. If there is a problem with a suspected plugin, chances are it is located inside of this folder. *Note*: This is located at the root drive and not in the user folder/home directory
Troubleshooting the Preferences When going to troubleshoot FCP and check to see if it is a preference file giving you problems, I would HIGHLY suggest that you do not delete the preference file until you have tested and determined that it actually was the cause of the issue. Depending on the preference file, especially for the custom settings, you may have spent a lot of time organizing your button bars and window layouts in a way that works best for you. It would be a shame to lose all of those settings if they weren’t even the problem. Testing to see if they are the issue is pretty easy and straight forward. With FCP closed, simply select the suspected preference file and move it to another location on your hard drive. Typically, I will just drag the file to the Desktop for easy retrieval. Launch FCP and see if the problem is solved. If it isn’t, place the preference file back, and move on to the next one repeating the process.
Backing Up the FCP Preferences You have gone through the preferences and settings and have now realized that the problem setting was your customized button bar. Great news! You can delete the problem file, reopen FCP, and move on with your edit. Bad news, of course, is that you no longer have your custom button bars and can’t even remember what went where to put them back the way you had them. Do you start from scratch and hope to get it right? Well, that is one option… of course the easier option is to just have your FCP preferences backed up on a regular basis. When it came time to backup FCP preferences, I used to use a free application called FCP Rescue that was created by Anders Holck (check out my review from a couple years ago here). This application was easy to use, did the job, and was totally free. In the last year or so, FCP Rescue has fallen off the map and is, to my best knowledge, no longer available on the net. In its place are two other application that I have not have to opportunity to try out first hand. The first is Preference Manager which is available from Digital Rebellion and the second is FCP Manager created by reinphase, Inc. The biggest draw towards Preference Manager is that it is totally free and FCP Manager is $99. While it seems that FCP Manager has a few more features that would make an IT manger’s job a little easier, for my 3 computers running FCP, I can’t really justify the investment. As I mentioned, I haven’t used either program and would be interested to hear anyone’s opinion who has. Since I can no longer get FCP Rescue, I have just made it a habit to periodically backup the preferences listed above manually or just let them get saved when I run my weekly Time Machine backup.
While there are other problems that can pop up that will cause FCP loading issues, checking the preferences is usually a good place to start. I hope this helps and I’m always available for questions on FCP, editing, Mac hardware, or OS X. As always, I would love to hear your comments or experience with FCP!
Digital strategist, woodworking hobbyist, cycling tyro, automotive junkie rockin' it in the D. Husband & father wishing to be Superman...at least to my son