Final Cut Pro X Workflow: Import to Library or Leave Files in Place? A Deep Dive

by | Dec 20, 2022 | Final Cut Pro X, Tips and Tutorials


In my latest video, I tackled a common question among Final Cut Pro X users: should you import media to your library or leave files in place? This is a topic that’s sparked a lot of debate, so I wanted to share my insights and experiences to help you make the best decision for your workflow.

Understanding the Options

Leave Files in Place

  • What it means: Links directly to the footage wherever it’s stored (e.g., desktop, SD card, external drive).
  • Pros: Keeps the original file location intact.
  • Cons: Requires careful file management to avoid losing linked footage.

Import to Library

  • What it means: Creates a copy of the file within the Final Cut library.
  • Pros: Simplifies file management and ensures all media is contained within the project.
  • Cons: Potentially doubles the storage space used.

Debunking the Space-Saving Myth

A common misconception is that leaving files in place saves a significant amount of space. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Whether you import to the library or leave files in place, the total amount of data remains the same. It’s more about how you manage and back up your media.

My Workflow Preferences

For Client Projects

  1. Initial Step: Import all footage from cameras onto an external hard drive.
  2. Editing Process: Import from this drive into a separate library on another hard drive.
  3. Post-Project: Keep the library as a backup and delete the original media.

For Personal Projects

  • Approach: Import directly from SD cards into the Final Cut Pro library.
  • Backup Strategy: Less rigorous, given the quick turnaround and nature of the content.

Key Takeaways

  • Storage Management: Importing to the library doesn’t necessarily consume more space if managed correctly.
  • Backup Importance: Regardless of your choice, always have a backup of your footage.
  • Workflow Flexibility: Final Cut Pro X offers flexibility, and your choice should align with your specific workflow needs.
  • Organization and Consolidation: Importing to the library allows for better organization and consolidation of media.


In the end, whether you choose to import to the library or leave files in place depends on your workflow, project type, and backup strategy. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s about understanding your needs and making an informed decision that best suits your project.

For more detailed insights and examples, be sure to check out my full video here.


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