How to speed up Final Cut Pro slow processing

Recent trends in technology (both speed and accessibility) have dramatically changed the way video editors work. Gone are the days when you needed to live in Hollywood or LA to be successful or when you had to use tons of software to complete one job.

Whether you work remotely or in a movie studio, modern post-production tools now allow people to collaborate in real time from anywhere in the world. Among dozens of programs available, Apple's Final Cut Pro X (Final Cut, Final Cut Pro) stands out in the community.

In the hands of a pro, Final Cut Pro is a powerful piece of tech that can achieve stunning results at the highest level, as seen in the movies like The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. However, Final Cut Pro's easy-to-use interface also allows hobbyists to create clean and professional content on a smaller scale.

With a high price tag, you'd expect high quality and performance too. Yet, it seems that whenever you are in a hurry — your Final Cut Pro slows down or even grinds to a halt, frustratingly affecting your workflow.

Why is Final Cut slow?

Final Cut Pro boasts some impressive features: 360-degree video editing, motion graphics, 4K HDR support, and advanced color-correction tools. But despite the software running as a 64-bit application, which means more powerful usage of RAM, Final Cut Pro still needs substantial file space and processing power and can cause the most robust setups to crash.

Retailers and repair shops usually suggest buying an external graphics processing unit (eGPU) or additional RAM. However, these days most Macs don't have the option to upgrade their RAM! So before you start investing in expensive hardware, follow these genius tricks that could save you time, effort, and money.

How to speed up Final Cut

1. Adjust import preferences

An ever-so-simple hack to speed up video Final Cut Pro uploads is to change your settings to import your footage as optimized media. Doing so will encode your media as ProRes 422 codec, meaning that your footage will run smoother on the timeline, require less time rendering, and provide better color quality for compositing. Here's how you can change import settings.

  1. Go to the Final Cut Pro menu on the navigation bar and then Preferences. Or use the keyboard shortcut Command-Comma.
  2. Check the box that says "Create optimized media."

2. Turn off background rendering

Switching off background rendering is a very effective way to speed up video Final Cut Pro processes. Background rendering is the process of creating temporary files for segments of your project that can't play in real time. By doing this, Final Cut Pro takes power away from what you're working on and doesn't allow your processor to run efficiently.

Unless playback in real time is a must-have, stop it to free up processing power:

  1. Go to Preferences > Playback tab.
  2. Uncheck "Background render."

3. Keep your project files together

If you have assets spread across several drives, Final Cut Pro slowness is inevitable, as it has to go back and forth between the drives. To avoid this, move all of your Final Cut Pro project files to a single folder within a single drive.

4. Delete cache files

Paying attention to your storage is an important part of keeping Final Cut Pro running smoothly, as a filled-up hard drive is one of the key contributors to making Final Cut slow.

Start by having a good spring clean of your preference files, which are a type of cache files that store data on how you use your apps.

  1. Close Final Cut Pro.
  2. Open the app again while holding Option-Command.
  3. When asked, click Delete Preferences from the dialogue box.

Next, delete unnecessary render files, which can accumulate due to automatic background rendering.

For a thorough cleanup, delete all the render files from your library:

  1. In the app browser, go to the File menu > Delete Generated Library Files.
  2. Click Delete Render Files > Select All.
  3. Click OK to confirm.

5. Quit background programs

It's' useful to know that what makes Final Cut slow is having other programs and applications running in the background. To avoid this, close all of these apps using Mac's native task manager, Activity Monitor.

  1. Open a new Activity Monitor window.
  2. Click Memory from the navigation bar.
  3. Select (all of) the unnecessary programs that are running in the background.
  4. Click X to quit them.

6. Tidy up your desktop

Another contributing factor to your Mac not running at its full potential could be a cluttered desktop. This is because it stores the files as preview thumbnails which take processing power to generate. If you must have access to these files on your desktop, try to use stacks instead:

  1. Control-click the desktop.
  2. Click Use Stacks.

7. Organize your storage space

If your disk space is fragmented, it slows down processing speeds, as your Mac must search through different parts of the disk to put together a single file.

When it comes to managing your file storage, you should look at your computer's memory drives. A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 100 GB available. See for yourself how much disk space you have by going to your computer's system information.

  1. From your desktop navigation bar, click the Apple menu.
  2. Click About This Mac > Storage.
  3. Check the results to ensure you have more than 100 GB available.
  4. If not, delete unneeded media and apps.

8. Speed up faster with CleanMyMac X

Tired of the manual cleanup? Still finding Final Cut Pro slow? It's possible that you haven't deleted some heavy clutter somewhere in your system. Well, thankfully, we have other professional software to do this for us.

Consider installing a smart tool that gives your Mac much-needed attention. CleanMyMac X takes care of the cleanup, speedup, and protection at once, so you don't have to. It works automatically like a charm and is free to try.

  1. Download CleanMyMac X.
  2. Follow the setup installer instructions.
  3. From the sidebar, choose System Junk and click Run.
  4. Gasp at how much junk your computer has been hiding and click Clean.
  5. CleanMyMac X - System junk scan complete

Once done, repeat the process with Optimization, Maintenance, and Uninstaller scans, which will take your cleanup process even further and delete all the junk automatically, making your Mac feel sparkly and new.

Particularly, in the Uninstaller tab, make sure to find the Final Cut Pro app the select to reset it. Then click the reset button, and it will return Final Cut Pro to its factory settings, free of all the junk it might have accumulated over the years. Now, how to speed up Final Cut Pro is no longer a question. Action! 

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.