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Menus, Shortcuts, and the Mouse

Like most applications, Final Cut Express has a main menu bar where editing functions are organized by category. Most of those functions have keyboard shortcuts.

Menu Categories

In many of the Final Cut Express menus, specific functions and commands are grouped together if they share a similar purpose. You can use these groupings as a way to locate similar editing options.

  1. Click in the Browser window once again.
  2. Choose the File menu from the main menu bar at the top of the Final Cut Express interface.

    Notice how the New and Open commands are separated from the Save and Restore commands, and Import and Export commands.

  3. Choose the Effects menu.
  4. Choose Video Transitions.

    A submenu of video transition options appears.

  5. Slide the mouse into the submenu and choose Dissolve.

    Another submenu of dissolve options appears. These options are not available because there are currently no edits in the Timeline to which a dissolve might be applied.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Many Final Cut Express menu functions can be accessed using the keyboard. If a keyboard shortcut is available for a specific function, it will appear to the right of the listed function in the main menu area. Keyboard shortcuts also appear, as they do in the Tool palette, when you move the mouse pointer over certain buttons and tools within the Final Cut Express interface.

To make it easier to remember some of the keyboard shortcuts, similar functions in Final Cut Express are grouped around a single letter.

  1. Choose the Effects menu again and look at the grayed out Default–Cross Dissolve shortcut.

    Both the Default–Cross Dissolve and the Default–Cross Fade (+3dB) shortcuts in this menu are associated with the letter T.

There are also shortcuts that combine a letter or number with one or more of the four modifier keys: Command, Option, Control, and Shift keys. The Command key is sometimes informally referred to as the Apple key.

  1. Choose the Window menu and choose Arrange.

    For window arrangement shortcuts, the letter U is used along with several modifier keys.


If you don't want to use keyboard shortcuts, you can do everything with your mouse. The mouse in Final Cut Express is position sensitive, meaning that when you move the mouse pointer over a button, a tool, or a certain area in the interface, the descriptive name of that item appears as a tooltip, along with its keyboard shortcut if one exists for that function.

  1. Move the mouse into the lower portion of the Viewer window and position it over the big circular button with a triangle on it.

    A tooltip appears that indicates this is the Play button and the keyboard shortcut is the spacebar.

  2. Position the mouse over the first tool in the Tool palette.

    The tooltip identifies this as the Selection tool. It is sometimes referred to as the pointer or arrow tool. But in Final Cut Express, you use it more to select things. There are several other selection tools, so we will refer to this one as the default Selection tool. Its shortcut letter is A. Make sure this is the tool selected for all your basic editing, unless otherwise directed.

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