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Final Cut Pro Shortcut: Enabling Clip Overlays and Adjusting Audio Levels In the Timeline

Danny Greer

Here’s 2 shortcuts that, when combined, can speed up the way you work with audio in your Final Cut Pro timeline. Let’s take a look at both shortcuts and then breakdown how to effectively use them to tweak audio in FCP.

To toggle clip overlays on and off use the shortcut OPTION + W.


To raise or lower a clip’s audio level, highlight the clip (or clips), hold down CONTROL and then tap either the + or – keys.


Turning on clip overlays will reveal lines that run through both the audio and video tracks of all clips in the timeline. The black line in video clips represents that clips opacity. It can be moved up or down, raising or lowering the opacity. For this exercise what we’re going to be most concerned with is the pink line through all audio clips. This represents the audio level (or volume) of the clips. This line can also be pulled up or down, increasing or decreasing the volume of clips… however this can be done much faster by using shortcuts!


By default all audio clips are brought into the FCP timeline with their levels set to 0. The max they can be boosted in FCP without additional filters is + 12 db. However, they can be lowered decibel by decibel from 0 to -99 db (or silence). Therefore, you have much room for subtle adjustments.

To utilize this shortcut first enable clip overlays (remember, OPTION + W). Once you turn on clip overlays for a sequence they will remain on until you turn them off (which can be done by using this shortcut again). Now, highlight the clips whose levels you’d like to adjust. While holding down CONTROL, tap + or – and watch the pink line raise or lower. EACH TIME you tap + or – you are raising or lowering the audio level of a clip (or set of clips) by only one decibel.

One nice feature of this shortcut is that it can be used during playback on the FCP timeline. This makes it especially useful for making fast adjustments on the fly.

An Additional Expert Tip

Simulate real time mixing! Make sure no clips are selected in the timeline and then begin playback. Now, when you use the shortcut it will adjust the audio level of the clips (or music tracks) that are currently under the playhead during playback. Note however, this shortcut raises or lowers the levels of entire clips, audio keyframes included. If you have audio level keyframes enabled they will be moved up or down universally when this shortcut is used.

These are two shortcuts I use countless times each day. It may take a little getting used to at first, but once integrated into your normal editing routine you’ll find that it saves you tons of time and makes your post workflow significantly more efficient! Happy editing!