Final Cut Pro X – playback or space bar not working

Last Updated: Oct 09, 2020

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Under certain circumstances, the space bar, used for playback in Final Cut Pro X stops working. If you have experienced that issue, don’t worry as there is a simple solution.

I use Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) for all my video editing and management, but I’m still relatively new to the product and have a lot to learn. Recently FCPX started refusing to playback imported video clips. Hitting the space bar or choosing any of the available options under View -> Playback resulted in what looked like the video playing for a split second. I could see the play button changing to a pause button and back, but it never played.

I was pulling my hair out over this issue, but I couldn’t call Apple because their Pro applications don’t fall under regular AppleCare agreements. Instead, they offer separate and expensive support contracts that are only worth for people using those applications, well, professionally.

How to fix: Final Cut Pro X – playback or space bar not working

Luckily, I found the solution on Apple’s support forum, where user Russ H suggested to revert to the original (window) layout. Since I have two screens (27″ Cinema Display and the MacBook Pro screen), I instructed FCPX to show the playback window on my MacBook Pro display.

Fix: Window -> Revert to Original Layout

That somehow messed up playback and by restoring the original layout (via Window -> Revert to Original Layout), I also restored playback functionality.

Thanks, Russ H!

27 thoughts on “Final Cut Pro X – playback or space bar not working”

  1. Hi,
    I am having this issue right now and none of the above tips seem to work. I was adding a mask to a freeze frame when playback stopped. I can’t play the timeline or single clips, it just shows me the 1st and last frame on repeat. Tried killing the app, everything but nothing works..please help!

    • This has been driving me nuts!! Running the latest version of FCPX – switched sound output/input to internal speakers/microphone and spacebar playback is working again :)

      • mine also started working again after re-routing….. not ideal as i dont want to work with headohones, but better than a potential ssd problem so relieved …

  2. I have another solution.

    I thought my itunes was on before and i just pressed the pause or play button on the top of my keyboard to play some music while i was bussy with something else. Itunes was off so nothing played and i forgot about it.

    Then i got this problem where FCPX would not play anymore hitting the space bar.

    FIX> hit the play pause button at the top of your keyboard. Weird but it worked.

  3. A simpler thing to try that might save time is to move the played to a clip in the browser and hit space (it should re-engage) and then simply return to the timeline. Usually things go back to normal without having to reset windows. (not sure if it’s a universal solution though!)

  4. I ran into this issue with 10.13.1

    It turns out that I was using USB audio, and apparently 10.13.1 has done a number on them. The audio stopped working, and for some reason, this causes FCPX to not enable play!

    • also bluetooth audio causes this problem sometimes. When I turn my BT speakers off, the playback continues. Weird…

  5. Well Other way I fix it. My project was on the Desktop as a SHORTCUT.
    And all off my timelines was not playing back from some moment.
    Then I tried many things that suggest in the internet community on that issue.
    But the problem was that SHORTCUT icon I created on Desktop.
    When I just tried to open the original Project icon from my HDD the video in FCPX started playback again!
    So make sure you load your project as original icon (file) from your project folder.

  6. I had the exact same situation as you. I’ll test this out over the next few weeks, but initial results are good. Thanks for posting this.


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