Filenaming Considerations

Proper filenaming is one of the most critical aspects of media and project management. When you capture your media files, consider how and where your files may be used in the future. Naming your files simply and consistently makes it easier to share media among multiple editors, transfer projects to other editing systems, move files across a network, and properly restore archived projects. The following sections present several issues to consider when naming project files and media files.

Avoiding Special Characters

The most conservative filenaming conventions provide the most cross-platform compatibility. This means that your filenames will work in different operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS X and other UNIX operating systems, and Mac OS 9. You also need to consider filenaming when you transfer files via the Internet, where you can never be certain what computer platform your files may be stored on, even if temporarily.

Most special characters should be avoided. Here are some suggested conservative filenaming guidelines for maximum cross-platform compatibility:


Example characters
File separators
: (colon)
/ (forward-slash)
\ (backward-slash)
You cannot use colons (:) in the names of files and folders because Mac OS 9 (Classic) uses this character to separate directories in pathnames. In addition, some applications may not allow you to use slashes (/) in the names of items.
These characters are directory separators for Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, and DOS (Windows) respectively.
Special characters not included in your native alphabet
¢ ™
These characters may not be supported or may be difficult to work with when exported to certain file formats, such as EDL, OMF, or XML.
Punctuation marks, parentheses, quotation marks, brackets, and operators
. , [ ] { } ( ) ! ; " ' * ? < > |
These characters are often used in scripting and programming languages.
White space characters such as spaces, tabs, new lines, and carriage returns (the last two are uncommon)
White space is handled differently in different programming languages and operating systems, so certain processing scripts and applications may treat your files differently than expected. The most conservative filenames avoid all use of whitespace characters, and use the (underscore) _ character instead.

Restricting Length of Filenames

Although current file systems such as HFS+ (used by Mac OS X) allow you to create filenames with a 255-character limit, you may want to limit your filename length if you intend to transfer your files to other operating systems. Earlier versions of the Mac OS allow only 31-character filenames, and if you want to include a file extension (such as .fcp, .mov, or .aif), you need to shorten your Mac OS 9-compatible filenames to 27 characters.

For EDL files, which may be stored on DOS-compatible disks, you should limit your filenames to eight characters plus a three-character file extension (.EDL).

Using Filename Extensions

Mac OS X and other operating systems can use file extensions when determining which application to open a file with, or what method of transfer to use for a network transfer. If you intend to transfer your media or project files to non-Mac computer platforms, you should use standard file extensions for your files. Some common file extensions include .mov (QuickTime movie file), .xml (XML file), .zip (ZIP compressed archive file), .aif (AIFF audio file), .wav (WAVE audio file), .psd (Photoshop graphics file), .jpg (JPEG graphics file), and .png (TIFF graphics file).

Adding Times and Dates to Final Cut Pro Project Names

When you make a backup copy of your project file, adding the date to the project name helps identify the file among the other saved versions. If you add dates to a filename, avoid using special characters like the slash (/), since that may be interpreted by Mac OS X as a file separator.

The Final Cut Pro autosave feature appends the date and time in the following format: ProjectName_03-21-13_1744. The filename here is a backup of a project called ProjectName. The date is March 21, 2013, and it was saved at 5:44 PM. Note that the name includes no white space. This filenaming convention is simple, consistent, and easily identifies the order in which the project files were created. 

Using Multiple Hard Disks

If you have multiple hard disks and partitions, or volumes, that have similar names, they may cause problems during the capture process. Each hard disk should have a name that doesn’t contain the entire name of another disk or partition.

  • Avoid filenames such as: “Media” and “Media 1”
  • Create filenames such as: “Zeus” and “Apollo”