FCPX hard links can save your hard drives

January 6, 2015 Tags: , ,
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Aliases, symbolic links, and hard links are often confusing terms for representing data on hard drives. Managing FCPX hard links can go a long way toward helping your workflow and maximizing your storage space. For the purposes of this article, let’s get some definitions out of the way (thanks to for the details here):

Different File Pointer Types in OSX

  • Alias When you create an alias for a file, the system creates a small data file that includes the current path to the file. Once you create an alias file, you can move it to any location in your Mac’s file system, and it will still point back to the original.In addition to the moving the alias, you can also move the original item anywhere in your Mac’s file system; the alias will still be able to find the file.
  • Symbolic links Symbolic links are similar to aliases in that they are small files that contain the pathname to the original object. But if you move the object to a different location, the symbolic link will be broken, and the system won’t be able to find the object.That may seem like a weakness, but it’s also a strength. Since symbolic links find an object by its pathname, if you replace an object with another object that bears the same name and is in the same location, the symbolic link will continue to work. This makes symbolic links a natural for version control.
  • Hard link Hard links don’t contain the pathname to the original object. You would typically use a hard link when you want a single file to appear in multiple places. Unlike with aliases and symbolic links, you can’t delete the original hard-linked object from the file system without first removing all hard links to it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at how FCPX hard links can enhance your workflow. This episode of MacBreak Studio features FCPWORKS’ Sam Mestman discussing this subject with Steve Martin:

We hope that clears things up a bit on how FCPX hard links work compared to original media, aliases and symbolic links. Knowing this stuff under the hood is key to mastering your workflow and managing storage space.


Sam Mestman

Sam Mestman, FCPWORKS.

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Workflow Architect, Sam Mestman. Sam’s also a regular writer for and MovieMaker Magazine, teaches post workflow at RED’s REDucation classes, and is the founder and CEO of We Make Movies, a film collective in Los Angeles and Toronto which is dedicated to making the movie industry not suck. If you’ve got any FCP X questions or need some help putting together a system, drop him an email at and you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.


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