Customize the FCP Help Menu

Say you have an in-house manual that details organization, storage, archival, all that nitty-gritty. Or maybe you have a style guide for a particular client. Or perhaps you’re the system administrator, and want everyone to have quick access to your contact info in case something goes wrong. Or, you are a prof, and have a syllabus that you want all your

These are all very helpful things to have, but if an editor can’t find them, what’s the use? Why not add them to the Final Cut Pro help menu?

Note- this is serious, under the hood stuff. Don’t do this unless you are very comfortable, and have all necessary permission from your boss, system administrator, professor, and spiritual adviser. Keep a backup of FCP, just in case something goes wrong.

Also, I’m still on FCP6, so I can’t guarantee this works in later versions.

To start, copy Final Cut from your Applications folder to the Desktop. On your desktop, rename it to “FCP”. We will work on the hack version, to make sure we don’t permanently mess anything up.

Right click “FCP”, and choose “Show Package Contents”. This puts you inside of the Final Cut application. Navigate to Contents/Resources/English.lproj/Final Cut Pro Help/. Open up HelpMenu.plist in a text editor- TextEdit will work, but I prefer TextWrangler.

The Help Menu in Final Cut pulls from this XML file (actually, a PLIST file, which is like XML, but isn’t actually valid XML). Each menu item is between “” and “”. To add an entry to the list, simply copy an entire section (including the starting “” and the ending “”) and paste it where you want it to go. Replace the necessary strings, and you’ll be good to go.

Here’s the full entry for the “Final Cut Pro Support” menu item, that open up the support web page.

<string>Final Cut Pro Support</string>

The format is a key, and then a string. Basically, this sets the “Title” key to “Final Cut Pro Support” and

Here is the full entry for the New Features menu item.

<string>New Features.pdf</string>
<string>New Features</string>

To add a new file, put it in the “Final Cut Pro Help” folder. Change the path string to the file name. You can also link to any file or application on the system, by putting the absolute path to the file in the path string. For instance, if the file is on the desktop, you can change the path to “/Users/username/Desktop/filename.jpg”. Note that “~/Desktop/filename.jpg” will not work. Also, note that if the computer has multiple users, make sure that all the users have permission to view the file.

To put in a divider line, put in the following code- “”.

Once you are done editing the file, save it, and launch FCP Test out your new menu options. Here is my menu, with links to my Web site, and to open Final Cut Server.

If everything is working as it should, you can rename the application to Final Cut, and place it in the Applications folder. I would suggest backing up the original program, just in case anything goes wrong.

A side note- I don’t know if this hack would survive an upgrade, but my guess is that it probably won’t.

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