How to manually recover an auto-saved project after a crash


Note: I know you can find most of the information from this tutorial scattered in a few discussions on the Forum, but I don’t think there is a post dedicated only to this. So, for anyone with the same problem, I thought it would be easier to find the solution if the information was condensed in one place in the Tutorial category. Please feel free to let me know if there is anything to add or to change in this tutorial. Even typos or bad English syntax (my native language is french).


For me, Shotcut very rarely crashes. But when it does, I can usually count on the auto-save feature that backs up the current project at regular intervals.

After a crash, when you reload the project you were working on, Shotcut will ask if you want to recover the existing auto-saved file. If for any reason you click “no” by mistake, don’t panic. There is still one thing you can do to try to recover your project. The procedure bellow works on a Windows computer, but it should pretty much be the same on other operating systems.

  1. In Shotcut, go to : Settings > App Data Directory > Show.
    This will open a folder named Shotcut.

  2. In this folder, open the autosave folder.

  3. Sort the files of of the autosave folder by “Date modified”, in descending order.

  4. The first .mlt file in the folder should be the one you need. Look at the date and time of creation to see if it was created a few seconds or minutes before the crash happened.

  5. Open this file in Shotcut.
    Except maybe for modifications made in the last seconds before the crash, all your work should be recovered.

After opening it in Shotcut, I usually export this backup file and play the resulting video in a media player to make sure everything is in order. Then I save the file in my current project folder. You can choose to replace the original, but I prefer to keep it (just in case) and give a different name to the recovered file. Usually the same as the original, but I add something like _V2 or _02 at the end.


DISCLAIMER: Over the past months, I used the autosave feature a few times to successfully recover my work after a crash. But it doesn’t mean it will ALWAYS work. Many factors can lead to a crash and some of them may not necessarily be related to Shotcut itself. Therefore, it is impossible to guarantee at 100% that the back-up file will be there when you’ll try to find it or that it won’t be corrupted and unusable.


By the way, here’s how Autosave works
(Source: Shotcut Forum > Documentation > Project Management):
Autosave is always working and cannot be turned on or off. It does not save to your existing project. Rather, it saves to a hidden file in your app data directory. Then, it is checked when you reopen a project. It is only meant for crash recovery. Every 30 seconds it checks if the project is modified (the window title bar shows an asterisk except on macOS which uses the red dot) and saves to the backup file. When you reopen a project after a crash, if the backup is found, Shotcut prompts you to use it.
Once you save successfully - including save at exit when prompted, - the backup file is removed. This also works for projects that were never saved - an Untitled project. Except in that case, simply restarting Shotcut will attempt to locate a backup and prompt. Otherwise, for a named project, you need to open the project for it to check.

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It’s great to have this as a guide.
There are some recurring questions about this in the forum, and well, many people don’t even read the available documentation or do a preliminary search.
I did not need this function yet, however it is good to know this if necessary.
I save the project with two different names (save as).
File1 project_name.mlt and file 2 backup_project_name.mlt

I always edit by opening file 1, and I save (save as) both files at the end of an editing session.
In the case that during an edition, the file gets corrupted, I could open file 2, which in the best case, would allow me to continue with the edition from the last manual saving.

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Do you save often during your sessions ? I mean, if you plan to work for 2 hours but you only save at the end, even if you have two copies, you’ll still lose all your work if Shotcut crashes after one hour.

When I started to work with Shotcut, it was crashing very often. So I took the habit of saving almost every 5 minutes. It became instinctive, I still do it without even thinking about it, even if it’s not as necessary as it was then.

I don’t usually work long sessions with Shotcut. Most of the time it takes more work and time to prepare the material that I will use in the project (Inkscape, GIMP, DAW, etc).
But to answer your question, yes, I also have the habit of saving the project manually from time to time (in two files .mlt)

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I am surprised to read this. If it crashed while not working on an “Untitled” session, then it does not tell you about a recovery option simply by restarting. You need to load the affected project, and if there is a copy of it in autosave then it offers to recover. Did you try to open the project you were working on?

Yes, I was opening the project I was working on.
But when Shotcut crashed, my computer was really slow. I had Shotcut, Photoshop, Chrome and Potplayer running. When Shotcut was restarting there was a couple of other windows opened on the screen. I was probably asked to recover my project but maybe I didn’t see it and clicked “no” by mistake. Like I said, the computer was very laggy. Anyways, thanks for mentioning this. Later tonight I’ll change the first paragraph.

That’s kind of the nature of FOSS software in general. But yeah, this is a great tip to know, just in case.

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