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.
In Shotcut, go to : Settings > App Data Directory > Show.
This will open a folder named Shotcut.
In this folder, open the autosave folder.
Sort the files of of the autosave folder by “Date modified”, in descending order.
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.
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.