Project Management


Shotcut does not provide very much in the way of project management at this time. Rather, you are required to manage many aspects of this. There are a few things you should know:

  • Shotcut saves to a project file in a text format called MLT XML. (Technical detail on that format can be found here.)
  • The project file does not contain any of your media. Rather, it only links to your media files by file system path and name.
  • There are 3 different kinds of projects:
    1. Clip
      If you put anything in Playlist or Timeline and you open a media file (or generator), then you can save it as a clip-only project along with trimming information as well as filters and their keyframes.
    2. Playlist
      If you add some things to the Playlist but not the Timeline, then you have saved a playlist-only project.
    3. Timeline
      This is what most people use, but keep in mind it is not necessary to use the timeline. Any of the above can be exported as a final audio/video file!

Project Folder

Shotcut supports the concept of a project folder, which is optional. A project folder is when you create a file system folder for your project and you put project file in there along with whatever companion files get created as well as media files if you choose.

When Shotcut first starts (or after you choose File > New or File > Close), this view appears in the area for the Source player:

You use this to create a project folder. When you use it, Shotcut creates a folder on the file system with the name in Project name within Projects folder. Then, it saves an empty project with the name in Project name followed by .mlt. Thereafter, companion files that Shotcut creates are saved automatically into the project folder instead of requiring you to name them:

  • Stabilize video filter
  • Text: HTML video filter
  • Properties > Reverse

We encourage you to store all or most of the media files that you use in the project in the project folder. However, Shotcut does not provide a way to copy or move the files into there automatically at this time.

Of course, you can skip using this because it is entirely optional, and the view goes away as soon as you open something. Also, you can create a project folder manually by not using this, but Shotcut then does not provide the automatic naming and placement of the companion files.

Relative vs. Absolute File Names

Shotcut saves MLT XML with file paths and names rather than embed any media. So, it can save these paths in full (i.e. absolute) or partially (i.e. relative). On Windows, a full path begins with a drive letter such as c:. On Linux and macOS, a full path begins with a slash (/). Shotcut saves with a relative path if the file is in the same folder as the .mlt project file or a sub-folder of this folder. It saves with an absolute path otherwise. This means your project file can be a mix of the two; it is determined per file.

There are different schools of thought around which to use. If you use absolute paths, you can keep media where you have it already organized and freely move the project document without any impact. If you use relative paths, you can put everything into a single folder (optionally with sub-folders), and freely move around the project folder. Take your pick; Shotcut does not force you into either one.

Example : Relative File Structure

  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject (File Folder)
  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject/Zproject.mlt (Current project MLT file)
  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject/BugV.png (Source Location)
  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject/Square/BugS.png (Source Location)

When saved, the MLT file has the Source file locations as such:

  • BugV.png
  • Square/BugS.png

You can copy the file folder D:/Shotcut/Zproject which is helpful for sharing with people or to another computer. Also useful for backing up saved projects for later use.

Example: Absolute File Structure

  • D:/Shotcut/XProject (File Folder)
  • D:/Shotcut/XProject/Xproject.mlt (Current project MLT file)
  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject/BugV.png (Source location)
  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject/Square/BugS.png (Source location)

When saved, the MLT file has the Source file locations as such:

  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject/Bug Vertical.png
  • D:/Shotcut/ZProject/Square/Bug Square.png

The folder of D:/Shotcut would need to be copied for sharing with people or to another computer. If you tried to share XProject.mlt along with your source files individually to another person they would be presented with this dialog box.


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 60 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.

Missing Files

Shotcut presents a missing dialog box when you open the project if a file has been moved or deleted or file folder has changed name. This allows you to still use your existing project, but you must tell Shotcut where to find your source file.

Double click each item that’s missing as assign the source files a new location.

One files have been found, then click OK.
You will now have two project files. The original, and a Repaired project MLT file.


I honestly can’t believe it. An open source project with DOCUMENTATION!! Useful, clear, essential information. I’m brand new to shotcut and stumbled on this as the first post I have read in this forum. Congratulations! This is exactly what I need to get started right and avoid surprises later. Of course, I would rather shotcut saved media in a cab like file ala PhtoStory. It is a design decision. Fine. But the important thing is that now I KNOW. And you have clear, simple way to make sure my projects always use relative links so that they are mobile. Way to go.




What is a media file?

What do you mean by clip-only project?

So the media in the playlist is combined into one video?

Any file containing some media: image, audio, video…

Thank you for this post. The problem I am having after I have moved the location of the source files is that shotcut is not prompting me to reconnect them. It’s strange because for months of using shotcut before this it would always prompt me and I would quickly reconnect them . . . but now it’s not prompting me and I haven’t found a way to reconnect them manually.

Do you know of a way to manually reconnect source files when shotcut does not prompt you upon opening?


Might be better to create a new Help/How To post. This is a Documentation post.
Also would be helpful to state what version number of Shotcut you’re working with along with the Operating System used.

Thanks, precise and clear.

But is there a way to set “Projects folder” from the command line or in a config file?

I am using Shotcut on a Chromebook and have stumbled upon a weird behavior - the system file dialog (which on the ChromeOS Linux is GTK) cannot set a folder (I can select only a file). I suppose, if GTK dialog supports folder-selecting at all, then it probably should be put in that mode (folder-selecting mode?) by the calling program (here - Shotcut).

As a new user, really enjoying this remarkable open source program, this is important info. It seems from your comment that you do see the value in archiving tools, but have not implemented them yet. I’d really like to put in a vote for this. As my first projects are developing, I’m aware that the different media types which end up in the project are usually living in source folders which make sense; stills in pictures folder, videos in a video folder, OBS captures in their folders and, very often, audio in the DAW project folder. They all end up in the Shotcut project and it didn’t take long to realize that getting the files into a master directory ASAP is crucial to safe retrieval of the project down the line.
It’s a +1 from me if project archiving were to be made available.