Insider Tips: Mastering the Premiere Pro Swap Edit

Every week, Insider asks one of our expert contributors to share a tip, tool, or technique that they use all the time and couldn’t live without. In this article, Jarle Leirpoll takes shares the trick to getting a Premiere Pro Swap Edit right.

As you probably know, moving a clip around without any modifier key creates a hole in the timeline where the clip was; when you let go, it overwrites whatever is there.

You may also know that if you press down the Ctrl/Cmd before you start dragging, the hole will be closed with an extract edit. And if you continue pressing it until after you let go of the mouse button, an insert edit will be performed, so no clip is overwritten.

How to Swap Edit in a multi-layered timeline

Unfortunately, this is how many users swap clips around in the timeline. It works perfectly fine if you have only one track, but when you have clips on other tracks, it creates mayhem!

Press Ctrl (Cmd on macOS) and drag.
This technique doesn’t work so well on a Premiere Pro timeline with multiple layers.

The proper way to do a Swap Edit (aka Rearrange edit) is to press and hold Ctrl+Alt (Windows) or Cmd+Option (macOS) before letting go of the clip, and only clips on the track with the selected clip will be swapped. No need to start pressing before dragging—just do it before letting go.

Note: Make sure Snapping is on (S toggles it) in the timeline for the Swap Edit to work properly.

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Jarle Leirpoll

Jarle Leirpoll is a film maker based out of Norway, and author of "The Cool Stuff in Premiere Pro". He runs, where he shares free templates, presets and projects. Jarle has trained people at top broadcasters and media production companies like Disney, BBC, NRK, DR, Swedish TV4, Warner Bros, Discovery Channel and countless others.

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