AbstractFriction stir welding (FSW), a mature solid-state joining method, has become a revolutionary welding technique over the past two decades because of its energy efficiency, environmental friendliness and high-quality joints. FSW is highly efficient in the joining of Al alloys, Mg alloys, Ti alloys, polymers and other dissimilar materials. Recently, FSW has gained considerable scientific and technological attention in several fields, including aerospace, railway, renewable energy and automobile. To broaden the adoption of FSW in manufacturing fields, three inherent issues—back support, weld thinning and keyhole defects—must be addressed to ensure the structural integrity, safety and service life of the manufactured products. This review covers the recent progress on the control strategies for these inherent issues, which are basically divided into self-supported FSW, non-weld-thinning FSW and friction stir-based remanufacturing. Herein, the aim is to focus on the corresponding technical development, process parameters, metallurgical features and mechanical properties. Additionally, the challenges and future outlooks are emphasized systematically.