How To Un-Dock & Dock Panels In After Effects - JUST 1 Step

To efficiently navigate Adobe After Effects, it's crucial to customize your workspace by effectively managing panels. Familiarize yourself with undocking, redocking, and resetting panels to optimize your workflow and align your workspace with your creative needs.

October 19, 2023
How To Un-Dock & Dock Panels In After Effects - JUST 1 Step
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Adobe After Effects How To UnDock And Dock Panels

Panels, in the realm of After Effects, are akin to the various tools in an artist's studio. Each has its unique purpose, and knowing how to arrange them can significantly enhance your workflow, making tasks more intuitive and less time-consuming.

Here's what's covered in this guide:

  • Recognizing and selecting the right panels for your project.
  • The step-by-step process of undocking and redocking panels.
  • Handling grouped panels and maximizing your view for a detailed look.
  • And, if things get a bit messy, the simple way to reset everything back to its pristine state.

Undocking Panels

Identifying the Panel You Want to Work With

First and foremost, you need to decide which panel you're aiming to undock. In After Effects, panels are essentially your workspaces - think of them as different rooms in a house, each with its own purpose. You see, the interface is filled with these "rooms" such as the Project, Composition, and Timeline panels. To locate them, look at the sides or the bottom of your screen. They're labeled clearly, so you shouldn't have any trouble spotting them.

The Undocking Process

Now, here's where the magic happens. Once you've found your desired panel, hover your mouse over its name (the tab). Press down on your left mouse button and start dragging it away.

Setting the Panel Free

As you drag the panel, you'll notice it starts to detach from its original spot. Release the mouse button, and voila! Your panel is now floating, free to be moved wherever you please. It's like taking a picture off the wall and deciding where you'd like to place it next.

The Art of Redocking

Guess what? If you change your mind or want to return the panel to its original spot, no worries. Just drag it back to where it came from or any other spot where you see a blue outline. This blue outline is your guide, showing you where the panel will snugly fit back in. It's akin to fitting a puzzle piece back into its spot.

Dealing with Grouped Panels

Now, here's a little twist. Some panels are like conjoined twins; they're grouped together. If you try to move one, the other might come along. To separate them, you'll first need to drag one out of the group, and then you can undock it. Think of it as detaching a train carriage from the rest before moving it to a different track.

Maximizing Your View

In my opinion, this is a neat trick. If you hover over a panel and press the ~ (tilde) key, it'll expand to fill your entire screen.

Resetting Your Workspace

At the end of the day, if you feel like you've rearranged too much and want to go back to the default layout, you bet there's a way. Head to Window > Workspace > Reset [Workspace Name].

Docking Panels After They Have Been Undocked

First and foremost, locate the panel you wish to dock. At the top of each panel, you'll find a tab or title bar. This is essentially the "handle" of the panel, similar to the handle of a suitcase. You see, by grabbing this "handle", you can move the panel around.

Now, here's where the fun begins. Click and hold onto the panel's tab. As you do this, you'll notice that the panel is now free to move around, just like when you drag a file on your computer desktop. No worries, you're on the right track.

As you drag the panel, pay close attention to the interface. You'll see faint outlines or zones appearing. These are the potential docking locations.

Once you see that green bar in the desired location, release the mouse button. Believe me, it's that simple. The panel will snap into place, and you've successfully docked it.