I've compiled an extensive list of over 100 Adobe After Effects keyboard shortcuts from various sources to enhance workflow efficiency. These shortcuts cover a range of functionalities, from interface navigation and layer manipulation to tool activation, ensuring a smoother and more productive editing experience.
An After Effects keyboard shortcut is a combination of keys that, when pressed simultaneously, trigger a specific command or action within the Adobe After Effects software without having to navigate through menus or click on buttons. These shortcuts are designed to speed up the workflow of users by providing quick access to commonly used functions.
Keep reading to see the full list of every keyboard shortcut that Adobe After Effects has.
I've come to realize the importance of keyboard shortcuts. They're not just about saving a few seconds here and there. They can significantly streamline the editing process, especially when dealing with complex tasks like keyframing and layering effects. These tasks, while fundamental, can be time-consuming and often disrupt the flow of work.
You see, I've curated a list of 1000+ (and growing) essential keyboard shortcuts that I personally find invaluable in my workflow. These aren't just randomly picked; they've been chosen based on their potential to reduce work time, sometimes even by half. Let me tell you, once you integrate these shortcuts into your routine, you'll notice a marked improvement in your efficiency.
For those who might not be familiar, keyframing (the process of setting specific points to control parameter values) and layering effects (stacking multiple effects on a single layer) are foundational in motion graphics editing. But with the right shortcuts, you can navigate these processes with greater ease. By the way, I've also made sure to include a visual keyboard shortcut editor in the list. This tool allows for customization, enabling you to assign multiple key combinations to a single command, which can be especially handy for tasks you frequently perform.
All in all, while navigating through After Effects, it's easy to get lost in the multitude of options and menus. But, believe me, with these shortcuts, you can maintain your creative momentum and focus on the task at hand. So, if you're keen on enhancing your After Effects workflow, integrating these shortcuts is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction. And, for what it's worth, always remember that efficiency in editing isn't just about speed, but also about maintaining the quality of your work.
Before we start, here's a keyboard shortcut for navigating this list: CTRL + F to find whatever you want.
Ctrl+A / Command+A
When you're working with multiple layers, effects, or any items in a composition, sometimes you need to select everything at once. Instead of manually clicking on each item, use this shortcut to instantly select all items in your current panel or composition.
Use-case: You want to apply a specific effect to all layers in your composition. Instead of selecting them one by one, hit Ctrl+A or Command+A to select all, then apply the effect.
F2 or Ctrl+Shift+A / F2 or Command+Shift+A
Just as quickly as you can select everything, you might need to deselect. This shortcut allows you to instantly clear any selections you've made.
Use-case: After making adjustments to several selected layers, you want to ensure no layers are selected before making a new edit. Simply press F2 or the respective combination to deselect all.
Enter on the main keyboard / Return
Renaming layers, compositions, or any items is a common task to keep things organized. This shortcut lets you quickly rename the currently selected item without having to right-click or navigate through menus.
Use-case: You've just added a new layer and want to give it a descriptive name. Select the layer and hit Enter or Return to rename it.
Enter on the numeric keypad
This shortcut allows you to quickly open and view the contents of a selected layer, composition, or footage item.
Use-case: You have a nested composition within your main composition. By selecting it and pressing Enter on the numeric keypad, you can dive into that nested comp to make edits.
Ctrl+Alt+Down Arrow or Ctrl+Alt+Up Arrow / Command+Option+Down Arrow or Command+Option+Up Arrow
Layers and items have a stacking order, determining which ones appear in front or behind others. This shortcut lets you quickly move selected items up or down in this order.
Use-case: You've added a new graphic layer, but it's behind your text layer. Use this shortcut to bring the graphic in front of the text.
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Down Arrow or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Up Arrow / Command+Option+Shift+Down Arrow or Command+Option+Shift+Up Arrow
Sometimes, you want to send a layer right to the back or bring it straight to the front. This shortcut does just that, moving the selected items to the extreme ends of the stacking order.
Use-case: You've added a background layer and want it to be the very first layer. Use this shortcut to send it to the back instantly.
Shift+Down Arrow or Shift+Up Arrow
When selecting multiple items sequentially, this shortcut allows you to extend your current selection to the next or previous item.
Use-case: You've selected a layer and want to also select the next three layers above it. Instead of manually clicking each one, use Shift+Down Arrow to quickly extend your selection.
Ctrl+D / Command+D
Creating a copy of layers, effects, or any items is a frequent task. This shortcut lets you quickly duplicate the selected items.
Use-case: You've designed a graphic element and want to create multiple copies of it across your composition. Select it and hit Ctrl+D or Command+D to duplicate.
Ctrl+Q / Command+Q
When you're done with your work and want to exit the application, this shortcut provides a quick way to do so.
Use-case: After saving your project, use this shortcut to quickly close the application and move on to your next task.
Ctrl+Z / Command+Z and Ctrl+Shift+Z / Command+Shift+Z
Mistakes happen, and sometimes you want to revert an action. The undo and redo shortcuts allow you to quickly step back or forward through your recent actions.
Use-case: You accidentally deleted a layer. Hit Ctrl+Z or Command+Z to bring it back. If you change your mind again, use the redo shortcut to remove it.
Ctrl+Alt+/ (on numeric keypad) / Command+Option+/ (on numeric keypad)
Over time, the application can accumulate cached data. This shortcut lets you clear that cache and free up memory, which can improve performance.
Use-case: You've been working on a complex project for hours and notice some lag. Use this shortcut to purge the memory and potentially speed things up.
If you're running a script and need to stop it for any reason, this shortcut provides a quick way to interrupt and halt its execution.
Use-case: You've started a script, but realize it's not doing what you expected. Press Esc to stop it before it completes.
Ctrl+Alt+E / Command+Option+E
This shortcut reveals the filename corresponding to the frame you're currently viewing in the Info panel.
Use-case: You're working with multiple footage items and want to quickly identify the source file of the current frame. Use this shortcut to display its filename.
Alt + Shift + P, S, R, T
Keyframes are essential for animation. This combination of shortcuts lets you quickly add keyframes for various properties like Position (P), Scale (S), Rotation (R), and Opacity (T).
Use-case: You want to animate a layer's position. Move to the desired starting point in your timeline, select the layer, and press Alt + Shift + P to add a position keyframe.
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Ctrl+Alt+N / Command+Option+N
Starting from scratch? Instead of navigating through the menu to create a new project, simply use this shortcut. Hit Ctrl+Alt+N (or Command+Option+N on Mac) to instantly open a fresh project canvas, ready for your creative touch.
Ctrl+O / Command+O
Need to continue where you left off? Don't waste time searching through file directories. Press Ctrl+O (or Command+O on Mac) to quickly open an existing project and jump right back into your workflow.
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+P / Command+Option+Shift+P
Jumping between projects? Instead of manually searching for your most recent work, use this shortcut. By pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift+P (or Command+Option+Shift+P on Mac), you can swiftly access the last project you were working on.
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+N / Command+Option+Shift+N
Organization is key. Instead of right-clicking and selecting the option to create a new folder, simply hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+N (or Command+Option+Shift+N on Mac) to generate a new folder in the Project panel. Keep your assets tidy and accessible.
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+K / Command+Option+Shift+K
Tweaking your project settings? Avoid the hassle of navigating through menus. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+K (or Command+Option+Shift+K on Mac) to instantly open the Project Settings dialog box, allowing you to adjust parameters to your liking.
Ctrl+F / Command+F
Lost an asset or specific layer? Don't scroll endlessly. Simply hit Ctrl+F (or Command+F on Mac) to activate the search bar in the Project panel. Type in what you're looking for and find it in a snap.
Alt-click bit-depth button at the bottom of Project panel / Option-click bit-depth button at the bottom of Project panel
Fine-tuning your project's visual quality? Instead of manually selecting bit-depth options, just Alt-click (or Option-click on Mac) the bit-depth button at the bottom of the Project panel. This allows you to swiftly cycle through different color bit depths, ensuring your project looks its best.
Want a quick glance at your project's current bit-depth? Simply click on the bit-depth button located at the bottom of the Project panel. This provides a visual indicator of your project's color quality, helping you make informed decisions about your project's visual fidelity.
Ctrl+Alt+; (semicolon) / Command+Option+; (semicolon)
Need to tweak your software settings? Don't dive deep into the menus. Simply press Ctrl+Alt+; (or Command+Option+; on Mac) to instantly open the Preferences dialog box. This is your control center, allowing you to customize After Effects to your workflow.
Hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift while starting After Effects / Hold down Command+Option+Shift while starting After Effects
Experiencing glitches or just want a fresh start? Instead of manually resetting each preference, use this shortcut. By holding down Ctrl+Alt+Shift (or Command+Option+Shift on Mac) while launching After Effects, you'll restore the software to its default settings. It's like giving your workspace a clean slate.
Ctrl+0 / Command+0
Need to access your project assets or hide them momentarily? Use Ctrl+0 (or Command+0 on Mac) to swiftly toggle the Project panel. This is your main hub for all imported files and compositions.
Ctrl+Alt+0 / Command+Option+0
Ready to render or need to check on your render tasks? Press Ctrl+Alt+0 (or Command+Option+0 on Mac) to quickly toggle the Render Queue panel, where all your rendering magic happens.
Ctrl+1 / Command+1
Looking for your tools or need to declutter your workspace? Hit Ctrl+1 (or Command+1 on Mac) to open or close the Tools panel. This is where all your essential editing tools reside.
Ctrl+2 / Command+2
Need detailed information about your cursor's position or color values? Use Ctrl+2 (or Command+2 on Mac) to toggle the Info panel, providing real-time data as you navigate your project.
Ctrl+3 / Command+3
Want to preview your animation or hide the playback controls? Press Ctrl+3 (or Command+3 on Mac) to open or close the Preview panel, ensuring you get a smooth look at your work in progress.
Ctrl+4 / Command+4
Working with sound or need to adjust audio levels? Hit Ctrl+4 (or Command+4 on Mac) to toggle the Audio panel, your go-to for all things auditory.
Ctrl+5 / Command+5
Diving into effects or searching for a specific preset? Use Ctrl+5 (or Command+5 on Mac) to access or hide the Effects & Presets panel, your treasure trove of creative possibilities.
Ctrl+6 / Command+6
Tweaking your text's font, size, or style? Press Ctrl+6 (or Command+6 on Mac) to toggle the Character panel, ensuring your typography is on point.
Ctrl+7 / Command+7
Adjusting text alignment or spacing? Use Ctrl+7 (or Command+7 on Mac) to open or close the Paragraph panel, perfecting your text layout.
Ctrl+8 / Command+8
Dabbling in some brushwork or adjusting paint properties? Hit Ctrl+8 (or Command+8 on Mac) to toggle the Paint panel, your canvas for artistic touches.
Ctrl+9 / Command+9
Choosing the right brush or tweaking its settings? Press Ctrl+9 (or Command+9 on Mac) to access or hide the Brushes panel, ensuring every stroke is perfect.
F3 or Ctrl+Shift+T / F3 or Command+Shift+T
Need to adjust effects on your layer or view applied filters? Use F3 or Ctrl+Shift+T (or Command+Shift+T on Mac) to toggle the Effect Controls panel, tailoring each layer's look and feel.
Ctrl+F11 / Command+F11
Visualizing your project's structure or navigating complex comps? Press Ctrl+F11 (or Command+F11 on Mac) to open the Flowchart panel, giving you a bird's-eye view of your project's hierarchy.
Shift+F10, Shift+F11, or Shift+F12
Changing your workspace layout for a specific task? Use these shortcuts to swiftly switch between predefined workspace layouts, optimizing your environment for the task at hand.
Ctrl+W / Command+W
Done with a specific panel or viewer? Press Ctrl+W (or Command+W on Mac) to close the active viewer or panel, decluttering your workspace.
Ctrl+Shift+W / Command+Shift+W
Want to close all similar panels or viewers? Use Ctrl+Shift+W (or Command+Shift+W on Mac) to close either the active panel or all viewers of its type, streamlining your workspace.
Maximize or restore panel under pointer: ` (accent grave)
Need more space or a focused view? Hit the accent grave key (`) to maximize or restore the panel under your pointer, optimizing your view for detailed work.
Ctrl+\ (backslash) / Command+\ (backslash)
Adjusting your software window size? Use Ctrl+\ (or Command+\ on Mac) to resize the application or floating window to fit your screen, ensuring you see everything clearly.
Ctrl+Alt+\ (backslash) / Command+Option+\ (backslash)
Switching monitors or adjusting window positions? Press Ctrl+Alt+\ (or Command+Option+\ on Mac) to move the application or floating window to your main monitor, centralizing your workspace.
Switching focus between your composition and timeline? Simply hit the backslash key () to toggle activation, ensuring you're always in control.
Shift+, (comma) or Shift+. (period)
Navigating through items in your viewer? Use Shift+, (comma) or Shift+. (period) to cycle through, ensuring you never miss a detail.
Alt+Shift+, (comma) or Alt+Shift+. (period) / Option+Shift+, (comma) or Option+Shift+. (period)
Jumping between panels in your frame? Press these shortcuts to swiftly cycle through, optimizing your navigation speed.
Click with the middle mouse button
Working with multiple views in your composition? Simply click with the middle mouse button to activate a specific view, ensuring you're always focused on the right perspective.
Selecting layers or moving items around? Press V to activate the Selection tool, your go-to for general interactions within your composition.
Navigating around your composition? Hit H to activate the Hand tool, allowing you to drag your view around the canvas with ease.
Hold down the spacebar or the middle mouse button
Quickly need to move around? Hold the spacebar or middle mouse button to temporarily switch to the Hand tool, then release to return to your previous tool.
Want a closer look at your work? Press Z to activate the Zoom In tool, letting you magnify specific areas of your composition.
Alt (when Zoom In tool is active) / Option (when Zoom In tool is active)
Need to zoom out after a close-up? While the Zoom In tool is active, press Alt (or Option on Mac) to switch to the Zoom Out tool, giving you a broader view.
Rotating layers or objects? Hit W to activate the Rotation tool, allowing you to spin your elements with precision.
Alt+W / Option+W
Working on rotoscoping? Press Alt+W (or Option+W on Mac) to activate the Roto Brush tool, perfect for isolating subjects from their backgrounds.
[No shortcut provided]
This tool helps refine the edges of your rotoscoped subject, ensuring a seamless blend with the background.
Working in 3D space? Press C to activate and cycle through the Camera tools, including the Unified Camera, Orbit Camera, Track XY Camera, and Track Z Camera.
Adjusting anchor points? Hit Y to activate the Pan Behind tool, letting you reposition the anchor point of your layers without moving the layer content.
Creating masks or shapes? Press Q to activate and cycle through various mask and shape tools like Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, and Star.
Ctrl+T / Command+T
Adding text to your composition? Use Ctrl+T (or Command+T on Mac) to activate and cycle between the Horizontal and Vertical Type tools.
Drawing paths or adjusting mask feathering? Press G to activate and cycle between the Pen and Mask Feather tools. Note: This behavior can be toggled in the Preferences.
Ctrl / Command
Need to quickly select something while using the Pen tool? Hold down Ctrl (or Command on Mac) to temporarily switch to the Selection tool.
Ctrl+Alt / Command+Option
Working with paths and need to add or adjust points? While the Selection tool is active, hold Ctrl+Alt (or Command+Option on Mac) to temporarily switch to the Pen tool.
Ctrl+B / Command+B
Painting, cloning, or erasing? Use Ctrl+B (or Command+B on Mac) to activate and cycle through the Brush, Clone Stamp, and Eraser tools.
Ctrl+P / Command+P
Animating with the Puppet tool? Press Ctrl+P (or Command+P on Mac) to activate and cycle through the various Puppet tools.
Alt (in shape layer) / Option (in shape layer)
Duplicating shapes within a layer? While in a shape layer, hold down Alt (or Option on Mac) with the Selection tool active to temporarily switch to the Shape Duplication tool.
Cmd + J / CTRL + J
Want to view your composition in its full glory? Use Cmd + J (or CTRL + J on Windows) to switch the resolution to Full, ensuring you see every detail.
Cmd + Shift + J / CTRL + Shift + J
Need a quicker preview without the full resolution? Press Cmd + Shift + J (or CTRL + Shift + J on Windows) to halve the resolution, speeding up playback while still giving you a clear view.
Cmd + Opt + Shift + J / CTRL+ Alt + Shift + J
Working on a complex scene and need even faster previews? Use Cmd + Opt + Shift + J (or CTRL+ Alt + Shift + J on Windows) to switch to Quarter resolution, maximizing performance during editing.
Replace layers by selecting a layer in the timeline, holding down the ALT key, choosing a new layer from the project panel, and then dropping it onto the old layer.
Swapping out assets? This shortcut lets you quickly replace a layer in your timeline with a new one from your project panel, ensuring a seamless transition.
Hold CTRL + Mouse Click
Want to see your composition's duration in frames instead of time? Hold CTRL and click with your mouse to toggle between time and frame count, giving you precise control over your edits.
HOLD Alt + Click on the fill color box
Looking to add some depth with a gradient? Hold Alt and click on the fill color box to switch from a solid fill to a gradient, enhancing your design's visual appeal.
~ Tilde key
Need more space for a specific panel? Press the tilde (~) key to maximize the current panel, giving you a clearer view of your work.
CMD + R / CTRL + R
Setting precise positions or alignments? Use CMD + R (or CTRL + R on Windows) to show rulers and guides, ensuring pixel-perfect placements.
Command + Option + ‘ / CTRL + Alt + ‘
Customizing your workflow? Press Command + Option + ‘ (or CTRL + Alt + ‘ on Windows) to open the Shortcut Editor, letting you tailor After Effects to your unique needs.
CMD + F / CTRL + F
Looking for a specific layer in your timeline? Press CMD + F (or CTRL + F on Windows) to quickly search for and locate any layer by name.
CMD + SHIFT + E / CTRL + SHIFT + E
Want to start fresh with a layer's effects? Use CMD + SHIFT + E (or CTRL + SHIFT + E on Windows) to instantly remove all effects applied to a selected layer.
CMD + Option + Shift+ Y / CTRL+ALT+Shift+Y
Need a null object for your animations? Press CMD + Option + Shift+ Y (or CTRL+ALT+Shift+Y on Windows) to quickly create a null layer, perfect for parent-child animations.
Switching back to basic interactions? Press V to activate the Selection tool, essential for selecting and moving items within your composition.
Quickly access specific properties of a layer by using these shortcuts. Whether adjusting position, scale, rotation, or opacity, these keys provide instant access to each property.
Trim layer at the beginning: Option + [ / Alt + [
Trim layer at the end: Option + ] / Alt + ]
Trimming your layers to fit your timeline? Use these shortcuts to quickly trim layers at the beginning or end, ensuring a tight edit.
Start Layer at the blue line indicator: [
End Layer at the blue line indicator: ]
Aligning layers to specific points in your timeline? Use these shortcuts to quickly set the start or end points of layers based on the current time indicator.
Command + Shift + C / Ctrl+Shift+C
Grouping layers into a single composition? Press Command + Shift + C (or Ctrl+Shift+C on Windows) to pre-compose the selected layers, keeping your timeline organized.
Command + Option + Shift + V / Ctrl+ Alt + Shift+ V
Need to quickly hide or reveal a layer? Use this shortcut to toggle the visibility of the selected layer, streamlining your editing process.
Command + Shift + D / CTRL + Shift + D
Breaking a layer into two parts? Press Command + Shift + D (or CTRL + Shift + D on Windows) to split the selected layer at the current time indicator.
Go to the Layer Start: I
Go to the Layer End: O
Navigating to the start or end of a layer? Use these shortcuts to quickly jump to the beginning or end of the selected layer in your timeline.
Want to view only specific properties of a layer? Double press the S key to isolate and view specific properties, decluttering your timeline.
CMD + ALT + R / CTRL + ALT + R
Playing your animation backwards? Use CMD + ALT + R (or CTRL + ALT + R on Windows) to reverse the time of your selected layer, creating a mirrored animation.
You can download a PDF of all these shortcuts here.
Here is a visual demonstration of each hotkey. Most of the shortcuts i listed above can be found here.
You can actually get Custom Keyboard Shortcuts In After Effects. Here's how:
Open Adobe After Effects on your computer. If you've just installed it, you can find it in your applications folder or start menu. If you're a frequent user, you might have a shortcut on your desktop.
Once the software is up and running, look at the top menu bar. Here, you'll find a tab labeled "Edit." Click on it. This is where most of the software's settings and preferences are housed.
In the dropdown that appears from the "Edit" tab, there's an option labeled "Keyboard Shortcuts." Click on it. This will open a new window, which is the heart of customizing your key commands.
Within this window, you'll see a long list of commands and their associated shortcuts. Honestly, it can be overwhelming at first. But, no worries, there's a search bar at the top. If you know the name of the command you want to change, type it in there. For example, if you're looking to change the shortcut for "Cut," type in "Cut" and it'll filter the results for you.
Once you've located your desired command, you'll notice a box next to it showing the current key combination. Click on that box. Now, press the new key combination you'd like to assign. If, by any chance, that combination is already taken, After Effects will give you a heads up. In that case, you'll need to choose a different combo or override the existing one. Take it from me, it's essential to ensure your chosen shortcuts don't conflict with others; it can disrupt your workflow.
After you've made your changes, there's an "OK" button at the bottom of the window. Click on it. This ensures that all your hard work doesn't go to waste. Believe me, there's nothing more frustrating than realizing you forgot to save.
Export: If you're proud of your custom shortcuts and think you might want to use them on another system or share with a colleague, there's an "Export" option. Clicking this will generate a .kys file, which is essentially a record of your customizations.
Import: On the other hand, if someone has shared their .kys file with you or you're moving to a new system, the "Import" option lets you bring in those settings. Just locate the file on your computer and select it.
If you ever feel like your customizations aren't working out or you just want a fresh start, there's a "Reset" button. Clicking this will bring everything back to how it was when you first installed After Effects. Honestly, it's a handy option if things get too messy.