As anyone who has jumped into Adobe After Effects editing can attest, motion graphics editing can be an extremely time-consuming process.
Keyframing and layering effects take time, but with some handy keyboard shortcuts, you can cut your editing time down significantly. By effortlessly switching between tools without having to navigate endless menus, you can stay in your "flow state" and get projects done faster.
Here is our ultimate guide to 35 must-know After Effects keyboard shortcuts that you can use to speed up your editing workflow.
1: Activate Selection Tool (V)
Quickly switch to your selection tool with just a tap of the “V” key.
2: Activate Hand Tool (H)
Another common tool you can use to move elements around on the timeline or composition frame.
3: Reveal All Keyframe Properties (U)
Want to see all the keyframes in your selected layers? Hit the U button to reveal all keyframes and their properties.
4: Pre-compose Selected Layers (Ctrl + Shift + C)
Want to save your timeline from composition clutter? You can combine several layers into their own composition using this shortcut.
5: Show/Hide Opacity (T)
This key will bring up the Opacity option for your selected layer, allowing you to adjust its opacity.
6: Fit to Screen (Shift + /)
Want to quickly make your compositions fit your screen after zooming in or out to manipulate it? Use this keyboard shortcut to snap your composition viewer back into place.
7: Split Layer (Cmnd + Shift + D)
Split your layer at a chosen point with this shortcut.
8: Trim Layer End Point to Current Timestamp (Option + ] )
Want to trim dead space off the end of a layer element? Simply select a time point on your timeline, select a layer, and use this shortcut to cut all footage after that time point.
9: Go Back or Forward One Frame (Cmnd + Left/Right Arrow Keys)
This shortcut makes viewing your project's frame by frame simple and easy, allowing you to toggle back and forth between frames.
10: Stretch Keyframes (Option + Mouse Click & Drag)
Want to slow down your animation? Select your desired keyframes, then just hold down the option key while dragging your mouse to stretch your keyframes.
11: Anchor Point (A)
This shortcut will pull up your anchor point transformation property.
12: Position (P)
This shortcut will pull up your position transformation property.
13: Scale (S)
This shortcut will pull up your scale transformation property.
14: Rotation (R)
This shortcut will pull up your rotation transformation property.
15: Set Keyframes (Option + Property Shortcut [ex. P, S, R etc.])
To quickly set property keyframes, simply hold down the option key and select the shortcut for the property you want to apply.
16: Timeline Zoom ( + or - )
Quickly zoom in and out on your timeline by pressing the plus or minus keys.
17: Composition Viewer Zoom ( , or . )
Want to zoom in and out on your composition? Use the comma and period keys to zoom in and out of your composition viewer.
18: Add An “Eased” Keyframe (F9)
If you use eased keyframes in your compositions, hit the F9 button to add a quick ease to any keyframe.
19: Jump Between Keyframes (J & K)
Want to jump between keyframes quickly? Use the J and K keys to toggle between neighboring keyframes.
20: Jump From Point to Point (I & O)
Similar to the keyframe toggle, if you want to jump from the first frame to the last frame of a layer, simply toggle between the I and O keys.
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21: Preview At Double Speed(Shift + 0)
This one is a huge timesaver. Suppose you want to preview your compositions at double speed, press shift, and the zero key. This allows you to quickly preview your current work without having to watch it in real-time.
22: Add Marker ( * )
Markers are crucial for syncing different layers of your composition. To quickly add a marker, simply select your layer element and hit *, and a marker will appear on the clip wherever the playhead is located.
23: Move a Layer to Playhead ( & )
You can quickly move a layer to the current playhead location by selecting the layer element and pressing &.
24: Scale Layers to Fit (Cmnd + Option + F)
You can scale any layer to fit the composition frame by using this shortcut.
25: Toggle Ruler (Cmnd + R)
Want to see the ruler guides to help you accurately place elements in your frame? This shortcut allows you to reveal and hide the ruler guides.
26: Toggle Viewer Resolution (Cmnd + J)
If you need to reduce your viewer resolution to reduce the load on your computer, you can toggle your viewer resolution using several keyboard shortcuts.
- Full resolution: (Cmnd + J)
- Half resolution (Cmnd + Shift + J)
- Quarter resolution (Cmnd + Option+ Shift + J)
27: Show Graph Editor (Shift + F3)
The graph editor is a great tool for smoothing over your animation elements, and you can quickly access it using this shortcut.
28: Search for Layer (Cmnd + F)
Working with lots of layers and want to quickly find the next one you want to work on? Use this shortcut to pull up a search bar that allows you to type in keywords and locate elements on your timeline.
29: Hide or Show Layer Controls (Cmnd + Shift + H)
Layer controls are your best friend when it comes to adjusting different elements in a layer, but they can easily clutter your composition viewer and become distracting. Use this shortcut to reveal the controls when you need them and hide them when you don't.
30: Kern Type Effects (Option + Left/Right Arrow Keys)
If you want to adjust the spacing between letters in a text element, that process is called “kerning,” and you can use it to create a more customized text feel. You can pull up the kerning type effects by using this shortcut.
31: Save Current Frame (Cmnd + Option + S)
Want to export only a single frame instead of an entire composition? Use this shortcut to quickly save and export your current frame.
32: Show/Hide Grid (Cmnd + ` [apostrophe])
The grid is your secret weapon to perfect the positioning of elements within a frame, but like a secret weapon, sometimes you need it, and sometimes you don't. Use this shortcut to quickly toggle the visibility of the on-screen grid.
33: Maximize a Panel ( ~ )
Want to enlarge a panel (for example, your composition viewer) to fill the entire After Effects screen? Hit the tilde (~) button to maximize your selected panel to fill the frame or return it back to its original size.
34: Toggle Layers (Cmnd + Up/Down Arrows )
Want to select a layer above or below your current working layer? Just hit the command key and use your up or down arrows to select the layer above or below the current layer.
35: Replace Layers (Option + Drop New Layer)
Want to simply replace a new layer over an old one? Just hold the option key, select a layer in your timeline, and drag and drop a new layer from your project panel on top of the selected layer to replace it.
Whether you're new to After Effects or a seasoned pro, shortcuts will help you reduce your editing time and make it easy to stay focused on your work instead of fumbling through menus. Save this handy list to your bookmarks so you can quickly access it anytime you find yourself mumbling, "what was that shortcut again?" at 2 AM after a marathon editing session.
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