Quickly navigate your After Effects timeline like a pro. Here are some essential keyboard shortcuts for After Effects.
If you have animated anything in After Effects, you will know how much time can be spent merely navigating the many buttons, menus and windows on display.
So that’s why it’s handy to know the various different After Effects keyboard shortcuts.
Customising the interface and removing unneeded windows can drastically help your workflow and project organisation, it is surprising how much time you can save by learning the basic After Effects keyboard shortcuts.
As a result, we have created a list of the most useful shortcuts, to have you saving time in no time.
General After Effects keyboard shortcuts
Firstly, you will probably recognise some of these After Effects keyboard shortcuts, as they are universal across most programs.
The collection of menus and sub menus can be incredible to navigate, so memorising these shortcuts can save you a tremendous amount of time.
- Cmd + C – Copy
- Cmd + V – Paste
- Cmd + Z – Undo
- Cmd + S – Save
- Cmd + N – New Composition
- Cmd + K – Composition Settings
- Cmd + I – Import
- Cmd + Y – New Solid
- Shift + Cmd + Y – Solid Settings
Learning the property shortcut is a must if you’re working with a lot of keyframes. With a single letter key, you can quickly scroll through the property options for each asset.
In addition to this, if you press these keys while holding down the shift button, you can reveal multiple properties at the same time.
- A – Anchor Point
- T – Opacity
- P – Position
- S – Scale
- R – Rotation
- U – All keyframes
Let’s face it, the toolbar in After Effects is challenging to use with small icons and even smaller drop-down menus.
Learn the tool after effects keyboard shortcut and save yourself the time and frustration of dragging your cursor to the top of the screen and clicking the wrong icon.
- V – Arrow
- H – Hand
- Q – Shape
- G – Pen
- Y – Pan Behind
- Cmnd + T – Type
- Cmnd + B – Brush Tool/Clone Stamp Tool/Eraser
Working with masks is an area where After Effects keyboard shortcuts pay dividends by helping you speed things up. These keys can save you clicking through three drop-down menus to reach the desired options.
- MM – All Mask Settings
- M – Mask Path
- F – Mask Feather
- TT – Mask Opacity
It’s a good idea to work with comp lengths longer than the piece you are planning to make, but this can slow down your render and playback times. Setting the beginning and end of your workspace can help with this issue.
Line up your playhead on the timeline where you want your workspace to be, press B to create your in point and N to create your outpoint.
Fit Comp to the viewer
No matter what you are doing in After Effects, it is likely that you will be zooming in and out of the viewer window to get a closer look at your work.
Clicking the tiny menu to ‘Fit’ your comp to the viewer can be a tedious recurrence. Instead, press Shift + / to make your comp fit your viewer.
We’ve all done it; pressed a button by mistake and ended up in full-screen mode of one panel.
The truth is, this can be one of the most helpful After Effects keyboard shortcuts when working with compositions containing a lot of layers, but if you do it accidentally it can be a bit of a shock.
Select the panel and press ~ to enter and exit full screen on that panel.
Save current frame
Occasionally you might need to export a single frame of your video. There are several ways to do this, but by far the quickest is with this shortcut.
Just align your playhead with the frame you wish to export and use Cmd + Opt + S.
Precomp your layers
Pre-composing your layers is essential for an efficient workflow. If you don’t use pre-comps in your work, it is a good idea to get familiar with how and when to employ them.
Not only is this vital for specific animation styles, but it’s a great way of keeping your projects organised.
Pre-comping needn’t be a hassle: select the layers you wish to pre-comp and use Cmd + Shift + C to bring up the pre-comp settings window.
Finally, grids are super helpful when it comes to arranging your content on the canvas.
However they do make it difficult to view what your work looks like through the numerous lines across the screen.
Subsequently you can toggle grids on and off by using the shortcut Cmd + ‘
Summary – After Effects Keyboard Shortcuts
In short there are hundreds of After Effects keyboard shortcuts, and it is unlikely you will memorise them all; learn a personal catalogue of shortcuts that best suits the work you do.
You can purchase keyboard covers that colour code and detail the shortcuts, or if you use a tablet most of them allow you to create shortcut buttons of your own.
However if you learn these After Effects keyboard shortcuts, it can be a valuable skill that can save both time and money as you can become a more efficient animator.
Also if you’re a newbie and just starting out then checkout our other article on the Best Plugins for After Effects, they can really save you time!