Use composition markers and layer markers to store comments and other metadata and mark important times in a composition or layer. Composition markers appear in the time ruler for the composition, whereas layer markers each appear on the duration bar of a specific layer. Both kinds of markers can hold the same information.

Markers can refer to a single point in time or to a duration.

Composition markers in After Effects correspond to sequence markers in Adobe Premiere Pro. Layer markers in After Effects correspond to clip markers in Adobe Premiere Pro.

When you render a composition that contains markers, the markers can be converted to web links, chapter links (chapter points), or cue points, depending on the output format and values that you set in the marker dialog box. Markers can also be exported as XMP metadata. (See XMP metadata.)

The default comment for a composition marker is a number, whereas the default comment for a layer marker is nothing.

A marker that contains link or cue point data has a small dot in its icon.

Markers
A. composition marker with duration of 1 second B. composition marker with cue-point data C. layer marker with duration of 2 seconds D. layer marker with cue-point data 

Note:

Markers make it easier to align layers or the current-time indicator with specific points in time: When you drag a keyframe, the current-time indicator, or a layer duration bar in the Timeline panel, hold down Shift to snap these items to markers.

You can add markers during a preview or audio-only preview, which allows you to place markers at significant points in the audio track of a layer.

Dragging a marker in point changes the marker's time and dragging a marker out point changes the marker's duration. You cannot simultaneously change the marker time and duration. 

  • To view or edit a data for a marker, double-click the marker, or right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the marker and choose Settings.
  • To move a marker to a different time, drag the marker or double-click it and enter a time in the dialog box.
  • To set the duration of a composition or layer marker, drag the marker's out point in the Timeline panel. Marker icons split by half to clearly indicate the marker in point and out point. 
  • To set a marker's duration by dragging, hold the Option (macOS) or Alt (Windows) key, then click the marker icon and drag to the right.
  • To change the duration of a marker, click and drag the marker out point icon; you do not need to hold Option/Alt.
  • To automatically create layer markers for a layer based on the temporal metadata in the layer’s source file, select the Create Layer Markers From Footage XMP Metadata preference in the Media & Disk Cache preferences category. This preference is on by default.
  • To synchronize layer markers on a precomposition layer to corresponding composition markers for the source composition, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a layer marker and choose Update Markers From Source. This command also removes any markers that you have added to the layer.

Note:

If the layer uses a file (rather than a composition) as its source, this command restores the layer markers to those representing the temporal XMP metadata for the source file.

If you add one composition to another, the original composition becomes nested as a layer in the containing composition. All of the composition markers from the nested composition become layer markers in the timeline of the containing composition. These markers are not linked to the original composition markers. Changes that you make to the composition markers in the original composition do not affect layer markers in the nested composition. For example, if you remove one of the original composition markers, the corresponding layer marker for the nested composition remains in place.

Scripts and expressions can read and use data stored in markers. Because XMP metadata for source footage items can be converted to layer markers, expressions and scripts can work with XMP metadata.

Create composition markers

Composition markers appear as small triangles in the time ruler in the Timeline panel. You can have any number of composition markers in a composition.

If you remove a numbered composition marker, the other markers remain numbered as they were. If you change the comment from the default number, that number may be reused by a composition marker created later.

There can be at most one composition marker beginning at each time. If you add or move a composition marker to start at the same point in time as another composition marker, the added or moved marker replaces the other marker.

Note:

For alternative keyboard shortcuts, see Markers (keyboard shortcuts).

  • To add a blank composition marker at the current time, make sure that no layer is selected, and choose Layer > Add Marker or press * (multiply) on the numeric keypad.

Note:

Pressing * during a preview or audio-only preview adds a marker at the current time without interrupting the preview.

  • To add a composition marker at the current time and open the marker dialog box, make sure that no layer is selected, and press Alt+* (Windows) or Option+* (Mac OS) on the numeric keypad.
  • To add a composition marker from the bin, drag the marker from the Comp Marker Bin button.
Dragging a composition marker from the bin
Dragging a composition marker from the bin.

  • To add a numbered composition marker at the current time, press Shift + a number key (0–9) on the main keyboard.

Note:

If the number you press is already used by another composition marker, After Effects does not create a new marker. Instead, it moves the existing marker with that number to the new position.

  • To remove a composition marker, drag the marker to the Comp Marker Bin button or Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) the marker.
  • To lock all composition markers on a composition, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a marker on the composition, and choose Lock Markers.

Apply layer markers

Layer markers appear as small triangles on the duration bar of a layer. You can have any number of layer markers on a layer.

Layer markers are retained when you render and export a movie to a QuickTime container.

Note:

For alternative keyboard shortcuts, see Markers (keyboard shortcuts).

  • To add a layer marker to selected layers at the current time, choose Layer > Add Marker or press * (multiply) on the numeric keypad.

Note:

Pressing * during a preview or audio-only preview adds a marker at the current time without interrupting the preview.

  • To add a layer marker at the current time and open the marker dialog box, press Alt+* (Windows) or Option+* (Mac OS) on the numeric keypad.
  • To remove a layer marker, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) the marker.
  • To remove all layer markers from selected layers, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a marker, and choose Delete All Markers.
  • To lock all layer markers on a layer, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a marker on the layer, and choose Lock Markers.
  • To replace all layer markers with markers containing temporal metadata from the source file for the layer, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a layer marker and choose Update Markers From Source.

Note:

In After Effects CS6 or later, adding a layer marker no longer deselects other objects (masks, and effects, for example).

Scripts and utilities for working with markers

Paul Tuersley provides a script on the AE Enhancers forum for splitting layers at layer markers.

Lloyd Alvarez provides scripts on the After Effects Scripts website that do the following:

  • Magnum, the Edit Detector automatically detects edits in a footage layer and places a layer marker at each edit (or splits the layer into a separate layer for each edit).

  • Zorro, the Layer Tagger allows you to tag layers and then select, shy, and solo layers according to their tags. The tags are appended to comments in the Comments column in the Timeline panel and can also be added as layer markers.

  • Layer Marker Batch Editor edits marker attributes on all selected layers, including Flash cue point attributes.

Jeff Almasol provides scripts on his redefinery website that do the following:

  • rd_CopyMarkers copies layer markers from one layer to any number of other layers.

  • rd_KeyMarkers creates new layer markers (either on the selected layer or on a new null layer) with comments that provide information about keyframes at the same times.

  • rd_MapTextFileToMarkers sets keyframes for the Source Text property of a text layer and sets the values to text from a text file. The keyframes are placed at times specified by layer markers on the text layer.

  • rd_MarkerNavigator creates a panel that makes navigating to markers and viewing their comments and other values very convenient.

  • rd_RemoveMarkers automatically removes markers from selected layers based on specified criteria (e.g., all markers in work area).

  • rd_Scooter creates a panel with controls for moving various combinations of items in time, including layer In point, layer Out point, layer source frames, keyframes, and markers.

  • rd_CountMarkers shows the number of markers on the selected layer.

Online resources about markers

To view video tutorials on working with markers, cue points, and XMP metadata go to the Adobe website:

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