About the Timeline


When an animation is played, the actual frame rate is displayed; this may differ from the document’s frame rate setting if the computer can’t calculate and display the animation quickly enough.

The Timeline shows where animation occurs in a document, including frame-by-frame animation, tweened animation, and motion paths.

Controls in the layers section of the Timeline let you hide, show, lock, or unlock layers, as well as display layer contents as outlines. You can drag Timeline frames to a new location on the same layer or to a different layer.

Change the appearance of the Timeline

By default, the Timeline appears below the main document window. To change its position, detach the Timeline from the document window and float it in its own window or dock it to any other panel you choose. You can also hide the Timeline.

To change the number of layers and frames that are visible, resize the Timeline. To view additional layers when the Timeline contains more layers than can be displayed, use the scroll bars on the right side of the Timeline.

Dragging the Timeline

  • To move the Timeline when it is docked to the document window, drag the title bar tab at the upper-left corner of the Timeline.

  • To dock an undocked Timeline to the application window, drag the title bar tab to the top or bottom of the document window.

  • To dock an undocked Timeline to other panels, drag the Timeline title bar tab to the location you choose. To prevent the Timeline from docking to other panels, press Control while you drag. A blue bar appears to indicate where the Timeline will dock.

  • To lengthen or shorten layer name fields in the Timeline panel, drag the bar separating the layer names and the frames portions of the Timeline.

Customizing the Timeline view

  1. To display the Frame View pop‑up menu, click Frame View in the upper-right corner of the Timeline.

    Frame View pop‑up menu.

  2. Select from the following options:

    • To change the width of frame cells, select Tiny, Small, Normal, Medium, or Large. (The Large frame-width setting is useful for viewing the details of sound waveforms.)

    • To decrease the height of frame cell rows, select Short.

      Short and Normal frame view options.

    • To turn the tinting of frame sequences on or off, select Tinted Frames.

    • To display thumbnails of the content of each frame scaled to fit the Timeline frames, select Preview. This can cause the apparent content size to vary and requires extra screen space.

    • To display thumbnails of each full frame (including empty space), select Preview In Context. This is useful for viewing the way elements move in their frames over the course of the animation, but previews are generally smaller than with the Preview option.
    • To customize the number of frames in the timeline view, use the Resize timeline view slider bar. You can also use Fit less frames in view or Fit more frames in view button available next to the Resize timeline view slider bar.
    • Use Reset timeline zoom to the default level button to reset the view to the default level.


    Timeline zoom

Change layer height in the Timeline

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Double-click the layer’s icon (the icon to the left of the layer name) in the Timeline.

    • Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the layer name and select Properties from the context menu.

    • Select the layer in the Timeline and select Modify > Timeline > Layer Properties.

  2. In the Layer Properties dialog box, select an option for Layer Height and click OK.

Set layer transparency

Do one of the following:

  • Shift+Click on the eye column in the Timeline to set the visibility to transparent.
  • Double-click the layer’s icon (the icon to the left of the layer name) in the Timeline.
  • Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the layer name and select Properties from the context menu. In the Layer Properties dialog box, select Visibility>Transparent.
  • Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the layer name and select Show Others as Transparent.

Resize the Timeline panel

  • If the Timeline is docked to the main application window, drag the bar separating the Timeline from the Stage area.

  • If the Timeline is not docked to the main application window, drag the lower-right corner (Windows) or the size box in the lower-right corner (Macintosh).

Onion skinning

Do one of the following:

  • Select the Onion skin icon  (the icon to the left of the Loop icon) in the Timeline. All frames between the Start Onion Skin and End Onion Skin markers (in the Timeline header) are superimposed as one frame in the Document window. 
  • Select  to display onion skinned frames as outlines.

For more information, see Using Onion skinning.

Move the playhead

The red playhead at the top of the Timeline moves as a document plays to indicate the current frame displayed on the Stage. The Timeline header shows the frame numbers of the animation. To display a frame on the Stage, move the playhead to the frame in the Timeline.

To display a specific frame when you’re working with a large number of frames that can’t all be displayed in the Timeline at once, move the playhead along the Timeline.

  • To go to a frame, click the frame’s location in the Timeline header, or drag the playhead to the desired position.


  • To center the Timeline on the current frame, click the Center Frame button at the bottom of the Timeline.
  • With the “loop” option turned on in the timeline, you can now loop streaming audio within a range of frames along with other animations.
Moving the playhead

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