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Setting, selecting, and deleting keyframes

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What are keyframes?

Keyframes are used to set parameters for motion, effects, audio, and many other properties, usually changing them over time. A keyframe marks the point in time where you specify a value for a layer property, such as spatial position, opacity, or audio volume. Values between keyframes are interpolated. When you use keyframes to create a change over time, you typically use at least two keyframes—one for the state at the beginning of the change and one for the new state at the end of the change.

When the stopwatch is active for a specific property, After Effects automatically sets or changes a keyframe for the property at the current time whenever you change the property value. When the stopwatch is inactive for a property, the property has no keyframes. If you change the value for a layer property while the stopwatch is inactive, that value remains the same for the duration of the layer.

Set or add keyframes

When the stopwatch is active for a specific property, After Effects automatically adds or changes a keyframe for the property at the current time whenever you change the property value.

To activate the stopwatch and enable keyframing, do one of the following:

  • Select the Stopwatch icon   next to the property name to activate it. After Effects creates a keyframe at the current time for that property value.
  • Choose Animation > Add [x] Keyframe, where [x] is the name of the property you are animating.

Add a keyframe without changing a value

To add a keyframe without changing a value, do one of the following:

  • Select the keyframe navigator option for the layer property.

  • Choose Animation > Add [x] Keyframe, where [x] is the name of the property you are animating.

  • Select a segment of the layer property’s graph in the Graph Editor with the Pen tool  .

Auto-keyframe mode

To turn auto-keyframe mode on, select Enable Auto-keyframe from the Timeline panel menu. When Auto-keyframe mode is enabled, modifying a property automatically activates its stopwatch and adds a keyframe at the current time.

The Timeline panel settings menu is open and the Enable Auto-keyframe option is selected.
When the Enable Auto-keyframe mode is enabled, modifying a property automatically adds a keyframe at the current time.


Auto-keyframe mode doesn’t automatically activate the stopwatch for properties that aren’t interpolated, such as menus, checkboxes, and the Source Text property.

Auto-keyframe mode is off by default. When Auto-keyframe mode is off, modifying properties and animating with keyframes behave as in previous versions of After Effects.

Move the current-time indicator (CTI) to a keyframe

After you set the initial keyframe for a property, After Effects displays the keyframe navigator. You can use the keyframe navigator to move from keyframe to keyframe or to set or remove keyframes. When the keyframe navigator box is filled with a diamond, the current-time indicator lies precisely at a keyframe for that layer property. When the keyframe navigator box is not filled , the current-time indicator lies between keyframes.


To detach the keyframe navigator from the A/V Features column to function as its own column, select Column > Keys from the Timeline panel menu.

Keyframe navigator in Timeline panel
Keyframe navigator in Timeline panel

A. Keyframe at current time B. No keyframe at current time C. No keyframes for layer property 

  • To move to the next or previous keyframe, click a keyframe navigator arrow.
  • To snap to a keyframe or marker, Shift-drag the current-time indicator.
  • To move to the next or previous visible item in the time ruler (keyframe, marker, or work area end), press K or J.
  • To move to the earliest In point and the latest Out point when multiple layers are selected, select all the layers and press I and O, respectively. (Currently in beta)

Learn more about moving the current-time indicator (CTI) to other elements and times. 


Add Shift to the J and K hotkeys to quickly jump between keyframes and markers of selected layers and properties.

Select keyframes

In layer bar mode, by default, the unselected keyframes are gray, and selected ones have blue outlines. You also have the option to apply different colors to these keyframes for easy identification and management.

In Graph Editor mode, the appearance of a keyframe icon depends on whether the keyframe is selected, unselected, or semi-selected (another keyframe in the same property is selected). Selected keyframes are solid yellow. Unselected keyframes retain the color of their corresponding graph. Semi-selected keyframes are represented by a hollow yellow box.

  • To select a keyframe, select the keyframe icon.
  • To select multiple keyframes, Shift-click the keyframes or drag a marquee (selection box) around the keyframes. If a keyframe is selected, Shift-clicking it deselects it. Shift-dragging to draw a marquee around selected keyframes deselects them.
  • To select multiple keyframes with the same color group, select the keyframe with the identified color > Right-click > Select Keyframe Label Group or Edit > Select Keyframe Label Group.

To toggle viewing of the free-transform bounding box in the Graph Editor, select the Show Transform Box button   at the bottom of the Graph Editor.

  • To select all keyframes for a layer property, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (macOS) a segment between two keyframes in the Graph Editor or select the layer property name in the layer outline.
  • To select all keyframes for a property with the same value, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (macOS) a keyframe and choose Select Equal Keyframes.
  • To select all keyframes that follow or precede a selected keyframe, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (macOS) a keyframe, and choose Select Previous Keyframes or Select Following Keyframes.

The Select Previous Keyframes and Select Following Keyframes commands aren’t available if more than one keyframe is selected.

Keyframe menu commands

When you select one or more keyframes, the keyframe menu becomes available at the bottom of the Graph Editor.


To open the keyframe menu, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (macOS) a keyframe.


Displays the value of the selected keyframe. If more than one keyframe is selected, the Display Value command is available, which displays the value of the highlighted keyframe in the selection.

Edit Value

Opens a dialog box in which you can edit the value of the keyframe.

Select Keyframe Label Group

Selects keyframes with the same color group on a selected layer or all layers.

Select Equal Keyframes

Selects all keyframes in a property that have the same value.

Select Previous Keyframes

Selects all keyframes preceding the currently selected keyframe.

Select Following Keyframes

Selects all keyframes following the currently selected keyframe.

Toggle Hold Keyframe

Holds the property value at the value of the current keyframe until the next keyframe is reached.

Keyframe Interpolation

Opens the Keyframe Interpolation dialog box.

Rove Across Time

Toggles Rove Across Time for spatial properties.

Keyframe Velocity

Opens the Keyframe Velocity dialog box.

Keyframe Assistant

Opens a submenu with the following options:

  • Convert Audio To Keyframes: Analyzes amplitude within the composition work area and creates keyframes to represent the audio.
  • Convert Expression To KeyframesAnalyzes the current expression and creates keyframes to represent the property values it describes.
  • Create Keyframes from Data: Uses data points for animation keyframes instead of manually setting keyframes.
  • Easy Ease: Automatically adjusts the influence into and out of a keyframe to smooth out sudden changes.
  • Easy Ease In: Automatically adjusts the influence into a keyframe.
  • Easy Ease Out: Automatically adjusts the influence out of a keyframe.
  • Exponential Scale: Converts the rate of change in scale from linear to exponential.
  • RPF Camera Import: Imports RPF camera data from third-party 3D modeling applications.
  • Sequence Layers: Opens the Sequence Layers assistant.
  • Time-Reverse Keyframes: Reverses selected keyframes in time.

Keyframe Color Labels

Assign colors to keyframes in your composition to visually separate keyframes in the timeline. Coloring your keyframes helps you to organize, identify, and quickly locate critical components of your composition. You can also use the color labels to quickly select keyframes with the same color group.

To set or change the keyframe colors, select Edit > Label > Choose the colors from the list.


You can also go to the Timeline panel, right-click the keyframe > Label > Choose the colors from the list.

Customize keyframe label colors

Keyframe label colors are shared with layers and other objects in After Effects. You can customize and set these label colors according to your preference.

  1. Right-click the keyframe  > Label > Edit Label Colors.

  2. In the Preferences window, under Label Colors, use the color picker to choose the color.

    The Preferences dialog box is open and there are Label Defaults, Markers, and Label Colors sections available to configure.
    Use the Label Colors section to edit color labels and rename them.

  3. Rename it if you want to personalize the label colors. 

  4. Click OK to complete.

Select keyframes by color

You can use the keyframes color as the basis for a selection in the Timeline panel. Use only a single keyframe to quickly choose keyframes from the same color group in selected or multiple layers.

Right-click the keyframe  > Select Keyframe Label Group.

On Selected Layers

Select the keyframes with the same label group on selected layers.

On All Layers

Select the keyframes with the same label group on all layers in the composition.

Visible Keyframes on Selected Layers

Select only visible keyframes with the same label group on all layers in the composition. Visible keyframes are keyframes on properties that are currently twirled open in the Timeline panel.

Visible Keyframes on All Layers

Select only visible keyframes with the same label group on all layers in the composition.


To quickly select only visible keyframes with the same label group on all layers in the composition, you can also select Edit > Label > Select Label Group.

Delete or disable keyframes


If you accidentally delete keyframes, select Edit > Undo.

  • To delete any number of keyframes, select them and then press the Delete key.
  • To delete one keyframe in the Graph Editor, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (macOS) a keyframe with the Selection tool.
  • To delete all keyframes for one layer property, select the stopwatch button   to the left of the name of the layer property to deactivate it.

    When you select the stopwatch button to deactivate it, keyframes for that property are permanently removed, and the value of that property becomes the value at the current time. You cannot restore deleted keyframes by clicking the stopwatch button again. Deleting all keyframes does not delete or disable expressions.

  • To temporarily disable keyframes for a property, add an expression that sets the property to a constant value. For example, you can add this very simple expression to the Opacity property to set it to 100%: 100.

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