In After Effects, to open the Preferences dialog, select Edit > Preferences > General (Win) or After Effects > Preferences > General (macOS).
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The following sections describe the Preferences dialog box and the various tasks that can be performed using this menu.
The Preferences dialog box
To open the Preferences dialog box, go to:
- Windows: Edit > Preferences > [category name]
- macOS: After Effects > Preferences > [category name]
Use the following keyboard shortcuts to open the Preferences > General menu:
- Windows: Ctrl+Alt+; (semicolon)
- macOS: Command+Option+; (semicolon)
Restore the default preference settings
To restore the default preference settings, press and hold the following keys while the application is starting.
- Windows: Ctrl+Alt+Shift
- macOS: Command+Option+Shift
Restore default keyboard shortcuts
To restore default keyboard shortcuts,
- Windows: Alt+Click
- macOS: Option+Click
Reset background preferences
To reset background preferences, follow these steps:
- Go to your desktop and select GO on the menu bar.
- Select Go to Folder from the drop-down and type the following path: /Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects/[version].
- Rename the After Effects folder as ’OldAfterEffects’.
- Access the path C:\Users\”username” \AppData\Roaming\Adobe. OR
- In the Run command (Windows key+R) dialog, type %appdata%
- Open the folder named Adobe.
- In the folder, select the After Effects folder and rename it as ’OldAfterEffects’. OR
- Access the path C:\Users\”username”\Documents\Adobe and rename the After Effects folder as ’OldAfterEffects’.
Watch this video to learn how you can reset preferences in After Effects.
Preferences, including keyboard shortcuts and workspaces, are stored as files in the following locations:
- Windows: \Users\[user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\After Effects\[version]
- macOS: /Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects/[version]
To reveal the preferences in After Effects, go to:
- Windows: Edit > Preferences > General and select Reveal Preferences in Explorer button
- macOS: After Effects > Preferences > General and select Reveal Preferences in Finder button
It is recommended that you do not modify the files in this directory manually; use the Preferences dialog box to modify the preferences. For information on modifying keyboard shortcuts, see Modify keyboard shortcuts and Workspaces and Panels for managing workspaces.
The Library folder in macOS X is hidden. See the following article to learn how to access hidden user files on Mac OS:
The following list briefly describes the different options listed under the Edit > Preferences menu, especially those options that are not self-explanatory.
Show Tool Tips: After Effects user interface tips
Create Layers At Composition Start Time: Layers overview
Switches Affect Nested Comps: About precomposing and nesting
- Default Spatial Interpolation To Linear: About spatial and temporal keyframe interpolation
- Default Position Property to Separate Dimensions: Set After Effects to default to separated X, Y dimensions (for 2D layers) or separated X, Y, Z dimensions (for 3D layers) on position properties
- Preserve Constant Vertex and Feather Point Count When Editing Masks: Designate the first vertex for a Bezier path
- Pen Tool Shortcut Toggles Between Pen and Mask Feather Tools: Variable-width mask feather
- Create Anchor Point In New Shape Layers: Automatically sets the Anchor Point in the center of newly created shapes.
Synchronize Time Of All Related Items: Preferences and composition settings that affect nested compositions
Expression Pick Whip Writes Compact English: Edit an expression with the pick whip
Create Split Layers Above Original Layer: Split a layer
Allow Scripts To Write Files And Access Network: Loading and running scripts
Use System Color Picker: Choose a color picker
Create New Layers At Best Quality: Layer image quality and subpixel positioning
Use System Shortcut Keys (macOS only): Keyboard shortcuts
- Dynamic Link with After Effects Uses Project File Name with Highest Number: About Dynamic Link and After Effects
- Play Sound When Render Finishes: Enable or disable the playing of a sound when the last item in the render queue has been processed.
- Show Warning Banner When Project Contains Expression Errors: Expression basics
- Show Start Screen at Startup: Select to display the Start screen when you launch After Effects.
- Show Start Screen when Opening a Project: Select to display the Start screen dialog when you open an After Effects project (this option is not enabled by default). You can see a list of projects on the screen.
- Show System Compatibility Issues At Startup: Enables a system compatibility report that will list any compatibility issues and fixes when you start After Effects.
- Opening layers with Double-click (use Option to reverse):
- On Footage Layer Opens: Select whether double-clicking a footage layer opens the Layer Panel (default) or the source footage item.
- On Comp Layer Opens: Select whether double-clicking a pre-composition layer opens the source composition of the layer (default) or the Layer Panel.
- Open Layer Panel when Double-clicking with Paint, Roto Brush, and Refine Edge Tools: If selected, double-clicking a precomposition layer when a Paint tool, Roto Brush, or Refine Edge tool is active opens the layer in the Layer Panel.
Adaptive Resolution Limit: Preview modes and Fast Previews preferences
Also, see Fast Previews (CS6).
The GPU Information dialog box is available to check the texture memory for your GPU, and to set the ray-tracing preference to the GPU, if it is available. The OptiX version number and the Copy button are available to copy the general information at the top of the dialog box to the system clipboard.
Viewer Quality (Zoom Quality and Color Management Quality): Viewer Quality preferences
Show Internal Wireframes: Shows bounding box wireframes for components of collapsed precompositions and per-character 3D text layers.
Mute Audio When Preview is not Real-time: Choose whether to play audio during previews when the frame rate is slower than realtime. When the frame rate is slower than realtime, audio will stutter to maintain sync.
Motion Path: Motion paths
Disable Thumbnails In Project Panel: Composition thumbnail images
Show Rendering Progress In Info Panel And Flowchart: Preview video and audio
Still Footage: Create layers from footage items or change the layer source
- Sequence Footage: Import a single still image or a still-image sequence
Automatic Footage Reloading: Footage that has changed is automatically reloaded when switching back from another application.
- Auto Reload: By default, footage other than image sequence is automatically reloaded. You can change this behavior by selecting All Footage Types (to include image sequence footage as well) or by selecting Off (to turn off auto reloading of footage).
Interpret Unlabeled Alpha As: Alpha channel interpretation: premultiplied or straight
Drag Import Multiple Items As: Import footage items by dragging
There is a drop-down menu to choose drop-frame or non-drop-frame timecode for Indeterminate Media NTSC, which applies to imports like still image sequences in which timecode values are not present or are unknown.
Grids & Guides preferences
You can use labels (colored boxes in the Label column) in the Project panel and Timeline panel to organize and manage compositions, footage items, layers, and keyframes. By default, different label colors indicate different kinds of footage items, but you can assign label colors to indicate whatever categories you choose.
Rename label groups to help you to organize and categorize layers and footage items. To see label names in the Label column, widen the column to greater than the default width.
- To select all layers with the same label color, select a layer with that label color and choose Edit > Label > Select Label Group.
- To change the color of a label for one layer, click the label in the Timeline panel and choose a color.
- To change the color of a label for all layers with that label color, select one of the layers belonging to the label group, choose Edit > Label > Select Label Group, and choose Edit > Label > [color name].
- To change the names and default colors for labels, choose Edit > Preferences > Labels (Windows) or After Effects > Preferences > Labels (macOS).
- To change the default associations of label colors with source types, choose Edit > Preferences > Labels (Windows) or After Effects > Preferences > Labels (macOS).
- To disable the use of a layer’s label color for layer handles and motion paths, choose Edit > Preferences > Appearance (Windows) or After Effects > Preferences > Appearance (macOS), and deselect Use Label Colors For Layer Handles And Paths.
- To disable the use of a layer, footage item, or composition’s label color in the tabs of corresponding panels, choose Edit > Preferences > Appearance (Windows) or After Effects > Preferences > Appearance (macOS), and deselect Use Label Colors For Related Tabs.
- To set or change the keyframe colors, select the keyframe > Edit > Label > Choose the colors from the list, or in the Timeline panel, right-click the keyframe > Label > Choose the colors from the list. (See Keyframe Color Labels.)
- To select keyframes with the same label group, select the keyframe > Edit > Select Keyframe Label Group, or in the Timeline panel, right-click the keyframe > Select Keyframe Label Group.
You can mark a layer as shy and then use the Hide Shy Layers composition switch at the top of the Timeline panel to hide all shy layers in the Timeline panel layer outline. Making layers shy is useful for making room in the Timeline panel to show the layers and layer properties that you want to adjust.
The icon in the Switches column indicates whether a layer is shy or not shy .
Shy layers are still rendered, both for previews and for final output. To exclude layers from previews or final output, use the Video switch or make the layer a guide layer.
By default, the panel label colors do not respond to the Brightness control in the Appearance preferences. To make the Brightness control affect panel label colors, select the Affects Label Colors option in the Appearance preferences.
Media & Disk Cache preferences
Video Preview preferences
Use Label Color For Layer Handles And Paths and Use Label Color For Related Tabs: Color labels for layers, compositions, and footage items
Cycle Mask Colors: Cycle through colors for mask paths
Use Gradients: Use gradients in user interface.
Brightness: Brightens or darkens user interface (UI) colors.
New Project preferences
You can create a template with your preferred project settings such as color management and folder structure, and use it as a foundation for every new project that you create.
The New Project command provides you the option to open a project based on a template if you enable the New Project Loads Template option under Preferences > New Project and choose a template project. The template project can be an After Effects template project file (.aet), After Effects project file (.aep), or an After Effects XML project file (.aepx).
For more information, see Save and backup projects in After Effects
You can use the Auto-Save feature in After Effects which automatically saves a copy of your project while you work. You can set the frequency of how often After Effects saves your work, and also the number of copies of the project it saves.
Use the following steps to enable the Auto-Save feature:
Select Auto-save from the menu.
To allow After Effects to automatically save copies of your project, in the Preferences dialog, click the Automatically Save Projects checkbox.
Once enabled, After Effects creates a folder named Adobe After Effects Auto-Save in the same directory as your project file. To view an return to a previous saved version of your project, select File > Open in After Effect > saved version.
For more information, see Save and back up projects in After Effects.
Audio Hardware and Audio Output Mapping preferences
The Sync Settings feature enables you to synchronize preferences and settings through the Creative Cloud. For detailed information, see the Sync Settings article.
Migrate settings from previous versions
After Effects prompt you to migrate settings from a previous version if it finds a preference folder from a previous version and no preference folder for the current version. This occurs when you start After Effects for the first time and when you delete the entire preferences folder.
If you want to migrate settings from your previous version of After Effects, see the Migrating your settings from a previous minor version of After Effects section.