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:

  • Edit > Preferences > [category name] (Windows)
  • After Effects > Preferences > [category name] (Mac OS)

Use the following keyboard shortcuts to open the Preferences > General menu:

  • Ctrl+Alt+; (semicolon) (Windows)
  • Command+Option+; (semicolon) (Mac OS)

Reset preferences

To restore the default preference settings, press and hold the following keys while the application is starting.

  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift (Windows)
  • Command+Option+Shift (Mac OS)

To restore default keyboard shortcuts, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the OK button.

To reset background preferences, follow these steps:


  1. Go to your desktop and click GO on the menu bar.
  2. Select Go to Folder from the drop-down and type the following path: /library/application support/adobe/.
  3. Open Documents folder and select the folder named Adobe.
  4. Rename the After Effects folder as ’OldAfterEffects’.


  1. Access the path C:\Users\”username” \AppData\Roaming\Adobe. OR
  2. In the Run command (Win key+R) dialog, type %appdata%
  3. Open the folder named Adobe.
  4. In the folder, select the After Effects folder and rename it as ’OldAfterEffects’. OR
  5. Access the path C:\Users\”username”\Documents\Adobe and rename the After Effects folder as ’OldAfterEffects’.

Reveal preferences

Preferences, including keyboard shortcuts and workspaces, are stored as files in the following locations:

  • (Windows) \Users\[user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\After Effects\[version]
  • (Mac OS) /Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects/[version]

To reveal the preferences in After Effects, go to:

  • Edit > Preferences > General and click Reveal Preferences in Explorer button (Windows)
  • After Effects > Preferences > General and click Reveal Preferences in Finder button (Mac OS)

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. For information on managing workspaces, see Workspaces and Panels.


The Library folder in Mac OS 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.

General preferences

  • 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.
  • Opening layers with double-click (use Option/Alt 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. 

For more information, see Creating layers and Precomposing, nesting, and pre-rendering.

Previews preferences

  • 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.

Display preferences

Import preferences

  • 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).

Output preferences

Grids & Guides preferences

Labels preferences

Media & Disk Cache preferences

Video Preview preferences

Appearance preferences

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

Auto-Save preferences

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:

  1. In After Effects, to open the Preferences dialog, select Edit > Preferences > General (Win) or After Effects > Preferences > General (Mac OS).

  2. Select Auto-save from the menu.

  3. To allow After Effects to automatically save copies of your project, in the Preferences dialog, click the Automatically Save Projects checkbox.

  4. Click OK.

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.

Memory preferences

Audio Hardware and Audio Output Mapping preferences

Sync Settings

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.