Work faster in After Effects with these keyboard shortcuts

by Joost | Last Updated: June 26, 2022
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There are two effective ways to speed up your NLE workflow; the first is a faster computer and the second is the use of shortcuts.

Work faster in After Effects with these keyboard shortcuts

Memorizing some commonly used keys and key combinations will save you time, money and frustration. Here are five shortcuts that can give you a huge boost to productivity in After Effects:

Best After Effects Keyboard Shortcuts

Set Start Point or End Point

Win/Mac: [ or ]

You can quickly set the start or end point of the timeline with the [ or ] keys. Then the start or end is set to the current position of the playhead.

This allows you to edit and test the timing of your clip quickly and effectively.

Mark Start and End Points

Replace

Win: Ctrl + Alt + /    Mac: Command + Option + /

Playmobil petting zoo stop motion
Playmobil petting zoo stop motion

If you have an asset in your timeline that you want to replace, you can replace it with Option and Drag in one action. This way you don’t have to delete the old clip first and then drag the new clip back into the timeline.

Replace in after effects

Drag to Retime

Win: Selected Keyframes + Alt    Mac: Selected Keyframes + Option

If you press the Option key and drag a Keyframe at the same time, you will see that the other Keyframes scale proportionally. This way you don’t have to drag all keyframes individually, and the relative distance remains the same.

Scale to canvas

Win: Ctrl + Alt + F    Mac: Command + Option + F

Scales the asset to completely fill the canvas. With this combination, both the horizontal and vertical dimensions are adjusted, the proportions can therefore change.

Scale to canvas in after effects

Unlock all layers

Win: Ctrl + Shift + L    Mac: Command + Shift + L

If you are working with a template, or an external project, it is possible that certain layers in the project are locked.

You can click on the lock per layer or use this combination to unlock all layers at once.

Unlock all layers in after effects

Forward & Backward 1 frame

Win: Ctrl + Right Arrow or Left Arrow    Mac: Command + Right Arrow or Left Arrow

With most video editing programs (best reviewed here), you use the left and right arrows to move the playhead back or forward a frame, then in After Effects you move the position of the object in your composition.

Press Command/Ctrl together with the arrow keys and you will move the playhead.

Forward & Backward 1 frame in After effects

Full screen panel

Win/Mac: ` (grave accent)

There are a lot of panels floating around on the screen, sometimes you want to focus on one panel. Move the mouse over the desired panel and press the – to display this panel full screen.

You can also use this shortcut in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Full screen panel

Go to Layer In-Point or Out-Point

Win/Mac: I or O

If you want to quickly find the start or end point of a layer, you can select it and then press I or O. The playhead then goes directly to the start or end point and saves you time scrolling and searching.

Go to Layer In-Point or Out-Point in after effects

Time Remapping

Win: Ctrl + Alt + T    Mac: Command + Option + T

Time Remapping is a function that you will use often, it is not very useful if you have to open the correct panel every time.

With Command, along with Option and T, Time Remapping immediately appears on the screen, with the keyframes already set, after which you can adjust them further as desired.

Time Remapping in after effects

Add to Composition from Project Panel

Win: Ctrl + /     Mac: Command + /

If you want to add an object to the current composition, all you have to do is select it in the Project Panel and then press the Command/Ctrl key combination with / .

The object will be placed at the top of the active composition.

Add to Composition from Project Panel

Do you know of any handy shortcuts that you often use in After Effects? Then share it in the comments! Or maybe there are features you’re looking for but can’t find?

Then ask your question! Just like Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro or Avid, After Effects is a program that is much faster to operate with the keyboard, try it out for yourself.