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11 Must-Know After Effects Keyboard Shortcuts


Speed up your motion graphic workflow in a big way with these must-know After Effects keyboard shortcuts.

Aside from getting a faster computer, there’s nothing that will speed up your motion graphic workflow better than learning keyboard shortcuts. Just like with major NLEs like Premiere Pro, Avid, or FCPX, keyboard shortcuts can streamline various repetitive tasks in After Effects.

The more keyboard shortcuts you know, the better. Here are 11 of my must-know keyboard shortcuts for After Effects.

1. Fit to Canvas Width

Shortcut: Shift+Command+Option+H

Instead of scaling up your object by hand, you can easily fit your layer to your canvas width using this quick shortcut.

Scale to Width

2. Fit to Canvas

Shortcut: Command+Option+F

Like the previous shortcut, this shortcut will auto-scale both the width and the height of your current composition.

Scale to Width and Height

3. Set Start Point or End Point

Shortcut: [ or ]

To quickly move the start or end point of a layer to your playhead position, simply click the [ or ] button with your layer selected. The new layer will snap to your current playhead position. This is great if you are working with external video assets or just simply trying to manipulate your object’s timing.

In-Point Example

4. Replace

Shortcut: Option + Drag

Let’s say you have a pre-comp or asset in your timeline, but you’ve decided you want to exchange that pre-comp or asset for something new. Instead of deleting the original object, you can use this simple trick to replace objects in your timeline.

5. Drag to Retime

Shortcut: Selected Keyframes + Option

By simply holding down the option key and moving your keyframes, you can stretch your keyframes while proportionally preserving keyframe distance. If you want more info check out our stretching keyframe post here on RocketStock.

Rescaling Keyframes

6. Full Screen Panel

Shortcut: ~

If you want to quickly full screen a specific panel, just glide your mouse above your desired panel and press the “~” key. The panel will then take over the entire screen. This technique also works in Premiere Pro.

Full Screen

7. Skip Frames

Shortcut: Command + Right Arrow or Left Arrow

Unlike video editing software, using the arrow keys doesn’t move the playhead forward in After Effects. Rather, if you click the arrow key, you will move your current object’s position in the direction of the pressed arrow. However, if you hold down the command button, you will move the playhead either forward or backward.

Skipping Frames

8. Go to Layer In-Point or Out-Point

Shortcut: I or O

By simply pressing the I or O key, you can quickly navigate to the in-point or out-point of your selected layer. This is extremely helpful if you are working in a composition with a long duration.

Out Point Example

9. Add to Composition from Project Panel

Shortcut: Command + / + +

If you’re in the project panel and want to add an object into your composition, simply use “Command” + “/” + “+”. The object will automatically be added as the first layer at the top of your composition.

Project Panel

10. Time Remapping

Shortcut: Command+Option+T

Time remapping is one of the most vital features in all of After Effects. If you are a professional motion graphic designer, odds are you probably use this feature often. Instead of navigating to time remapping from the menu, simply use Command+Option+T to pop-up time remapping with keyframes already set and ready to be edited.

Time Remapping

11. Unlock All Layers

Shortcut: Command+Shift+L

If you’re working with a template or external project, then there is a good chance that some of the layers may be locked. If you want to unlock the layers, you can either select each lock icon individually or hit Command+Shift+L.

Want to learn more about using keyboard shortcuts in AE? Check out a few of the following resources:

•  AE Keyboard Shortcut References – Adobe
•  Top 10 AE Keyboard Shortcuts – Surfaced Studio
•  Keyboard Shortcuts in Adobe After Effects – PremiumBeat