June 8, 2024

June 8, 2024

June 8, 2024

Adobe After Effects: Essential Keyboard Shortcuts Guide

Adobe After Effects: Essential Keyboard Shortcuts Guide

Adobe After Effects: Essential Keyboard Shortcuts Guide




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If you’re trying to learn motion graphics, it’s almost industry consensus that Adobe After Effects is the software that you should pick up. It’s also a fantastic option if you’re looking to learn how to create visual effects for videos created in Premiere Pro or similar.

Learning keyboard shortcuts for any application can be one of the most underrated ways to master that application and speed up your workflow. I’ll be using this article to walk you through some of the most useful After Effects shortcuts.

Basic Navigation Shortcuts

Workspace Navigation

As a beginner, some things are essential to understand as an After Effects beginner. For instance, common problems you might face (and how to solve them), as well as how to navigate between and through workspaces in After Effects. Workspace navigation is pretty simple, so there aren’t too many shortcuts related to it.

  • Switch to “Default” Workspace: Shift + F10

  • Switch to “Review” Workspace: Shift + F11

  • Switch to “Learn” Workspace: Shift + F12

As a little tip, the workspace shortcuts above are those assigned by default. However, you can set the workspace each shortcut points to. Go to a workspace, then Window > Assign Shortcut to [Selected] Workspace, and choose which shortcut you want for it.

Timeline Navigation

You don’t always need to grab your mouse when you want to move through the timeline for your composition. These Adobe After Effects hotkeys can speed that side of things up.

  • Move Playhead to Beginning of Timeline: Home

  • Move Playhead to End of Timeline: End

  • Move Playhead Forward 1 Frame: Page Down, Command + Right

  • Move Playhead Backward 1 Frame: Page Up, Command + Left

  • Move Playhead Forward 10 Frames: Shift + Page Down

  • Move Playhead Backward 10 Frames: Shift + Page Up

  • Zoom Into Timeline: + (Plus)

  • Zoom Out of Timeline: - (Minus)

Essential Editing Shortcuts

Layer Editing

One of the aspects of After Effects that makes it so versatile is being able to use layers in your animations. These shortcuts are essential for editing your layers.

  • Add New Solid Layer: Ctrl + Y

  • Add New Adjustment Layer: Ctrl + Alt + Y

  • Add New Null Layer: Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Y

  • Duplicate Layer: Ctrl + D

  • Paste Layers At the Selected Timeframe: Ctrl + Alt + V

  • Select Next Layer: Ctrl + Down Arrow

  • Select Previous Layer: Ctrl + Up Arrow

  • Lock Selected Layer: Ctrl + L

  • Unlock All Layers: Ctrl + Shift + L

  • Edit Layer’s Position: P

  • Edit Layer’s Scale: S

  • Edit Layer’s Rotation: R

  • Edit Layer’s Opacity: L

  • Finely Adjust Layer Position: Arrow Keys

Keyframe Management

After Effects is mostly used for motion graphics, and that relies heavily on the animation that you do using keyframes. Here are some incredibly useful AE keyboard shortcuts that you can utilize.

  • Add or Remove a Keyframe at the Selected Time (P for Position, S for Scale, R for Rotation, T for Opacity): Alt + Shift + [Property Key]

  • Move Keyframe by 1 Frame: Alt + Right Arrow or Left Arrow

  • Move Keyframe by 10 Frames: Alt + Shift + Right Arrow or Left Arrow

  • Apply Easy Ease to Selected Keyframes: F9

  • Apply Ease In To Selected Keyframes: Shift + F9

  • Apply Ease Out To Selected Keyframes: Shift + Ctrl + F9

  • Delete Selected Keyframe: Delete

  • Select All Visible Keyframes: Ctrl + Alt + A

Composition and Project Management Shortcuts

Composition Settings

Being able to access your composition settings in a flash might not be something that shaves off several minutes, but it still helps with speeding up workflow in After Effects. There aren’t too many shortcuts to know here.

  • New Composition: Ctrl + N

  • Open Composition Settings: Ctrl + K

  • Open Composition Mini-Flowchart: Tab

  • Trim the Composition to the Work Area: Ctrl + Shift + X

Project Management

These are some of the more basic shortcuts that you should have in your back pocket, even as a beginner, as they can make it easy to manage your projects in a flash.

  • New Project: Ctrl + Alt + N

  • Open Project: Ctrl + O

  • Save Project: Ctrl + S

  • Open Project Settings: Ctrl + Alt + Shift + K

  • Open Most Recent Project: Ctrl + Alt + Shift + P

  • Import File: Ctrl + I

  • Import Multiple Files: Ctrl + Alt + I

  • Find in Project: Ctrl + F

Preview and Playback Shortcuts

Preview Controls

You really don’t want to have to manually click on the buttons every single time that you want to mess around with the preview of what you’re creating in After Effects. Nope! Instead, you can learn the few preview shortcuts that are available and use those on the fly. Trust me, you’ll likely find yourself using these on a very regular basis.

  • Start or Pause the Preview: Spacebar, Numpad 0

  • Start the Preview at a Higher Quality: Shift + Spacebar

  • Show or Hide Preview Panel: Ctrl + 3

  • Preview Audio Only: Numpad . (Decimal Point)

Playback Settings

One of my favorite After Effects tips is understanding how to change the resolution and frame rate of your animation on the fly. Paired with the preview hotkeys that I introduced you to above, you’ll be able to test out your animation with different looks without needing to mess around in settings. Lower resolutions can also be helpful if your After Effects crashes a lot.

  • Set Preview to Full Resolution: Ctrl + J

  • Set Preview to Half Resolution: Ctrl + Shift + J

  • Set Preview to Custom Resolution: Ctrl + Alt + J

  • Preview at Half the Frame Rate: Shift + 0

Customizing Shortcuts

It’s great to have all sorts of preset shortcuts and hotkeys built into Adobe After Effects. Honestly, it has the potential to speed up your workflow quite significantly, especially when you start to have several convenient shortcuts memorized. But what if some shortcuts simply don’t work for you?

Well, that’s why it’s great that there’s a Keyboard Shortcuts Editor so you can build hotkeys and shortcuts exactly as you like. It can be a daunting tool to look at, but it’s got a lot of capability for more advanced users. You can access it by going to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, or by pressing Ctrl + Alt + ‘ (Apostrophe).

You can even have multiple presets for different workflows, and creating a new one is as easy as pressing the “Save As” button in the top left corner.


There are two major benefits to using keyboard shortcuts in Adobe After Effects. The first is convenience because you don’t need to reach over to your mouse to get certain things done. The second is speed because you won’t need to go digging through drop-downs or menus to toggle something.

Ultimately, the best way to take advantage of shortcuts is to integrate them into your daily workflow. Look at the most common actions you perform and see if there are shortcuts available. Why not hop onto a Vagon rig and get to working with After Effects, with these new trusty shortcuts by your side?

With 48 cores, 4 x 24GB RTX-enabled Nvidia GPUs, and 192GB of RAM, Vagon delivers the speed and power you need for seamless editing and rendering. Access your projects directly from your browser and transfer files effortlessly. Try Vagon today and experience a more efficient and powerful After Effects workflow.

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