If you work with After Effects on a regular basis, you can greatly speed up your workflow by learning some of the essential keyboard shortcuts to navigate the interface and perform common operations. Here is a quick video summarizing my personal top 10 keyboard shortcuts for Adobe After Effects!
Note that all shortcuts described below are for Windows. If you are working on a Mac, use the Command key instead of CTRL and use the Option key instead of SHIFT.
Switch between Move / Hand / Zoom / Rotate Modes
You can use the keys V, H, Z and W to quickly toggle between the different control modes in After Effects.
Move to Next / Previous Frame
Instead of trying to drag the timeline indicator by a single frame manually, you can use the Page Down / Page Up shortcut keys to do this much easier and quicker. You can also hold down the SHIFT key to jump 10 frames forward or backwards.
Duplicate Selected Layers
You can duplicate all selected layers by going to the main menu and selecting Edit -> Duplicate. Personally, I prefer to use the CTRL + D keyboard shortcut to achieve the same effect much quicker.
<3>Pre-Compose Selected Layers
You can pre-compose all selected layers by going to the main menu and selecting Layer -> Pre-Compose. However, the much quicker way is to use the shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + C.
Whenever you are working with layer properties or keyframes you will find yourself digging into the layer properties to reveal the specific effect or setting you are after. A much easier way to access these layer properties is to use the following shortcut keys
- P = position
- S = scale
- R = rotation
- T = opacity
By default, this keyboard shortcut will reveal only the selected property and collapse all other currently visible ones. To add a new property to the list of already visible ones, hold down the SHIFT key when using these shortcuts.
Reveal Keyframed Properties
You can quickly reveal all properties on a layer that have keyframes applied by selecting the layer(s) and pressing the U key on your keyboard. Note that this will not reveal properties with expressions, unless those expressions also have keyframes applied.
Go to Next / Previous Keyframe
Sometimes it can be a bit tedious to reposition the timeline indicator directly on a keyframe with your mouse. Fortunately you can use the J, K keyboard shortcuts to immediately jump to the next visible keyframe. Note that this command will take all currently revealed properties and their visible keyframes into account.
Zoom Preview Window To 100%
Sometimes, after you worked on a small detail all the way zoomed in, you want to return to a 100% view of your composition. While you can use the dropdown box at the bottom of the preview window, a much quicker way is to press ALT + / to reset the preview window to 100% (fit) zoom.
Open Layer Settings
You can access the layer settings for the selected layer by going to the main menu and then choosing Layer -> Settings. A much quicker way is to use the CTRL + SHIFT + Y keyboard shortcut.
Add Current Comp To Render Queue
Once you’re done with your composition you want to add it to the render queue to export your finished masterpiece. I always like to use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + / to add the currently open composition to the render queue. You can also use the shortcut CTRL + M to achieve the same effect.
Too much to read?
Here is a quick table to summarise my Top 10 keyboard shortcuts for Adobe After Effects:
|Switch Move / Hand / Zoom / Rotate Mode||V, H, Z, W|
|Frame Forward / Backward||Page Down / Page Up
Hold down SHIFT to move 10 frames backwards / forward
|Duplicate Selected Layers||CTRL + D|
|Pre-compose Selected Layers||CTRL + SHIFT + C|
|Reveal Properties of Selected Layers||P = position, S = scale, R = rotation, T = opacity|
|Show Keyframes of Selected Layers||U|
|Next / Previous Keyframe||J, K|
|Zoom Preview Window To 100%||ALT + /|
|Open Layer Settings for Selected Layer||CTRL + SHIFT + Y|
|Add to Render Queue||CTRL + SHIFT + /
CTRL + M
For a more complete list of keyboard shortcuts available in After Effects and I recommend checking out the After Effects Keyboard Shortcut Reference page for a full list.