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Keyboard Shortcuts in Adobe After Effects: A Comprehensive Guide

In the realm of digital animation and video editing, Adobe After Effects stands out as a powerhouse, offering a plethora of features for creating stunning visuals and effects. However, navigating through its extensive functionalities can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. One way to enhance efficiency and streamline your workflow in After Effects is by mastering keyboard shortcuts. This comprehensive guide will delve into essential keyboard shortcuts that every After Effects user should know, from basic navigation to complex effect application.

Keyboard shortcuts in Adobe After Effects are combinations of keys that provide a quick way to perform commonly used operations or tasks. These shortcuts can significantly speed up your editing process, allowing you to focus more on the creative aspects of your projects. Whether you’re a beginner looking to familiarize yourself with the basics or a seasoned professional aiming to optimize your workflow, understanding and utilizing these shortcuts can transform your editing experience in After Effects.

Basic Navigation and Interface Shortcuts

Spacebar: Play/Pause Preview

  • Jumpstart your preview with a simple press of the spacebar. This is one of the most frequently used shortcuts for quickly checking your work.

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + N (Windows) / Cmd + Option + Shift + N (Mac): New Project

  • Instantly create a new project without navigating through the menu.

Ctrl + O (Windows) / Cmd + O (Mac): Open Project

  • Quickly open an existing project to continue your work.

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + K (Windows) / Cmd + Option + Shift + K (Mac): Show Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Access the keyboard shortcut menu to view or modify shortcuts according to your preference.

Working with Layers

Ctrl + Shift + D (Windows) / Cmd + Shift + D (Mac): Split Layer

  • Divide a layer into two parts at the current time indicator’s position.

Ctrl + Y (Windows) / Cmd + Y (Mac): New Solid Layer

  • Add a new solid layer, a fundamental element in many compositions.

Ctrl + Shift + C (Windows) / Cmd + Shift + C (Mac): Pre-compose

  • Group selected layers into a single composition for better organization and manipulation.

Animation and Keyframes

Alt + Shift + P (Windows) / Option + Shift + P (Mac): Add Position Keyframe

  • Quickly insert a position keyframe for the selected layer at the current time.

Alt + Shift + T (Windows) / Option + Shift + T (Mac): Add Opacity Keyframe

  • Add an opacity keyframe, essential for fade-in and fade-out effects.

J and K: Move to Previous or Next Keyframe

  • Navigate between keyframes efficiently without dragging the current time indicator.

Advanced Editing and Effects

Ctrl + Shift + E (Windows) / Cmd + Shift + E (Mac): Remove All Effects

  • Clear all effects from a selected layer with a single command.

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + T (Windows) / Cmd + Option + Shift + T (Mac): Apply Last Effect

  • Reapply the most recently used effect to another layer, streamlining repetitive tasks.

F9: Easy Ease Keyframes

  • Apply the Easy Ease function to your keyframes for smoother animations.

FAQ and Conclusion

Q: Can I customize keyboard shortcuts in After Effects?

A: Yes, After Effects allows you to customize keyboard shortcuts through the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box, enabling you to tailor the interface to your editing style.

Q: Are there any shortcuts for switching between different panels?

A: Absolutely. For instance, pressing “Ctrl + 1 (Windows) / Cmd + 1 (Mac)” switches to the Project panel, while “Ctrl + 3 (Windows) / Cmd + 3 (Mac)” takes you to the Composition panel.

Q: How can I learn and remember these shortcuts?

A: Practice is key. Start by incorporating a few shortcuts into your routine and gradually add more as you become comfortable. Using cheat sheets or shortcut overlays can also be helpful.


In conclusion, mastering keyboard shortcuts in Adobe After Effects can greatly enhance your productivity and creativity. By integrating these shortcuts into your workflow, you can spend less time navigating the interface and more time bringing your creative visions to life. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned expert, these shortcuts are invaluable tools that can expedite your video editing and animation processes.


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