Adobe After Effects Cheatsheet: Best Keyboard Shortcuts After Effects

By Timothy Brauning on February 20, 2022

Adobe After Effects is one of the best 2D/3D animation and video editing software on the market! After Effects is commonly used for motion graphics, visual effects, and compositing. If you begin with Adobe After Effects, you might want to know some useful keyboard shortcuts for navigating around your project and performing common tasks faster.

Level up your video editing skills using these best keyboard shortcuts on Adobe After Effects!

Table of Contents:

after effects shortcuts

What is an After Effect Keyboard Shortcut?

If you want to speed up your video editing on Adobe After Effects, you should familiarize yourself with the keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are more efficient than using a mouse/trackpad to select menu items visually.

A keyboard shortcut is a combination of one or more key presses, which instructs the computer to carry out a task. Quite often keyboard shortcuts have letters in common with the menu command they are associated with. For example, the letter P is used for both Play and Purge options, so it's not hard to remember that pressing Alt + P on your keyboard will play your project.

Learn After Effects Online!

Use Code: BLOG10  At Checkout To Save 10% off our Online After Effects Courses
Act Quickly, This Discount Won’t Last Forever!

How to Use After Effect Shortcuts?

To use an After Effect keyboard, you simply have to press the particular key or combination of keys at one time. You can also import or export user-defined shortcuts (with .jsx files) for other Adobe applications, like Photoshop and Illustrator, into After Effects.

On the top menu, click on Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts to open the Adobe After Effect shortcuts dialog box. You can then browse through different menus and submenus to look for the exact shortcut you are looking for. If you are curious, you also have the option of clicking on each menu item to know what they do.

However, it is important to note that not all Adobe After Effect shortcuts are listed in this dialog box. There are some hidden shortcuts that you need to know and we will share some of them with you in this article!

Essential Keyboard Shortcuts After Effect

Speed up your edit process with these After Effect keyboard shortcuts.

Both Windows and Mac OS support the use of After Effect keyboard shortcuts.

For Windows: Use Ctrl and Alt.

For Mac OS: Use Command and Option.

Preferences Shortcuts




Mac OS

Open Preferences dialog box

Ctrl + Alt + ; 

Command + Option + ; 

Restore default preferences settings

Hold down Ctrl + Alt + Shift while starting After Effects

Hold down Command + Option + Shift while starting After Effects


General Shortcuts




Mac OS



or Ctrl + Shift + A


or Command + Shift + A

Move selection 

Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow 

or Ctrl + Alt + Up Arrow

Command + Option + Down Arrow 

or Command + Option +Up Arrow

Move selection to bottom (back) or top (front) of stacking order

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Down Arrow 

or Ctr l+ Alt + Shift + Up Arrow

Command + Option + Shift + Down Arrow 

Or Command + Option + Shift + Up Arrow

Extend selection to next item

Shift + Down Arrow

Shift + Down Arrow

Extend selection to the previous item

Shift + Up Arrow

Shift + Up Arrow

Duplicate selection

Ctrl + D

Command + D


Ctrl + Q

Command + Q


Ctrl + Z

Command + Z


Ctrl + Shift + Z

Command + Shift + Z

Purge All Memory

Ctrl + Alt + / (on numeric keypad)

Command + Option + / (on numeric keypad)

Interrupt running a script




Project Shortcuts




Mac OS

New project

Ctrl + Alt + N

Command + Option + N

Open project

Ctrl + O

Command + O

Open a most recent project

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + P

Command + Option + Shift + P

New folder in Project panel

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + N

Command + Option + Shift + N

Open Project Settings dialog box

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + K

Command + Option + Shift + K

Find in Project panel

Ctrl + F

Command + F


Activate tools



Mac OS

Cycle through tools

Alt - click tool button in the Tools panel

Option - click tool button in the Tools panel

Activate Selection tool



Activate Hand tool



Temporarily activate Hand tool

Hold down the spacebar or the middle mouse button

Hold down the spacebar or the middle mouse button

Activate Zoom In tool



Activate Zoom Out tool

Alt (when Zoom In tool is active)

Option (when Zoom In tool is active)

Activate Rotation tool



Activate Roto Brush tool

Alt + W

Option + W

Activate Refine Edge tool

Alt + W

Option + W

Activate and cycle through Camera tools



Activate Pan Behind tool



Activate and cycle through Puppet tools

Ctrl + P

Command + P

Activate and cycle through mask and shape tools 



Activate and cycle through Type tools

Ctrl + T

Command + T

Activate and cycle between the Pen and Mask Feather tools



Activate Selection tool when a pen tool is selected



Activate and cycle through Brush, Clone Stamp, and Eraser tools

Ctrl + B

Command + B


Panels, viewers, workspaces, and windows




Mac OS

Open / Close Project panel

Ctrl + 0

Command + 0

Open / Close Render Queue panel

Ctrl + Alt + 0

Command + Option + 0

Open / Close Tools panel

Ctrl + 1

Command + 1

Open / Close Info panel

Ctrl + 2

Command + 2

Open / Close Preview panel

Ctrl + 3

Command + 3

Open / Close Audio panel

Ctrl + 4

Command + 4

Open / Close Effects & Presets panel

Ctrl + 5

Command + 5

Open / Close Character panel

Ctrl + 6

Command + 6

Open / Close Paragraph panel

Ctrl + 7

Command + 7

Open or close Paint panel

Ctrl + 8

Command + 8

Open or close Brushes panel

Ctrl + 9

Command + 9

Open or close Effect Controls panel for the selected layer


or Ctrl + Shift + T


or Command + Shift + T

Open Flowchart panel for project flowchart

Ctrl + F11

Command + F11

Close active viewer or panel 

Ctrl + W

Command + W






Mac OS

Import one file or image sequence

Ctrl + I

Command + I

Import multiple files or image sequences

Ctrl + Alt + I

Command + Option + I

Open movie in the panel

Double-click the footage item in the Project panel

Double-click the footage item in the Project panel

Add selected items to the most recently activated composition

Ctrl + / 

Command + / 

Replace selected source footage for selected layers with footage item selected in Project panel

Ctrl + Alt + / 

Command + Option + / 

Replace source for a selected layer

Alt - drag footage item from Project panel onto the selected layer

Option - drag footage item from Project panel onto the selected layer

Delete a footage item without a warning

Ctrl + Backspace

Command + Delete

Open Interpret Footage dialog box for a selected footage item

Ctrl + Alt + G

Command + Option + G

Remember footage interpretation

Ctrl + Alt + C

Command + Option + C

Edit selected footage item in application with which it's associated (Edit Original)

Ctrl + E

Command + E

Replace selected footage item

Ctrl + H

Command + H

Reload selected footage items

Ctrl + Alt + L

Command + Option + L

Set proxy for a selected footage item

Ctrl + Alt + P

Command + Option + P

Customized Keyboard Shortcuts

After Effects, users can change any keyboard shortcut to fit their workflow.

How to customize After Effect keyboard shortcuts?

The Keyboard Shortcut Customization tool is available in Adobe After Effects and allows you to customize the keyboard shortcut for any command/ menu item. It makes customization easy compared to manually editing an XML file.

1- Open the Keyboard Shortcut Customization tool from Adobe After Effects by pressing Ctrl+Alt+' (Command+Option+’ for Mac OS). A dialog box will pop up showing a list of commands and corresponding keyboard shortcuts.

2- Save a new Keyboard Layout Preset

How to customize After Effect keyboard shortcuts

3- Choose either the whole application or specific panels that you want to edit the keyboard shortcut for

keyboard shortcuts after effects

2- You can add, modify or remove any shortcut key for these commands. To add a new shortcut key, type the Command name and your desired keyboard shortcut in corresponding fields.

3- Once you've entered all the values, click on Save. To cancel the settings, click on Cancel.

Why should you customize shortcuts on After Effect?

Using customized shortcuts will help you save time and do the editing work easier. If you use shortcuts, you can finish your video editing task faster without moving your hands from the keyboard.

You'll also become more productive. Using shortcuts in Premiere Pro makes your workflow smoother and increases your editing performance.


Learning and using these keyboard shortcuts on Adobe After Effect will save you a lot of time in the long run. The more you use shortcuts, the faster you'll be able to work and perform tasks in Premiere Pro.

Now that you know some basic shortcuts with After Effect, let's take a look at some advanced features and actions you can do with this video editing software!

More After Effects Blogs

After Effects Online Courses:


Topics: Adobe After Effects, Adobe

FMC provides quality, consistent and accessible training for content creators and IT professionals.

Our courses are designed to help individuals and institutions meet their goals by enabling them to be on the cutting edge of technology.

keyboard shortcuts after effects

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts


See all