13 After Effects Shortcuts to Save Time

Updated on: September 17, 2022

After Effects is software that offers you a whole set of post-production tools to enhance your videos. Since this program lets you perform actions ranging from designing titles and characters, making impressive motion graphics, and applying effects to every element of your projects, it is important that you learn how to have an efficient workflow while creating.

Want to work faster and edit like a pro? Here are 13 essential After Effects shortcuts to save time.

Shortcuts to activate Toolbar features 

  • The Selection tool lets you move objects and add effects to your layers. Hit V on your keyboard to activate it quickly.
  • With the Zoom feature, you can better detail your canvas. To Zoom in, press Z; to zoom out, touch your trackpad from bottom to top, or simply scroll with your mouse in the same direction.
  • The Hand tool is generally used to move around the canvas without affecting the layers' project. Click H to activate this button faster.
  • Anchor Point is the tool you have in After Effects for moving any object around a fixed point as if it were a satellite. To activate this function, hit Y on your keyboard.
  • The Rectangle tool is the one that lets you create preset Shapes and Masks in your project. Press Q to activate it, or tap this same key several times to explore more options of this tool.
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  • Pen Tool is great for making custom shapes and masks by outlining the edges of an object. You can start using this feature by hitting G on your keyboard. Tap this key several times to explore other functions this tool has.
  • Type tool: With this feature, you will be able to type text on your canvas. Use it quickly by pressing ctrl + T if you are working on Windows or cmd + T if you use macOS. Remember this tool includes another option inside. To explore it and start typing vertically, repeat the shortcut on your keyboard.
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  • Eraser tool: Use it when you need to erase parts of your layer as a way to create cool effects. To activate this tool, press Ctrl + B/Cmd + B.
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  • Roto Brush tool: This tool is perfect for cutting out subjects or objects and then placing them on top of another video. To use this feature, hit Alt + W or tap the shortcut again to activate Refine Edge Tool. This option lets you take out something that has detailed edges, such as hair or a fuzzy sweater.
  • If you had an illustration of a human being and you wanted its limbs to move, you would have to use one of the most useful tools in After Effects: the Puppet Position Pins. Activate them by hitting the Cmd + P keys and start placing them over the parts of your image you want to animate. 

    Remember to click several times the shortcut in order to find more types of pins.
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How to activate features related to 3D

  1. Orbit Around Cursor Tool: This option is useful when working with 3D Layers in After Effects because it lets you rotate your 3D shapes on the same axis by moving the cursor in any direction. If you can't find it in your workspace, hit Shift + 1 on your keyboard.
  2. Pan Under Cursor Tool: Use this option to move up or down your 3D shapes by clicking Shift + 2. To explore the other functions this tool has to offer, run the shortcut again.
  3. Dolly Towards Cursor Tool: This feature lets you touch the 3D objects you want to visualize better and zoom in quickly. Press Shift + 3 to activate this function or explore more options by running the shortcut again.
Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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