How to Lock Layers in After Effects

Updated on: September 20, 2022

It is likely that before using After Effects, you have tried another Adobe product such as Illustrator or Photoshop. If so, you will recognize the lock layers feature. If not, all you have to do is go to the Timeline and look at the area where the buttons to enable or disable the visibility of your layers are located, and the one that turns on or off the audio of your clips.

If you look closely at that same space, you will find an icon in the shape of a padlock. But what is its function, and what exactly is the purpose of locking layers in After Effects?

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Benefits of locking layers in After Effects

When you work with a lot of footage, text, shapes, or effects, sometimes you can end up moving objects and other layers without even realizing it until the very end. 

That happens a lot and can be quite annoying, so if you want any particular element to stay in one place and not move through your working process, you'll need to lock the layer it's located on as follows:

  1. Select the layer you want to lock and locate the padlock icon in the switches column.
  2. Click the box to lock the layer. You’ll know you did it right if you see the padlock in the switches column that corresponds to your layer.
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  1. Uncheck the box when you need to move the items on your locked layer again.
  2. ​​To unlock all layers press (Shift + Cmd + L) or (Shift + Ctrl + L), or simply go to the main menu, choose Layer, then hit Switches, and finally click on Unlock All Layers.
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Use this feature to reduce the chance of accidentally modifying settings, and remember that while locking a layer prevents it from being edited, selected, or even moved, it will still remain visible.

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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