How to Zoom In or Out the Timeline in After Effects

Updated on: September 20, 2022

There are several ways to zoom in or out in After Effects. However, not all of them serve the same purpose. It's not the same as wanting to enlarge the screen of your composition to improve the look of a shape, as it is wanting to stretch your timeline to find a specific fragment of your sequence. They are different actions.

This time we will focus on the second case. That means we are going to show you how to zoom in or out on the Timeline in After Effects to find a specific fragment.

Panning the Timeline in After Effects

After Effects has a default tool for you to pan your sequence quickly. To use it:

  1. Go to the option below the Timeline. Notice that right next to the Toggle Switches / Mode button, there is a bar. 
  2. Move its indicator to the right to zoom in on your sequence to the first Frame of your video. Or move it to the left, to scale the entire project on the Timeline.
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In addition to this option, the program also lets you use a second tool for a closer look at the frames of a composition, which may even be more convenient to manipulate for some users. To locate it, go to the Timeline and follow the steps:

  1. Locate the Time Ruler. This tool shows you the size of the scale at which you view your sequence. Just above this indicator, you will see a thin bar. It is called the Time Navigator. 
  2. Hold your click on the Time Navigator and stretch it until the Timeline ends to get a full view of your sequence. Make it narrow if you want to zoom in and find a specific second.
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Zooming in and out a Composition in After Effects

If what you want is to know how to zoom your canvas to better control your layers and effects, remember that you can modify the 'Magnification Ratio Popup percentage' value at the bottom of the Composition Panel

Increase the value to zoom in, and decrease it if you want to zoom out and see your project from a wider perspective. 

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Tip: Another quick technique to zoom in and out of a frame preview is to scroll the mouse wheel after pressing Z.

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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