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Design 101: After Effects Hacks to Save You From Headaches

You can make some pretty awesome stuff with After Effects. On the flip side, After Effects will sometimes give you some headaches that are very frustrating. Instead of passively working with After Effects, it’s time to learn how to work efficiently with it. Here, you’ll learn some life hacks for Adobe After Effects that will save you from any future frustrations.


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Hack 1: How to Fix “Oh S#*&, I Animated the Wrong Layer!”

You’ve spent hours creating the perfect, flawless animation and you realize you either animated the wrong layer or you notice a fatal design flaw in your image. Oh S#*7. Instead of reformatting a new layer, copying & pasting the key frames and trimming your clip, you can fix this in a few clicks.
1.     Select the layer you want to replace

Before Trim


2.     Add your new layer to your composition library (if you haven’t done so already), then while holding Alt/Option, drag your replacement layer directly over the existing layer.

Hack 1-10 (1)


3.     Your layer is now replaced with all previous key frames, length & formatting!

Hack 1-11 (1)

You’ll find that this trick will come in handy for future projects. For example, if your client has a change they want in some of your frames you can simply touch up the frames, drag them back in to your composition and replace them!


Hack 2: How to Fix “Dragging This Clip Length Down Takes Forever…”

Do you find yourself in monotonous hell, dragging and shortening the clip length bar of your layers? No more. This is a pretty simple hack and it takes only 1 simple shortcut. Simply click on your layer, place your Time Indicator cursor where you want to cut everything before or after your cursor and to:

  •    Cut Everything Before Your Cursor: Press Alt/Option + [
  •    Cut Everything After Your Cursor: Press Alt/Option + ]
Hack 2-08

Boom. Everything is now cut for you!



This hack blew my mind when I learned about it reading the article “After Effects Hack: Opening Multiple Projects Simultaniously.” So what do you do when you have so many videos and so little time to render them all? This is a pretty awesome trick that you’ll want to write down. You can open up multiple After Effects programs at once, and to do this, you’ll have to follow a specific way to do so.


1. Start rendering your first video

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2. Open up the Finder, click on “Applications” from the sidebar menu and open the Adobe After Effects folder

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3. Right-click Adobe After Effects and select “Show Package Contents.” From here, open the “Contents” folder, then find and open the “MacOS” folder.


4. Run the exec file “After Effects” by opening it

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5. Voila! You now have two running After Effects programs.

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These are just 3 hacks you might find useful and to avoid any future headaches. Just in case you’re looking for more hacks, view this article, “10 Essential After Effects Tricks.” Now you’ll never have to fight with After Effects again (for now). Utilize these hacks and the extras I provided to further your skill and profession as a graphic or motion graphic designer. Youwon’t regret it.