How To Reset All Preferences Back to Default in After Effects?

After Effects, a maestro in the world of motion graphics, allows you to personalize your workflow through preferences. You customize keyboard shortcuts, adjust interface layouts, and establish specific project settings. But what if your customizations become overwhelming, or you encounter glitches stemming from these changes? Fear not, animators! After Effects offers a way to reset all preferences back to default, giving you a clean slate to rebuild your workflow.

This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge to reset all preferences in After Effects, allowing you to troubleshoot issues or simply start fresh with a familiar interface.

Understanding Preference Reset:

Resetting preferences essentially wipes clean all the customizations you've made within After Effects. This includes keyboard shortcuts, workspace layouts, general settings, and even cache settings. By performing a reset, you revert After Effects to its original factory defaults, offering a standardized experience.

Two Methods to Restore Order:

After Effects provides two effective methods to reset all preferences and reclaim control:

Method 1: The Keyboard Shortcut - A Swift Solution

  1. Close After Effects: This is crucial. Ensure After Effects is completely closed before proceeding.
  2. Hold the Keys: While relaunching After Effects, hold down a specific combination of keys depending on your operating system:
    • Windows: Hold Ctrl + Alt + Shift simultaneously.
    • Mac: Hold Command + Option + Shift simultaneously.
  3. Confirmation Prompt: If you've held the keys correctly, After Effects will display a confirmation dialog box asking you to confirm the preference reset. Click "OK" to proceed.
  4. Fresh Start: After Effects will launch with all preferences reset to their default settings.

Method 2: Manual Deletion - A Targeted Approach

This method allows you to target a specific preference file for deletion, offering a slightly more granular approach.

  1. Close After Effects: As with the keyboard shortcut method, ensure After Effects is completely closed.
  2. Navigate to Preferences Folder: The location of the preferences folder depends on your operating system:
    • Windows: Typically, you'll find it at C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\After Effects [version number]\Preferences.
    • Mac: Open Finder and navigate to

      Library > Preferences > Adobe > After Effects [version number]. Note: The Library folder on Mac might be hidden by default. Refer to online resources for methods to reveal hidden folders on Mac.
  3. Locate the Preference File: Within the After Effects preferences folder, you'll find a file named "prefs" (Windows) or "AfterEffectsPrefs.xml" (Mac). This file stores all your After Effects preferences.
  4. Delete the File: Drag the "prefs" or "AfterEffectsPrefs.xml" file to your trash bin (Windows) or trash (Mac).
  5. Relaunch After Effects: Open After Effects again. Since the preferences file is missing, After Effects will create a new one with default settings.

Important Considerations:

  • Caution with Manual Deletion: While the manual deletion method offers more control, accidentally deleting the wrong file can lead to unexpected behavior in After Effects.
  • Rebuilding Your Workflow: Once you've reset your preferences, be prepared to rebuild your custom settings and keyboard shortcuts.
  • Alternative Solutions: Before resorting to a full reset, consider troubleshooting specific issues within After Effects preferences themselves. You might be able to isolate and fix the problem without wiping out all your customizations.


By understanding how to reset all preferences in After Effects, you've gained a valuable troubleshooting tool and a way to refresh your workflow. Remember, choose the method that best suits your needs – the keyboard shortcut for a quick reset or manual deletion for a more targeted approach. However, proceed with caution, especially with manual deletion. Once reset, be prepared to rebuild your personalized settings. Now go forth, conquer any preference-related glitches, and unleash your creative potential in a familiar After Effects environment!

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