How To Set Up a Custom Location for the Media Cache in After Effects?

After Effects thrives on processing visual effects and motion graphics. But this creative magic comes at a cost – storage space. A hidden culprit behind dwindling disk space is the media cache. While essential for smooth playback, the cache can accumulate and eat into your precious storage.

The good news? After Effects allows you to designate a custom location for the media cache, freeing up space on your primary drive and potentially improving performance. This article equips you with the knowledge to set up a custom media cache location in After Effects.

Understanding the Media Cache

The media cache acts as a temporary storage for rendered previews of your project's elements. These previews include video frames, effects, and compositions. By readily accessing cached previews, After Effects offers smoother playback during editing, saving you render time. However, the cache can grow significantly, especially on complex projects.

Benefits of a Custom Location

Here's why setting a custom location for the media cache is a good idea:

  • Frees Up Space: Designate a secondary drive with ample storage to house the cache, alleviating pressure on your main drive.
  • Improves Performance: If your main drive is nearing capacity, placing the cache on a faster secondary drive (like an SSD) can lead to quicker cache access and potentially smoother playback.
  • Organization: Separating the cache from your project files keeps your project directory clean and organized.

Setting Up a Custom Location

The process is straightforward:

  1. Launch After Effects: Open After Effects on your computer.
  2. Navigate to Preferences: Go to Edit > Preferences (Windows) or After Effects > Preferences (Mac).
  3. Media and Disk Cache Tab: Select the Media and Disk Cache tab within the Preferences window.
  4. Cache Location: Locate the "Cache Location" section. By default, After Effects uses your system's default temporary files location.
  5. Choosing a New Location: Click the "Browse..." button next to the current location path.
  6. Selecting the Drive: In the file browser window that pops up, navigate to your desired secondary drive where you want to store the media cache.
  7. Create a Dedicated Folder (Optional): Consider creating a dedicated folder within the chosen drive to keep the cache organized and separate from other files.
  8. Confirmation: Once you've selected the desired location (folder), click "Select Folder" to confirm.
  9. Restart After Effects (Recommended): It's recommended to restart After Effects for the changes to take effect.

Pro Tip: If you work on multiple projects with varying cache size requirements, consider creating separate folders within your custom location for each project's cache. This helps with organization and allows you to easily manage the cache size for specific projects.

Additional Considerations

  • Performance Impact: Initially, After Effects might take some time to build the cache in the new location. However, subsequent project edits should benefit from faster cache access if the chosen drive is faster than your primary drive.
  • Sharing Projects: If you share your project with collaborators, ensure they are aware of the custom media cache location. They might need to manually point After Effects to the correct location on their system to access cached previews.


By setting up a custom location for the media cache in After Effects, you can effectively manage storage space, potentially improve performance, and maintain a well-organized workflow. Remember, a well-managed cache is a happy cache, leading to a smoother and more efficient After Effects experience. So, take control of your media cache and unleash your creative potential!

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