How To Show/Hide Guides and Rulers in the After Effects Workspace?

After Effects empowers you to craft stunning motion graphics and visual effects. But navigating your workspace efficiently requires mastering the tools that guide your creativity. This article delves into the world of rulers and guides, equipping you with the knowledge to show, hide, and utilize them effectively within your After Effects projects.

Unveiling the Rulers

Rulers in After Effects serve as visual aids that display the measurement units (pixels, centimeters, inches, etc.) along the top and left sides of your workspace. These rulers provide a reference point for positioning and aligning elements within your compositions.

Showing Rulers:

There are two ways to display the rulers:

  1. Using the Menu: Navigate to View > Show Rulers. A checkmark will appear next to the option, indicating that rulers are now visible.
  2. Keyboard Shortcut: Utilize the handy keyboard shortcut Ctrl+R (Windows) or Command+R (Mac) to toggle the visibility of rulers. This is a quick and efficient way to switch them on or off.

Harnessing the Power of Guides

Guides are horizontal or vertical lines you can drag from the rulers onto your composition window. They act as visual references for aligning layers, shapes, and text within your project. Guides are not part of your actual composition and won't be rendered in the final output.

Creating Guides:

  1. Ruler Access: Ensure the rulers are visible (refer to the previous section).
  2. Dragging Guides: Click and hold on the ruler (top or left) and drag the mouse cursor into the composition window. A guide will appear and snap to the nearest pixel value.
  3. Precise Placement: While dragging a guide from the ruler, hold down the Shift key to constrain its movement to either a horizontal or vertical direction.

Additional Guide Controls:

  • Moving Guides: Click and hold a guide within the composition window and drag it to a new position.
  • Locking/Unlocking Guides: Click the lock icon in the rulers to lock all guides, preventing accidental movement. Click it again to unlock them.
  • Deleting Guides: Drag a guide back onto the ruler, or right-click on the guide and choose "Delete Guide" from the context menu.

Showing and Hiding Guides

Similar to rulers, you can control the visibility of guides:

  1. Using the Menu: Navigate to View > Show Guides. A checkmark will appear next to the option when guides are visible.
  2. Keyboard Shortcut: Utilize the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+; (Windows) or Command+; (Mac) to toggle the visibility of guides. This shortcut is the same as the one used in Photoshop, making it easier to remember for users familiar with both applications.

Advanced Guide Techniques

After Effects offers some additional functionalities for guides:

  • Snapping to Guides: Enable snapping by navigating to View > Snap to Guides. This allows layers to automatically align to the nearest guide when you move them.
  • Multiple Guides: Create multiple guides to form grids or reference points for complex layouts.
  • Importing and Exporting Guides: Share guide layouts between projects by exporting them (View > Show Guides > Export Guides) and importing them into other compositions (View > Show Guides > Import Guides).

When to Use Rulers and Guides

Here's a breakdown of when these tools come in handy:

  • Precise Alignment: Use rulers and guides to precisely position elements within your composition, ensuring consistent spacing and alignment.
  • Creating Grid Layouts: Guides help you create grids for arranging elements in a structured and balanced manner.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Guides can be lifesavers for maintaining consistent spacing and alignment throughout your project, especially across multiple compositions.


By mastering the art of showing, hiding, and utilizing rulers and guides, you can transform your After Effects workspace into a well-organized and efficient environment. Remember, these tools are there to empower your creativity and streamline your workflow. So, unleash your inner artist and take control of your workspace with rulers and guides!

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