Resetting After Effects Preferences

After Effects, a cornerstone of the motion graphics world, can occasionally exhibit strange behavior. This can be frustrating, interrupting your creative workflow. One potential solution is to reset the software's preferences, effectively wiping the slate clean and returning it to its default state. This guide will delve into the various methods for resetting After Effects preferences, along with some crucial considerations before taking the plunge.

Understanding Preferences

Preferences act as the personal settings that customize After Effects to your liking. These can include:

  • Workspace Layouts: The arrangement of panels and tools within the interface.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Assigning specific key combinations for frequently used actions.
  • Import/Export Settings: Default options for bringing in and exporting media files.
  • Performance Tweaks: Adjustments to optimize After Effects for your system's capabilities.

While customization enhances efficiency, corrupted preferences can lead to errors, crashes, or unexpected behavior. Resetting them can resolve these issues, but it's important to understand the implications.

The Keyboard Shortcut Method (Swift and Simple)

This method offers a quick way to reset preferences during the launch process:

  1. Close After Effects: Ensure the program is completely shut down.
  2. Launch with Key Combo: Hold down the following keys as you launch After Effects:
    • Windows: Ctrl+Alt+Shift
    • Mac: Command+Option+Shift
  3. Confirmation Dialog: A pop-up will appear, asking you to confirm the reset. Click "OK" to proceed.

If successful, After Effects will launch with default preferences.

Manual Deletion (For the Detail-Oriented)

For users who prefer a more granular approach, manually deleting the preferences file is an option:

  1. Navigate to Preferences:
    • Windows: Go to Edit > Preferences > General.
    • Mac: Go to After Effects > Preferences > General.
  2. Reveal Preferences: Click the button labeled "Reveal Preferences in Explorer" (Windows) or "Reveal Preferences in Finder" (Mac). This will open the folder containing the preferences file.
  3. Delete the File: Locate the file named "After Effects Prefs" (or similar depending on your version). Drag it to the trash or delete it permanently.
  4. Relaunch After Effects: Restart the program, and your preferences will be reset to defaults.

Note: Exercise caution with this method. Accidentally deleting the wrong file could lead to unforeseen consequences.

Restoring Default Keyboard Shortcuts (A Nuance)

Resetting preferences doesn't necessarily reset custom keyboard shortcuts. If you want to revert these to their defaults as well, here's a tip:

  1. Hold Option/Alt Key: While holding the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows), click the "OK" button in the confirmation dialog when resetting preferences.

This will ensure both preferences and keyboard shortcuts are reset to factory settings.

Before You Reset: Consider These Points

  • Backup Custom Presets: Resetting preferences won't affect custom animation presets you've created. However, composition setting presets will be reset to defaults. Consider noting down these custom settings beforehand for easy recreation.
  • Third-Party Plugins: Some third-party plugins might store their settings within the preferences file. Resetting could potentially affect their configurations. Check the plugin documentation for specific instructions.
  • The Last Resort: Resetting preferences should be considered after troubleshooting other potential causes of the issue. It's a powerful tool, so use it strategically.


Resetting After Effects preferences can be a lifesaver when dealing with software glitches. By understanding the methods, implications, and considerations outlined above, you can approach this process with confidence. Remember, sometimes a simple reset is all it takes to get your creative flow back on track.

Additional Resources:

While this guide provides a comprehensive overview, referring to official Adobe documentation for the latest information on resetting preferences is always recommended. You can find relevant resources by searching online using keywords like "reset After Effects preferences" or visiting the Adobe After Effects Help Center.

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