Restoring Order: A Guide to Resetting After Effects

After Effects, a cornerstone of the motion graphics world, can occasionally encounter glitches or unexpected behavior. This can be frustrating, hindering your creative workflow. Fear not, for there are ways to bring After Effects back in line! This guide will delve into the world of resetting After Effects, exploring two main approaches: resetting preferences and purging the cache.

Understanding the Need to Reset

Before diving into the how-to, let's establish some scenarios where a reset might be necessary:

  • Unexplained glitches: After Effects might exhibit strange behavior like sluggish performance, preview issues, or unexpected tool actions. Resetting preferences can often resolve these mysteries.
  • Conflicting configurations: Have you experimented with extensive customization of the workspace or keyboard shortcuts? Resetting preferences offers a clean slate to eliminate conflicts.
  • Corrupted preferences: In rare cases, the preferences file itself might become corrupted, leading to erratic behavior. Here, resetting preferences or even a reinstall might be necessary.

Resetting After Effects Preferences

This approach resets After Effects to its default settings, erasing any custom configurations you've made. Here's how to do it:

  1. Close After Effects: Make sure After Effects is completely shut down before proceeding.
  2. Hold the magic key combination: Depending on your operating system, press and hold a specific key combination while launching After Effects:
    • Windows: Ctrl+Alt+Shift
    • Mac: Command+Option+Shift
  3. Launch After Effects: While holding the keys, launch After Effects. If timed correctly, you'll see a dialog asking you to confirm the reset. Click "OK" to proceed.
  4. Re-open After Effects: After Effects will launch with default settings.

Important Note: Resetting preferences means you'll lose any custom settings you've made. This includes workspace layouts, keyboard shortcuts, and effects presets. Make sure to note down any crucial customizations before proceeding.

Purging the After Effects Cache

The cache in After Effects stores temporary files used to improve performance. However, a bloated cache can sometimes lead to sluggishness or unexpected behavior. Purging the cache can help in such situations.

  1. Open After Effects: Launch After Effects as you normally would.
  2. Navigate to the Edit Menu: Go to the "Edit" menu at the top of the screen.
  3. Select "Purge": Within the "Edit" menu, find the "Purge" submenu.
  4. Choose "All Memory & Disk Cache": Several purge options will be available. Select "All Memory & Disk Cache" to perform a comprehensive cleaning.
  5. Confirm the purge: A confirmation dialog will appear. Click "OK" to proceed with purging the cache.

Cache Management Tip: Consider dedicating a drive with ample free space specifically for After Effects cache. This can help prevent cache-related issues.

Reinstallation: A Last Resort

If resetting preferences and purging the cache don't solve your problem, a reinstall might be necessary. This should be considered a last resort, as it involves completely removing and reinstalling After Effects. Remember to back up any crucial projects before proceeding.

Here are the resources provided by Adobe for uninstalling and reinstalling Creative Cloud applications, which includes After Effects:


By understanding the methods of resetting preferences and purging the cache, you're equipped to tackle many common After Effects glitches. Remember, resetting preferences erases customizations, while purging the cache focuses on temporary files. If these methods don't solve the issue, consider seeking help from Adobe's support channels or the After Effects community forums. With the right approach, you can get After Effects back to running smoothly and unleash your creative potential!

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