AE fundamentals

Import Files

In this After Effects Fundamentals lesson, you'll learn how to import files and stay organized to avoid future headaches. Trust me, this is important.

Jump to topic on this page:

Find in video:

Import a File


File Organization




Import a File

Go to File > Import > Import File

Or, use the keyboard shortcut: ⌘/Ctrl I

Or, double click in the empty space in the Project panel.

Import files

While you can drag and drop files into After Effects, you won't always get the exact same project settings (depending on the file type) as you would by doing one of the methods above. These settings are important when importing artwork with multiple layers.

More info about working with artwork from Adobe Illustrator will be covered in a later lesson.

File Organization

The most important thing to take away from this lesson is that anything that you import into your After Effects project is going to be linked into that project. Once you import a file, After Effects now knows where to find that file on your computer. So, if you move that file to another location or folder on your computer, external hard drive or cloud storage, After Effects won’t know where it is and you’ll get a missing footage error. This is why it’s so important to be organized.

Here's an example of how I've organized a simple animation project:

File organization

Depending on your project, you can organize your files and folders in any way that you like. The most important this here is that you have a system for organization


To rename a file or composition in the Project panel, or a layer in the timeline (and even other things too):

  • Select the layer
  • Hit Return/Enter
  • Type the new name
  • Hit Return/Enter, or click away from the layer

All the keyboard shortcuts you need, in one place:

Up Next

Now that you know how to import and organize files, it's time to move on to the next lesson: Setting keyframes to create animations.