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Sync Settings features in After Effects CC (12.0) for sharing keyboard shortcuts, preferences, and other settings

(Here is a a complete list of new and changed features in After Effects CC (12.0).)

The Sync Settings feature gives you the ability to upload settings files from your local computer to Creative Cloud and then download your settings files from Creative Cloud to any other computer from within After Effects. The Sync Settings features work very much the same in After Effects as the same features in Premiere Pro.

The settings files that can be synchronized in this way correspond to the entries in the Sync Settings category in the Preferences dialog box:

  • synchronizable preferences (a subset of all preferences, excluding the ones that are machine-specific; details at the end of this article)
  • keyboard shortcuts
  • output module settings templates
  • render settings templates
  • composition settings presets
  • interpretation rules

Do let us know with a feature request if there are other settings that you’d like to see synchronized.


basics of using Sync Settings features

When you start After Effects, the Welcome Screen gives you your first opportunity to synchronize settings. You have two options under the Sync Settings With Adobe Creative Cloud heading:

  • Sync Settings Now: Click this to begin the synchronization process for the user with the Adobe ID shown.
  • Use Settings From A Different Account: Click this to begin the process of switching to a different account and using its settings.

You have access to the same commands from the Edit menu (Windows) or the After Effects menu (Mac OS), from the menu entry directly beneath the Preferences menu entry. The menu name will either be Sync Settings or your Adobe ID, depending on whether you’ve enabled the feature by choosing to synchronize settings.

Also in that Sync Settings menu are a few other commands:

  • Clear Settings: Restores all settings to their default values; also clears the user information from the application (if you chose the Use Settings From Different Account Feature). You can also choose to enable the Automatically Clear User Profiles On Quit preference in the Sync Settings category. This is a good idea if you are working temporarily on a shared computer.
  • Manage Sync Settings: Opens the Sync Settings pane of the Preferences dialog box.
  • Manage Creative Cloud Account: Takes you to the Creative Cloud web page.

The Sync Settings menu can also be opened by clicking the button to the left of the Workspace control in the Tools panel. The tooltip for this button is the most convenient way of seeing which account’s settings are in use.

Any time that you switch users or load settings from Creative Cloud, you must restart After Effects. This is in part because After Effects needs to restart to load preferences and other settings from the newly downloaded files. When you upload files from the local computer to Creative Cloud, a restart is not necessary.

When you choose to synchronize settings, you will either get a message telling you that “Settings are already in sync” or a Sync Settings dialog box. In the Sync Settings dialog box, you can choose whether to upload/save your current files from the computer to the Creative Cloud server (Upload Settings) or download and apply the files from the Creative Cloud server (Download Settings). If you know that you will always want to do one or the other, you can check the Remember My Preference box. A good example for using this setting is when you want to treat your primary office computer as the gold standard, so you only ever upload its settings to Creative Cloud, whereas the computers that you freelance at are only consuming those settings, so you only ever download to them. You can change your mind about this setting and choose a new value from the When Syncing menu in the Sync Settings category in the Preferences dialog box.

When you initiate a synchronization operation, you can see its progress in the Info panel, including how many files were modified and when.


details of Sync Settings features

By default, five of the six settings files are uploaded or downloaded during a synchronization operation: keyboard shortcuts, synchronizable preferences, composition settings presets, interpretation rules, and render settings templates. You can modify this in the Sync Settings category of the Preferences dialog box.

Tip: Because it is possible for collisions to occur between output modules of the same name (e.g., Lossless), be cautious of synchronizing output module settings between Mac OS and Windows unless you’ve renamed the output module templates to have distinctive names. This potential collision is the reason that the output module settings templates are not synchronized by default.

As mentioned above, only a subset of preferences are uploaded or downloaded when you use the Sync Settings feature and have chosen the Synchronizable Preferences option in the Sync Settings category of the Preferences dialog box.

The primary reason for most of the items that aren’t synchronized is that they are machine-specific or environment-specific, so they have a good chance of not behaving correctly when transferred to another computer that may have a different configuration or be on a different network.

Here is a complete list of the preferences, with indication of which are in the synchronizable preferences set:

General preferences

  • Levels Of Undo: yes, synchronized
  • Path Point Size: yes, synchronized
  • Show Tool Tips: yes, synchronized
  • Create Layers At Composition Start Time: yes, synchronized
  • Switches Affect Nested Comps: yes, synchronized
  • Default Spatial Interpolation To Linear: yes, synchronized
  • Preserve Constant Vertex Count When Editing Masks: yes, synchronized
  • Pen Tool Shortcut Toggles Between Pen and Mask Feather Tools: yes, synchronized
  • Synchronize Time Of All Related Items: yes, synchronized
  • Expression Pick Whip Writes Compact English: yes, synchronized
  • Create Split Layers Above Original Layer: yes, synchronized
  • Allow Scripts To Write Files And Access Network: no, not synchronized
  • Enable JavaScript Debugger: yes, synchronized
  • Use System Color Picker: yes, synchronized
  • Use System Shortcut Keys (Mac OS only): yes, synchronized
  • Dynamic Link with After Effects Uses Project File Name with Highest Number: yes, synchronized
  • Play Sound When Render Finishes: yes, synchronized
  • Opening Layers With Double-Click: yes, synchronized

Previews preferences

  • Adaptive Resolution Limit: no, not synchronized
  • Show Internal Wireframes: yes, synchronized
  • Viewer Quality (Zoom Quality and Color Management Quality): yes, synchronized
  • Alternate RAM Preview: yes, synchronized
  • Audio Preview Duration: yes, synchronized

Display preferences

  • Motion Path: no, not synchronized
  • Disable Thumbnails In Project Panel: no, not synchronized
  • Show Rendering Progress In Info Panel And Flowchart: no, not synchronized
  • Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, And Footage Panels: yes, synchronized
  • Show Both Timecode And Frames In Timeline Panel: no, not synchronized

Import preferences

  • all settings in this category: yes, synchronized

Output preferences

  • Segment Sequences At, Segment Movie Files At: no, not synchronized
  • Use Default File Name And Folder: no, not synchronized
  • Show Deprecated Formats In Output Module Settings: yes, synchronized
  • Audio Block Duration: no, not synchronized

Grids & Guides preferences

  • all settings in this category: yes, synchronized

Labels preferences

  • all settings in this category: yes, synchronized

Media & Disk Cache preferences

  • Enable Disk Cache and Maximum Disk Cache Size: no, not synchronized
  • Conformed Media Cache: no, not synchronized
  • Write XMP IDs To Files On Import: no, not synchronized
  • Create Layer Markers From Footage XMP Metadata: yes, synchronized

Video Preview preferences

  • all settings in this category: no, not synchronized

Appearance preferences

  • all settings in this category: yes, synchronized

Auto-Save preferences

  • all settings in this category: yes, synchronized

Memory & Multiprocessing preferences

  • all settings in this category: no, not synchronized

Audio Hardware and Audio Output Mapping preferences

  • all settings in these categories: no, not synchronized

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