Installing Tools for After Effects

This guide has instructions for installing different types of tools for After Effects.

If you want full control over your installations, this guide has details for installing each type of tool. However, if you just want your tools installed quickly and want to get things working with as little effort as possible, check out the aescripts + aeplugins manager app. Not only will it take care of installing your tools purchased from, but it will also take care of the licensing.

The manager app can only be used on purchases from If you purchased your tools directly from, please use the instructions below.


CEP Extensions first became available for After Effects in version CC 2014. CEP extensions give you all the benefits as Script UI panels, however they also allow for much more complex and user-friendly interfaces.

The .zxp file

The file type for an extension is `.zxp`. a ZXP is actually just a ZIP file that contains specific configuration files that can be used by After Effects to load the extension properly.

Unless you are doing a manual installation, there is no need to extract the contents of the ZXP.

Install Using an Installer (recommended)

To install an extension, it is simplest to use an installer. Adobe has their own installer, however it limits your Extensions to what is available on Adobe's own platform. A much simpler and open option is to use the ZXP Installer from It is available for free for both Mac and Windows.

Once you've downloaded and installed the ZXP Installer, simply open the .zxp extension in the installer. The ZXP Installer will take care of the rest. Once the extension has been installed, you can see basic information about the extension, such as its version and compatible software.

To run the extension, start by restarting After Effects. Extensions do not show up at the bottom of the 'Window' menu like Script UI panels. To open your extension, go to:

Window > Extensions > Your Extension

Installing Manually

If you would prefer not to use an installer, you may install extensions manually, however the process is not user friendly.

On Windows

  1. Rename your .zxp extension file to use .zip instead. (You'll get a warning, but just click OK)
  2. Unzip the file, you should get a folder. Rename it if desired
  3. Copy that folder into C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\CEP\extensions\
  4. Restart After Effects
  5. Your extension should now show up under Window > Extensions

On Mac:

  1. Rename your .zxp extension file to use .zip instead.
  2. Unzip the file, you should get a folder. Rename it if desired (You may need a 3rd party utility to unzip)
  3. Copy that folder into ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CEP/extensions
  4. Restart After Effects
  5. Your extension should now show up under Window > Extensions


Plugins for After Effects are very simple to install. Some plugins even include an installer that takes care of everything for you, but if you have a plugin that is just a .aex file, it must be installed manually. To do this, simply copy the .aex file into the After Effects Plug-ins folder:

TODO: global vs per-version installation


C:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe After Effects YOUR VERSION/Support Files/Plug-ins/


~/Applications/Adobe After Effects YOUR VERSION/Plug-ins/

If you would like, you can create your own folders within the 'Plug-ins' folder in order to organize your files, however these folders will have no effect on how After Effects organizes your plug-ins within the program, it would only be for your own organizational needs on your file system.

Once the .aex file is somewhere in within your Plug-ins folder, start up After Effects and your plugin will be available. If it is an effect, it will be under the 'Effects' menu, however, not all plug-ins are effects, so it may appear elsewhere.


Scripts come in two different formats. There is the .jsx and .jsxbin. Both of these formats are installed and run the same way. The difference is that .jsx files are able to be opened and edited, while .jsxbin files have beed converted to a proprietary binary format in order to prevent users from editing or copying the code of the script.

There are also several categories of scripts, however installing each of them is very similar. These categories are:

'Basic Scripts' or just 'scripts' can be ran using two different methods. First, if it is a script that you will not be using very often, you can simply go to:

File > Scripts > Run Script File...

This will bring up a file dialog where you can then choose which script file to run. Upon opening, the script will execute.

The only downside to running scripts this way is that if you are constantly navigating your file system to find the script you need, you'll be constantly wasting time. Although After Effects does have the 'Recently Used Scripts' section, there is a slightly better method for running your commonly used scripts. In order to work a little more efficiently, you can simply save the script into the 'Scripts' folder and have it show up directly in the list.

This folder is located at:


C:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe After Effects YOUR VERSION/Support Files/Scripts/


~/Applications/After Effects YOUR VERSION/Scripts/

Within the 'Scripts' folder you will see a list of default scripts as well as a few folders. For basic scripts, simply copy it into the scripts folder. Then when you restart After Effects, it will show up right in the list under:

File > Scripts

Installing Script UI Panels

Script UI Panels are probably the most common type of scripts you will use if you're downloading tools from the internet. They are scripts with a user interface which makes them easy to modify and customize. They can also be docked like regular panels in After Effects so you can add them neatly to your workspace.

To get a dockable panel, all you have to do is put the script file into the 'ScriptUI Panels' folder within the 'Scripts' folder.

To take advantage of the dockable panel, you must install them in the correct location and must open them from the 'Window' menu. Otherwise, you can run them like a normal script, but the panel that is shown cannot be docked.

To have scripts show up in the 'Window' menu, place them into:


C:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe After Effects YOUR VERSION/Support Files/Scripts/ScriptUI Panels/


~/Applications/After Effects YOUR VERSION/Scripts/ScriptUI Panels/

If for some reason you do not have the 'ScriptUI Panels' folder, you can manually create it, keeping in mind that the folder name is case sensitive and must be named exactly as you see it here.

Now, restart After Effects. At the very bottom of the 'Window' menu, you will see a list of your script ui panels. Once again, if you want the Script UI Panel to be dockable, it must be opened from the 'Window' menu. If you open it from the 'Scripts' menu, it will run perfectly and still show the interface, however it will not be dockable.

Startup and Shutdown Scripts

Also within the scripts folder, there are two additional folders: Startup and Shutdown. Any scripts placed in these folders will be automatically run by After Effects. As you can probably guess, startup scripts will be run when After Effects is started, and shutdown scripts will be run just before After Effects exits. Scripts in these folders are usually utility scripts. For instance, they could create a project folder structure each time you start After Effects. They should not be Script UI panels.

Installing Presets and Pseudo Effects

Presets and Pseudo Effects both have a .ffx file extension, and in fact, a Pseudo Effect is just a Preset with a custom control interface. To install them, simply move them in to the User Presets folder.


C:/Users/USERNAME/Documents/Adobe/After Effects YOUR VERSION/User Presets/


~/Documents/Adobe/After Effects YOUR VERSION/User Presets/

Within this folder, you can also create sub folders to keep presets organized. Within the After Effects 'Effects and Presets' panel, any organizational folders you set up WILL be imported as well, so creating folders can help you stay organized on the file system as well as within After Effects.

Once you have copied your presets into its folder, you have a couple options for getting your preset to load. If After Effects has not yet been started, it will automatically be loaded upon startup. If After Effects is already open, you can simply go to the fly-out menu for the 'Effects and Presets' panel and choose 'Refresh List'. Your newly added presets will then show up under the '*Animation Presets > User Presets' section.

Frequently Asked Questions

My download only came with a '.zxp' file and doesn't work on my Mac, can I please get the Mac version?

ZXP files are extensions and they are cross platform. The Windows and Mac versions are the same file. Please read the section on installing extensions.

I've opened the .zxp archive and found the .jsxbin script, but its not working. How can I get it working?

Although the .zxp file is like a zip, it is not meant to be extracted. Please read the section on installing extensions