Quick Tip: Open Multiple Copies of Adobe After Effects Hack


Here’s a quick productivity tip for Adobe After Effects.

13 Responses
  1. Why so complicated?
    Adobe After Effects is supplied with Adobe Media Encoder. If you want to render something in background, just select your composition and click Command+Option+M (Ctrl+Alt+M). The composition will be added directly to Adobe Media Encoder and it can be rendered any time.
    By the way Adobe recommends to render everything like this — in Media Encoder, but not After Effects. And it has more output formats and codecs rather than After Effects CC.

    1. You could do that or use BG renderer plugin, but I’m talking about having two projects open at the same time so I can go back and forth and tweak things, re-render, jump to the other etc. quickly. Sometimes it’s nice to have two versions open so you can reference settings from a different project quickly (like Particular settings for a specific effect). This works a lot better in my workflow and it’s basically the same thing as background rendering but with the benefits of being able to work in two projects at once.

  2. Interesting! That would be great for setting up other artists projects prior to importing into a master project.

    I wouldn’t use it just to render and keep working though. There’s no need to launch AE’s user interface to render a scene. Use the command line renderer. And if you render image sequences, you can set up ‘multi-machine’ and run several instances of the command line renderer at the same time and get your renders done many times faster. On a typical machine with 32gb of ram, i’d stick to only 3 or 4 instances of the command line renderer.


    1. Dave, not sure, I don’t have a PC at the moment, but Jermey Clendaniel did post a comment on vimeo: “You can also open up multiple copies of AE for PC.
      Open up the properties for the AfterFX.exe, goto the Shortcut tab, find the Target box, and add “-m” at the end. “C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CC 2014\Support Files\AfterFX.exe” -m
      If you do not have admin privileges simply need to create a shortcut for the AfterFX.exe (Right Click – Create Shortcut), put the shortcut on your desktop, goto the new shortcut’s properties, find the Target box, and add “-m” at the end.” I can’t test this, but he says it works…

  3. Doug

    Hello Joren,

    Often I’m working on more than one C4D project at a time. Since bouncing between their respective AE projects is tedious, I sometimes import the new renders into the open project and sort it out later. This hack is super helpful and works with the previous version of AE, as well.



  4. Does Adobe have an official stance on doing this? Seems like they would’ve suggested this hack as well if it had no issues in their minds. Any problems or dangers they’ve warned us about?

  5. I’ve been doing this for many years— first on Windows with a custom shortcut and later on OSX using an Automator. Other than the memory reduction inAE to accommodate two instances it was great.

    For example I might want to clone a section of my script but control it, say it has expressions. So I could open a second instance, edit the code and then import back to first project. Or say someone wants to give me some code (I think of a project as code) to import, I can check it, conform it and then import.

    There are many good reasons to have two AE editing sessions open.

  6. Alex

    Also a less complicated work around for Mac (without digging through package contents or editing script. Works on both 2014 and CC).

    Copy Application icon for AE and rename 1st A and 2nd B.. system will ask you for a password to relocate files. Upon approving as admin you should have 2 instances of AE software to position in your doc, work from and even render from separately (system resources permitting).

    While this is basically a clone and the legality maybe in question it is an amazing for productivity.

  7. Willie Frazier

    I’m pretty skeptical as to the efficacy of this hack. I find (at least in the last version or two) After Effects appears to have serious memory problems. It always grabs more than I allocate for it in preferences, and when rendering the computer becomes basically useless, even the mouse pointer ceases to track smoothly. This is less a problem on my Mac Pro than my MacBook Pro, but a consistent issue nonetheless. I’ve also found AME to be a bit crash happy – though those experiences stem from over a year ago, and they may have that sorted by now.

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