Zack Lovatt

I focus on toolkitting, building custom studio pipelines, expression rigging projects, and creating data-driven animation workflows.

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November 10, 2020

No Admin Access? Install AE Scripts Anyway!

Posted In: etc, extensions, presets, scripting

Common freelance issue: you’re working in-house at some studio (or, in Covid times, remotely logging into a studio’s workstation), and you don’t have admin access to the computer– how are you going to install all of your favourite scripts, presets, and extensions?!

Little known fact: on both MacOS and Windows, Adobe’s actually given us specific folders to install anything we’d like that doesn’t need Admin access. That’s right: you can stroll into Buck with your favourite scripts and install them into AE without needing to go bug IT for the fifth time this morning (how the heck is my Wacom still broken??).

All this to say, scripts, presets, and extensions can live in one of two locations:

Note: As of AE 12.1 (“AE CC”, Oct 2013), installing a script via either File > Scripts > Install Script... options will send it to the user path, avoiding the need for privileges altogether. 🎉

Let’s take a look at where to find ’em all. Note that where I’m writing “CC Version” you’ll want to swap in something like “CC 2019” — and “App Version” with “17.1,” or whatever the AE version (from Help > About) is.

User Paths (No Admin!)

TypeMacOSWindows
Scripts~/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects/[App Version]/Scripts/%appdata%\Adobe\After Effects [App Version]\Scripts\
Presets~/Documents/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects [CC Version]/User Presets/%userprofile%\documents\After Effects [CC Version]\User Presets\
Extensions~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CEP/extensions/%appdata%\Adobe\CEP\extensions\
Plugins(none)(none)

System Paths (Needs Admin!)

TypeMacOSWindows
Scripts/Applications/Adobe After Effects [CC version]/Scripts/C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects [CC Version]\Support Files\Scripts\
Presets/Applications/Adobe After Effects [CC version]/Presets/C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects [CC Version]\Support Files\Presets\
Extensions/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CEP/extensions/C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\CEP\extensions\
Plugins/Applications/Adobe After Effects [CC version]/Plug-ins/C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects [CC Version]\Support Files\Plug-ins\

Now that you know where to put your addons, all you need to do is drag and drop your .jsx or .jsxbin files (for scripts), .ffx files (for presets), or the extracted extension from a zxp into the folder above, restart AE, and be on your merry animating way!

If you’re looking to install a dockable ScriptUI Panel, you may need to make a new folder called “ScriptUI Panels” within the user Script folder if it doesn’t exist.

Plugins don’t have an equivalent, so if you really needed something in Particular you’ll still have to email helpdesk– but for everything else you can easily customize your workstation the way YOU want it, no tech support required.

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