After Effects presets are an effect, or collection of effects, with specific values already set up that you can apply to your layers in After Effects.
Take our Instagram filter presets for After Effects for example, these are presets that apply a whole bunch of colour correction effects to your layers, each one with different settings to produce a different filter. So one preset may contain the settings to turn your footage black and white, whereas another would contain settings that tint your footage with more of a sepia tone.
You can create after effects presets yourself, or alternatively if you've downloaded a preset from elsewhere you can install it so that it shows up in the Effects & Presets panel of After Effects.
To install an after effects preset, you need to do the following:
Step 1. Put the preset in the correct folder
The preset needs to be in a specific place for After Effects to find it,
For Mac users, place your preset files inside the User Presets folder located here:
/Documents/Adobe/After Effects CC (VERSION NUMBER)/User Presets/
For Windows users, the user preset folder is located in the same folder structure (you may need to change Documents for My Documents depending on your version of Windows):
/Documents/Adobe/After Effects CC (VERSION NUMBER)/User Presets
NOTE: replace (VERSION NUMBER) with the version of After Effects you are currently using, so if you're still using After Effects CC 2019 for example then the file path would look something like this:
/Documents/Adobe/After Effects CC 2019/User Presets
Step 2. Refresh the effects list
If you already have After Effects open, it may require a restart before your after effects preset shows up.
You can also click the menu button of the Effects & Preset panel (three lines in the top right hand corner of the panel) and select the “Refresh List” option at the bottom.
To keep things even more organised, you can create folders inside the User Preset folder, so for example if you had a collection of colour correction presets, you could create a folder called “Filters” and place all your presets in there - this then gives you a nice hierarchy in the Effects & Preset panel and will allow you to find your filters much quicker.
Common problems when installing an After Effects Preset:
If you've installed a preset but it's still not showing in the Effects & Preset folder, then first of all double check you've put the preset in the User Preset folder for the correct version of After Effects that you're using. If you're using AE CC 2015 then make sure it's the 2015 User Preset folder you've put your file into.
After Effects Presets aren't backwards compatible
If your after effects preset still isn't showing up in the Effects & preset panel, then it could be that the preset was created using a later version of After Effects than the one you're currently using.
After Effects presets are like After Effects project files, they aren't backwards compatible unfortunately, so a preset created in After Effects CC 2020 won't be compatible with After Effects CC 2015.
If your preset still isn't showing up in the Effects & Preset panel, try upgrading to the latest version of After Effects to see if this fixes the issue
After Effects Presets ARE forwards compatible, so an after effects preset created in CC 2015 will show up in all versions after that.