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Download After Effects: Get Adobe After Effects free or with Creative Cloud

Download After Effects
(Image credit: Adobe)

If you want to download Adobe After Effects free to your PC or Mac, you're about to learn all about how to do it. Luckily, it is a relatively simple process, but you do have some decisions to make. In this guide, we will explain how to download After Effects for free (as a trial) or as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud (at a cost). You can get After Effects as a standalone app or part of Adobe's All Apps subscription. By the end of this article, you'll know which choice is right for you.

What is Adobe After Effects? It's the industry standard motion graphics and compositing software used by graphic and motion designers, animators and 3D artists. After Effects is used to create visual media from full-blown Hollywood VFX to simple explainer animations, to TV title sequences.

If After Effects isn't the right Adobe software for your design needs, see our guides on how to download InDesign and how to download Adobe Illustrator. Plus, make sure you've got access to the best cloud storage so you don't lose your work.

Can I download After Effects free?

Yes, you can download Adobe After Effects free. Well, you can get a free trial, at least. You’ll then have seven days to try it out and find out if it’s right for you. 

A free trial is the only legitimate way to download After Effects for free. You might find a pirated version on the web, but downloading it would mean breaking the law. You’d also be putting your devices and data at risk from viruses and malware, the version you download will probably be out of date, corrupted and won't work properly, and basically it's just a very bad idea.

To take out a free trial to After Effects, you’ll first need an Adobe ID. This is easy to set up and free. If you don't have one already, go to the Adobe Account Page, click 'Create Account' and follow the instructions.

Once you have an Adobe ID, head to this page, click on the words 'Free trial' (next to the blue 'Buy now' button at the top) and follow the instructions. You'll be asked to enter your credit card details but don’t be scared. As long as you cancel your account in good time, you won’t get charged. If you decide to keep subscribing, though, payments will be deducted from your card automatically.

Download a 7-day free trial of After Effects for PC or Mac
Try the latest release of After Effects free with this seven-day trial from Adobe. If you like it you can convert to a paid subscription during the trial, or after it’s expired. There’s no obligation to buy the software, but if you don't want to keep paying, the onus is on you to cancel before the end of the trial.View Deal

How much does After Effects cost?

Download Adobe After Effects: Neon outline of car

Splash screen designed in After Effects by Michael Rigley (Image credit: Adobe/Michael Rigly)

Your lowest cost option is to buy  After Effects through the Single App plan, which at time of writing costs £19.97 / $20.99 / AU$29.99 per month on an annual plan, It includes 100GB of cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark. 

The alternative is to buy After Effects through the Creative Cloud All Apps option, which gives you access to After Effects as well as Adobe’s entire collection of creative desktop and mobile apps. This normally costs costs $52.99 / £49.84 / AU$76.99 per month on an annual plan.

Where do I buy After Effects?

The only way to buy After Effects is as part of a Creative Cloud subscription direct from Adobe, for which you pay monthly or annually. However, there are two broad options. The first, and cheapest, is to subscribe to After Effects only. The second is take out an All Apps subscription. This will cost you more, but gives you access to all of the Creative Cloud apps, along with a range of other benefits. (If you’re not sure which Creative Cloud apps might prove useful, read our Adobe software list). 

If the cost seems too high, then bear in mind that Adobe often runs special promotions; we keep track of these in our constantly updated guide to the best Adobe Creative Cloud discounts

Beyond that, there are always discounts for students and teachers, as well as separate pricing for businesses, schools and universities. So it’s worth having a look to see what deals are available at any given time.

Global: Buy After Effects from $20.99 per month
Buy After Effects only from £19.97 per month
Buy After Effects from AU$29.99 per month
Adobe’s industry-leading visual effects, motion graphics and compositing software enables you to create everything from simple animations to full blown VFX. A single-app subscription will allow you to download After Effects to your PC or Mac, from $20.99 / £19.97 / AU$29.99 a month.View Deal

Global: Buy After Effects as part of an All Apps subscription from $52.99 per month
Buy After Effects as part of an All Apps subscription for £49.94 per month
Buy After Effects as part of an All Apps subscription from AU$76.99 per month
An All Apps subscription will allow you to download not just Adobe After Effects but all of the Creative Cloud apps, to your PC or Mac, along with a range of other benefits.View Deal

After Effects discounts for teachers and students

If you’re a student or teacher, you can buy After Effects as part of a discounted All Apps plan at a much lower rate. So right now, you can get the entire Creative Cloud suite of apps, along with 100GB cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark, for just $15.99 / £13.15 / AU$21.99 per month for the first year, and then $29.99 / £25.28 / AU$43.99 the following year. 

Student and teacher plan: Get Adobe CC All Apps plan for just $19.99 / £16.24 / AU$21.99 per month
If you are studying or working in education, then Adobe's Student and Teacher All Apps plan gives you discounted access to an all-apps Creative Cloud subscription, including After Effects. Just click the button and the choose the 'Students and Teachers' tab at the top of the new page to access this offer.View Deal

Get started with After Effects

Download Adobe After Effects: The word play, written out in a repeating animated loop

Kinetic type is one of the many use of After Effects (Image credit: Adobe)

Once you've downloaded After Effects, check out our roundup of the best After Effects tutorials to get started with the software, and boost your skills and knowledge, whatever your current level of expertise. So whether you want to get to know the interface and basic features, get to grips with techniques such as custom transitions, text write-on and warp stabilisation, or move on to advanced projects such as rotoscoping nature footage and mocking up AR effects, these tutorials have got you covered.

Also, if you'd like to save yourself time and effort using After Effects, you can check out our roundup of the best After Effects plugins. These plugins will help enhance your workflow, add features that simply don’t exist in the core After Effects application, and simply make stuff look cool.

After you've got your head around the software, we've also got articles on the best After Effects transitions and the best After Effects templates.

Download After Effects: What you need to know

Adobe After Effects is a visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing software used for animation and post-production process in the digital design, film, games and TV industries. With capabilities ranging from keying and tracking to full 3D stereo compositing, this industry-standard tool is at the core of the workflows of many professional motion graphics, VFX and 3D artists and animators.

After Effects can be used in conjunction with many other Creative Cloud apps. For example, you can import media from Photoshop, Illustrator, Character Animator, Adobe XD and Animate; integrate 3D elements directly inside your compositions using C4D Lite (free with an After Effects subscription); and use Team Projects to collaborate with editors remotely.

After Effects is continually being updated, and all subscribers can access new features automatically through the Adobe Creative Cloud. The most recent major update in March to version 18 added multi-frame rendering (in beta; see the video below), 3D ground plane view, real-time 3D draft preview, and an improved composition toolbar. After Effects is now on version 18.2,  just released in May. That update includes support for DirectX12 technology on PC plus several bug fixes.

Free alternatives to After Effects

Finding an alternative to After Effects, whether free or paid-for, is not really possible right now. Because quite simply, there isn't really a tool that does all the things that it does. However, you can see our list of the best possible alternatives to cover the different aspects of After Effects in our After Effects alternatives post. 

One of your free options is Blender, a long-running and popular tool for Mac, Windows and Linux. Constantly being updated by its open source community, Blender offers some surprisingly powerful capabilities in the areas of 3D modelling, animation, rendering and composition, and is nowadays even being used in some professional projects. It won't do everything After Effects does, but it will get you most of the way. Check out our list of Blender tutorials to see what it's capable of.

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