After Effects snapshot was very confusing to me at first, I thought a simple click on the camera button snapshot icon would make a screen grab/ screenshot that I could paste and use in Photoshop but nope, Adobe made it work a different way. On this After Effects tutorial I will show exactly what a snapshot does, how to use it and also how to make a “real” screenshot from your AE composition.

So what is the difference between snapshot and screenshot in After Effects?
An After Effects snapshot is basically a copy of one frame that you can use as reference to compare with another frame in your composition. The snapshot image is stored in your computer memory but you can’t copy or paste the image/frame in After Effects or Photoshop.

In contrary a screenshot save a frame as a file that you can use with photoshop or even add in your After Effects project.

Just a reminder a snapshot in After Effects is only to use as reference to compare with another frame in the scene

Follow the steps below

– Drag the time indicator to the frame you need a snapshot
Time Indicator

– Click on the Photo Camera icon snapshot icon (Shortcut: Shift-F5) (You’ll hear the shutter sound)
After effects snapshot location below

– Drag again your time indicator somewhere else.

–  Click on this icon  and release  (Shortcut: Hold F5 and release)

Bonus: You can save 4 snapshots in memory  just see below

Save snapshot 1 : Shift+F5
Preview snapshot 1 : Press F5

Save snapshot 2 : Shift+F6
Preview snapshot 1 : Press F6

Save Snapshot 3 : Shift+F7
Preview snapshot 3 : Press F7

Save Snapshot 4 : Shift+F8
Preview snapshot 4 : Press F8

Snapshot can take up a lot of your After Effects memory and slow it down so make sure you clear your snapshots when you are done.

The shortcuts:
Purge each snapshot, hold down Ctrl+Shift (Windows) or Command+Shift (Mac OS) and press F5, F6, F7, or F8

Purge all After Effects snapshots: Edit > Purge > Snapshot
Purge After Effects Snapshot

Making a screenshot of your After Effects composition is fairly easy just follow the steps below

– Drag the time indicator to the frame you need
Time Indicator

– Click Composition > Save Frame As > File… (CTRL+Alt+S)

– Change the output location in the render queue window

– Click Render

Difference Snap Shots: Compare different frames by taking a snapshot of a frame to store for later viewing. Use difference effect to compare frames easily.

The fastest way to make a screenshot in After Effects is to use this shortcut below, it will create a render queue on the frame you are currently on, just hit the render button. Done!

Post your messages below if you have questions or if I forgot anything in this article. Thank you!! 🙂