USER GUIDE





BRIEF HISTORY

When working in After Effects it is common to spend a lot of time trying different effects and presets. The downside of this is that the list of effects and presets can become very long and sometimes it’s hard to remember where their locations in the menus are. And even if you know what exactly where it is, the time to go to the Effect Menu , Effect Category and finally the effect itself, is not a fast and fun process to repeat every time you want to apply an effect. So that is why a few years ago I started to create a custom tool to help or at least minimize this problem. After some time spent on research and development, Quick Menu (previously called AEffector) was born as a very crude and simple tool, but it quickly became a very useful tool in my daily After Effects work. So I continued developing over the years, adding features , UI enhancements and searching engine optimizations.

Now it not only helps you find and apply EFFECTS and PLUINGS but also MENU COMMANDS, ANIMATION PRESETS, SCRIPTS, EXPRESSION TEMPLATES and somethig that I call SCRIPTED COMMANDS.

I hope Quick Menu becomes a useful tool in your daily After Effects work as it has for me. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about it please post them at aescripts.com/quick-menu (under the COMMENTS tab) or open a support ticket at http://aescripts.com/contact/ and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.


COMPATIBILITY



HOW TO INSTALL




SHORTCUT ASSIGNMENT

IMPORTANT : In After Effects 2018 and above the SET SHORTCUT panel will be disabled (grayed out). To assign a shortcut to QM you should use the new AE's Keyboard Shortcuts panel editor.

Please make sure you have already installed Quick Menu and re-started After Effects as described in the HOW TO INSTALL section above.

First you must check the position of Quick Menu in the File -> Scripts menu. It is most likely the first one in the list. That’s why the (00) has been added as a prefix to the file name so it forces the script be located at the top of the list as shown in the image below. However you can remove the 00 and simply note the new position in the list.



As you can see in the animation above, TAB is assigned as the shortcut. You can assign any combination of modifiers plus the key that you want, in the example above we did not choose any modifiers. As soon as we chose the Tab key in the drop down a warning message at the bottom warns that the Tab key is being used by the OpenMiniFlowPopup command. Quick Menu will check if the current combination of modifiers plus the shortcut key you chose is currently being used by another command and warn you if there is a conflict. Keep an eye on this message while you are trying different combinations when looking for an available shortcut, as it will inform if the shortcut you chose is available or not.

However if the command using the shortcut is one you never or barely use, you can re-assign it to Quick Menu as shown in the animation.

After setting the shortcut you must restart After Effects for it to take effect.


TROUBLESHOOTING

Quick Menu will attempt to find the After Effects shortcuts file automatically but if it cannot find it you must select the shortcuts file manually. See the animation below.


SHORTCUT ASSIGNMENT LIMITATION

If the Quick Menu location in the File -> Scripts menu is higher than 20 you will not be able to assign a shortcut to it. Please rename the filename to make it appear earlier in the list.


CHANGE ITS DEFAULT MENU LOCATION (“Not recommended”)

If you want Quick Menu appear in a different location in the File -> Scripts submenu. You can change the “00” in the file name to force it appear at the desired location in the list. However we do not recommend doing this because at some time you may add one or more scripts to the After Effects’ Scripts folder and inadvertently cause an offset to Quick Menu’s location in the list which will cause the shortcut to launch a different script.





SECTION I : QUICK MENU


GENERAL NOTES




QUICK MENU UI




CLOSE BUTTON

Normally there would be no need to use this button, because the Quick Menu’s window will be closed automatically as soon as you hit the ENTER key to run the command you are looking for. But there might be a need to close it without running any command like for instance:

"when you forgot to select a layer, as it is required by the script to apply an effect."

In this case you’ll be forced to use this button to close the Quick Menu’s window, to select the layer then rerun Quick Menu to do the searching again.

Tip : can also use the Shortcut Key ( CTRL + W) to close the Quick Menu window.



SETTINGS WINDOW BUTTON

Click this button on the top right to open Quick Menu’s Settings Window. Here you can configure it to work as you like, as well as enable or disable the type of commands that the Searching Engine will take into account when it executes a search.

For a detail description of the Settings Window. See Section II : Settings Window.



TEXT INPUT FIELD

The Text Input Field is where you type the command name you are looking for. It is the default active control. When you run Quick Menu, this element will have the keyboard focus, so you can start typing the command name as soon as Quick Menu pops up.

TIP : If the command you are looking for shows up in the visible area of the COMMANDS LIST but it is not the first one , you can stop typing and press the DOWN ARROW or TAB (please see AE version exceptions in the COMPATIBILITY section above) key to make the Commands List active, then use the UP / DOWN Arrow keys to select a the command you want to execute. (See animation below)




COMMANDS LIST

It holds all the commands found by the Searching Engine, its contents (commands) will change dynamically as you are typing in the TEXT INPUT FIELD. Note that the type of commands that will be filled in the Commands List will depend on the settings you have in in the Load Resources section of the Settings Window. It’s up to you what type of commands (Effects , Menu Commands, Animation Presets, Expression Templates, Scripted Commands) the Searching Engine will take into account when it executes a searching task.

To select a command just left mouse click on the command name or alternatively you can select a command with the UP and DOWN arrow keys ("the latter option only works if the Commands List is Active").

TIP : The Commands List always has its first element selected. So if it happens to be the command you are looking for, just hit the ENTER key to run it.

You can identify the different type of commands by its icon and the extension in the command name (.exp / .ffx / .jsx / .jsxbin).


COMMAND TYPES



DEFAULT ICONS



If you don’t like the default icons and you would like to change them with yours, in the Settings Window go to the Path SettingsTab and click on the Open Icons Folder button. It will open the folder that contains all the icons used by Quick Menu, just swap them with yours. But please make sure you change them with ones that have the following properties :

Note : If you see this icon next to a command name it is because its corresponding command icon has been removed from the Quick Menu’s Icons folder or its name has been changed .



SEARCHING ENGINE

The main goal of the Quick Menu searching engine is that you do as little typing as possible. The following searching hints ("rules") apply to Effects, Menu Commands, Animation Presets, Expression Templates and Scripted Commands.

Let’s begin with a simple example, when the command name is composed of a single word

Ex : CURVES

In this case you have to give the Searching Engine only the first one or two letters of the command name (all lowercase), of course you can give it more than that, but in this particular case when the command name is composed of a single word I recommend giving the Searching Engine the first two letters because just one is too ambiguous. In a few cases you might need to type a third letter just because the command was in the second or third place in the COMMANDS LIST so typing a third letter locates it in the first location so it can be selected with the ENTER key.

Of course you can also use the DOWN ARROW or TAB key to cycle quickly through the available selections. ( See animation below )

Now what if the command name is composed of more than one word? In these cases you have to give the Searching Engine again the first one or two letters of each word but this time you have to separate them with a SPACE character. (See the examples below).


Now if you are one of those users who thinks that even typing one or two letters of each word is still too much, there is an optional way to make the Searching Engine look for a command.

The Space character has a special meaning for the Searching Engine. If it finds one, two or three consecutive SPACE characters before any other letter, the Searching Engine will take them as if they were words. For instance let’s take the Remove Color Matting effect.

If you type SPACE SPACE m you will see that the Searching Engine will be able to find the effect. (See animation below)

In this case the SPACE characters are acting as the first two words of the effect name and with the letter m you are explicitely telling the Searching Engine that the third word must start with the letter m.

Note : If the Searching Engine finds more than 3 consecutive space characters it will not execute a searching task.


SEARCHING ENGINE LIMITATION

Currently the Searching Engine only supports the starting letters up to four words if it finds more than that it will not execute a searching task. See examples below.

Ex :

1 2 3 4
Center Anchor Point in Layer Content
1 2 3 4 5
Center Anchor Point in Layer Content



FEATURES

Quick Menu has the following command types :

In the following lines you will find a description of every Quick Menu’s command types as well as the requirements each command type has to run appropriately.


EFFECTS

This feature allows you to apply an effect to the selected layer.

The EFFECTS feature is enabled by default. It works with the After Effects built-in effects as well as 3rd party ones you may have installed.

REQUIREMENTS

Note that the only requirement to run this command type is that you have a layer selected but please make sure that the selected layer is not a Camera or Light layer, as it is not allowed to apply effects to those type of layers. If there’s more than one layer selected Quick Menu will only apply the effect to the first layer in the selection. And if you try to run it without having a layer selected it will throw a warning, see the image below.



We tested as many 3rd party plugins as possible. If you encounter a problem with a 3rd party plugin please let us know and we will look into it right away.

Note : There is currently no way to exclude the EFFECTS from the Searching Engine.




After Effects has a lot of menus and submenus containing a bunch of commands.

The MENU COMMANDS feature allows you to call "almost" any After Effects Command found in its main menus.

This feature is enabled by default. Every time the Searching Engine executes a searching task, it will include the After Effects menu commands.



HOW TO DISABLE IT
  1. Open the Settings Window.
  2. Uncheck the Menu Commands checkbox in the Load Resources section.
  3. Finally click on the Save Settings button.


REQUIREMENTS

Make sure that you have the right type of element selected before Quick Menu executes any of the After Effects menu commands


What is the right type of element?

For instance, let’s suppose that you want to run the Reset Mask command that resides in the Layer->Masks submenu. If you go to the Layer menu you will notice that almost all of the commands under this menu are disabled (grayed out), it’s because these commands require a selected layer. Now if you select a layer and go back to the Layer menu you’ll see that most of them are available now. So go to the Mask submenu and look for the Reset Mask command, but once again you’ll see that most of the commands under the Mask submenu are disabled. One more time it is because these commands require a selected mask to run any of these commands. So if you select a mask in the layer and go back to the menu, you’ll see that the menus are active now.

If you are planning to run a command that works on a PROPERTY, LAYER, COMPOSITION, VIEWER or any element. Make sure you select the proper element first before calling Quick Menu.


LIMITATIONS

These commands are therefore excluded from the Quick Menu’s Menu Commands feature. For a “complete” list of the Menu Commands that are not supported see APPENDIX A.




ANIMATION PRESETS

The Animation Presets feature allows you to apply an Animation Preset to a Selected Layer or Active Composition.

This feature is enabled by default. If you do a search for a preset you will see that Quick Menu will find it. See animation below

Please note that by default this feature will load the Animation Preset files located in the After Effects’ Presets folder. But you may have saved your favorite animation presets in another folder and location. If you want Quick Menu to load Animation Presets from a folder other than the After Effects' Presets folder:
  1. Open the Settings Window.
  2. Go to the Path Settings Tab.
  3. Click on the folder icon next to the AINIMATION PRESETS text field and choose the folder where you save your favorite Animation Presets.
  4. Go back to the Global Settings Tab and click on the UPDATE button next to the Animation Presets checkbox.
  5. Finally click on the Save Settings button.
Now Quick Menu will use the chosen folder as the source for Animation Preset files.

Finally if you add a new Animation Preset file to your Presets folder. Please don’t forget to open the Settings Window and click on the UPDATE button next to the Animation Presets checkbox, otherwise the new Animation Preset will not be included when the Searching Engine executes a searching task.

Note : We do not recommend using the After Effects’ Presets folder as the main container of your favorite animation presets, because this folder contains around 800 hundred preset files. Why make Quick Menu load Animation Presets that you do not use or even know the name of. They will just clutter the Commands List with unknown presets. Instead create a folder and copy paste the ones you use most often, then set this folder as the Quick Menu’s Animation Presets source. This is highly recommended.

HOW TO DISABLE ANIMATION PRESETS

If you don’t want the Searching Engine include your Animation Presets into a searching task you just need to disable it:

  1. Open the Settings Window.
  2. Check the Animation Presets checkbox in the Load Resurces section.
  3. Finally click on the Save Settings button.


REQUIREMENTS

It requires either one a selected layer or an active composition.




EXPRESSION TEMPLATES

The Expression Templates feature allows you to apply an expression, stored in an Expression Template file, to the selected properties.

This feature is enabled by default, so if you type the characters "w space x" in the Text Input Field you’ll see that the Searching Engine found an Expression Template labeled Wiggle X.exp. This is one that comes bundled with Quick Menu. See the animation below.


But how do you create a new Expression Template file?

Creating a new Expression Template file is a very easy process. See animation below.

You can create as many Expression Template files as you need.


How do you edit an Expression Template file?

Currently the Customize Tab can not be used to open and edit an Expression Template file. So you will have to open the file itself and do all the adjustments directly in the file. You can open an Expression Template file with any text editor to edit the expression, but make sure you save it as a regular text file. Hint : Use a normal text editor, do not use Word.


Where are these Expression Template files stored?

If you take a look at the bottom left in the Customize Tab you will see a button labeled Open Expression Templates Folder. This button will open whichever folder is set in the EXPRESSION TEMPLATES field in the Path Settings Tab. By default this field points to a folder created by Quick Menu called Expression Templates. If you open this folder you will see that it contains only one Expression Template file called Wiggle X, This one holds a very simple expression that if applied to a 2D or 3D dimension property it causes a wiggle along the X axis only.

If you want to use another folder as your Expression Templates container you can do the following:
  1. Open the Settings Window.
  2. Go to the Path Settings Tab.
  3. Click on the folder icon next to the EXPRESSION TEMPLATES text field and choose the folder that you want to use as the source and container of Expression Templates.
  4. Go back to the Global Settings Tab and click on the UPDATE button next to the Expression Templates checkbox.
  5. Finally click on the Save Settings button.
After you’ve done that Quick Menu will use that folder as the source for Expression Template files.

Note : You can directly create an Expression Template file in the folder being referenced by Quick Menu but make sure it has the .exp extension as it is required and please DO NOT FORGET to go to the Settings Window and click on the UPDATE button next to the Expression Templates checkbox in the Global Settings/Load Resources section otherwise the new Expression Template file won’t be included by the Searching Engine


HOW TO DISABLE IT

If you don’t want the Searching Engine include, your Expression Templates, into a searching task you just need to disable it:
  1. Open the Settings Window.
  2. Uncheck the Expression Templates checkbox in the Load Resurces section.
  3. Finally click on the Save Settings button.


REQUIREMENTS

This Command Type requires at least one selected property to apply the expression. If there is more than one property selected Quick Menu will apply the Expression Template to all the selected properties.

The value type of the property that should be selected will depend on the expression stored in the Expression Template file. For instance, on a layer the value of the Opacity property is of type INTEGER, so any expression that returns an INTEGER value will work on the Opacity property. But if you apply the same expression to the Position property the expression will fail since the Position property requires a value of type ARRAY.

Property values could be one of the following:
Please consult the After Effects user guide for more details on expressions and property types.



SCRIPTED COMMANDS

What is a Scripted Command?

A Scripted Command is a snippet of ExtendScript code that can help you create a custom command for a repetive task.

These are different than Scripts you have loaded in the Scripts folder or the ScriptUI Panels folder. If you are running AE in English these will be loaded when you activate Menu Commands and when you set the Include Scripts located in the ScriptUI Panels folder preference in the Settings.

For instance, sometimes I create a Composition and a Black Solid with the same dimensions as the comp. So why not create a Scripted Command that creates the Composition with a Black Solid in it? That’s what Scripted Commands are for, to help you automate the repetitive tasks or at least reduce it.

Now that you know what they are Let’s do a search for one of them as they are enabled by default. So if you type the characters "mo space b" you will see a command with the label Motion Blur.jsx in the Commands List, that is a Scripted Command. See animation below.


But you may be wondering where do these scripted commands come from?

Please open the Settings Window and go to the Path Settings Tab, there you will find a button labeled Open Scripted Commands Folder If you click this button it will open the default (Scripted Commands) folder. In this folder you will find Scripted Commands that Quick Menu has created for you. These ones are mainly to provide you with a solution to some Menu Commands that have conflicting names like for instance the ones that reside in the Blending Modes subfolder.

Quick Menu supports the jsx or jsxbin file formats If you look at the ones found in the Utilities subfolder you will notice that they are in the jsxbin format. See image below.

By the way if you are wondering what these two Scripted Commands and the rest that gets created by default are please see APPENDIX B.


How do you create a new Scripted Command?

Unfortunately, teaching you the Javascript programming language and the After Effects Object Model, knowledge necessary to create a Scripted Command, is beyond the scope of this user guide. But luckily you can look for David Torno’s ExtendScript video tutorials to get you up and running. He does a great job, what’s more they are free. "If I would only have had that material when I started my scripting journey". So give a lot of thanks to Mr. David Torno for helping the After Effects’ Scripting community.

You can also go to the After Effects scripting forum to ask for help on any problem you have related to this topic. You’ll find very friendly and helpful people there.

Ok, you have finished your new Scripted Command and you are sure that it is running properly. Now all you have to do is save it in the default (Scripted Commands) folder or into any folder that you may have set Quick Menu to use as the source of Scripted Commands but make sure you give it a meaningful name as this is the one that will be displayed in the Command List.

Scripts snippets created for ft-Toolbar (http://aescripts.com/ft-toolbar/) are also compatible, there is a nice repository here: http://www.smipple.net/tag/ft-toolbar

Note: You can create nested folders to organize all your Scripted Commands.

As a final step don’t forget to click on the UPDATE button next to the Scripted Commands checkbox. Otherwise the Searching Engine won’t include your new Scripted Command in the next searching task it executes.

If you want to use another folder as your Scripted Commands source:
  1. Open the Settings Window.
  2. Go to the Path Settings Tab.
  3. Click on the folder icon next to the SCRIPTED COMMANDS text field and choose the folder that you want to use as the source and container of Scripted Commands.
  4. Go back to the Global Settings Tab and click on the UPDATE button next to the Scripted Commands checkbox.
  5. Finally click on the Save Settings button.

After you’ve done that Quick Menu will use that folder as the source of Scripted Command files.


HOW TO DISABLE IT

If you don’t want the Searching Engine include, the Scripted Commands, into a searching task you just need to disable it:
  1. Open the Settings Window.
  2. Uncheck the Scripted Commands checkbox in the Load Resurces section.
  3. Finally click on the Save Settings button.


LIMITATIONS

This feature is only restricted by the After Effects’ Scripting capabilities as well as the ExtendScript implementation.





SECTION II : SETTINGS WINDOW


The Settings Window is where you can configure Quick Menu to work as you like. It can be opened by clicking the Open Settings Window button in the main UI.

The following pages describe all the controls found in every single tab



Global Settings

SET SHORTCUT

In this section you can assign a shortcut to Quick Menu.
At the bottom of the Global Settings tab there are some more settings:

Remember Last Command : If checked, Quick Menu will remember the last command you applied whether it be an Effect, Menu Command, Scripted Command, Animation Preset or Expression Template. It will be automatically loaded into the Commands List the next time you call Quick Menu. This way you just need to hit the ENTER key to run that command again.


Include Scripts located in the ScriptUI Panels folder: Check this option if you want to include Scripts from the ScriptUI Panels folder into the Menu Commands when you click its checkbox in the Load Resources section. Note: if you are running AE in English scripts will be loaded if you activate the Menu Commands feature.



LOAD RESOURCES

Here you set what the Quick Menu’s Searching Engine will take into account when it executes a searching task.




Path Settings

This section is very important, the checkboxes in the Global Settings/Load Resources section use these fields to load the necessary resources. By default each of them is set to a predefined path. If you need you can change them just click on its folder icon to select the folder you want Quick Menu to use as the source.

You only have to set these fields once, because once you click the Save Settings button it will be remembered until you change it again.




Customize

Use this Tab to create a new Expression Template File.


Note : Please don't forget to click on the UPDATE button, next to the Expression Templates checkbox in the Global Settings/Load Resources section, every time you create a one or more Expression Template files. Otherwise the Searching Engine won’t know about the new Expression Template.



Help

In this Tab you will find Quick Menu’s Quick Reference Guide.



About

In the About Tab you will find information about the After Effects supported Versions and Languages, as well as the version of Quick Menu.






I would really appreciate any comments or suggestion on how to improve this User Guide. If you have any please post it in the comments of aescripts.com/quick-menu or open a support ticket http://aescripts.com/contact/











APPENDIX A

Conflicting (duplicate) Menu Commands


In this Appendix you will find the Menu Commands (in red) that were removed from the Searching Engine due to After Effects conflicts. If you find a command that does not work and it is not in this list or a command that works and it is in this list, please let us know.

FILE


EDIT


COMPOSITION


LAYER


ANIMATION


VIEW


WINDOW









APPENDIX B


Default Scripted Commands Description


These Scripted Commands are mainly to provide you with a solution to some of the After Effects’ menu commands that have conflicting names.


BLENDING MODES




LAYER




SWITCHES




UTILITIES







QUICK MENU 2.0 NEW FEATURES

EFFECTS

SEARCHING ENGINE

GLOBAL SETTINGS

Regarding QM's UI two more options were added in the Global Settings tab and these are :

MENU COMMANDS

In the previous version the Menu Commands feature was only available if you were running AE in English, now Quick Menu 2.0 adds built-in support for this feature for the following additional languages: If you are running AE in any of these languages, Quick Menu will load the appropriate menu commands for the current AE language.

Unfortunately it was imposible for me to add built-in support for this feature for all languages. So in case that you are running AE in any of the following languages: Quick Menu will load the default ENGLISH version of the menu commands, so if you want to use this feature you will be able to do it but you will have to do the work of renaming all of the menu command names, or at least the ones you need more, to the appropriate language. You can do it in the menu commands editor.

Note : The menu commands for all the supported languages are based on After Effects version 2014.2 (13.2).

MENU COMANDS EDITOR

In the previous version there was no way to edit the menu commands, in QM 2.0 a new editor has been implemented for you to add, remove or disable menu commands.

  1. MENU COMMANDS LIST: Holds all the menu commands, they are ordered "almost" like AE's menu commands structure.

    Current Limitations:
    • In the current version some submenus are missing in the Menu Commands List. For instance the Layer/Mask/Feather Falloff submenu. If a submenu is missing all the commands that belong to this missing submenu are into its parent main menu or submenu.

    • There is no way to create new main or sub menu entries.

    • If you are running AE in any language other than ENGLISH, you' ll notice that the main menus and submenus are not in the appropriate language but in English. Unfortunately in the current version that's how it should be it's not a bug and there is no way to rename them. But don't worry too much about it as you may have seen, the commands, the ones that really matter are in the appropriate language.

    • For Mac users, the menu commands were created using After Effects on Windows so you will have to make some minor changes to some menu command names. For instance the menu command "Reveal in Explorer" should be renamed to "Reveal in Finder". And there may be some more that need this treatment.

  2. MENU COMMANDS INFORMATION : Displays information about the version, language and OS of the menu commands that Quick Menu is currently using.

    • Transfer MC's from version: Use it to tranfer the menu commands from a previous version, just select the version from the dropdown list.

  3. EDIT MENU COMMAND:
    • Command Input Field: Use this field to rename the current selected menu command. Remember that the spelling must be exactly as the one that appears in the AE's menus.

      Tip : Once you finished typing the entire menu command name, you can hit the ENTER key to display a message in the COMMAND INFO section to see if the menu command you just introduced has a valid ID.
      If you see the message that the menu command does not have a valid ID, it could be one of the following:
      • Mispelled command name.
      • Not available in the current AE version.
      • Unfortunately some menu commands just don't work.

    • Enable : Click this button to enable a previously disabled menu command.

    • Disable : Click this button to disable a menu command so Quick Menu will not include it in a searching task.

    • Insert Command After Selection: Click this button to insert a new menu command entry after the current selection. The new menu command will be labeled <NEW COMMAND ENTRY>.
      Note : Currently it's not possible to create new main or sub menu entries.

    • Remove Command : Click this button to remove the current selected menu command. I recommend you to better disable the menu command instead of removing it so when you need it you don't have to recreate it.
      Note : Main or sub menus can not be removed.

  4. COMMAND INFO : Displays information about the current selected menu command.

  5. UPDATE MENU COMMANDS : Once you've finished editing the menu commands (remove, rename, enable, disable or adding new ones), you MUST click this button to force Quick Menu update its menu commands resources, otherwise all the changes you made will not take effect.


  6. FIXED BUGS