How to Install After Effects Plug-ins, with and without installers

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Here is some basic information about how to Install After Effects Plug-ins and basic troubleshooting your installs. Incidentally, this will apply to most plug-ins. First, I will note the obvious. With so many different developers building plug-ins, each installer will be different. You will even find differences with the same vendor, depending on how many hosts the plug-in installs for and the version of the plug-in.

Bits of this article were pulled from a section in chapter 16 of my book Plug-in to After Effects: Third Party Plug-in Mastery.

Okay, another obvious one. Before you Install After Effects Plug-ins, make sure After Effects is installed. If it’s not installed, many installers won’t know where to put the plug-ins and the installer will likely give you an error message.

Make sure plug-ins are compatible with the version of After Effects installed on your computer.

Most of the larger plug-in developers have updated their products for CS5 and CS5.5, but check compatibility on the products page in our store under system requirements. While you’re there, check to see if your operating system is compatible with the plug-ins. Some, such as Noise Industries FxFactory, require a recent OS. Some plug-ins are Mac or Windows only.

Plug-ins install to multiple places. If your plug-ins are not showing up, they may be installed in the wrong place.

Most plug-ins include an installer that will walk you through the process and put the plug-ins in the proper place. Many plug-ins will install inside the MediaCore folder. This allows for use of the plug-in inside either Premiere Pro or After Effects. I have even seen some install to the top level of my hard drive, which I had no idea. Because of this, I’ve had to drag them to the Plug-ins folder.  Some plug-ins, mainly smaller installs, free plug-ins, and older plug-ins, use drag and drop. The user drags the downloaded plug-ins to the Plug-ins folder inside the After Effects folder in the Applications folder.

Most developers distribute unlockable trial versions or demos.

This means that you can install a demo, and if you like it, you can purchase it through our store and enter the serial number we send you. You will not get a different installer for most plug-ins.

Know where the plug-ins install.

Because each company’s plug-ins are different, it’s easier to just explain where the plug-ins end up – either in the MediaCore Folder or in the After Effects Plug-ins Folder. Plug-ins that are used in both After Effects and Premiere Pro (and some that are not) are stored in the MediaCore Folder.

The MediaCore Folder on the Mac

Install After Effects Plug-ins on Mac

The MediaCore Folder on Windows

Install After Effects Plug-ins: MediaCore on Windows

Helpful links about Installing After Effects Plug-ins


Posted by Michele Yamazaki