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Download After Effects: How to try Adobe After Effects for free or with Creative Cloud

Get started with the number-one motion graphics app

Adobe After Effects
(Image: © Adobe)

If you want to start adding animation and visual effects to your video projects, then Adobe After Effects is the professional’s number-one choice for motion graphics, just like how Adobe Photoshop is among the best graphic design software that you’ll find. 

Adobe’s range of software packages and subscription plans means that the most cost-effective way to access their apps is not always obvious. In this feature, we look at how to download Adobe After Effects for a trial period, how the pricing structure works, what discounts are available, and more.

Can I download After Effects for free?

Adobe offers a seven-day free trial of After Effects. To claim this, go to the main After Effects page on Adobe’s website—it’s usually the first Google search result for “After Effects”—and click on Free Trial in the top menu. You will be able to choose between a trial of After Effects on its own or all of Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications. 

To sign up for the trial, you need to put in your payment details and choose a paid subscription, which will begin as soon as the trial ends. If you don’t want to commit, you can cancel this during the trial period, but don’t forget to do this, or you might end up having to pay a cancellation fee.

During the seven-day trial, you can try out all of After Effects’ features and decide whether it’s the right software for you. Once the trial is over, there’s no way to keep using After Effects for free, so you’ll need to pay a subscription to retain access.

How do I buy After Effects

On the After Effects web page, if you click Buy Now, you’ll see the pricing options available. Adobe uses a subscription pricing model. You can subscribe to After Effects on its own, or if it’s not the only Adobe app that you’re interested in, you can subscribe to the Creative Cloud All Apps package. This includes over 20 creative apps, some of which can work alongside After Effects, including video-editing app Premiere Pro, image-editing app Photoshop, and audio-mixing app Audition. This full Creative Cloud subscription can be more cost-effective if you’re likely to use three or more of the apps.

Pricing

Adobe offers various pricing options for After Effects (Image credit: Adobe)

What's the price of After Effects?

The standard After Effects subscription requires committing on an annual basis, with monthly payments of $20.99 / £20.84 / AU$29.99 per month. If you want to cancel it before the year is complete, the cancellation fee is 50% of your remaining subscription. You can get a monthly subscription without the annual commitment, which costs $31.49 / £30.34 / AU$45.99 per month. Or, you can prepay for a whole year’s subscription for $239.88 / £248.88 / AU$343.07.

If you’re planning to use After Effects regularly, then the annual subscription is the most cost-effective option. But if you’re not going to be using it all the time, you might want to consider whether it would work out cheaper for you to sign up for the monthly subscription as and when you need it.

Creative Cloud subscriptions have a similar pricing structure to the individual Adobe apps: $52.99 / £52.13 / AU$76.99 per month with an annual commitment, $79.49 / £75.85 / AU$114.99 per month with no annual commitment, or $599.88 / £620.40 / AU$871.07 for a full year.

We should also note that with all Adobe subscriptions, if you cancel within the first 14 days, you’re eligible for a full refund. Prices outside the US can vary as exchange rates fluctuate.

After Effects discounts for teachers and students

Students and teachers can save over 65% on Creative Cloud with a discount scheme offered by Adobe. This provides access to the Creative Cloud All Apps plan—including After Effects, all the other desktop and mobile apps, and 100GB cloud storage—for $19.99 / £16.24 / AU$21.99 per month for the first year and then $29.99 / £25.28 / AU$43.99 per year afterward. As with the non-discounted plans, you’ll need to commit on an annual basis. You can pay for the entire year at once, but it doesn’t work out any cheaper. You’ll also need proof of eligibility, such as a school-issued email address or a school ID card.

How can I get started with After Effects?

After Effects is an incredibly in-depth and powerful app, so it can be confusing at first for those new to motion graphics. To help you get started, read Creative Bloq’s beginner’s guide to After Effects.

Once you’ve grasped the basics, you’ll be able to learn more through practice. But don’t worry if you still find yourself stuck on various tasks. It’s a complex program and takes everyone a while to master. There are many online tutorials that can help you—53 of the best are collected here.

Color-Grading

After Effects has in-depth color-grading features (Image credit: Adobe)

After Effects: Key info you need to know

After Effects is Adobe’s motion graphics and visual effects app, available for Mac and Windows computers. It’s an industry-standard and feature-packed piece of software, used to produce the effects for many high-end films and TV series. Even if you’re not at that level, it’s still not difficult to use it for multiple functions, such as adding animated titles to your videos or color grading your footage.  

After Effects: Android and iOS apps

After Effects is a desktop-only application, and there is no equivalent Adobe software for mobile devices. However, there are alternatives out there if you’re looking for motion graphics software that works on tablets and phones, such as Core Animator and LumaFX. Both offer impressive effects-editing capability, though far from the flexibility and depth of After Effects.  

After Effects alternatives

If you don’t think that this is the right motion graphics software for you, there are many alternatives to After Effects

Hitfilm Pro is a video editing and VFX suite with a similar range of effects features, and it’s available for a one-off $349 fee. 

DaVinci Resolve is also worth considering. It has non-linear editing and VFX, color, and audio editing, all rolled into one package, and there’s a version that you can download for free.

 For Mac users, Apple Motion is a good option; it’s not quite as feature-packed as After Effects, but it’s available for the cheap one-off cost of $49.99.