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

Try After Effects free with a seven-day CC trial

Adobe After Effects
(Image: © Adobe)

Explore the ultimate guide for learning how to download Adobe After Effects for free or with a Creative Cloud subscription.

After Effects is the premiere VFX and motion graphics software. An industry-standard, the professional-grade tool is perfect for adding animation and visual effects to your video projects. 

The cross-platform video effects software is only available as part of a Creative Cloud subscription plan. Adobe’s range of software packages and subscription plans means that the most cost-effective way to access their apps is not always obvious. 

We take a look at how to download Adobe After Effects, how the pricing structure works, what discounts are available, and more.

Today's best Adobe After Effects deals

Adobe After Effects (opens in new tab)

Adobe After Effects is our pick for the best video effects software. It’s a VFX powerhouse, packing industry-grade effects and features that make mastering motion graphics simple.

See what earned the VFX app 5 stars in our Adobe After Effects review (opens in new tab).

You can download After Effects free with a 7-day free trial - then start your Creative Cloud subscription or cancel before the trial ends at no cost. 

Can I download After Effects for free?

You can download Adobe After Effects for free - you just can’t keep it. Adobe only offers users a seven-day free trial. 

To start your free After Effects download, you’ll choose between a trial of After Effects on its own or all of Adobe’s Creative Cloud All Apps subscription deal. This unlocks over 20 apps, including After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign - one of the best desktop publishing software tools in the business. 

You’ll need to add your payment details. If you don’t want to commit long-term, you can cancel anytime during the trial period, but after this you’ll need to pay an exit fee. 

During your free, 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 - you’ll need to pay a subscription to keep crafting new effects. 

How do I buy After Effects

If you want to buy and keep After Effects, subscription is the only way to go. 

Almost all Adobe apps are only part of the subscription pricing model (although there are exclusions, such as Premiere Elements, Adobe’s consumer-level video editing software which is available for a one-off purchase). 

That on-going subscription plan is one of the reasons people search out the best alternatives to Photoshop, Lightroom alternatives, and InDesign alternatives

However, if you’re considering diving deep into the Adobe design-world, the Creative Cloud subscription is cost-effective, especially if you use three or more apps. 

It also unleashes more efficient workflows and productivity, since Adobe apps are built to work together. After Effects and Premiere Pro, in particular, offer seamless integration, but there’s also space for photo editor Photoshop and pro-level audio editor Audition. 


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

How much does Adobe After Effects cost?

The Adobe After Effects price depends on your chosen subscription deal.

A standalone After Effects subscription requires committing on an annual basis, with monthly payments of $20.99 / £19.97. 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 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 All Apps subscriptions have a similar pricing structure to the individual Adobe apps: $54.99 / £51.98 per month with an annual commitment, $82.49 / £78.98 per month with no annual commitment, or $599.88 / £596.93 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.

Download Adobe After Effects with Creative Cloud All Apps

Adobe Creative Cloud (opens in new tab)

Download Adobe After Effects as part of the Creative Cloud All Apps subscription plan.

Get top editing and effects tools like Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop in one complete package. If you're a creative making magic with Adobe software, a Creative Cloud subscription can offer great value for money. 

Check our Adobe Creative Cloud review (opens in new tab) to see if it's right for you. 

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 a month for the first year, then $29.99 / £25.28 a year afterward. 

As with 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.


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

What is Adobe After Effects?

After Effects is Adobe’s motion graphics and visual effects app, available on Mac and Windows computers. 

The post-production VFX software is the industry-standard, packed with professional-grade features used to produce special effects for many high-end films and TV series. 

Even if you’re not at that level just yet, the video effects tool is still not difficult to use for even basic functions, such as adding animated titles to your movies or color grading your footage.

How can I get started with After Effects?

Adobe After Effects is an incredibly in-depth and powerful app. In our review, we recognised that “it can be an overwhelming VFX app, but there’s really very little you can’t do with it.” So, it can be confusing at first for those new to motion graphics. 

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 visual effects program and takes even the most adept compositors time to master. 

You’ll find many online tutorials that can help guide you, and the community support behind the VFX tool is stellar. 

Can I download After Effects on Android and iOS? 

After Effects is a desktop-only application. Unlike Premiere Rush, Adobe’s stripped-back on-the-go video editing app, there’s no After Effects equivalent Adobe software for mobile devices.

If you’re looking for motion graphics software that works on tablets and phones, there are alternatives to Adobe After Effects for Android and iOS. 

Core Animator and LumaFX both offer impressive effects-editing capability. As you’d expected for a mobile effects editor, these apps don’t quite equal the flexibility and depth of After Effects.  

What Adobe After Effects alternatives are best? 

If you don’t think that this is the right motion graphics software for you, there are some great alternatives to Adobe After Effects.  We've curated a range of options, but these are our top three choices right now. 

Hitfilm Pro sits at the top of our list. The all-in-one video editing and VFX suite works like After Effects and Premiere Pro combined, has a similar range of effects features, and it’s available for a one-off fee. 

Blackmagic Fusion - part of DaVinci Resolve - is easily the best free alternative to After Effects. It has non-linear editing and VFX, color, and audio editing, all rolled into one package. For professional compositors, Fusion is also available as a standalone product with extra features you won’t find in the free version. 

Apple Motion is a great After Effects alternative if you edit with Final Cut Pro, Just as AE seamlessly integrates with Premiere Pro, so Motion integrates with FCP. It’s not quite as feature-packed as After Effects, and it’s only available on Mac, but it’s relatively easy to use and comes with an affordable, one-off purchase. 

Kieron Moore is a freelance writer based in Manchester, England. He contributes to Future sites including TechRadar and Creative Bloq, focusing on subjects including creative software, video editing, and streaming services. This work draws on his experience as an independent filmmaker and an independent TV watcher.