How to Fix Preview Not Working on After Effects

Can’t figure out why preview is not working on Adobe After Effects?

Adobe After Effects is one of the best tools for creative and professional work. It’s probably the most used video editing software alongside Premiere Pro. Due to its wide array of editing tools, After Effects is preferred by many visual artists, animators, and editors. 

While it’s probably the best, this doesn’t mean that Adobe After Effects is safe from occasional bugs and errors. 

Unfortunately, you’ll likely run into errors at some point while using Adobe After Effects. One such problem is the preview not working.

This is one of the most annoying issues that you can face in After Effects, as it prevents you from checking the progress of your work. When it occurs, you’ll be forced to export your project if you want to watch it as a whole. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to result in that since we got you covered. 

In this guide, we’ve decided to list down the most effective ways to fix the preview window if it’s not working on Adobe After Effects. 

Let’s jump right in!

1. Restart After Effects. 

One of the quickest ways to fix preview issues on After Effects is to restart the program. Adobe After Effects might be using too many system resources, which causes the software to run into errors. 

To fix this, simply save your project and close the app. After a few seconds, relaunch it, and the preview should work as it should. 

2. Restart Your Computer.

Before tweaking your configurations, the first thing you should do when you encounter errors on After Effects is to restart your system. This should allow your computer to reload its resources and eliminate temporary bugs and glitches. 

For Windows users, here’s what you need to do: 

  1. On your keyboard, press the Windows key to open the Start Menu
  2. After that, click on the Power Options tab. 
  3. Finally, choose Restart from the menu. 
Restart Windows

If you’re using a Mac, see the steps below: 

  1. First, open the Apple Menu in the upper left corner of your display.
  2. Now, select the Restart option. 
  3. Lastly, confirm your action by clicking the Restart button in the dialog box. 
Restart Mac

Once done, go back to After Effects to check if the problem is solved. 

3. Purge System RAM and Disk Cache. 

If you’re working on your project for a while, it’s probably using too many system resources, which can affect After Effects’ performance. This can cause the preview window to hang or not to work entirely.

To avoid this, see the steps below to purge your RAM and disk space: 

  1. First, open Adobe After Effects on your computer. 
  2. After that, click on Edit and hover your cursor over the Purge tab. 
  3. Lastly, click All Memory & Disk Cache
preview not working on After Effects

Restart the software afterward and check if the preview window is working. 

4. Change Your Memory Preferences. 

If you’re using multiple Creative Cloud apps simultaneously, you might want to dedicate more memory to After Effects if you use it more. This way, other Adobe CC apps won’t consume your system memory, and performance issues could be avoided.

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. On Adobe After Effects, click on the After Effects tab. 
  2. Now, navigate to Preferences > Memory
  3. Finally, change the value of ‘RAM Reserved for Other Applications’ to a lower number. 
preview not working on After Effects

Save the changes and try using the preview window to check if the problem is solved. 

5. Close Unused Applications. 

Another way to free up system resources on your computer is to close unused applications. For low to mid-level systems, it’s highly recommended to close unnecessary background applications when After Effects and other CC apps are running. 

Given that most Adobe CC apps demand a lot of system resources, leaving unused apps running will put more load on your system. 

Check your Taskbar (Windows) or Dock (macOS) and close the applications you don’t need for your project. 

Go back to After Effects afterward and check if the problem is solved. 

6. Change Preview Quality.

If you encounter lags or hangs while viewing your project on the preview window, it indicates that your system is struggling to render the frames. To fix this, lower the preview quality of After Effects to lessen the load on your system. 

See the steps below to change the preview quality on After Effects: 

  1. Launch Adobe After Effects on your computer. 
  2. After that, click the Resolution tab in the preview window. It will be located at the bottom of the window next to the timeline indicator. 
  3. Finally, set your preview quality to Half or lower. 
preview not working on After Effects

Try viewing your project again to check if the issue is solved. 

7. Clean Your Database Cache. 

You can also try clearing your database cache if the preview window is still not working on After Effects. This should free up some resources on your system, leaving more room for the software to operate. 

See the steps below to clear your media database cache:

  1. First, open Adobe After Effects on your computer. 
  2. After that, navigate to After Effects > Preferences > Media and Disk Cache
  3. Lastly, click the Clean Database & Cache option under the Cache section. 
Clean Database and Cache

Go back to your project afterward and check if the problem is solved.


8. Reinstall After Effects. 

At this point, the last thing you can do is reinstall Adobe After Effects on your system. This way, you can ensure that there are no broken or missing files on your storage and that the latest version of After Effects is installed on your system. 

On Windows, here’s how you can delete After Effects: 

  1. Launch the Control Panel on your computer. 
  2. Next, click on Uninstall a Program and find Adobe After Effects
  3. Finally, right-click on the app and choose Uninstall
preview not working on After Effects

For macOS users, launch Finder on your computer, go to the Applications tab and drag Adobe After Effects to the Trash. 

That ends our guide on how to fix the preview window if it’s not working on Adobe After Effects. For your questions and other concerns, please voice them out in the comment section, and we’ll do our best to answer them. 

If this guide helped you, please share it. 🙂


  • John Sixto

    John is a staff writer at Saint and comes from a SAP ABAP development background. He has a Bachelors in IT and has been writing since 2018, with over 500 posts published. He loves to build PCs and has a deep curiosity in understanding how different components and configurations work. John spends hundreds of hours at a time, researching and testing the software and apps, before he proceeds to write about it. LinkedIn X (Twitter) Website

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