After Effects Tutorials / Filmmaking / Tutorials / Video Editing

How To Toggle the Mask Path in Adobe After Effects + Expert Tips

How to toggle the mask path in after effects
Published 24 April 2023

Have you ever been working on a project in Adobe After Effects and had trouble finding the shape or mask that you wanted to edit? Finding the exact item you are looking for can be tricky, especially if you have multiple layers and many shapes. How do you toggle the mask path in Adobe After Effects?

To toggle the mask path in Adobe After Effects, go to the composition window and click the Toggle Off Mask And Shape Path Visibility button. It’s a round single-corner rectangle on the bottom left of your composition window. 

Best practices when working with mask paths in DaVinci Resolve

  • Organizing Layers: When working with multiple layers and shapes, it’s essential to label and organize them properly. This will make it easier for you to find and toggle specific mask paths when needed. Use descriptive names and consider color-coding layers for quick identification.
  • Utilize Precomposing: Precomposing can help you manage complex projects by breaking them into smaller, more manageable components. By precomposing layers with similar functions or related content, you can simplify the process of toggling and editing mask paths within a specific section of your project.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Familiarize yourself with Adobe After Effects keyboard shortcuts to speed up your workflow. For example, you can press ‘M‘ on your keyboard to quickly reveal mask paths on selected layers, and ‘MM‘ to show additional mask properties.
  • Mastering Bezier Handles: When editing mask paths, it’s crucial to understand how to use Bezier handles to create smooth curves and sharp corners. Mastering the Pen tool and Bezier handles will help you achieve precise control over your mask paths.
  • Non-destructive Editing: When making adjustments to mask paths, consider using non-destructive methods like adding adjustment layers or using the mask properties panel to modify mask expansion or feathering. This way, you can make changes without permanently altering the original shape or mask.

By following these best practices, you can streamline your workflow in Adobe After Effects, making it easier to locate and edit mask paths in complex projects while maintaining organization and precision.

You can also read our guide on tricks that every Adobe After Effects editor should know to improve your editing skillset.

Toggling the mask path in Adobe After Effects: Step-by-step guide

1. Go to the Composition window 

First, you must open the Composition window in Adobe After Effects. All layers and masks will appear in this window, so this is the best place to start your search.

  1. Go to the “Composition” window in Adobe After Effects:
  2. Once your composition window is open, you’ll see a small button below it with a round single-corner rectangle shape – the “Toggle Mask And Shape Path Visibility” button.
  3. Click the “Toggle Mask And Shape Path Visibility” button to view all your masks and shapes as outlines, making them easier to find and select.
Toggle mask path button.

2. Select your target shape or mask

Now that your masks and shapes are outlined follow these steps:

  1. Click on the shape you want to edit. Once selected, it should become highlighted so you know which one it is.
  2. You can also deselect any mask or shape by clicking outside them in an empty area of your composition window.
  3. Toggle Off the “Mask And Shape Path Visibility“.

Once you’ve finished editing your target shape or mask, click the Toggle Mask And Shape Path Visibility button again to turn off the outline view and return to normal mode. 

Video tutorial


What are some other methods for organizing layers in Adobe After Effects?

Other methods for organizing layers in Adobe After Effects include using the “Shy toggle” to hide less important layers, arranging layers hierarchically with parent-child relationships, and sorting layers by properties like name, label color, or blending mode.

How do I use the Pen tool to create custom masks in Adobe After Effects?

To use the Pen tool for creating custom masks in Adobe After Effects, select the Pen tool from the toolbar and click on the composition panel to create mask points. Click and drag to create Bezier handles for smooth curves, or click to create sharp corners. Close the path by clicking on the first point.

What are the different types of masks available in Adobe After Effects?

In Adobe After Effects, you can create masks with different blending modes like Add, Subtract, Intersect, and Difference, which determine how the mask interacts with the layer’s content.

Can I apply multiple masks to a single layer in Adobe After Effects?

Yes, you can apply multiple masks to a single layer in Adobe After Effects. Just select the layer and use the Pen tool or shape tools to create additional masks. Each mask will be listed under the layer’s mask properties.

How do I animate a mask path in Adobe After Effects?

To animate a mask path in Adobe After Effects, select the mask path property, and click the stopwatch icon to create a keyframe. Move the playhead to a different point in time and adjust the mask path. After Effects will automatically create new keyframes, generating an animation.

What is the difference between shape layers and masks in Adobe After Effects?

The difference between shape layers and masks in Adobe After Effects is that shape layers are individual layers composed of vector shapes, while masks are applied directly to existing layers to control their visibility or create effects.

How do I feather or soften the edges of a mask in Adobe After Effects?

To feather or soften the edges of a mask in Adobe After Effects, select the mask in the layer panel, and adjust the “Mask Feather” property in the mask properties panel. Increasing the feather value will blur the mask edges, creating a smoother transition between masked and unmasked areas.


Toggling mask path in Adobe After Effects can be a great way to quickly locate and edit specific shapes or masks within a complex project. Besides, it can help to see the outlines of your shapes and masks to ensure they’re correctly aligned.

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