What to do when there are missing files in an AE project?
  • 10 Feb 2023
  • 2 Minutes to read
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What to do when there are missing files in an AE project?

  • Dark

Article summary

“After Effects warning: # files are missing since you last saved this project.”

When this message dialog pops up, there can be a few possibilities:

  1. Due to the .aep project file being shifted from its original place in the folder, or due to the operating system which the artist worked on differing from yours, your After Effects file is not able to find the rest of the files it needs for the project.

  2. The artist has forgotten to include the files needed for the project in the template.

For the first possibility, it’s possible for you to solve it on your own by checking to see if the template comes with the files you need and then relinking the files yourself. Let us show you how to do it:

Checking if the files are in your downloaded template

First of all, click OK after you see the above error msg. The project will continue to load.

You might see something like the following. The multi-color bars shown in the preview indicate that there are missing files that are required by the composition.


Project preview with missing files

Toggle the folders in the Project panel by clicking on the little triangle beside each folder icon. Find all the missing files that are indicated by the Color Bar icon.

Toggling the folders to search for missing files

Toggling the folders to search for missing files

As you can see, in this particular project, the 3 missing files are “Image 1.jpg“, “Particles.mp4” and “Texture.png“.

Let’s go to our unzipped template folder and try to find them.


Locate the missing files in your unzipped template folder

If you manage to find them, then you can easily “relink” the After Effects project with the files as we will demonstrate below.

Relinking files in an After Effects Project

Now that you’ve found the files, it’s time to have After Effects know where to find them and link them back to the project.

Let’s go back to After Effects, right-click on one of the missing files and choose Replace Footage > File…


Navigate your way to where you found the missing file and select the file that matches the one you’ve right-clicked on.


Select the file that you wish to relink to

Now click on Open. If you haven’t shifted the files around in the template, After Effects will automatically look for the other missing files in the corresponding folder.

When it does, it will show this dialog box:


“2 additional missing items have been found.”

So our most-recently relinked file with these 2 additional missing items add up to a total of 3 missing items found. This number matches the original number as shown in the error message, hence all the files have been successfully relinked.

After relinking the files, the color bars will disappear, replaced by the files you’ve just relinked. Note the icons beside the what-used-to-be-missing files are now replaced with actual file icons.


What a project file with relinked files may look like.

If there are still missing files, go ahead and repeat the steps above until you’ve relinked all the files.

Video Tutorial on Adobe Support

There’s a video tutorial on the Adobe After Effects’ Learn & Support page that also teaches you how to Easily find missing footage, fonts, and effects.

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