The worst thing that can happen while working on an Adobe After Projects is to lose the project file. Whether you forgot to save them properly or accidentally deleted them, there are multiple methods that will help you retrieve these lost AEP files.

What Is AEP File Format?

Simply put, the .aep extension is associated with a video project created by Adobe After Effects. Some projects also have the .aepx extension. This is because they use the XML standard to save all the information.

An AEP file contains all the data related to the Adobe After Effects project. It holds all compositions, layers, text, graphics, and references used by the footage in that project. This makes it convenient for users to work on a project, since a single file will hold all the relevant information related to the project.

The AEP project file is a binary format and is, therefore, smaller in size, loads faster, and is recommended by Adobe. The other Adobe Project file type has the .aepx extension. While the AEPX format allows users to edit the project preferences using an XML or text editor, the file size is larger and slower to load.

To create a new After Effects project, simply open the application and go to File > New > New project. To choose the AEP or AEPX extension, use the Save As option. It’s important to save your project properly. Unsaved projects are one of the main types of file loss.

Ready to resume your regular work on your PC? Let’s get to the AEP file recovery solutions in the sections below.

How to Recover Deleted AEP Files

There is no deficiency of ways to retrieve completely missing AEP files. Furthermore, none of the methods require you to have advanced knowledge of computers. Just remember to read each step carefully.

To increase the likelihood of recovering all your data, keep these tips in mind:

  • 🛑 DON’T write numerous new files to the affected storage device.
  • 🛠️ BEGIN the data recovery process as quickly as you can. The more you wait, the higher the chance of writing new data to your storage device, knowingly or unknowingly.
  • 🥇 USE the most capable data recovery method, first. The risk of losing some of your data increases with each subsequent recovery attempt.

Sometimes, the storage device may be physically damaged, or your SSD may be TRIM-enabled. In both these cases, contact a professional data recovery service instead of trying to recover the data by yourself.

How to Recover AEP Files With Software

Using third-party software to recover your lost AEP files is a breeze. Most applications have a step by step wizard that guides you to the recovery process. But, the recovery chances may differ from one software to another.

Keeping functionality and ease of use in mind, Disk Drill is a good choice. In addition to an industry-leading recovery rate, the application will also offer you a suite of other features such as support for all internal and external storage devices and a 500 MB data recovery free trial for Windows users.

Here’s how to recover AEP files using Disk Drill:

Step 1: Download Disk Drill for Windows or Mac.

Disk Drill
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Step 2: Launch the Disk Drill installer. Simply follow the on-screen instructions to install the application.

Step 3: Double-click the Disk Drill desktop shortcut. You’ll be presented with a license agreement when you launch Disk Drill for the first time.

Step 4: Choose the hard drive or partition that had the missing AEP file, and then click on the Search for lost data button. If you’re running low on time, you can also select the Quick Scan option. To recover more files, always use All recovery methods.Search for lost data option in Disk Drill.

Step 5: Once the scan is over, click on the Review found items button. You can do this during the scan as well.Review found items screen in Disk Drill.

Step 6: Select the AEP files you want to recover. You can substantially narrow down the results using the filter feature.

Step 7: After selecting the required file, click on the Recover all option to recover it. Ideally, choose a recovery folder that is on a different storage device or at least on a different partition.An AEP file in the Disk Drill file recovery screen.

The method listed above is most likely to work, and it’s advisable to use it first.

Recover AEP from Windows Recycle Bin or Mac Trash

Once you manually delete a file, it will remain in the Windows Recycle Bin, or the Mac Trash for a while before being permanently deleted. Files stored in these folders can be easily restored, provided they weren’t permanently deleted initially.

Here’s how you can recover deleted AEP files from these folders:

Windows Recycle Bin

Step 1: Open Recycle Bin using the desktop shortcut.Recycle Bin icon Windows 11.

Step 2: Select the AEP files you’d like to restore.

Step 3: Right-click the file, and pick Restore, or simply drag and drop the file to any folder you please. Using the Restore option will move the file back to its original folder.An AEP file in the Windows Recycle Bin.

Mac Trash

Step 1: Click the Trash icon on the Dock.The Trash icon in macOS.

Step 2: Look for the AEP files you want to retrieve.

Step 3: Right-click the file, then click on Put Back. You can also use the drag and drop feature to put the file in a folder of your choice.An AEP file in the macOS Trash.

Restore AEP Files Using Windows File History and Mac Time Machine

If you couldn’t locate your deleted files in the Recycle Bin or Trash, you still have another option in both operating systems. You can use the automatic backup features in Windows and macOS, called File History and Time Machine, respectively.

But there’s a catch. Both features should’ve been enabled before the data loss took place and the folder containing the deleted AEP files should have been selected as a folder to back up.

Windows File History

Step 1: Click on the Windows search bar, and type in “file history.”

Step 2: From the search results, click on the Restore your files with File History Control Panel option.

Step 3: Select the Restore personal files option towards the left side of the window. Skip this step if Windows directly leads you to the restoration screen after Step 2.Restore personal files option.

Step 4: Look for the directory that held your missing AEP files.

Step 5: Navigate through all available backups until you find the one containing the required version of your missing AEP files.

Step 6: Select the AEP files you want to recover.

Step 7: Click on the Recover button to easily restore the files.An AEP file in Windows File History.

Mac Time Machine

Step 1: Open Spotlight (Command + Spacebar) and look for the Time Machine feature.

Step 2: Look for the folder containing the deleted files.

Step 3: Browse through the backups of the folder, until you find the one housing the deleted AEP files.

Step 4: Select the AEP files you want to recover, then click Restore.An AEP file in the macOS Time Machine.

The files will be restored back in their original folders.

Recover AEP Files Using Adobe Creative Cloud

If you’re using the CC (Creative Cloud) version of Adobe After Effects, there is a good chance that your projects are automatically backed up to the cloud at regular intervals.

To see if these files are available online, you can use the Adobe Creative Cloud application or the website.

Step 1: Open the Adobe CC app on your computer, or navigate Adobe CC assets page on a web browser.

Step 2: Log In using your Adobe Credentials.

Step 3: Look for the deleted AEP files and select them, then click Restore.

How to Open AEP Files on Mac and Windows

Similar to other Adobe project formats, the .aep extension can only be opened by a specific Adobe software. In this case, it’s Adobe After Effects, the only AEP file viewer. Whether you’re on Windows or on macOS, you will have to download the latest version of After Effects to reliably open AEP files.

The application does come with a free trial, therefore you can check it out before paying for it.

If the AEP file doesn’t open with After Effects by itself, you can manually assign Adobe After Effects as the default application. To do this, right-click the AEP file, then select Open with > Choose another option > Adobe After Effects. Ensure that the Always use this app to open .aep files checkbox is ticked.

Manuviraj Godara

Manuviraj Godara's interest in technology began as soon as he got his first computer. From Googling how to run incompatible games on his PC to writing about computers for a living, the world of technology has never ceased...

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Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.