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, audio, video 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.

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.

Save as .aep file.

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 After Effects Project 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 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.

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 through 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 to recover AEP Files. 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 After Effects project files using Disk Drill:

Step 1  Download Disk Drill for Windows or Mac.

Disk Drill
Data recovery for free
Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery

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

Step 3 Open Disk Drill and choose the hard drive or partition that had the missing AEP file, and then click on the Search for lost data button.

Choose the drive to search for the lost AEP file.

Step 4  Once the scan is over, click on the Review found items button. You can do this during the scan as well. To search for files among the results, you can use filters by data type or file name.

Review found items screen in Disk Drill.

Step 5  Select the AEP files you want to recover. You can substantially narrow down the results using the filter feature.

Select the AEP files to recover.

Step 6  After selecting the required file, click on the Recover option to recover it. Choose a recovery folder that is on a different storage device or at least on a different partition.

An AEP 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 Windows Recycle Bin:

Step 1  Open Recycle Bin using the desktop shortcut.

Recycle Bin icon.

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. Using the Restore option will move the file back to its original folder.

An AEP file in the Windows Recycle Bin.

How you can recover deleted AEP files from Mac Trash:

Step 1  Click the Trash icon on the Dock.

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 have your After Effects project unsaved, you still have another option in both operating systems. You can use backup features in Windows and macOS, called File History and Time Machine, respectively.

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 to their original folders.

Restore Unsaved 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.

How to Open AEP Files on Windows.

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 checkbox is ticked.

Manuviraj Godara

Manuviraj Godara is a talented writer who specializes in the world of consumer technology and data recovery. Manuviraj has a knack for simplifying the complex, so his articles are your gateway to understanding the latest ...

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Approved by
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.