Path Locker

Path Locker is an After Effects script that 'locks' (and unlocks) Path properties inside Shape Layers. This can be helpful when you have a several paths with points that are close together or overlapping, and you want to be certain you will only select the points on the path you mean to.
Path Locker was available to subscribers to the Animatable newsletter in Fall/Winter 2022. It will be made publicly available in Q1 2023.

Installation

Path Locker can be run as a ScriptUI Panel with a button if you install it in your ScriptUI Panels folder, but our suggested way to use it is with a Keyboard Shortcut, like this:
Quit After Effects if it is running. Rename the file Path Locker.jsxbin to 0 Path Locker.jsxbin by adding a zero and a space to the start of the filename. Move it to your Scripts folder (not the ScriptUI Panels folder), which is located here:
Windows: Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects <version>\Support Files\Scripts
Mac OS: Applications/Adobe After Effects <version>/Scripts
You don't have to use a zero at the start of the filename, but the idea is to make sure the file appears near the start of an alphabetically ordered list, because keyboard shortcuts can only be assigned to the first 20 scripts. When you assign a shortcut to a script, you are not assigning it to the script by name, but rather by index - it's place in the list. If you assign a shortcut to Path Locker when it is the first script in the list, that shortcut will be re-assigned to whichever script is first if you rename script files or otherwise cause their order to be changed.
Launch After Effects and click Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. In the Keyboard Shortcuts window you will see a Search Bar, type the word Scripts into it. Scroll down the list of commands below the search bar until you see 0 Path Locker.jsxbin. Click twice in the Shortcut column, on the same row as you see the filename. This should bring up a highlighted shortcut entry field. Now enter your preferred shortcut (Option+F1 perhaps) and once see your shortcut in the box, go ahead and click the big OK button over on the right of the Keyboard Shortcuts window.
You can also run Path Locker as a button from a launcher utility like KBar.

Usage

The best way to use Path Locker goes something like this:
Install it and assign a keyboard shortcut as described above. Select a layer. Hit G to select your Pen tool if it isnt already selected, and hover over the comp panel. All the points of all the paths inside your layer should be visible as little dots. As you hover over a point, the cursor changes from a Pen icon to an arrow. Click on a point on a path you want to edit, and the dots change to squares. At this point, you can hit SS to reveal your selected Path in the timeline if you want to.
Now, run Path Locker by hitting the keyboard shortcut you set earlier. All the paths that were not selected, have an expression applied to make them un-editable. You can switch back to the Selection Tool (shortcut: V) and continue editing your selected path without accidentally editing other paths.
You might notice that you can technically select other paths and points. But they won't be affected by any edits you make in the comp panel.
When you have finished editing, use the same keyboard shortcut again and the locked paths will be unlocked.
Path Locker locks entire paths. It cannot lock individual points on a single path.

Suggestions

If you like Path Locker, or if you wish it was somehow different, drop us a line. We're always happy to hear from folks.

Tips + FAQ

Won't this overwrite existing expressions?
If you have paths with expressions, they will already be un-editable and Path Locker will leave them as they are.
Does this work with Mask Paths?
No, only Shape Layer paths.
I can't select the points on a Rectangle / Ellipse / Polystar
Path Locker only works with Path properties, not parametric shapes.

Version History

1.0 - December 1st 2022

Initial release
Last modified 1mo ago