Thomas Alberti



A free hotkey script that syncs the playhead with the selected layer while flipping through Photoshop timeline layers, regardless of frame exposure length.

If you're animating frame by frame, you know every little step matters. While animating in Photoshop using the Video Timeline, "flipping" through frames with the left and right arrow keys does not select the layer that's being displayed. So when you go to draw on the layer you're looking at, Photoshop gives you an error message. You have to manually select the layer you want to draw on, then get back to animating. Multiply that nonsense over thousands of frames, and you've got a big time sink, not to mention serious friction between you and your animation.

Get this tool to flip through your frames with a custom (or default) hotkey, then draw directly onto the frame you've flipped to.

Animate in Photoshop with Stéphane Baril's amazing add-on AnimDessin2.

Quick Notes

Mac Users - Get Hammerspoon:
Windows Users - Get AutoHotkey:

Default Hotkeys

  • "Ctrl/Cmd + ," moves layer selection to previous layer and playhead to that layer's in point

  • "Ctrl/Cmd + ." moves layer selection to next layer and playhead to that layer's in point

How Does It Work?

Photoshop scripting (Adobe ExtendScript) does not enable (or makes impractical) manipulating the Video Timeline. Therefore, a third party application (AutoHotkey or Hammerspoon) is needed to bind two simple keystrokes (in the form of a script) to one hotkey.

The two default Photoshop shortcuts that our script sends as keystrokes:

  • "alt + [ OR ]" moves layer selection to the previous or next layer

  • "[up arrow]" moves the playhead to the selected layer's in point (only works if timeline shortcuts are enabled (Timeline Panel flyout menu > Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys))

These scripts are then bound to a hotkey using AutoHotkey or Hammerspoon, which are applications that can both run scripts written in their respective languages and bind system hotkeys. So the Photoshop version doesn't matter as long as it has the above default shortcuts. So far I've confirmed CC 2017 and CC 2015.5.

You are more than welcome to read through the documentation of either application and edit my scripts to do whatever you like. They are both very powerful applications.

Why Hammerspoon?

AutoHotkey is pretty well known, but I'd never heard of Hammerspoon. I'm using it because AppleScript is too slow. I first wrote the Mac version as an AppleScript and tested with Automator, Quicksilver, FastScripts, etc. but was losing key presses when flipping (not to mention there was a substantial delay between key presses). But Hammerspoon (which uses Lua) is lighting fast.

I really hope this tool improves your 2D animation workflow. Happy animating!