Window Arrangements

Different workflows require different sets of windows to be visible, and in different sizes. For example, when designing a layout for your composition, the bigger the Canvas, the better. However, when tweaking or finessing an animated effect, you may want more room dedicated to the Timing pane and the Inspector. Fortunately, Motion allows you to switch between different layouts quickly and even to save your own custom layouts.

Preset Layouts

Motion provides three preset window arrangements, called layouts. These layouts distribute the application’s windows in varying ways to accommodate different workflows.

To choose a preset window layout
  • Choose Window > Layouts, then choose a layout from the submenu.

    • Standard: This layout displays the utility window on the left and the Canvas on the right.
      Figure. Full-screen view showing Standard window layout.
    • Alternate: This layout displays two utility windows on the left, the top one containing the Inspector and the bottom one containing the File Browser and Library. The Canvas fills the remainder of the screen to the right.
      Figure. Full screen view showing Alternate window layout.
    • Cinema: The Cinema layout also displays two utility windows. The window on the left side of the workspace contains the File Browser and Library. The window on the right side contains the Inspector. The Canvas is in the middle with the Project pane displayed. The minimum monitor width resolution is 1325 to use Cinema layout.
      Figure. Full-screen view showing Cinema window layout.

Basic Window Controls

In addition to choosing from the preset arrangements, you can manually arrange your windows, resize them, or minimize them to the Dock.

To move a window
  • Drag a window by the title bar to the new location.

To resize a window
  • Drag the resize control in the lower-right corner of the window to resize it to the desired size.

To simultaneously resize adjacent windows
  • Drag the boundary between the two windows (the black line along the edge of the window). The pointer changes its shape over the boundary, indicating you can drag from there.

Figure. Edge between Utility and Canvas windows showing window adjust pointer.
To minimize a window to the Dock
  • Click the minimize button in the title bar. You can also double-click the title bar of the Canvas to minimize it to the Dock.

    Note: The utility windows cannot be minimized.

To close a window
Do one of the following:
  • Click the close button.

  • Press Command-W in an active window.


Motion uses tabbed windows to provide convenient access to multiple windows at once. You can switch between windows simply by clicking the appropriate tab. In addition, you can drag any tab out of its docked position to show the tabbed window in its own separate window. You can also drag a tab into another window. This lets you view multiple tabbed windows from the same group at one time. For example, you can drag the Inspector tab to a new location so that you can view the Library and the Inspector windows simultaneously.

To detach a tab
  • Drag the tab out of its docked position to any new location.

    When you release the mouse button, the tab becomes its own window, and you can use all standard window controls, such as closing, minimizing, and resizing.

To reattach a tab
  • Drag the tab at the top of the window back to its original location. For example, drag the Inspector tab back to its original group of tabs, and release the mouse button.

    The tab is reattached.

To show or hide a tab
  • In the Window menu, choose the name of the tab you want to show or hide. For example, choose Window > Timeline to show or hide the Timeline tab. You can also choose Keyframe Editor or Audio Editor to show or hide those tabs.

To reorder tabs
  • Drag a tab left or right in the tab area to reorder the tabs.

Figure. Tabs being reordered in the Library window.

If the tab is detached from the Timeline area, click the close button. This closes the window, and it does not reappear as a tab. To display the window again, use the Window menu, and choose the appropriate command to show the window you want.

Swapping the Project Pane and Canvas

Similar to changing tab order, you can also change whether the Project pane appears to the left of the Canvas (default), or to the right. This can be especially useful when working with multiple monitors. For example, if the Canvas occupies the entire left monitor and your utility windows are on the right monitor, moving the Project pane to the right side of the Canvas would make it closer to the utility windows.

To move the Project pane to the opposite side of the Canvas
  • Choose Window > Layouts > Swap Project Pane and Canvas.

Saving Custom Layouts

Once you have the windows arranged to your liking, you can save your screen layout with a relevant title so you can switch back to it later. This makes it easy to set up layouts that help you perform certain tasks. For example, you might set up one layout that is good for editing curves, while another layout has an expanded Timeline for editing keyframes. You can switch between layouts in the Window > Layouts submenu, and you can delete and duplicate layouts in the Manage Layouts dialog. (Choose Window > Manage Layouts.)

When you save a layout, you save the following items:

  • Window positions (size and location)

  • Column orders (in the Project pane)

  • Project pane position (left or right)

Note: Tab order, Timeline display options, and Canvas display options are not saved in the custom layout.

To save a layout
  1. Organize the windows on your screen the way you want.

  2. Choose Window > Save Current Layout.

    The Create Window Layout dialog appears.

  3. Type the name you want to use to save the layout, then click Save.

    The layout is saved and now appears in the Layouts submenu.

    Figure. Window menu showing Layouts submenu containing custom layouts.

    You can also create a new custom layout (based on the current state) by clicking the Add button (+) in the Manage Layouts dialog.

    Figure. Manage Layouts dialog.
To switch to a saved custom layout
  • Choose Windows > Layouts, then choose the custom layout from the submenu.

To delete a saved layout
  1. Choose Window > Manage Layouts.

    The Manage Layouts dialog opens.

  2. Select the layout you want to delete.

  3. Click the Delete button (–) to remove the item from the list.

  4. Click the Done button.

To duplicate a layout
  1. Choose Window > Manage Layouts.

    The Manage Layouts dialog opens.

  2. Select the layout you want to duplicate.

  3. Click the Duplicate button.

    A duplicate of the layout is added to the list. The word “copy” is appended to the name.

  4. Click Done.

To rename a layout in the list
  1. Choose Window > Manage Layouts.

    The Manage Layouts dialog opens.

  2. Double-click the layout you want to rename in the list.

    The name changes to a value field.

  3. Type the new name in the value field.

  4. Click Done.

Full Screen Mode

Motion has an option to cover your entire monitor with the Canvas. This is helpful for watching playback of your project without the distraction of the software interface. In this mode, all of the tools and controls that affect the Canvas remain active, though you have to rely on keyboard shortcuts and shortcut menus (Control-click) to change from one tool or control to another. You can access the menu bar by positioning your pointer at the top of the screen where the menu normally is.

To switch into Full Screen mode
Do one of the following:
  • Choose View > Full Screen Mode.

  • Press F8.

To return to normal view
Do one of the following:
  • Position your pointer over the menu, then choose View > Full Screen Mode again.

  • Press F8 again.