General Pane

The General Preferences pane contains settings that apply globally to all aspects of Motion, grouped into the following categories: Startup, Interface, File Browser & Library, Content Library & Templates, Media, and Keyframe Editor.

Figure. Motion Preferences window showing General pane.


This section of the General Preferences pane allows you to define what Motion does when first opened. Choose an item from the pop-up menu.


This section of the General Preferences pane allows you to set some general options for the interface.

  • Drop Menu Delay: This setting determines how long you must wait before the drop menu appears when dragging to the Timeline, mini-Timeline, Layers tab, or Canvas. The drop menu provides additional choices for editing and importing objects into the project.
  • Show Tooltips: This checkbox turns tooltips on and off across the application. Tooltips provide explanatory information such as names and basic usage techniques. They appear when you pause the pointer over tools and controls.

File Browser & Library

These settings in the General Preferences pane affect how the utility window displays the contents of the File Browser and Library.

  • Show preview icons: This checkbox turns preview icons on and off in the utility window. For example, when the checkbox is selected, the first frame of a QuickTime movie is displayed. When it is deselected, the Finder QuickTime icon is displayed.
    Figure. Generic and preview icons in the utility window file stack.

    Note: The screen shots in the Motion User Manual were taken with the “Show preview icons” checkbox deselected in Motion Preferences.

  • Play items automatically on a single click: This checkbox controls whether the Preview area automatically plays the contents of the item selected in the file stack.

Content Library & Templates

Use this control to change the location of your Motion content folder. This also allows multiple users on a network to share a single, centralized folder.

To set the Motion content path
  1. Click Choose (next to Library Path).

  2. In the dialog that appears, navigate to the content’s location, then click Choose.

  3. Restart Motion.

To reset the Motion content path to its default location
  • Click Reset (next to the Choose button).


This section in the General Preferences pane contains the “Automatically manage unused media” checkbox. When the checkbox is selected, Motion removes unused media from the Media tab whenever you delete that media from the Canvas, Layers tab, or Timeline layers list. If you want to retain (in the Media tab) a copy of media that is no longer used in your project, deselect this checkbox.

Keyframe Editor

This section in the General Preferences pane contains the “Lock Keyframes in Time” checkbox. When the checkbox is selected, you can change the values of keyframes in the Keyframe Editor, but you cannot move the keyframes forward or back in time. This helps prevent changing your animation timing as you adjust values.