Flash/Animate Extension: Sync Symbols to Timeline

Advanced animation techniques in Flash often make use of nested symbols. It can make animating objects much simpler and leave timelines cleaner and easier to work with. Often in these animations, it’s helpful to sync the nested symbol’s timeline with its parent timeline. That way, complex animation can be built within a symbol and animated independently without adding tons of layers to the main timeline. This technique is frequently used in character animation to segment a character’s moving parts.

The difficulty then becomes going through each keyframe and setting the startFrame property (listed in the Property inspector as First). This can be quite tedious over hundreds or thousands of frames. The request for this extension came from an animator on the Cold Hard Flash forum (no longer online) . It will search selected frames for graphic symbols and set their startFrame property to match the timeline.

(compatibility: Flash MX 2004 and up)
Sync Symbols to Timeline.zip


The zip file contains an mxp file for previous versions of Flash Pro and Adobe Extension Manager, as well as a zxp file.

To install with Adobe Animate CC, use the zxp file in conjunction with the Manage Extensions utility from Adobe.

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  1. Brendan says:

    Sweet pickled pineapples! You are a god-send! Why I didn’t look this up earlier… I don’t know. But this is amazing and thank you for offering it for free! Kudos to you

    1. Justin says:

      Thanks, Brendan! Glad to be of service.

  2. Ellis says:

    Nice extension, good sir. But is there a way how to sync the graphic symbol from the previous keyframe instead of the main timeline? For instances like if “Symbol 1” plays the first frame on frame 377.

    1. Justin says:

      Hi Ellis,
      Not sure I completely understand the idea, but my guess is that it may not currently exist, but is probably technically possible.

  3. Andy says:

    I’ve sent you a message but will ask here too. Is there a way to view the current Graphic frame without having to click back on the already-selected graphic?

    When troubleshooting, I find I select a keyframe then click the selected graphic then check the nested frame number, then I select the next keyframe, click the graphic, check number, and so on.

    I’d like to be able to just select the keyframe and see the nested frame number (since the graphic is selected by selecting the keyframe anyway).

    1. Justin says:

      Sorry for the very slow reply.

      I used to have this problem too. If I remember correctly, there already is a keyboard shortcut in Flash to handle this (i.e. shift the UI focus from the frame selection to the Stage selection). I think it might be the ESC key.

  4. Recruitment says:

    Thank u soo much..

  5. Baian says:

    Dear god almighty, thank you so much, I never thought I’d find something like this, but I thought I’d give searching for it a shot.

    you are a hero, a true savior.

    1. Justin says:

      Glad it was helpful to you! 🙂

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