Everyone wants more time in the day to get things done. Luckily, you’re a designer and can literally create more time for yourself by using hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are also the absolute best way to impress account executives while you glide along in design programs at top speeds. All the hotkeys and shortcuts discussed are going to be for the Mac (sorry, not sorry).
Let’s start with the basics. If you don’t have design programs, these basic commands work globally across all programs such as in word processing or email programs.
- Cut: (CMD + X)
- Copy: (CMD + C)
- Paste: (CMD + V)
- Undo: (CMD + Z)
- Print: (CMD + P)
- Save: (CMD + S)
- Select All: (CMD + A)
- Switch Applications: (CMD + Tab)
Remember, “Command + S” is your friend and you should use it as much as possible. Also, “Command + Tab” is super helpful when you are trying to send a gif on Slack, swap your podcast, and paste some text into your document at the same time.
If you spend the majority of your time in the Adobe Creative Cloud you want to be able to effortlessly move around the artboard just like you would a sheet of paper or a physical palette full of oil paints. “Command + I” should be another sequence of keys that become second nature to you while designing.
- Hand Tool: (Spacebar)
- Toggle Between Fill and Stroke: (X)
- Type Tool: (T)
- Check Spelling: (CMD + I)
Learning combos in video games made it easier for you to take out your opponent in Mortal Kombat. So naturally, learning combos with shortcuts can help you save even more time and effort when designing. Creating Outlines is super useful if you’re sending files to print. Hopefully, you won’t need the dreaded “Force Quit” combo too often.
- Force Quit: (CMD + OPT + ESC)
- Paste In Place: (Shift + CMD + V) for Illustrator and (Shift + OPT + CMD + V) for InDesign
- Create Outlines: (Shift + CMD + O)
If you are really trying to take your shortcut game to the next level you can set your own custom shortcuts globally or in the design programs. If you’re trying to adjust global shortcuts that are found in the System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Shortcuts. The Adobe programs allow you to adjust shortcuts under Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. It even has its own shortcut (Shift + OPT + CMD + K).
More Time for the Important Things
These are just a few combinations of hotkeys and shortcuts that I use on a daily basis. If you’re looking for more, there are plenty of programs for design and development that you can use as a resource.
Here are a few of my favorite:
Now that you’ve amassed all this extra time for yourself you can spend it doing something important like discussing if The Martian is better than Interstellar.