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You know those TV crime dramas, where someone hacks into a computer network, and a team of plucky CSI types gather around the resident computer geek who’s ferociously typing in an attempt to thwart the intruder? Yeah, that’s not something we do here… but the keyboard is still a vital tool in our day to day workflow!
A little insight into a designer’s day-to-day — we geek out hard over keyboard shortcuts. Hard. I think the happiest day I’ve had all year was when Sean told me that Shift+X switches stroke and fill colour. I know, I know, this is the ultimate design nerd territory, but what it all really comes down to is efficiency.
We spend all day pulling ideas out of our heads and getting them onto to our screens. Anything that assists that transition from grey-mass to pixels is essential to our workflow. Keyboard shortcuts help us tell design software exactly what we want it to do without having to click on a hundred dialogue boxes (and without too much cursing and gnashing of teeth). Realistically, it saves a second or so on each function, but that really adds up over an entire workday. We’re busy making things we love and are proud of, and the sooner they’re out in the world the happier we are.
So, which shortcuts will save your life?
Here are a few favourites from our design team.
(*Please note, these shortcuts are for programs in the Adobe Creative Suite, using a Mac keyboard. Windows users can substitute Control for Command and Alt for Option, and they should work just fine).
Command+C: Copies what you’ve selected! I probably use this a hundred times a day. This one will work outside the Creative Suite, in Word, your browser, anywhere!
Command+V: Pastes what you’ve copied! Amazing. Will also work outside the Creative Suite.
Shift: This is the best one. Seriously. Hold Shift when you’re resizing an object in any of the Creative Suite programs and it will scale proportionally! This means that you won’t accidentally squish or warp a picture or text box.
Shift (Again!): Yeah, this one is here twice. It’s that good. You can also hold Shift when you’re moving an object around your artboard. It will keep that object on the same latitude or longitude, or if you’re rotating, it will rotate at precise angles.
Command+Click: This shortcut will cut your workflow in half. It lets you select the layer or group you’ve clicked on, instead of having to scroll through your entire layer panel.
Command+T: Lets you transform your layer (remember to hold shift).
Command+Shift+Enter (Pre CS6) or Esc (CS6 on): Commits your text changes without having to use your mouse to click on anything.
Command+F and Command+B: Pastes in front or behind a selected object. Super handy if you’re working on a complex illustration.
Command+7: When two layers are selected, this shortcut makes a clipping mask out of the top object.
Command+2: Locks layers so they can’t be selected by clicking.
W: This key toggles between preview and document view. It makes it quick and easy to see what your document looks like without all the hidden characters, guides, and text boxes.
Shift+Command: In InDesign, this allows you to resize a bounding box proportionally, along with whatever is inside it.
There are literally hundreds more of these, and if you spend a lot of time with the Creative Suite, it is worth a bit of Googlin’. They’ll ramp up your workflow from enthusiast to professional, and that’s good for everyone.