My most used shortcuts
Let's start with the typical shortcuts, ignoring the ones like cut, copy and paste or save and open etc. Here are my shortcuts, divided into common and less common ones:
These are very common shortcuts that I use a lot when working in Illustrator. If you are used to work in Illustrator you probably know them very well too:
- Cmd/Ctrl + U switching between enabling and disabling Smart Guides
- Cmd/Ctrl + G and Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + G to Group and Ungroup items
- Cmd/Ctrl + F and Cmd/Ctrl + B Paste In Front or In Back
- Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + V to Paste In Place
- Cmd/Ctrl + Y to switch between Preview and Outline mode
The shortcut I really use a lot is Cmd/Ctrl + U which turns the SmartGuides on/off. They sometimes hinder me while drawing bezier curves. Actually, what I want to say here is that the flashy Smart Guides kind of drive me mad (make me nervous) now and then, and so I tend to switch them off whenever I can. I love them for what they do, but I from time to time I also hate them a little.
Furthermore I also like the 'Paste In Front' and 'Paste In Back' shortcuts, because it pastes an item in the exact place. I can of course just use the 'Paste In Place' shortcut, which is what I often use too, depending on the situation. There are more shortcuts in that list like Cmd/Ctrl + J to join two anchor points, or Cmd/Ctrl + O to create outlines from text, but I thought I try to stick to 5 in total.
To avoid changing tools all the time to select a bezier handle or anchor point, I simply hold down the command key to do the editing.
Less common shortcuts
Here are the less common shortcuts that I use a lot too:
- Cmd/Ctrl + Option/Alt + A to Select All items in the Active Artboard
- Cmd/Ctrl + 8 to make a Compound Path (Cmd/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + 8 to release the Compound Path)
- Cmd/Ctrl + 7 to create Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + 7 to release the Mask)
- Cmd/Ctrl + D to Transform Again
- Cmd/Ctrl + 2 to (temporarily) Lock an item (Cmd/Ctrl + Option/Alt + 2 to Unlock All locked items)
- Cmd/Ctrl + 3 to (temporarily) Hide an item (Cmd/Ctrl + Option/Alt + 3 to Show All hidden items)
I often use the lock and hide shortcuts if something is in my way, or if an item is overlapping another item and you have trouble selecting it. I use this option a lot simply because it's a fast and easy option. I know there are other ways and usually my document and layers are prepared for these situations, but there will still be moments that this comes in handy. It's one of these old habits that I have so accustomed with over the years.
Same for creating a mask or a compound path. Although I use compound paths less often than before, because there are way more flexible and easier options and tools now. The most obvious choice is to go for the Pathfinder options, but since CS5 I tend to use the new Shape Builder Tool a lot.
Whenever I work on a geometric shape that has equally repeating elements I try to take advantage of the Transform Again shortcut. Take for instance the creation of a snowflake. The other day I was drawing a shutter. Starting from a circle, I drew 1 element and then rotated that element around the circle's center point at 60° , then I hit Cmd/Ctrl + D 4x, and I'm done!
2 of my typical habits
Holding down the command key
While drawing it often happens that I need to move an anchor point, or edit a bezier curve. To avoid changing tools all the time to select a bezier handle or anchor point, I simply hold down the command key to do the editing. Then when I'm finished I can continue drawing without having to go to the Toolbox as my Pen tool is still the selected tool. This works in other situations too, in combination with any other tool. This is something I'm very accustomed to over the years and can't miss anymore.
Using the key shortcuts to select certain tools
I use shortcuts all the time, it saves so much time. I even sometimes use them to select certain tools or to reveal certain palettes. This doesn't happen often, but the one I know best is the Layers palette (F7), and the ones to reveal the Characters palette (Cmd/Ctrl + T), although I often make mistakes with that one as I use this one in Photoshop to scale or rotate an element. As for selecting tools, the ones I use most are the ones to select the selection tools V for the Selection Tool (black arrow) and A for the Direct Selection (white arrow). The there is also P for the Pen tool and I for the Eyedropper tool. These are actually the same ones as in Photoshop. I try to use most of them actually. I'm using this method a countless time in my process.
How about you?
Any shortcuts or typical habits you would like to share?