branding agency owner amy dennis
Written by Amy Dennis
CEO | Creative Director

10 Keyboard Shortcuts for Graphic Designers

Dear PC users: Not to be exclusive and leave you out, but before you read through this whole article, we need to be straight up with you. This is a life-changing, keyboard shortcuts guide for Apple-loving graphic designers.

If you fall into the PC-user category, we must first express our sympathy, and secondly, we want to encourage you to keep on reading — we might make a believer out of you. It may be time to break up with your PC and come to the bright light that is all things Apple.

Come on, be honest. How many times in your graphic design career have you gone through the same motions and same clicks only to find out there is an Apple keyboard shortcut that can change your life instantly?

Say hello to productivity and efficiency, my friends. I’m about to spotlight some of my favorite keyboard shortcuts that will improve your graphic design skills and give you time back in your day to crank out killer designs.

Keyboard Shortcuts | The Basics

It’s time to go back to the basics and make sure you know the OG keyboard shortcuts. The staple shortcuts that everyone should use.

Most graphic designers know the basics, but we want to give a few quick tips to those of you who are running a business or working in different areas of marketing. Some of these are not necessarily design-specific, and you can use them in almost every application (think Microsoft, Gmail, etc.).

  • Copy : (Command + C)
  • Paste : (Command + V)
  • Cut : (Command + X)
  • Select All : (Command + A)
  • Undo : (Command + Z)
  • Find : (Command + F)
  • Save : (Command + S)
  • Zoom In and Out : (Command +  -/+)

Go ahead and test them out. Copy and paste this blog post and save it so that you can easily reference these shortcuts in the future.

And now, without further ado, I present you with 10 keyboard shortcuts for graphic design. By incorporating these simple finger gestures into your workday, you will become a more productive designer in Adobe Creative Suite.

Keyboard Shortcuts #1 | InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop

Toggle Fill/Stroke (Shift + X)

This key command is a big timesaver. Using this, you can switch the fill and stroke of an object when selected. It keeps you from having to manually toggle the fill and stroke, or having to reselect the colors each time.

Keyboard Shortcuts #2 | InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop

Drag/Move the Viewport (Hold down spacebar and click to drag)

This keyboard shortcut quickly activates the hand tool to allow you to move around the page without having to manually select the hand tool or having to use the scrollbars.

Keyboard Shortcuts #3 | InDesign

Paste Text Without Formatting (Cmd + Shift + V)

If you are copying and pasting text from one textbox to another, and you don’t want the text style to carry over to the new text box, you can use this shortcut. It basically “defaults” the text back so you can start clean, without carrying any styles.

Bonus tip: Want to check the spelling? Hit Command + I.

Keyboard Shortcuts #3 | InDesign

Fill Frame Proportionally (Cmd + Shift + Opt + C)

You can use the “Fill Frame Proportionally” shortcut to resize an image to fill the entire frame while preserving its proportions. The frame’s dimensions will not change.

Keyboard Shortcuts #5 | InDesign

Apply Effect From One Object To Another

While this is not necessarily a key command, it’s a quick shortcut for when you want to copy the style of one object to another. It’s similar to “Copy Layer Style” command in Photoshop:

“Simply select the object that has the formatting you want. Then, drag the “FX” icon from the Effects window panel onto the object that you want to format.”

Keyboard Shortcuts #6 | Illustrator

Replicate Last Action in Illustrator (Cmd + D)

A keyboard shortcut that is especially useful when you’re copying objects and want them to be spaced an exact distance apart — like for a grid or a pattern.

Example: Say you draw a circle, make a copy (with Shift + Option + Click), and drag the copy 10px away. After letting the mouse go, do not deselect the copy, but instead, hit “Command + D”. Illustrator will make a copy of that copy circle and move it an additional 10px away. You can repeat this action as much as you want, creating a row of equally spaced circles.

Keyboard Shortcuts #7 | Illustrator, InDesign

Select Layer (Cmd + Alt + Mouse-Click)

“Select Layer” makes it easy to grab and drag elements, especially if they are in a group. This shortcut will allow you to only grab the element that you select while maintaining the group it is within. This means you won’t have to ungroup and then select the object.

Keyboard Shortcuts #8 | Photoshop

Fill A Layer (Alt + Backspace [Foreground Color] or Cmd + Backspace [Background Color])

You can use this keyboard shortcut when you’re filling an empty space with your current foreground or background color.

Keyboard Shortcuts #9 | Photoshop

New Layer Via Copy (Cmd + J)

Need to create a new layer from the current layer you’re working on? Use this command to render the same image and create a new layer at the same time.

Keyboard Shortcuts #10 | Photoshop

Flatten Layers, But Keep Them Too (Add New Layer To Top Of Layer Stack, Click In It, Then Cmd + Opt + Shift +E)

A must-use command in Photoshop. This shortcut takes all of your existing layers, flattens them, but retains the original layers.

Are you ready to test out these keyboard shortcuts? Remember, you can always set your own shortcuts. If any of these aren’t working out for you, change them.

And if all of this graphic design stuff is a little over your head, and you’re ready to call in the pros, contact our team at Nice Branding Agency. We’ll take care of all your graphic design needs, and the only shortcuts that we’ll use are the ones involving keyboards.


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