By Erica Truex, Shutterstock Contributor

Learning how to use Adobe Illustrator can be a challenging and daunting task — it’s best to approach with a positive attitude and lots of patience.However, as everyone knows, it’s hard to keep your cool when you’re confronted with strange and unwanted behavior. Disappearing panels, immovable objects, and a host of other problems are not only unexpected, but frustrating to overcome.These mysterious problems are usually caused by accidentally pressing the wrong keyboard shortcut. It’s a common mistake that’s easy to reverse once you identify the culprit, and as an added bonus, you’ll learn a handy new feature along the way.

Let’s examine some common Illustrator shortcut mistakes and how to fix them.

Please note that this article was written for Illustrator CS3 on a Mac. If you have a PC, use Ctrl instead of Cmd and Alt instead of Opt.

My selection edges are gone!

Scenario: You’re diligently working on a project when suddenly your selection outlines vanish. Upon further inspection you discover that your edges are still active, so you can select paths, move them around, and otherwise edit as usual. It’s like your selection edges are there, but invisible.

Solution: You’ve inadvertently invoked the Hide Edges command. Use the shortcut Cmd+Hto turn your edges back on, or go to View > Hide/Show Edges in the menu.

The Hide Edges command seems annoying at first, but it’s actually a shortcut worth memorizing. Invisible edges come in handy for getting a clear view of colors, experimenting with appearance attributes, or otherwise fine tuning your artwork. Just don’t forget to bring back the edges when you’re done!

I can’t transform my selection anymore…

Scenario: You love the box that surrounds your selections. It makes it super easy to transform objects on the fly. But your fingers slipped on the keyboard, and the box no longer appears. You’re not even sure what it’s called, let alone how to get it back.

Solution: Odds are you accidentally turned off your bounding box. Press Shift+Cmd+B to toggle it back on. You can also go to View > Show Bounding Box in your menu.

Now that you know how to turn it back on, my suggestion is that you turn it off again. The bounding box is a very intuitive way to work, but its intuitiveness just isn’t enough to make up for its faults; it will cause many accidental transformations as your artwork grows more complex. Save yourself a headache and turn it off now. Remember, you can always use the Free Transform Tool (E) to access similar functionality.

That’s it for Part 1. In Part 2, we’ll address how to fix problems such as disappearing panels and immovable objects. Even if you’ve never had these problems before, you may pick up a new tip along the way.

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