Improve your design technique with these basic time-saving keyboard shortcuts for your most common actions (and look like a pro while doing it).

Cover image via Glovatskiy.

Are you still moving your cursor up to the menu bar, scrolling through menus, and selecting a function every time you need to perform a basic action in your design applications? Would you like to save time and energy and impress others by magically switching tools, pulling up menus, or changing preferences with the a couple buttons?

If you’re just starting out with design, you’re probably focused on learning the simplest actions in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. But you can still look like a pro while you’re learning. Get into the habit of using these go-to hot keys, as they’ll improve your workflow make you a more efficient designer.

Here are some basic keyboard shortcuts for Mac and Windows OS to help you fly through your designs like a pro.

Undo

Undo last step

(Windows: control+Z)

We’ll start with the number one most-used shortcut of all time: Undo.

Get this keystroke down because it will be your best friend. It works in all Adobe apps and many other popular applications as well. Whatever you’re using, after a while it will become second nature to try a command+Z on everything, even in real life.


Zoom In/Out

Zoom in

(Windows: control + the plus key)

Zoom out

 

(Windows: control + the minus key)

Use these hot keys to zoom in or out on your canvas and get intimate with your pixels or vectors, or to get a wider view of everything. For an even more streamlined command, command+0 will auto-zoom to either 100% or fit-to-screen in most apps. Some apps use command+1. On Windows, use control+1.


Select All/Deselect All

Select all objects (Illustrator, InDesign) or entire canvas (Photoshop)

(Windows: control + A)

Deselect all objects

(Windows: shift + control + A)

Select All is another function you probably already use, but this shortcut will speed up the process. Instead of zooming out and drawing a box around everything, you can simply hit command + A. It comes in handy in vector programs like Adobe Illustrator and InDesign where it shows if there are any stray shapes, text boxes, or vectors floating around or off the artboard.

To do this, make sure you have bounding box visible in Illustrator or InDesign; go to View > Show Bounding Box. Then, using the selection tool (black arrow), hit command + A and all non-locked and visible elements will be selected with a bounding box containing everything.

By viewing the edges of the bounding box you can tell if something you didn’t intend to place is present somewhere off the art board. This is helpful when you’re trying to delete unused colors or fonts but you keep getting a warning that some object is using them.

Conversely, command + shift + A deselects everything at once, which is useful when moving a bunch of objects among a group of other objects. Instead of trying to find a blank space to click-off your selected objects and accidentally selecting another object, you can deselect-all and carry on.


Move Artboard/Canvas

To move around your artboard or canvas without zooming, simply hold down the spacebar with nothing selected. A white hand icon appears where the cursor was, letting you click-hold and move the mouse to move the artboard or canvas. Use full-screen mode for full mobility without bumping against the window bounds.


Preferences panel

Open Preferences panel

(Windows: control + K)

This will open up the preference panel where you can adjust a myriad of settings to your liking or work style. I change settings in here quite often, so it comes in handy to know this shortcut.


File commands

Open a new file

(Windows: control + O)

Close a file/window

(Windows: control + W)

Save changes to a file

(Windows: control + S)

Save a file using a different name or file type

(Windows: shift + control + S)

Toggle among open apps

Toggle windows or files within same app

Quit the current app

(Windows: control + Q)


There are hundreds more shortcuts, some of which go very deep into the functionality of these very powerful programs. Get into the habit of using these simple hot keys instead of pointing and clicking, and you’ll be able to take on more advanced shortcuts in no time.

If you’re looking to streamline your Adobe CC workflow, be sure to check out the Shutterstock Plugin for the Adobe Creative Cloud. Gain access to the Shutterstock library in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro.