Top Adobe Illustrator Keyboard Shortcuts

Using shortcuts can speed up your workflow and sometimes avoid the hustle of going back and forth to select. If you can use the shortcuts, why would you click several times to achieve an action? 

Luckily, Adobe Illustrator has a lot of preset shortcuts that you can use to boost your productivity. Many tools already have a key for activating it, and you can see it next to the tool name. 

For example, you can see (P) next to the Pen Tool, so you can choose the pen tool simply by pressing the P key instead of going to the toolbar to select it. 

Besides the tool shortcuts, there are other shortcuts that you’ll be using quite a lot while creating in Adobe Illustrator, and I’m going to share with you some useful Illustrator shortcuts for Windows and Mac users. 

10 Useful Adobe Illustrator Keyboard Shortcuts

These are some common and basic shortcuts that every graphic designer uses to speed up the design process. 

1. Undo 

Command + Z for Mac, and Control + Z for Windows. 

I can almost guarantee that you’ll use this shortcut every time you work on Illustrator. Made a wrong step? Simply undo it and try again. I wish we have this option in life when we make mistakes. 

2. Group/Ungroup 

Group: Command + G for Mac, and Control + G for Windows. 

Ungroup: Command + Shift + G for Mac, and Control + Shift + G for Windows.

You can make new shapes by grouping objects together, and it makes it easier for group edits. On the other hand, if you want to change something specific from the objects you grouped, you’ll need to ungroup objects and then make the edits. 

3. Copy and paste 

Copy: Command + C for Mac, and Control + C for Windows.

Paste: Command + V for Mac, and Control + V for Windows. 

I assume you all know this basic shortcut that works the same in almost all computer software, but still, I’d like to mention it because it’s really useful especially when you work with text in Illustrator. 

4. Select all 

Command + A for Mac, and Control + A for Windows. 

Sometimes your artwork might be just a little bit too close to the border, this is when this shortcut comes in handy. You can select all objects and scale them together to keep the same proportion. 

5. Lock/Unlock

Lock: Command + 2 for Mac, and Control + 2 for Windows.

Unlock: Command + Option + 2 for Mac, and Control + Option + 2 for Windows.

When the object is locked, you won’t be able to edit it. It’s a great step to do when you’re done with part of the artwork and don’t want to edit it by accident. You can lock layers by directly locking the objects on that layer as well.

6. Duplicate 

Hold Option key, click and drag the object for Mac, hold Alt and drag for Windows. If you want to duplicate horizontally align, hold the Shift key while you drag to the left or right, vertically align drag up or down. 

7. Shift key

Making a square, a perfect circle, drawing a straight line, scaling proportionally, etc. The Shift key can do a lot! 

For example, if you want to make a circle, select the Ellipse Tool, hold the Shift key, click and drag to make a circle. If you want to scale an image proportionally, select the imagine and hold Shift while you drag one of the bounding box corners. 

8. Brackets

The left and right brackets are super useful when you use the brush tool or the erase tool and want to adjust brush size. Press left bracket to decrease the size and right bracket to increase size. 

9. Zoom in/out

Zoom in: Command + + for Mac, and Control + + for Windows.

Zoom Out: Command + for Mac, and Control + for Windows.

It’s already super easy but there’s another trick. If you’re using a mouse, you can hold the Option/Alt key and scroll your mouse up and down to zoom in and out 😉

10. Save/Save As

Command + S for Mac, and Control + S for Windows. 

I highly recommend you to hit Command/Control + S in any important steps you make, because it doesn’t feel good when you lose the hard work that you create because of Illustrator crashes or your laptop out of battery. 

Wrapping Up

Know the shortcuts for tools and basics during your creative process helps boost productivity because you can make more in a shorter time! Most importantly, you wouldn’t be distracted because you skip the hustle of clicking here and there which can switch your focus.

About June Escalada
Graduated from Creative Advertising major, worked more than eight years as a graphic designer focusing in branding and Illustration. Yes, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend and I’m passionate about art and design.

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