18 Illustrator shortcuts to speed up your workflow

Take a look at our quick list of Illustrator shortcuts, covering layers, selecting, transforming, and saving. They're guaranteed to boost your productivity!

Whenever you create vector art in Illustrator, simple tasks can become a hindrance to your workflow. So instead of becoming frustrated, take a look at our list of Illustrator shortcuts right here. They're guaranteed to speed up your workflow once you get the hang of them.

Whether you want to change the size of your text, deselect a layer or merge a series of layers - we've got it covered! There are also some handy hints for brushes, saving and closing, and viewing options. One tip: I tend to introduce the shortcuts slowly into my practice, so I don't become overwhelmed by the sheer amount to remember.

Layers and viewing

01. Select all items on layer

  • MAC: Option+Click layer
  • WINDOWS: Alt+Click layer

Quickly select all the items on one particular layer.

02. Hand Tool

  • MAC: Spacebar
  • WINDOWS: Spacebar

Move around your artboard without disturbing the content - Cannot be used whilst editing typography.

03. Hand Tool (Editing type)

  • MAC: Cmd+Spacebar (then let go of control)
  • WINDOWS: Ctrl+Spacebar (then let go of control)

Move around your artboard without disturbing the content. Cannot be used whilst editing typography.

04. Zoom In Tool

  • MAC: Cmd+Spacebar
  • WINDOWS: Ctrl+Spacebar

Zoom closer into the art board.

05. Zoom Out Tool

MAC: Cmd+Option+Spacebar
WINDOWS: Ctrl+Alt+Spacebar

Zoom out of the art board.

Selecting

06. Access Selection or Direction Selection tool

  • MAC: Cmd
  • WINDOWS: Ctrl

Switch between the Selection or Direction Selection tool - a big time saver.

07. Move Selection 10 pts

  • MAC: Shift+arrow direction
  • WINDOWS: Shift+arrow direction

Shift your imagery and/or typography accurately and quickly.

08. To add to a selection

MAC: Shift
WINDOWS: Shift

Create multiple selection with the ability to add more if needed.

09. Lock selected artwork

MAC: Cmd+2
WINDOWS: Ctrl+2

Handy to lock down those layers that keep getting in the way.

10. Unlock all artwork

MAC: Cmd+Option+2
WINDOWS: Ctrl+Alt+2

Unlock previously locked layers all at once.

11. Transform

Duplicate and transform selection.

MAC: Option+drag
WINDOWS: Alt+drag

Just drag your selection whilst holding Option to duplication the file.

12. Scale proportionally with Selection tool

MAC: Shift+drag bounding box
WINDOWS: Shift+drag bounding box

Never distort your images again: scale proportionally.

13. Sample intermediate color

MAC: I
WINDOWS: I

Sample colour from a vector, gradient or image with eyedropper tool.

Type

14. Decrease/increase type size

MAC: Cmd+Shift+< or >
WINDOWS: Ctrl+Shift+< or >

An effective way of changing your font size directly in front of your eyes.

15. Decrease/Increase leading

MAC: Option+up/down
WINDOWS: Alt+up/down

Quickly adjust the kerning without having to keep clicking in the character tab.

16. Decrease/Increase kerning or tracking

MAC: Option+arrow L/R
WINDOWS: Alt+arrow L/R

Adjust the space between your text in Illustrator with this handy command.

17. Align text left/center/right

MAC: Cmd-Shift-L/C/R
WINDOWS: Ctrl+Shift+L/C/R

A great way to experiment with the alignment of your text, this shortcut will enable you to do it quickly.

Saving and closing

18. Save for Web and Devices

MAC: Cmd+Shift+Opt+S
WINDOWS: Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S

Pretty self-explanatory but if you prefer not to drag your mouse onto a number of options, use this shortcut.

Words: Aaron Kitney

Aaron Kitney is a freelance graphic designer and art director based in London and Vancouver. He specialises in branding, identity, web design, publication design, packaging and book design.

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Have you found an Illustrator shortcut that made your design work easier? Let us know about it in the comments!