Adobe Shortcuts Every Designer Should Know

Keyboard shortcuts are a lifesaver for efficiency as a graphic designer. And while each of the Visioneers at Augustine have their favorites, there are certainly some shortcuts everyone should know that will become muscle memory rather quickly (sometimes to the point where you can’t actually recall the command, but if given a keyboard, could perform it). Let’s focus on shortcuts in the Big Three (Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop), since these are the bread and butter for our daily work.

…But a few disclaimers about shortcuts before we begin:

  • A slightly annoying Adobe quirk is that shortcuts that perform the same action will not always be the same in every program (looking at you, Place and Lock). However, there’s an option within each program to make it use the same shortcuts as another program. For example, you could tell InDesign to use the same shortcuts as Illustrator. Neat!
  • You can also customize your keyboard shortcuts, or create new ones based on actions you use frequently that don’t have a default shortcut—for example, in Illustrator, it’s handy to create a quick command to fit your artboard to selected art. Doing this is very easy and totally worth it. Learn how here:
  • Programs like Premier, XD, After Effects etc are going to have their own very specific and useful shortcuts you’ll want to learn if you’re going to use these programs regularly.
  • We’re operating from macs, so that’s what we’ll focus on. And of course, you can find the full lists of shortcuts for any Adobe program (and a whole lot more about shortcuts) from their website. For quick reference, here’s the links for those pages for Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop.

Now, to the list:

Visioneer Essentials:

Here’s a quick highlight of what are the most basic/simple shortcuts Visioneers use every day. Most are universal (aka the same across The Big Three), but because Adobe likes to keep it interesting, some are not.

Select: V

Direct Select: A

Copy: Cmd + C

Cut: Cmd + X

Paste: Cmd + V

Illustrator: Shift + Cmd + P

InDesign: Cmd + D


Illustrator: E

Photoshop: Cmd + T


Illustrator: Cmd + 2

InDesign: Cmd + L

Photoshop: Cmd + /


Illustrator: Opt + Cmd + 2

InDesign: Opt + Cmd + L

Photoshop: Opt + Cmd + /

Group: Cmd + G

Ungroup: Shift + Cmd + G

Undo: Cmd + Z

Redo: Shift + Cmd + Z

Save: Cmd + S

Save as: Shift + Cmd + S

Save as a copy: Opt + Cmd + S

Quit: Cmd + Q

Select All (Text): Cmd + A

Bring Forward: Cmd + ]

Bring to Front: Shift + Cmd + ]

Send Backwards: Cmd + [

Send to Back: Shift + Cmd + [

Show Ruler: Cmd + R

Eyedropper: i

Hand tool: H

Show Grid: Cmd + ‘

Zoom tool: Z

Zoom In: Cmd + +

Zoom Out: Cmd + –


Here’s an awesome list of additional Universal quick commands you might want to save

*Credit to James Fritz and linked to in this article:


A Little More on Paste:

You may find yourself copy-pasting through your day nearly as often as you receive a new notification. So here’s a little longer list of paste commands, looking specifically at Illustrator here (though some are universal). You should definitely memorize all of these to move efficiently.


Paste: Cmd + V

Paste in front: Cmd + F

Paste at back: Cmd + B

Paste in place: Shift + Cmd + V

Paste on all artboards: Option + Shift + Cmd + V

Paste without formatting: Shirt + Cmd + V


Some Personal Visioneer Favorites

Now that we’ve hit the classics, here are a few shortcuts our team uses every day, or just love the most.

Illustrator Only:

Make a Clipping Mask: Cmd + 7

Make a Compound Path: Cmd + 8

Release Compound Path: Cmd + Option + Shift + 8

Hide: Cmd + 3

Reveal: Opt + Cmd + 3

Outline Text: Shift + Cmd + O

Expand: Cmd + E

Artboard: Shift + O

Create a Guide: Cmd + 5


InDesign Only:

Preview Mode: W

Eyedropper Tool: I

Check Spelling: Cmd + I

Create Textbox: T

Hide/Show Toolbars: Tab

Text Fame Options: Cmd + B

Forced Line Break: Shift + Return

Find/Change: Cmd + F


Photoshop Only:

Save for Web: Shift + Alt + Cmd + S

Duplicate selection to a new layer: Cmd + J

Making brushes bigger and smaller: ] or [

Adjust Brush Hardness: Shift + ] or [

Merge layers together: Cmd + E

Group layers into a folder: Cmd + G

Marquis:* M

Lasso: * L


*Neat tip: When using the Lasso or Marquis tool, hold down Control/Option/Command, then click on a pixel and you’ll jump right to that layer. This is a fast way to hop around the layers and instantly jump to that layer.  If you only press Control/Command when you click on a pixel a menu pops-up and ONLY a menu of layers with those pixels appears to toggle up and click on.

Getting the hang of these Adobe shortcuts isn’t just about saving time – it’s like discovering a secret doorway to a world of creative possibilities. These shortcuts give graphic designers (and future Visioneers) the superpower to make their ideas pop with total flair. Happy shortcutting!