Isaque Criscuolo
Isaque Criscuolo
@isaque.criscuolo
Web & app design

145 Essential Mac Shortcuts for Designers

  • by Isaque Criscuolo @isaque.criscuolo

Learn these basic shortcuts to streamline your workflow on a Mac and save time in Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign

MacOS is a complete and very flexible operating system. Most creatives and designers use it to work on projects ranging from the simple to the extremely complex.

Mastering the main keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign is therefore essential if you want to speed up your workflow.

Because we like making your life easier, here we've put together a complete list of the most common Mac shortcuts to save you time and effort, and to help you become a real pro.

MacOS is a complete and very fluid operating system used by most creatives and designers.

General MacOS shortcuts

Startup

Option + Command + Shift + Delete → Override the startup track and select a secondary source, such as a CD or external harddrive
C → Start from a CD stored in a folder on your system
N → Try connecting to a compatible network server (NetBoot)
T → Enter FireWire Target Disk mode
Shift → Start in Safe Mode (secure startup system), this disables all the temporary session launch elements and non-essential kernel extensions

Finder windows

Command + W → Close window
Option + Command + W → Close all open windows
Command + N → Open a new window
Shift + Command + N → Create a new file
Command + I → Open the 'Get Info' window
Option + Command + I → Open 'Summary Info' (when selecting multiple files)
Command + 1 → Icon view
Command + 2 → List view
Command + 3 → Column view
Command + K → Connect to a server
Command + D → Duplicate
Command + L → Create direct access
Command + R → Show the original file (of a direct access file)
Command + Delete → Move the file to the bin

Menu commands

Shift + Command + Q → Logout
Shift + Command + Delete (in Finder) → Empty bin
Command + H → Hide program
Option + Command + H → Hide everything except the active program
Command + O → Open (double click)
Command + S → Save
Shift + Command + S → Save as...
Command + P → Print
Command + E → Eject
Command + F → Find
Command + Z → Undo
Command + X → Cut
Command + C → Copy
Command + V → Paste
Command + A → Select all
Command + M → Minimize window to the Dock
Option + Command + M → Minimize all windows
Shift + Command + ? → Open help
Command + Space → Spotlight
Command + Esc → Activate Front Row (if compatible)

Master the keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign to accelerate your workflow.
Master the keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign to accelerate your workflow.

Other Commands

Option + Command + D → Show/hide the Dock.
Command + Tab → Switch between open applications.
Option + Drag → Copy to a new location.
Option + Command + Drag → Create direct access.
Command + Drag → Move to the new location, without duplicating.
Option + Command + Esc → Open the Force Quit window.
Control + Eject → Open the restart window to shut down or sleep your Mac.
Control + Command + Eject → Close all open applications and restart.
Command + ` → Switch between the various windows open inside the same app.
Command + , → Open the settings window (in most applications)
Fn + Delete (laptops only) → Reverse delete (delete the character to the right of the cursor)

Screenshots

Command + Shift + 3 → Take a screenshot (+ Control copies to the clipboard)
Command + Shift + 4 → Take a screenshot of a selection (+ Control copies to the clipboard)
Command + Shift + 4 and then Space → Take a screenshot of the selected window (+ Control copies to the clipboard)

Common Adobe keyboard shortcuts

These shortcuts work in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Select all → Command + A
Copy → Command + C
Paste → Command + V
Open → Command + O
New → Command + N
Close → Command + W
Print → Command + P
Save → Command + S
Save as → Command + Shift + S
Undo → Command + Z
Redo → Command + Option + Z
Close → Command + Q
Show / hide guides → Command +;
Lock / unlock guides → Command + Option +;
Show / hide grid → Command + Option + '

Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign also have specific shortcuts.
Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign also have specific shortcuts.

Illustrator shortcuts

Guides

Show / hide smart guides → Command + U

Advanced paste

Paste to match format → Command + Shift + V
Paste in front → Command + F
Paste in back → Command + B

Font

Adjust size → Command + Shift + < to decrease or > to increase
Adjust tracking → with several letters or words selected, Option + left arrow to decrease or right arrow to increase
Adjust kerning → with the cursor in between two letters, Option + left arrow to decrease or right arrow to increase
Adjust leading → Option + left arrow to decrease or right arrow to increase
Create outlines → Command + Shift + O

Organization

Send to back → Command + [
Send to the front → Command + ]
Lock selection → Command + 2
Unlock all objects → Command + Option + 2
Hide selected → Command + 3
Show all hidden objects → Command + Option + 3
Group the selection → Command + G
Ungroup the selection → Command + Shift + G

Frequent tools

Direct selection tool (white arrow) → A
Black arrow selection tool → V
Type tool → T
Pen tool → P
Rectangle → M
Ellipse → L

Use the keyboard shortcuts to save time.
Use the keyboard shortcuts to save time.

Photoshop shortcuts

History

Undo → Command + Option + Z
Redo → Command + Shift + Z

Advanced paste

Paste into Selection → Command + Shift + Option + V
Paste in Place → Command + Shift + V

Layers

New layer → Command + Shift + N
Move the layer up → Command + ]
Move the layer down → Command + [
Move the layer to the top → Command + J
Move the layer to the end → Command + Shift + ]
Copy the selection to a new layer → Command + J
Copy the current layer → Command + J

Brushes

Decrease brush size → [
Increase brush size → ]
Decrease hardness → Shift + [
Increase hardness → Shift + ]
Opacity (in 10% increments) → 0

Selections

Deselect → Command + D
Reselect → Command + Shift + D
Convert path to selection → Command + Enter / Return
Inverse selection → Command + Shift + I

Tools

Transformation → Command + T
Move Tool → V
Type Tool → T
Pen Tool → P
Shape Tool → U

InDesign shortcuts

Content and fit

Import → Command + D
Center content → Command + Shift + E
Adjust the content to the frame → Command + Option + E
Proportionally adjust content → Command + Shift + Option + E
Adjust to the content or text → Command + Option + C
Proportionally fill frame → Command + Shift + Option + C
Paste without formatting → Command + Shift + V

Organization

Send to the back → Command + [
Bring to the front → Command + ]
Lock selection → Command + L
Unlock all objects → Command + Shift + L
Hide selection → Command + 3
Show all objects → Command + Option + 3
Group selection → Command + G
Ungroup selection → Command + Shift + G
Align the text to the left → Command + Shift + L
Align the type to the right → Command + Shift + R
Align the type to the center → Command + Shift + C

Common tools and menus

Direct Selection Tool → A
Selection Tool → V
Type Tool → T
Rectangle Tool → M
Ellipse Tool → L
Pen Tool → P
Frame Tool → F
Text Box Options → B
Document Configuration → Command + Shift + P
Search / Modify → Command + F
Export → Command + E

Build complex projects with the help of these shortcuts.
Build complex projects with the help of these shortcuts.

The quicker you can memorize these shortcuts, the more easily and effectively you'll be able to work on your mac. And if you want to learn more about these software packages, don’t miss Domestika's Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign courses.

English version by @studiogaunt.

You may also like:

- 20 Essential Shortcuts You Should Know in Adobe Photoshop
- 15 Essential Shortcuts for Mastering Illustrator
- Procreate Tutorial: Key Animated Illustration Shortcuts
- Adobe Illustrator: Graphic Design for Beginners, a course by Gilian Gomes
- Illustrated portraits with botanical elements, a course by Isadora Zeferino

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