Getting back to basics! This is a blog discuss simple principals and new trends in web design.

Start Using Your Adobe Keyboard Shortcut Commands: Tutorial Part 1

Keyboard Shortcut Commands are essential to a designer. Yes you can use your mouse to select everything but it’s inefficient, time consuming and just results in fatigue. Lets start looking at our keyboard like an instrument and not a device for typing. Use it to speed up your workflow and encourage trying new things that are easily removable.

Ok so now what? When you open a adobe keyboard shortcut commands ledger its just a long list of commands with no inclination of what is used all the time and what’s not. It can be overwhelming. In this tutorial series I will be not only teaching you key commands but why it is important to add them to your day-to-day use.

This entire set of tutorials will be dealing with Photoshop on a Mac. The beauty of the Adobe Suite is that most key commands are transferable between programs. So what you learn in Photoshop will convert to other programs like Illustrator and InDesign.

If you need them for a PC I would suggest referencing this document.

So lets start this series of tutorials of with….


This is where I’ll introduce everyday tools that are commonly used. Try to use these shortcuts before using your mouse. Like I tell my 3-year-old daughter… “Try it, you like it”.

Hit the “V” Key: This selects the Move Tool.

Adobe PhotoShop Move Tool Why?  Press the letter “V ” when you need to return to your Move tool. It’s the most basic tool you’ll use all the time. This is the top tool in the tool bar and it’s what you use to move things around.

Hit the “T” Key: T is for text, a simple one to remember.

Adobe Photoshop Text Tool Why?  Press the “T” key to select the text tool. Draw a text box or simply type for a line of text. The cool thing is if you hit ENTER (not return) in the number pad area you will close the text box or end the line. Use the return key to break a line. Try it

Hit the “Escape” Key: In other words…CANCEL!

Why? Press the ESC key to get out. Often I find my self either selecting the wrong plugin, Saving for web before I am set up or creating an item (text box, cropped image,etc…)I don’t need. Usually when you want to go back you have to hit the cancel button on a dialog box or some sort of cancel icon in the top navigation. Stop moving that mouse and just hit the escape key. You’ll find it’s much faster to navigate through plug ins and other desired edits.

The “Command + X, C or V” Key: Cut, Copy and Paste…Nuff said.

Why?  No need to explain this one. Command + X = Cut, Command + C = Copy and Command + V = Paste. These are your Copy, Paste, and Cut commands. All text related function. These key commands also work in all word processors including Pages, Text Edit, Word, Word Pad, Note Pad and even on the web.
{•} Bonus: If you need to copy a large area of text, hidden text in a text box or a large text area to replace with your copied text use Command + A to select everything in that field. Very useful.

Hit the “Z” Key: Get that eyeglass and Zoom in and out. It’s your world.

Adobe PhotoShop Zoom Tool Why?  Every project requires zooming in to edit and zooming out to view your entire project. Hit the Z key to get the eyeglass tool and draw around the area you’d like to zoom in to. Hold option and click to zoom out.

Hit the “C” Key: Crop Tool

Adobe Photoshop Crop Tool Why?  Press the “C” key and draw around the area you’d like to crop. Weather your cutting an image down for a web page or you just need to get rid of excess canvas the crop tool is your go to tool. Hit ESCAPE if you change your mind and want to start over.
{•} Bonus: Hold down the space bar if you need to move your crop box. If you’ve drawn the right ration but you need to move it in a direction just hold down space bar and watch your pointer turn into a hand icon for moving.

Hit the “i” Key: What’s that color? I = eyedropper

Adobe Photoshop Eyedrop Tool Why? I am constantly pulling color from a photo or an already used layer onto a new one. Best way to get that color is to eye drop it. Just click on the color you like and it automatically applies it to your foreground color. No you can fill and draw with the color you want.
{•} Bonus: Hold the control key and click on a color to copy the hexadecimal value. Instead of having to open up your foreground color palate, select the hex value, copy and paste you can just ctrl + click the eyedropper and you’ll have different copy options. This is a big time and effort saver when your writing CSS.

Hit the “B” Key: Ahh brushes. The first go to tool of Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop Eyedrop Tool Why? I rarely use brushes for painting but I ALWAYS use brushes for masking and erasing. Just hit the B key and you’ll select the brush tool with whatever brush you last used.
{•} Bonus: use the “[” bracket key to decrease the size of your brush and the “]” bracket to increase the size of your brush.

The “L” Key: The Lasso Tool partner.

Adobe Photoshop Lasso Tool Why?  I always use the lasso for quick selections that aren’t perfect squares or round shapes. Hit the L key to select your lasso tool and draw around the selection. When the selection is closed you can now delete, fill, mask or whatever else you need to do with your selection.
{•} Bonus: Unhappy with your selection is going or made a wrong turn? Hit the ESC key and try again.

Hit the “D” key: This resets your color foreground to back and your background to white.

Adobe Photoshop Forground and Background Why? Often while designing or creating your foreground and background colors will change for different fills, text, shapes, etc.. But getting back to standard B&W when you need to add a mask or just need to temp a drawn box is essential. Hit Command + D to reset your forefround and background color.
Bonus: Hit “X” to flip the your foreground and background colors.

This is just the first post in what will be a set of tutorials hopefully helping you to add keyboard commands into your everyday practice. The idea is to break down the massive list of key commands into small snippets of usable and understandable data. Using key commands is fast, easy and  definitely more efficient. You can view the complete list of default key commands for a Mac and for a PC on Adobe’s website.

Please stay tuned for the Part II  of “The Basics” and as always feel free to email me with any questions.

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