Here are 26 Adobe Illustrator shortcuts that can help you to speed up productivity. I use most of them (in fact, I can’t work without them). Most of shortcuts listed in this article aren’t documented in the software, so keep reading and you’re sure to find at least one new trick to put up your sleeve. Enjoy!


This article is written in Mac Illustrator CS3 format. If you are using PC, Cmd key = Ctrl key and Opt = Alt.

1. Change the Unit Setting

You can quickly change the Artboard unit measurement setting by right-clicking on the ruler.

Unit Setting

2. Activate Tool Options

With the tool selected, (e.g. Blend Tool), press the Enter key to open up the Blend Options window. Another way to open up the tool option panel is to double-click on the tool icon.

Blend tool options

3. Duplicate a Series of Objects

Select the object, hold down Option key and drag. You now have a copy of the object. Each time you press Cmd + D (Transform Again) you distribute more copies.

tranform again

4. Draw Shape with Options

Select any shape tool, (e.g. Star Tool), click anywhere on the Artboard, it will let you draw a shape with options.


5. Zoom With Mouse Wheel

Hold down Option key & scroll the mouse wheel up or down to zoom in/out

mouse wheel

6. Gradient Stop Color

To quickly change a gradient stop color to any color swatch in the library: select a gradient stop, hold down Option key and click on a swatch.


6. Switch Color Profile

Hold down Shift key and click on the color bar will let you toggle through the color profiles: Grayscale, RGB, HSB, CMYK, Web Safe RGB.

7. Layer Visibility

Cmd + Click Visibility Icon = toggle view mode (Outline/Preview)

Opt + Click Visibility Ico = hide other layers (Opt + click again will show all)

Click Visibility Icon & Drag = toggle multi layers

8. New Layer

Cmd + L = New layer

Cmd + Opt + L = New layer with options

new layer

9. Select All Objects on Layer

To select all objects on a particular layer, hold down Option key and click on the layer name.

10. Navigate Live Paint Bucket Color

With the Live Paint Bucket tool selected, click on any swatch in the Color palette, now use the arrow keys (UpDownLeftRight) to navigate through the swatches.

11. ## Fill and Stroke Color

D = Default color (white fill & black stroke)

X = Toggle between fill and stroke

Shift + X = Swap fill and stroke color

/ = None (transparent)

< = Color fill

> = Gradient fill

12.  Saturate or Desaturate Color

Holding down Cmd key and dragging the color slider will saturate or desaturate a mixed color.

color slider

13. Increase/Decrease Input Field Value

Place the cursor in any input field, press arrow Up or Down to increase/decrease.

input field

14. Close Pencil or Brush Path

By default, Illustrator will use close a Pencil and Brush path. To close a Pencil path manually, hold down Option key when you are about to finish drawing the path.

close pencil path

15. Add or Subtract Sides

With the Star Tool, drag on the Artboard (do not release the mouse yet), pressUp or Down arrow to add/subtract sides. Notes: this shortcut can also works for the Arc, Spiral, Rectangle Grid, Polar Grid, Polygon, and Flare Tool.add or subtract sides

16. Inner Radius

With the Star Tool, drag on the Artboard (do not release the mouse yet), holding down the Cmd key while dragging will let you control the inner radius. This shortcut also works for the Spiral Tool.

inner radius

17. Continuous Duplicates Based on Mouse Movement

With any shape tool, holding down the Tilde (~) key while dragging will make continuous duplicates based on your mouse movement. This is a very useful shortcut to create fun and complex artwork.


18. Straight Sided Star

With the Star Tool, while dragging holding down the Option key will let you draw a straight side star.

star shape

19. Lock and Unlock Objects

Cmd + 2 = Lock selected object(s)

Cmd + Opt + Shift + 2 = Lock all deselected objects

Cmd + Opt + 2 = Unlock all

`## 20. Switch Between Move and Selection Tool

Cmd + Opt + Tab = Switch between Move and Direct Selection Tool.

Option (Direct Selection Tool selected) = toggle to Group Selection Tool.

selection tool

21. Hide and Show Objects

Cmd + Opt + Shift + 3 = Hide all deselected objects

Cmd + Opt + 3 = Show all objects

22. Eyedropper - Sample Photo or Gradient Color

To sample intermediate color from a gradient or photo: with the Eyedropper tool selected, hold down Shift key and click on the photo.

eyedropper color

23. Make and Release Guide

Cmd + 5 = Convert selected object to Guide

Cmd + Shift + double-click on Guide = Release Guide

make and release guide

24. Font: Size, Leading, Kerning and Tracking

Cmd + Shift + > or < = Increase/decrease font size

Opt + Up or Down = Increase/decrease leading

Opt + Left or Right = Increase/decrease kerning or tracking

Cmd + Opt + Q = Reset kerning/tracking to zero

25. Add New Fill and Stroke

Cmd + / = Add new fill

Cmd + Opt + / = Add new stroke

new fill and stroke