How to work faster in Illustrator?

by Sebastian Kończak April 01, 2015

I can tell you from my experience that there’s no better way than using keyboard shortcuts, also known as “hotkeys”. If you don’t use them already - start.

With keyboard shortcuts you can save about 60 – 70% of time spent in Illustrator. There are particular tasks that – with shortcuts – will take few seconds compared to minutes without them!

List compiled below contains the most frequently used and  - therefore - useful shortcuts in Illustrator. They work in CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6, CC, CC2014 and CC2015 versions.


Shortcut in Windows Shortcut on Mac Action
Ctrl + Cmd + Zooms in the document view. This and next two shortcuts will be your trinity in Illustrator. Learning and using them is mandatory.
Ctrl - Cmd - Zooms out the document view.
Space Space Temporary access to Hand tool, which lets you move document view on screen. 
P P Switches to Pen tool. Pen is the most important tool in Illustrator. You’re going to use it a lot and in conjunction with many other tools, mainly Selection tool...
V V Switches to Selection tool. Lets you move and modify objects. No further explanations needed.
Ctrl Shift P Cmd Shift P Triggers the Place command, which allows you to import images to the document. It is useful when you have hand-drawn sketch and want to build on that in Illustrator.
Ctrl D Cmd D Repeats the last transformation of the object. Useful when you need to make lots of copies, eg. rotate object copies few times.
Ctrl Y Cmd Y Switches between Preview/Outline document mode. Outline is useful when you want to check hidden paths or you have very complex illustration and want to select particular object.
Ctrl G Cmd G Groups objects together. Saves life in complex illustrations.
Ctrl Shift G Cmd Shift G Ungroups object group to single objects.
A A Switches to Direct Selection tool. Useful to modify parts of objects, such as points and curves.
Ctrl ; Cmd ; Guides on/off. Guides are helpful in designing a layout.
Ctrl R Cmd R Rulers on/off. Useful to check artboard and object dimensions. Also, when you want to make guides, rulers must be turned on.
M M Switches to Rectangle tool. L switches to Ellipse tool. Useful for basic shapes creation.
T T Switches to Type tool.
Ctrl Shift [ Cmd Shift [ Brings the object to back of stack (behind everything else).
Ctrl Shift ] Cmd Shift ] Brings the object to front of stack (in front of everything else).

Keyboard stickers with shortcuts

If you think seriously about working in Illustrator, consider buying keyboard stickers with shortcuts. They contain all shortcuts from the table above plus more. Shortcuts are visually described by their icons from software, and Ctrl, Shift and Alt function keys have their colors, which makes using stickers very easy.

Keyboard stickers with shortcuts will give you all the necessary tools under your fingers, and besides that – with time – you’ll learn all that shortcuts by heart. Check out our keyboard stickers with shortcuts for Illustrator and start working smartly.

Illustrator keyboard shortcuts sticker

Sebastian Kończak


Multi-discipline man and co-founder at and order management software Ordee. I write about business automations, ecommerce, keyboards, and Adobe software tutorials.

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