InDesign tip : #06

keyboard shortcuts activate commands without the need to access a panel or menu. if you take the time to learn even just a few you will increase your productivity — freeing up more time for creativity or whatever else you prefer to do with your valuable time. so, this post is going to be about keyboard shortcuts, but you’re not going to be given a list of maybe-helpful shortcuts. why? because, firstly, there’s already a plethora of shortcut lists out there — google is your friend — secondly, because lists do not help you find the shortcuts that YOU need for your working situation.

instead, this post is about how to find the so-called ‘hidden’ (you haven’t looked for) and ‘little-known’ (others haven’t looked for either) keyboard shortcuts. more importantly, it is also about how to create your own set of shortcuts for your most often used commands.

the first way to find a shortcut, as you probably already know, is to look at the command in the appropriate menu. below is the dropdown for the edit menu showing that the keyboard shortcut for ‘cut’ is cmd-x :
screen grab of edit menu

the way to find all the other shortcuts is also in the edit menu — it’s called, funnily enough, keyboard shortcuts. this is how you find the shortcut for ‘cut’ in the edit menu (this is CS2, other versions look similar) :
screen grab of keyboard shortcuts window

flicking through all the different product areas you’ll see there are literally hundreds of commands. the easiest way to search for ‘hidden’ shortcuts however is to hit the ‘show set’ button. this will open a searchable text file in your default text editor. scroll down past all the ‘menu’ listings and you’ll get to the good stuff :
screen grab showing keyboard shortcuts in text editor

you’ll see that many many commands simply do not have a shortcut — [none defined] — but you don’t have to accept the status quo. you can create your own ‘set’ of shortcuts for commands you use on a regular basis. whatever you want. you can even create shortcuts to activate your scripts :
screen grab showing how to assign a new shortcut

to add a new shortcut, find the command you want to target, click in the ‘new shortcut’ field and hit your shortcut (that is, for example, hold down cmd and x, don’t try to type “Cmd+X”). if you try to add a shortcut that is already assigned to another command, you’ll be warned (as shown above). you can choose to go ahead anyway — your new shortcut will override the previous one — or you may choose to reassign your new shortcut to a key combination that is still available :
screen grab showing reassigned shortcut

once you start setting up shortcuts appropriate to your own workflow, you’ll never look back. if you have a brain the size of a planet you could assign a shortcut to every possible command and never have to use a menu or panel again. go sick.

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