Pretty much any graphic designer worth his/her salt will make use of Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign (perhaps all three, in some cases), as they’re the most widely used graphic design applications in the world.
And with good reason too: I’ve been using Photoshop and Illustrator for years now, and I can’t imagine being in my profession without the help of these tools.
I just wouldn’t be able to achieve half as much.
Having been using these applications for such a vast amount of time, I’ve developed a number of workflows within the applications that allow me to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Sure, speed and efficiently isn’t everything when it comes to graphic design, as creativity often can’t be rushed, but there’s no doubt that these two aspects are hugely important for anyone designing for a living.
Until recently though, there was one area that I hadn’t integrated into my workflow(s) at all: keyboard shortcuts.
Typically, I would navigate through the complex array of menus to get to find whatever tool or action I was looking to use, which was a big time waster.
Last week, though, I stumbled upon an incredible tool created by FastPrint.co.uk (a print company in England) that was a game changer as far as I’m concerned.
Here’s a bit more detail:
Adobe Keyboard Shortcut Mapper: A Game-Changer for Graphic Designers
Quite simply, the Adobe Keyboard Shortcut Mapper is an interactive tool that maps hundreds of keyboard shortcuts on a virtual on-screen keyboard.
It’s built in HTML – so you can use it within your web browser – and it allows you to view the keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop, Illustrator CC, and InDesign, in a highly visual and non-daunting manner.
I’ve personally tried to investigate keyboard shortcuts before, but I simply couldn’t be bothered to read through the lengthy PDF file supplied by Adobe, so for me, this tool is a game changer.
Despite it’s simplicity though, it might look a bit daunting at first, so here’s a brief overview of how to use it:
Selecting your App: Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator
To begin, you need to select the application that you’re using.
There are three choices here: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, and you can make your selection via the drop-down menu on the tool itself.
Once selected, you’ll notice that the keyboard shortcuts mapped onto the onscreen keyboard may change slightly, and the background color will change to match the selected application.
Currently, the mapped shortcuts are only for Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign CC, but most of them work in CS6 and CS5, too.
Selecting your OS: Mac OSX, Windows, or Linux
Step 2 requires the selection of your operating system.
Depending on whether you’re using a PC or Mac, things will be slightly different here, which is why it’s so important to select the correct OS from the drop-down.
You’ll notice that Mac keyboards feature a CMD key, whereas this isn’t present on PC keyboards.
This will disappear from the on-screen keyboard if you select Windows or Linux.
Selecting your Region: US, UK, or elsewhere
Similarly to OS selection, your keyboard layout will vary slightly depending on your region, so this too needs to be selected from the drop-down.
You can choose between English UK, US, and a few other regions (although not all of them are currently available).
You’ll probably see some subtle changes in the layout of the on-screen keyboard once again, upon your selection.
Selecting your Modifiers: Shift, Control/Command, and/or Alt
By default, you should see a number of shortcuts mapped onto the virtual keyboard.
However, there are many more shortcuts than that, but you’ll have to use modifier keys in order to see them.
Modifier keys are essentially just keys that change the mapped shortcuts; these are Shift, Command/Control, and Alt (if you’ve ever used the CTRL/CMD + Z shortcut for “undo”, you’ll be familiar with modifier keys).
You can select any combination of modifier keys simply by clicking them on the virtual keyboard. To deselect them, simply click them again.
Searching the Shortcuts: Using the Search Bar
With so many shortcuts mapped onto the interactive tool, finding one particular shortcut for an application might be easier said than done.
Luckily, there is a simple solution to this problem: you can use the search bar.
This is located just below the on-screen keyboard, and to use it, you simply just need to start typing.
As you do, the application will suggest matching keyboard shortcuts.
Zooming in: Magnifying the Shortcuts
Some of the keyboard shortcuts are quite difficult to read (especially if your eyesight isn’t that great), but don’t worry, as you can easily zoom in.
Simply rollover any key on the virtual keyboard with your cursor, and you’ll notice a zoomed in version of the shortcut dynamically appear below the keyboard.
This is where the interactive nature of the tool really comes into its own.
Wait, there’s more: Download Photoshop CC, Illustrator, & InDesign Desktop Wallpapers
But, what about if you don’t have access to the Internet, or if you quickly want to reference a shortcut without the hassle of opening your browser?
No worries, as you can now download a series of well-designed desktop wallpapers.
You can find the link to these on the shortcut mapper itself (bottom right corner).
There are wallpapers available for every screen resolution imaginable; and there are also unique versions for both Mac and PC.