Why Using Shortcuts will Change Your Life

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

"There are no shortcuts in life," they say but there sure are a hell of a lot on my Mac — why not use them to their full potential?

I believe one of these best skills a designer can have is speed. No, this doesn't mean that you should churn out a logo in 5 minutes and call it a day. I mean, you should be able to preform the tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible by using as few clicks as possible — my favorite tool for doing this is using shortcuts.

What is a Shortcut?

Shortcuts are those crazy combos of keyboard commands that allow you to do repetitive or complex tasks just by pressing a few buttons. They range from single keystroke — like switching tools in Photoshop — to complicated multi-key strokes that feel like I'm playing Twister on the keyboard. These commands can be used in-app or system wide (as a Mac, I use these religiously) across your workflow to speed up any task. I can say for certain (no science here), my most used command is — drumroll — ⌘Z (command+z) to undo something, anything, all the time.

I wish I had ⌘Z in real life.

Let me break it down, you are creating an illustration in Illustrator. To draw, you need to switch between the pen and arrow while also having to undo constantly. Rather than going back and forth to the tool panel and your art, using shortcuts "P" and "A" to toggle the two while using good ol' ⌘Z for any mistakes. This will save you time, allow you to focus on your art — not the tools, and give you more room to open up your art board (hide all panels with TAB or go fullscreen with "F"). Plus, you'll look like a magician with so much happening on your screen at once.

Cheatsheets are your friend

Don't be proud, we all cheat and especially when it come to remembering all the shortcuts. This is where cheatsheets come in, print them out or save as a PDF and reference back when you are doing a task. And I promise use in over and over in one task and you'll have them memorized.

Sketch Shortcuts

Photoshop Shortcuts

Illustrator Shortcuts

Mac Shortcuts

Time to Nerd Out

Did you know you can make your own shortcuts?! Well you can. Any action that can be preformed in the menu can be created into any shortcut you want (provided it's not already doing something else). I have created new shortcuts inside of Sketch App to let me preform task even quicker.

Simply go to the Mac System Preferences and view the Keyboard settings. Boom! The shortcuts tab will show you everything, all the system shortcuts you can use and the ability to add your own! Head on down to the App Shortcuts and add a custom shortcut to any application. Okay maybe these aren't the best step-by-step instructions, because Apple does that better.

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