Editor’s note: This post was written by John, a design enthusiast with a passion for blogging, too. He regularly writes on the subject of design on his own blog, along with a number of other popular publications. He is also a design freelancer.
If you’re a photographer, web designer, developer, blogger, magazine designer/editor, or even a print designer, chances are that Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are three applications you couldn’t live without.
I’ve been doing graphic design for a few years now, and there’s no way I could live without these three applications (at least not without Photoshop and Illustrator); I simply couldn’t produce such quality work without them, as they’re just so powerful and feature-packed.
While these three applications are ridiculously powerful, however, I’ve realised over the last few years that power isn’t everything: you’ve also got to know how to harness that power in a way that makes financial sense.
Let me give you an example of what I mean: I do a lot of graphic design work on behalf of clients, and recently, I realised that simple, somewhat mundane tasks were taking up a lot of my time.
I charge most of my clients on an hourly basis, and therefore, time is money, literally.
So, I started investigating ways to cut-down the time I spent on these tasks, without it affecting the quality of my work, and I stumbled across a whole host of keyboard shortcuts that I hadn’t been using.
After integrating these shortcuts into my workflow, I cut my time down (on average) by around 17%.
The problem was that it took me hours of sifting through boring documentation to find the shortcuts that were useful to me.
So, I started looking for a better way and stumbled across this incredible tool from FastPrint.
Introducing: Interactive Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator Shortcuts
If, like me, you’re interested in increasing your productivity through the use of keyboard shortcuts, the shortcut visualizer for Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign is the tool you’ve been looking for.
What does the tool do? It maps the hundreds of available keyboard shortcuts for the applications onto a virtual keyboard (displayed on-screen through your web browser of choice).
Why is this useful? Because it means that you don’t have to sift through pages of boring documentation to find useful shortcuts: instead, you can search for them in a visual manner on a virtual keyboard.
Here’s how to get started with the tool:
1: What are you using: Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign?
As mentioned, the virtual tool actually maps shortcuts for all three applications, so the first step is to choose the application that you’re actually using.
To do this, navigate to the drop-down menu at the top of the tool and select from Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign.
You’ll see that the colour scheme will change to reflect your choice (i.e. blue for Photoshop, pink for InDesign, etc.).
Once you’ve done this, you’ll see a number of shortcuts corresponding to your chosen application appear on the on-screen keyboard.
2: What are you using: Mac or PC?
You’ll notice that if you’re a Mac user, you use the command key rather than the control key in most instances.
On Windows, it’s the other way around.
So, you need to tell the tool which operating system you’re using so that it can make sure to map the shortcuts correctly.
Again, this is done via a selection menu at the top of the browser window.
You’ll notice that the command key disappears if you choose Windows or Linux, but remains if you choose Mac OSX.
3: Where are you? US, UK, or a different country?
It’s also important to tell the tool which part of the world you’re in, and which language you’re using, as doing so will ensure that the on-screen keyboard is arranged correctly.
Depending on where you are, there may be subtle differences in the arrangement of certain keys, so make sure to select the location that applies to you.
These are a few locations/languages available, which can be selected via the drop-down: there’s English US and UK, along with a few other choices.
Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to go.
4: How do I view more shortcuts?
While you will see a number of shortcuts displayed on the on-screen keyboard by default, you’ll notice that this is only a handful of the total number of shortcuts available for each application.
To view the others, you’ll need to toggle so-called modifier keys (i.e. Alt, Command/Control, and Shift).
Toggling these keys (in any order, might I add) will change the shortcuts mapped to each key.
E.g. If you toggle the Command key (or Control key on Windows/Linux), you’ll notice that the “Z” key now shows the shortcut “Undo”.
5: How do I search for a particular shortcut?
Are you looking for a particular keyboard shortcut?
No worries, as there’s search functionality built right into the application.
You’ll notice that this is located just below the virtual keyboard (scroll down if you can’t see it).
To start searching, just start typing in the search bar and you’ll see a list of suggestions appear within milliseconds.
It certainly saves time perusing those lengthy PDFs, doesn’t it?
6: I’m struggling to read the small text, what do I do?
With such a crazy amount of shortcuts mapped onto a single tool, you’ll notice that a lot of the text is pretty small.
If you’re struggling to read this, there’s a quick and easy solution.
Grab your mouse, and roll your cursor over any of the keys on the virtual keyboard: you’ll see the text duplicated in a large font size just below the keyboard itself.
Don’t forget to download the wallpaper(s)
Not only have FastPrint produced the interactive browser-based tool mentioned above, but they’ve also created a series of desktop wallpapers which showcase some of the most popular keyboard shortcuts for each of the applications.
These are available to download from their website.
You can grab the Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign wallpaper, all of which are available for PC and Mac.