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Design 101: Designing One Handed? Here’s How

If you had to run a marathon, you wouldn’t do it on one leg would you? The same applies for your hands with designing. Your clients should get the most out of the money they spend for the work you create, and you can’t do that with one hand. Learning to create with two hands will increase the speed of projects and ensure that your clients are getting the most out of the money they spend. Knowing keyboard shortcuts (otherwise known as “hotkeys”) for each design, Microsoft office and email programs will speed up workflow. 

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Where to Find Shortcuts

To start learning shortcuts, you can begin by opening up any program. Generally, if you hover over an icon, you will either see a title, a shortcut shown by parentheses or brackets, or both a title and shortcut. If they don’t appear when you hover, they can be found in the drop down menus from the menu bar at the top of your screen under “File,” “Edit,” and so on. They will be displayed on the right side next to each option, usually abbreviated and joined as one word by a “+” to indicate that each button needs to be pressed at the same time. Each program has it’s own set of shortcuts, and if you are having trouble finding them you can easily search the web for your specific program’s shortcuts.

Knowing the Shortcuts for Adobe Creative Cloud Programs

Adobe has made a majority of their shortcuts the same or similar throughout their entire range of software programs they offer. You can easily switch between each tool by pressing a letter on the keyboard. To find out which letter a tool is assigned to, hover over the tool and the shortcut will appear inside parenthesis.

For other basic shortcuts, you can find them displayed to each option throughout the menu bar at the top of the screen. Here is the best resource I’ve found for Adobe’s shortcuts, which has all shortcuts for both Mac & PC to the basic Adobe Programs. For a specific or complete list of all Adobe shortcuts, try helpx.adobe.com, and use the search button next to the “Sign In” button, and type a program name followed by “shortcuts.” If you want to customize your own shortcut, Adobe allows custom shortcuts. Make your own shortcut by selecting “Edit” from the top menu bar, and from the dropdown menu click on “Keyboard Shortcuts.” From there you can manually change shortcuts for all tools and menu commands.

Knowing the Shortcuts for Microsoft Office Programs & Your Email Client

Not only is it important to know shortcuts for your design programs, but this also applies to shortcuts for your email provider so you can email clients faster. Microsoft Office has done the same thing with their suite of programs by making most of their shortcuts the same through different applications.

Check out these resources:

The Benefits of Knowing This All

Over the course of my career as a graphic designer, I can say that using shortcuts has almost doubled the speed of my work. Rather than using drop down menus and navigating through the interface, I can easily press a keyboard shortcut and have the action done in a second. There are even resources out there besides shortcut lists like free (user created by combining 2 resources from 99 DesignsHongkiat) or purchasable posters as well if you don’t want to memorize them.