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10 Adobe InDesign keyboard shortcuts that will improve workflow

Time-saving keyboard shortcuts in #Adobe InDesign are invaluable. Beginners to the software will learn the long-form steps to accomplish projects, but as time goes on, you will find yourself using more and more shortcut keystrokes.

In no particular order, I've narrowed down the top 10 keyboard shortcuts I most commonly use when working in Adobe InDesign. In this tutorial, we will design a minimalistic postcard for a fictional upscale retail store called Pompei.

Keep in mind, these shortcuts are for Mac users. If you're working in Windows, just replace Command with Ctrl and Option with Alt for the same results.

Let's get started!


Ten keyboard shortcuts every Adobe InDesign should know and use

Import a File: Command + D

Not long ago, Adobe introduced the Import File button as a Quick Action in the Properties Panel, essentially to replace or use as an alternative to Command + D. However, the latter is a technique layout designers  have used for years, so it's a hard habit to break. I am getting used to using the Import File more often. Either way is quicker than the File > Place route.

Letter Spacing and Line Spacing: Option + ▶︎ or ◀︎ / Option + ▲ or ▼

When working with type, there will definitely be times where you will have to adjust the Kerning, Tracking or Leading. With Kerning and Tracking, there are two fields in the Control or Properties Panels to adjust the settings (marked as V/A with arrows). If you put your cursor between two characters, use Option + ▶︎ or ◀︎ to loosen or tighten the letter space. Select the entire word or body of text and use the same method for tracking. For Leading — increasing or decreasing the spacing between lines in paragraphs —use Option + ▲ or ▼ to loosen or reduce the space.

Resize Text: Shift + Command + < or > / Shift + Option + Command + < or >

Resizing text is another common formatting tool in Adobe InDesign. Using the pt size dropdown or typing in the precise value is always an option. However, if you want to resize text quickly, Shift + Command + < or > will increase/decrease the point size by increments of two pt. For even quicker results, Shift + Option + Command + < or > will increase/decrease the point sizes by increments of 10 by default.

Resize Images: Option + Command + < or >

This is similar to the keystroke to resize text, only it is used to resize images in a layout. First, click the content grabber (or Donut) in the image frame to access the content. Then, use Option + Command + < or > to increase or decrease the size. If you don't click the content grabber and just have the frame selected while using this method, it will increase or decrease the entire frame with the image together. Just something to be aware of.

Text Alignments: Shift + Command + L / C / R / J

The four most common alignments for text — left, centre, right and justified — can be found in the Control Panel or Properties Panel. With text selected, you can click on any of the alignment icons in either panel. Instead use the Shift + Command with either L (left), C (centre), R (right) or J (justified) for quicker results.

Paste in Place: Shift + Option + Command + V

There are times when you need an object or text frame from one page in the exact same spot on another. Instead of using the Edit > Copy > Paste in Place method, click on the element you want to copy and hold Command + C to copy. Navigate to the page you want to Paste in Place and use the Shift + Option + Command + V keystroke. Much easier and faster.

Fit Frame Proportionally: Shift + Option + Command + C

There are many Fitting options available in Adobe InDesign. However, the one I commonly use when importing images into a layout is Fit Frame Proportionally. Of course this can be done the long way with a right-click Fitting > Fit Frame Proportionally, or of course the fast and much easier way of pressing Shift + Option + Command + C.

Content Aware Fit: Option + Command + X

Ever since InDesign introduced its Content Aware Fit, I have used it more often than the Fit Frame Proportionally. This can also be done through the Fitting options or by clicking the Content Aware Fit icon in the Properties Panel. If you're looking for another simple way, hold Option + Command + X to achieve the same result in a timely manner.

Fill and Stroke Toggle: Shift + X

Toggle between Fill and Stroke. This can be a huge time-saving shortcut rather than having to go into the Swatches window or Control Panel to reverse the Fill and Stroke on an object. Try it out for yourself. Click on a shape or object and give it a Fill. With the object still selected, hold down Shift and press X and it will toggle between the two.

Arrange Objects: Shift + Command + [ or ] / Command + [ or ]

Working on a single layer that has multiple text frames and other objects? Yes, you can right-click and go to Object > Arrange > Send To...You can also go to the Object dropdown and repeat that same process. But instead, click on an object in your layout and use the shortcut Shift + Command + [ or ] to send it all the way to the back or all the way to the front, respectively.

These are my top 10 most commonly used keyboard shortcuts. But I use many, many more when working on projects. For a full list of Adobe InDesign keystrokes, click here.

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