Keyboard shortcuts make you more productive in Illustrator. You can use the default shortcuts included with Illustrator, or add and customize shortcuts to suit your needs.

Customize keyboard shortcuts

Illustrator lets you view a list of all shortcuts, and edit or create shortcuts. The Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box serves as a shortcut editor, and includes all commands that support shortcuts, some of which aren’t addressed in the default shortcut set.

You can define your own sets of shortcuts, change individual shortcuts within a set, and switch between sets of shortcuts. For example, you can create separate sets for different workspaces chosen from the Window > Workspace menu.

If you have previously saved a set of keyboard shortcuts other than the default, then the keyboard shortcuts are stored in a .kys file in Illustrator's preferences folder. You can copy this file into the same location (in Ai’s preferences folder) in the new computer. You can then choose this set from Illustrator’s Keyboard Shortcuts dialog.

You can use the same .kys file across platforms as long as the modified shortcuts are valid for the platforms.

Following are the locations where the custom Illustrator keyboard shortcuts are saved by default:

Mac OS:

user/Library/Preferences/Illustrator CS5 Settings/[language]/mycustomshortcut.kys

Windows Vista and Windows 7

<rootdir>\Users\[user name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator
CS5 Settings\[language]\mycustomshortcut.kys

Win XP

<rootdir>\Document and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Adobe\Adobe
Illustrator CS5 Settings\[language]\mycustomshortcut.kys


In addition to using keyboard shortcuts, you can access many commands using context-sensitive menus. Context-sensitive menus display commands that are relevant to the active tool, selection, or panel. To display a context-sensitive menu, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) in the document window or panel.

  1. Choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.
  2. Choose a set of shortcuts from the Set menu at the top of the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box.
  3. Choose a shortcut type (Menu Commands or Tools) from the menu above the shortcut display.
  4. Do any of the following:
    • To activate the set of shortcuts, click OK.

    • To change a shortcut, click in the Shortcut column of the scroll list and type a new shortcut. If you enter a shortcut that is already assigned to another command or tool, an alert appears at the bottom of the dialog box. Click Undo to undo the change, or click Go To to go to the other command or tool and assign it a new shortcut. In the Symbol column, type the symbol that will appear in the menu or tool tip for the command or tool. You can use any of the characters that are allowed in the Shortcut column.

      note: Mac OS does not allow you to assign Command+Option+8 as a menu shortcut.

    • To save changes to the current set of shortcuts, click OK. (You can’t save changes to the set named Illustrator Defaults.)

    • To save a new set of shortcuts, click Save. Enter a name for the new set, and click OK. The new key set will appear in the pop‑up menu under the new name.

    • To delete the set of shortcuts, click Delete. (You can’t delete the set named Illustrator Defaults.)

    • To export the displayed set of shortcuts into a text file, click Export Text. In the Save Key Set File As dialog box, enter a filename for the current key set that you are saving, and click Save. You can use this text file to print out a copy of your keyboard shortcuts.

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