Advertisement HOW Design Live Event Registration

Many people in the design community swear by their Mac. Efficiency and minimal effort for simple tasks is an important part of succeeding as a designer. The drag and drop interface and smooth transitions allow for this but how can we better utilize the keyboard? Getting comfortable with these top 5 Keyboard Shortcuts will open up new doors for you and cut time. Some of these may feel like an extra step at first, but practice your craft with them and before you know it they will be second nature.

5. Spotlight (Command + Space)

Spotlight has been around since the days of OS X Tiger. It is the base station for searching the contents of your computer, launching apps, looking up things in the dictionary, quickly viewing calendar, it can even make calculations.

Image: Apple

Save yourself the trouble of ever moving your mouse away from the canvas and hit Command + Space and the spotlight bar will appear ready to begin using it.

4. Zoom In and Out & Actual Size

To zoom in and out while in your preferred design application, hit Command + Add (+). In order to zoom out, press Command + Subtract (-). You probably already knew that, but the real efficiency booster is to stop wasting your precious time trying to get back to actual size. Did you know you can press Command + 0 to get back to 100%? Huge time saver!

Okay, still not impressed? An even more awesome, speedy way to zoom in lies in the scroll wheel. Hold down Control + Mouse scroll wheel up to zoom in and hit Control + Mouse scroll wheel down to zoom out. This also eliminates the need for actual size because you cannot zoom out past 100%.

3. Quickly Show & Hide Dock

Our screens can become cluttered, especially when we are knee deep into a large project, so the dock can just add to that chaos. To quickly toggle the visibility of the dock press Command + Option + D. The dock will slide off of your screen until you repeat the command. The best part about it is when hiding you can still access it by hovering your mouse around the hidden location.

2. Screen Captures

Screenshots are extremely useful and probably nothing new to you, but there are a few different useful methods that you may not know about that can be used. Here is a breakdown of the different ways you can take a screenshot on your mac:

Command + Shift + 3Classic screenshot
Command + Shift + 4 – Select an area to be captured to a file
Command + Control + Shift + 4 – Screenshot mouse selection area (once typed use mouse to drag a box of desired screenshot area)

Command + Shift + 4 + Space – Capture only the entire window of an application. You can drag the selection around once typed

Command + Control + Shift + 3 – Screenshot saved to clipboard, instead of desktop

1. Make Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts

Another powerful tool can be creating our own keyboard shortcuts, here is a list of third party apps to get you started:

iKey ($29.99) – A powerhouse of keyboard shortcut functionality. iKey is pricy, but it allows you to perform all kinds of crazy actions and complicated workflows with your keyboard.

Keyboard Maestro ($35.99) – Like iKey, Keyboard Maestro is a beast of functionality and is definitely aimed at pro users. Setting up a macro is a lot like building an Automator action that can be launched with a keyboard shortcut.

Shortcuts ($9.99) – The two apps above are great, but they’re expensive and fairly complicated. Shortcuts is much simpler, more affordable and lets you easily assign shortcuts to: apps files, websites, system actions and more.


Apptivate ($2.99) – At a mere three bucks, Apptivate is the cheapest option in this list and also one of the handiest. It lives in your menu bar and allows you to setup shortcuts for launching files and applications, executing scripts and running Automator workflows. There’s a really cool new feature that allows you to set up hotkey sequences. I definitely recommend that you give this app a try before purchasing one of the more expensive options above.

TutsPlus – Of course there is also the alternative of setting these shortcuts up yourself. However, this process is a whole new monster and will take some time, so here is a great tutorial from Tuts Plus if you choose to go that route. I hope these tips serve valuable to you in the future and let me know if you know of any other great ones!