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Top 10 Keyboard Shortcuts to a more productive workflow

June 15, 2016

Written by Mark Chodacki

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As a strong supporter of keyboard efficiency I have put together my top 10 keyboard shortcuts that I use on a daily basis. Being predominantly a Mac user these have been tailored more towards a Mac, however don’t worry I’ve also shown the PC alternatives where they’re available.

Number 10

Force quit on Mac or Processes on Windows

This is an extremely efficient shortcut for when one pesky program is not responding and slowing you down!

cmd + alt + esc  (Mac)  

ctrl + shift + esc (Windows)

Number 9

Fill with foreground colour on Photoshop

As an avid user of shapes and the colour picker, this is by far the quickest way to fill with colour.

With the shape selected in the layers panel press:

Alt + del (fills with forground colour)

Cmd/Ctrl + del (fills with background colour)

You can also use:

Shift + del (fill with forground/background colour on a rasterized layer)

Number 8

Quickly aligning within Photoshop

This is a custom shortcut that doesn’t have a default built into the program. I set mine up to be easy to access close to my mouse (Right handed, so next to the numpad)

Cmd + Num+ (Aligns horizontal)

Cmd + Num- (Aligns vertical)

A quick mash of cmd + Num+ & Num- can center an object perfectly.

Number 7


Not quite a specific shortcut but an app called ‘cheatsheet’ available for Mac from the App Store. This app displays all the default shortcuts in one handy pop up when holding down cmd – really useful for when you have forgotten a specific action.

Number 6

Switch tabs

This one is for anyone who has a crazy tab addiction on their internet browsers. What if I told you that moving from tab to tab is as easy as:

Ctrl + Tab to go forward

Ctrl + Shift + Tab to backwards

Cmd/Ctrl + 1-9 (jumps to specific tab number)

Or if you’re like me:

Cmd + alt + leftarrow (tab left)

Cmd + alt + rightarrow (tab right)

Number 5

Clipping masks

Another Photoshop exclusive is for clipping masks, moving your mouse to the layers panel, right clicking then navigating to clipping mask, and then! Having to click one more time. What a hassle, next time why not try pressing:

Cmd + alt + G (Mac)

Ctrl + alt + G (Windows)

Number 4

Moving windows

On Windows you can snap a window to left or right, or to the next screen. While on mac these are built in with El Capitan, however if you’re left demanding more, a program called ‘Spectacle’ can help. Spectacle enables you to move a window to a different screen, take up a quarter, third, half or full screen and much more. All achievable without leaving the keyboard. Best of all it’s a free application.


Windows key + left/right arrow (Move a window to the left/right half of current screen)

Shift + Windows key + left/right arrow (Move a window to the next screen, left/right)

Mac: (These are my current custom shortcuts)

Cmd + alt + shift + left/right arrow (Move a window to the next screen, left/right)

Cmd + alt + left/right/up/down arrow (Move a window to the left/right/top/bottom half of current screen, continuing to press this will go down in halves)

Cmd + alt + F (Full screen the current window)

Number 3

Smart Objects

The last Photoshop specific shortcut is for smart objects, again this requires you to navigate and find the smart object option, however you can set up a shortcut yourself. These are the ones I currently use; these utilise the numpad once again.

Cmd + alt + Num1 (Convert to smart object)

Cmd + alt + Num0 (New smart object via copy)

Number 2


In at number 2 is Spotlight for mac. This brings up a panel, where you can type whatever you like. Typing a program will find and launch it, typing an equation will solve it, typing a word shows the definition. There are a lot of utilities available with few little steps. The best thing about Spotlight is that it’s available no matter where you are on the machine, it overlays onto of your program with a little popup.

Cmd + space

The same can be achieved on Windows but with a little less sophisticated by pressing the Windows key and typing straight after.

Number 1

Switch applications

For my number one I’ve chosen an extremely easy shortcut that a lot of people forget about. This is by far the most used throughout my general day to day of multitasking.

Cmd + tab

This lets you navigate through programs you currently have open, a quick press of cmd + tab takes you back to the previously used program. Useful if you only have one screen.


Hopefully these shortcuts can improve your productivity like they have mine. How do my shortcuts weigh up to yours? Let me know if you think there is a more productive workflow available. I would love to know what shortcuts you are using, comment below with your responses.

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