Design insights & tutorials.

Scale Objects in Adobe Illustrator Via Keyboard

scale-vector-objects-via-keyboard-header

I’m a big fan of resolution-independent vector art. I’m also a big fan of keyboard shortcuts. It’s been driving me a bit batty that there is no way in Adobe Illustrator to scale objects using just the keyboard. I use this method all the time within InDesign, and feel like I have handcuffs on when jumping back to Illustrator and wanting to do the same.

With some clever usage of Illustrator Actions, this can indeed be achieved. Here’s how:

Create a new Action via the Actions panel. Name your Action “Scale Up” and assign an F-key to the Action (I chose Shift-F8 on my Mac). Recording will start automatically.

new-action

Next, go to the menubar and choose Object > Transform > Scale…

scale

Set your scale to Uniform and enter 101%. Hit the OK button.

scale-OK

Hit the Stop Recording button on the Actions panel.

stop-recording-action

Repeat the above step, only this time name your Action “Scale Down”, add the Command key to the shortcut, and enter 99% as your scale percentage.

Now you have a handy keyboard shortcut to scale selected objects within Illustrator.

Thanks to Adobe consultant & trainer Jean-Claude Tremblay for the tip via Twitter!

About the Author, George Coghill

George Coghill isa freelance humorous illustrator/cartoonist specializing in mascot cartoon character design & cartoon logos. His cartooning & illustration work can be seen at CoghillCartooning.com and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
Discover More by George Coghill

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Eric O.

    Absolutely brilliant! Thank you for this!

  • Jhay

    Cool! Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/BajeDrift-Motorsport/819480062 BajeDrift Motorsport

    That is PRETTY SMART!
    Honestly, I've never thought of having a keyboard shortcut for finer scaling. I just accepted that there was none and used the transform tool with awkward decimal measurements.

    Thanks so much for this!

  • http://twilightersanonymous.com twilighterz

    I like it! Can't wait o add it to AI

    Thanks for the tip!

  • Simon H.

    Nice and fast. Thanks!

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com JimD

    EXCELLENT tip, George!

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Glad you all like this one, and of course credit goes the Jean-Claude Tremblay, he replied like 2 seconds after I asked on Twitter if anyone knew a way to do this.

    Now I just have to remember to *use* it :)

  • jon a

    Nice Share.

    I've been doing keyboard based scaling for a while now – although my method isn't perhaps as eloquent – it is helpful when moving from computer to computer in the design department where my actions may not always arise.
    1.Select objects.
    2.Hit (S) for scale.
    3.Hit Enter on the Numeric Keypad.
    4.Drop in your value into the uniform box. Hit Enter
    5.Command+D until it's scaled up/down to the value your looking for.
    Seems a little cumbersome at first but after you do it for a few dozen times it locks into your muscle memory.

  • http://twitter.com/_DavidSilva David Silva

    Sweet… this one is much needed for me. I've also been messing with the free transform way of doing it and just never thought about there should actually be a better way of doing it. Funny how we sometimes just move past the issue and deal with it for so long!

    Thanks, George.

  • http://www.freesocialicons.com/ Free Social Icons

    Great tip this will help me a lot when I create new icons!

  • http://www.quickenwebsites.com/ Quicken Websites

    very smart) saving so much time! thanx!!!

  • http://www.smithgarglaw.com/ the woodlands divorce lawyers

    Wow great tip! Very smart. Thanks!

  • http://www.walktall.co.uk/footwear-c-26.html Size 14 shoes

    It gonna help me a lot. Thanks for sharing dear and post more on such topic for us.

  • MattS

    Cool. The sort of thing that just has to hit you to come up with.

  • jonathanpatterson

    Sweetness!

    How can one scale text in Indesign CS4 with the keyboard?

    In InDesign CS3 you could select your type, and in the character palette increase or decrease the size by clicking with the mouse once, after that you could hold down shift and press up or down arrow to scale quickly. That's not the case anymore. Is there some new way in CS4? I'd love to know!

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    The method you describe works for me in InDesign CS4.

    To resize text via keyboard, highlight the text or select the text box, then hit Command-Shift-Period to increase, Command-Shift-Comma to decrease (Mac).

    Leave out the Shift key to increase/decrease the text box itself as well as the text.

  • jonathanpatterson

    SWEET! Works perfectly!

  • Mauro

    Thanks! Really Helpfull!!!

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Glad this helped!

  • Afafa

    Yo, this is way better…
    select object
    press & hold S key
    ….move tool turns to cross hairs & you scale as if in photoshop

    You're Welcome

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    No need to hold the S key, tapping it will select that tool. But this has nothing to do with resizing via the keyboard.

    Unless I am missing something?

  • donatron

    I used to be able to scale with just my mouse….but i think i accidentally hit something and it wont work anymore (CS2)….can anyone help??

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Need more details here please. You can't click & drag the bounding box to scale an object?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5JM3I27OKUXYB7OS2J7CG5BJO4 MaLeea Entizne

      I am having the same issue and i tried the ctrl B for the bounding box but i am still not able to scale anything using my mouse like i used to….

  • solut

    Absolutely brilliant! Thank you for this!
    dizi izle

  • solut

    Absolutely brilliant! Thank you for this!
    dizi izle

  • Matt

    Thanks for this nice work!
    dizi izle

  • Supra Shoes UK

    GHD Hair Straighteners are on hot sale in our GHD Hair Straightener online store. Now we know that all the GHD from GHD Australia are of free sihpping and no sale tax. But you should keep an eye on the series like GHD MK4, GHD IV Styler, GHD Purple,, GHD Envy, GHD Dark and GHD Red when buy from the GHD Hair Australia online store as some GHD Iron are provided with fake. Therefore, Fake GHD should be complained if you already have one.
    Now most of the GHD Hair Australia products from GHD Australia shops are likely to offer you the top quality GHD Hair Straightener, like the best seller GHD MK4 and GHD Iron. Other GHD Irons like GHD Purple, GHD Envy, GHD Serenity, GHD Pink, GHD Dark and GHD Red. Just buy your favourite GHD for the coming christmas. Hope you could do happy shopping of GHD Hair Straighteners from an Authentic GHD store.
    Cheap Supra Shoes is another very sutitable product for the coming season as the Supra Shoes would always leave you a feeling of comfort and a sense of dynamic and fashion. Now all the Supra Shoes UK could provide you a variety of Discount Supra Shoes and Cheap Supra Footwear. They also guarantee all the Supra Footwear sold are of top quality and reliable after sales service.What’s more, Supra Footwear UK have followed other brand shoes by providing disount for group shopping to allow more customers to share the perfect Supra Trainers and Supra Skate Shoes. As we know the Cheap Supra Trainers from Supra UK mainly face to the young generation who shows an increasing desire to pursue fashion and dynamic.I would like to suggest Supra Skytop,Supra Muska Skytop, Supra TK Society, Supra Vaider and Supra Skytop II if you want to Buy Supra Shoes now. Furthermore, I want to point out that all Supra Shoes Sale are of free shipping and no sale tax!

  • Brigidesign

    I can’t click and drag the bounding box to scale anymore either. Its like that function just packed up and left.

    • Brigidesign

      nevermind, we accidentally hid the bounding boxes. Hit ctrl B

  • BigVince

    In reply to some of the suggestions, just hit s, then hit the enter or return key.

    • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

      Using the Scale tool and the Enter key to bring up the numeric dialog box is one way to do scaling, however my tip was for a way to do this incrementally as opposed to a specific size.

  • http://www.klavisnurs.com Klavis

    I can’t click and drag the bounding box to scale anymore either. Its like that function just packed up and left.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t click and drag the bounding box to scale anymore either. Its like that function just packed up and left. Im using CS5 

  • http://www.drmustafaerarslan.org/ panax

    Very cool and interesting article

  • http://www.drmustafaerarslan.org/ panax

    Thanks for the feedback and tips

  • http://www.drmustafaerarslan.org/ panax

    Thanks for the feedback and tips

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000937284718 Dhiejhay Dela Torre Dacsil

    wow….thats rigth of my invention!!!  toinxxD