Design insights & tutorials.

Scale Objects in Adobe Illustrator Via Keyboard


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.


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


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


Hit the Stop Recording button on the Actions panel.


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 and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
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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

  • 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!

  • twilighterz

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

    Thanks for the tip!

  • Simon H.

    Nice and fast. Thanks!

  • JimD

    EXCELLENT tip, George!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Free Social Icons

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

  • Quicken Websites

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

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    Wow great tip! Very smart. Thanks!

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    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


    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!

  • 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!!!

  • 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

  • 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??

  • George Coghill

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

    • 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

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  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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 

  • panax

    Very cool and interesting article

  • panax

    Thanks for the feedback and tips

  • panax

    Thanks for the feedback and tips

  • Dhiejhay Dela Torre Dacsil

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