Design insights & tutorials.

Text Tool Tips

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So you’re a keyboard shortcut junkie, working on a design. You need to add text. You select the Text tool in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign and add your text. But how does one jump to other tools—permanently or temporarily—while having the Text tool selected? Obviously if you hit one of the standard keyboard ‘letter’ shortcuts, you’re just going to enter that letter into the text box. Here are a few tips…

“Commit” the Text Box

Illustrator/InDesign: In Illustrator or InDesign, you can commit the text very easily by hitting the Esc key. The text/text box you were working with will no longer act as if it’s “live” and you can select another single-letter tool shortcut via your keyboard.

In Illustrator as well as InDesign, hitting the Esc key will also jump you to the Select tool as well. If you want to keep the Text tool active and still access the Select tool temporarily, just tap Cmd (Mac)/Ctrl (PC) to access the Select tool. Then release the Cmd/Ctrl key to revert back to the Text tool.

Photoshop: To “commit” text in Photoshop, you’ll need to hit the Enter key (note that the Enter key is not the same as the Return key; Enter is on your number keypad).  And of course, no special keyboard wrangling to move the text around—just move your cursor slightly away from the text, and your cursor will temporarily switch to the Move tool.

Thanks to Mike Shoaf for the Photoshop ‘commit text’ tip!

Temporarily Access Hand Tools

Illustrator: So you’re working with text but just need to temporarily do some moving of the canvas with the hand tool. To get the hand tool when you’re working with text in Illustrator, press Cmd (Mac)/Ctrl (PC) + Spacebar, then release just the Cmd/Ctrl key. On the Mac, Cmd-Spacebar is also the default Spotlight search keyboard combo, but if you do the tip as suggested it will work fine, even though the Spotlight search bar will pop up; just ignore it.

Big thanks to Mordy Golding for this Illustrator tip, been looking for a way to do this for so long!

InDesign Within InDesign, there’s actually a special Hand tool keyboard shortcut just for this purpose: Option (Mac)/Alt (PC) + Spacebar. In fact, I have mapped one of the stylus buttons on my Wacom graphics tablet to this Option-Spacebar combo as opposed to the standard Spacebar, and it works great even when not in a live text box.

Photoshop: In Photoshop, to temporarily access the Spacebar/Hand tool while working in the Text tool, hold Command-Shift-Space (Mac) or Ctrl-Shift-Space (PC).

Thanks to @jeremysnyder for the tip!

Know of any other handy Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign tips for using the Text tool? Let us know in the Comments section below!

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!
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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.

  • jhtitus

    THE COMMIT KEYBOARD COMMAND IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT IN PHOTOSHOP IF YOUR WORKING OFF A MACBOOK RATHER THAN A DESKTOP DUE TO THE LACK OF NUMBER KEYPAD. INSTEAD OF HITTING THE ENTER KEY, YOU CAN SIMPLY PRESS CMD(MAC)/CTRL(PC) & THE NORMAL RETURN/ENTER BUTTON.

    JUST THOUGHT ID DROP THAT IN THERE FOR FELLOW LAPTOP BASED DESIGNERS

  • http://creativefeed.nardyello.com/ Nardyello

    Shortcuts ALWAYS speed up your work. It's very important that we learn them. Saves up from distraction looking for the button and also most of us can do it automatically without even looking at the keyboard.

    Great tips!

  • Simon H.

    This is really useful! Thanks George.

  • http://www.bjoern-d.de/ Bjoern Dammann

    Hey George…
    by pressing ctrl+shift + b (Windows) the highlighted text will be bold (bold font used, not the “wrong bold” from PS), same i for Italics and u for underline.

    Greetings

    Bjoern

    • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

      Very handy tip — thanks for sharing!

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Great point, and thanks for sharing! This also works on the full keyboards with numeric pads as well.

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    I have seen people literally looking at me with their mouths open watching me use keyboard shortcuts. The speed I gain is quite impressive. If you can't tell already, I am quite a geek about keyboard shortcuts and getting the tedious production time out of the way of creativity.

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Great tip, thanks for sharing this one Bjoern!

  • rorym

    Nice tips George, never realised the difference between return and enter key! How stupid do I feel. I was getting bored of clicking that tick box for text on photoshop…thanks for sharing.

  • oliverweb

    Great tips, thanks for sharing. Shortcuts are so much better and make it easier to work especially with Photoshop. It means I can get things done much quicker.

  • pollitka

    Maybe it's worth mentioning that one should be careful not to confuse the shortcuts for commiting text in Indesign/Illustrator with the ones in Photoshop – if you use the Esc key while working on a text in Photoshop, you'll not only NOT commit, but also will lose all the changes you've made since last committing.

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk/ Jamie Allsop

    Thanks for the tips, shortcuts come in really handy when designing and help you get things done quicker.

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    Thanks for this nice work!
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  • http://twitter.com/sweetpeaamanda Amanda Aldrich

    I know this article is a bit dated, but it’s right on point for my topic. I have an Acer laptop that refuses to return after a line of text. Each time I press the return key (enter) it commits the text. I’ve tried everything, and I can’t figure out why! Are there any other ways to return to a new line of text? I’m stumped!

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