Adobe Illustrator CC - Advanced Training

Shortcuts for aligning & distributing in Illustrator CC using Actions

Daniel Walter Scott

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In this video we're going to learn the shortcuts for aligning and distributing. And the short answer is, there's no default shortcuts and it's a little bit hard to make them. They're not under 'Edit', 'Keyboard shortcuts', you can't make them that way either. We're going to use something called the Actions Panel. The cool thing about it is we're going to learn how to make this kind of custom shortcuts using actions in Illustrator for aligning and distributing, but you can use this for anything. So, let's get started. 

First up, if you just want to be super quick, you don't want to actually learn this, you want to download my one, you can do that. Let's go to 'Window', 'Actions'. I've got some default shortcuts made. It's for Mac only, sorry PC people. If you make a PC one, awesome, send it to me, and I'll add it to the exercise files as well. That would be super cool. To load the ones that I've made, go to this burger menu here. Go to 'Load Actions', and there's one called 'Align & Distribute'. I've got some basics in there. We're going to make vertical in a second but that would be there when you download it. 

The shortcuts that I've got, remember, this is for Mac only, I'm holding the 'Command' key down, and the Function 'Fn' key. Check out your keyboard, there's a Fn key. You need to hold down both of those, then we use the F keys along the top. So F1, F2, F3, F4. The basics are, if I select these two guys 'Command-Function-F1' is left align. 'Command-Function-F2' is right align. 'F3', I'm just going to ignore the Command Function, okay? So 'F3' is center horizontally. 'F4' is vertically, and then we've got distribution. Now the reason distribution is a little bit different, if I grab all these guys-- it's 'Command Function' I'm using F12 and F11 for up, down, left, and right. You can change yours, you can rename them horizontal, vertical. Up and down makes more sense to me than vertical and horizontal. You can go and change them by double clicking them. 

Now what you're going to run into when you're creating your own, and what I did is, I want to use F5 for this one, but F5 opens up the voice over thing, which is really Command Function F5 on my Mac. That thing we've all turned on at some stage and don't know how to turn it off. When you're making your own, you'll run into some problems with pre-existing function keys. PCs are easier, there are controls underneath those F keys. Now we're missing center vertical So to make it, what we're going to do, is go to let's go to 'New', 'New Action'. Decide where to put it. I've made my folder, you can just stick it in the default actions but I'm going to stick mine here. Decide what shortcut you're going to use. And in our case, we're going to use F4, I've tested it, 'Command-Function-F4'. Every time it doesn't say Function on a Mac you have to hold 'Function' even though they don't say it. But kiss them out, to see if-- you might have to come back and then change them because it might open voice over.

This one here is going to called Center Vertical. Often I'll call it up and down, and, left and right as well. Not sure why that baffles me so much. Anyway, so it's recording. It's going to record your action, whatever you do next is going to be part of that shortcut. And we're going to go 'Align Vertical'. And you can see it recorded it. Hit 'Stop'. And hopefully now, I should be able to select these guys, and go 'Command-Function-F4', and it aligns him up. So that's how you create your own custom shortcut. Start it, make a new one, give it a name. Give it a shortcut, which you'll have to probably test a few times. I know that F5 doesn't work, and a few other ones on a Mac that doesn't work. But yes, then just do stuff. 

Now, you can take this further, and do things like rotate, and keep recording. So if I go to here, and I have recorded any move, it will rotate, and you can see, it's recorded everything. So now if I stop it, and go, you, my friend, my shortcut, 'Command-Function-F4'. It moved it up, and rotated it. So if you're doing something quite repetitive you can record it, it records everything. I want to delete these guys here. 

And that's going to be us, I'll save these in the Exercise Files, and you can just use mine to do a PC one, I'd love you to do it. Drop it to me, send me a message. And I'll add it to the Exercise Files. All right, I'll see you in the next video.