By Corrie Haffly

The Lazy Developer’s Way to Switch From the Text Tool

By Corrie Haffly

Jeremy asked in a comment to the last blog: “How do you go from the text tool to a different tool using just the keyboard shortcuts?” Just to explain the question, in many graphics programs (I’ve been focusing on Illustrator lately) you can use the keyboard to type a letter and quickly access a tool without having to use your mouse and click on the tool palette. For example, you can easily type “P” to access the “pen” tool, “V” to access the “move” tool in Photoshop or the selection arrow in Illustrator, and “T” to switch to the type tool. However, once you’re typing away, Jeremy wonders, how can you quickly switch to another tool?

I am not aware of a simple set of keys that you can press — and I didn’t have too much luck when I googled the issue (anyone out there know?) but this is what I do:

In Illustrator: While you’re still in your text box or area, hit the Ctrl (PC) or Command (Mac) key, which should switch the tool temporarily to the last “arrow” tool used, then move your mouse and click outside of the text box to deselect it. You’ll still be in the type tool, but just not “in” any particular text area… which means you can then use your keyboard access key to swith to the pen tool, ellipse tool, or anything else that you want… (This does still require moving the mouse, but for lazy people like me, you definitely expend less energy moving your mouse randomly out of the text box rather than trying to find the tool in the palette!)

In Photoshop: My cheater shortcut for switching out of the Type tool is to save (Ctrl-S or Command-S) the file. This seems to “close” out the text area for me, and then I’m able to apply any keyboard shortcut that I desire.

Does anyone else have more “official” ways of achieving the same effect… or any other self-discovered shortcuts?

  • Not sure if this works on Macs but in Windows can you not simply press the “enter” key (the one in the number key-pad area, just below the “+” key) to escape from text insert mode, then you’ll be able to switch tools using shortcuts?

  • oh oh I know i know

    in photoshop I use “ctrl + enter” and that works just fine.

    so let’s say I’m using the text tool (which meant I pressed “T”)

    then i’m done with the sentence. then I press ctrl + enter, and then press any other key i want to switch to the next…like the pointer (which is “V”) :)

    It took me years to figure that out. I went thru photoshop 5.5 all the way to 7.0 not knowing that.

    I hope that helps

  • lomo

    Yeah, I know this one. When in the Text tool with a type path active, all you need to do is hit the ESC key and get this it works on both Mac and PC. From there hit any other key/tool you’d like to move to.

    The other feature I greatly love is that you can set your own shortcut keys through the Edit > Preference > Keyboard shortcuts… I set one up for the tool I use a lot and that is the Group Selection tool. I gave it the Shift+A and that takes me directly to that arrow with the plus sign tool, better known as a Group Selection tool.

  • Matt

    What I have found over the years, FWIW…


  • scout

    Great topic! I was recently considering how much I need this in Illustrator.

    What I do after editting type is make the keyboard short-cut for Deselect-All (CMD/CRTL-SHIFT-A). This deselects the type (as if clicking outside it with direct-select tool) and allows me to use keyboard short-cut for next tool which is usually V.

    Hope this helps!

  • Kevin

    I wish they all worked like Illustrator. I find hitting ESC the most intuitive.

  • Have you ever been using the text tool in full screen (F-F) mode with palettes off (Tab)? First time it happened to me it took me at least an hour to leave the text-tool-mode.

  • Wayde

    In Photoshop you use the escape key to CANCEL the text in an active type path losing all changes you may have made. To APPLY changes and get out of an active text path, either hit CTRL + ENTER or simply hit the ENTER key on your numerical keypad.

  • Blade McCool

    You are google’s number one for “photoshop switch from text tool with keyboard” … the ENTER (in numpad) answer is supremely helpful to me and so I thank you all for the info!.

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