Keyboard shortcuts

After so many requests, we finally added more keyboard shortcuts to SketchTogether! If you want to go straight to the list and see how you can use them, jump to this section. If you're curious about how they came to be, or rather why we didn't add them from day 1, read on.

The story (aka, why they weren't there already)

One of the founding principles on which SketchTogether is based is that frequent mode-switching slows down design thinking when using a pen. In his previous researcher life, our founder Nick even wrote about it in a paper! That's why we always envisioned lasso selection as the primary mode switching tool. When free-hand drawing takes the lion's share of a sketch's content — which mostly happens when using touch-based devices, and especially with large electronic whiteboards — we thought it would be enough to cover most editing needs.

more like "no slow mode switching", but still

However, more and more users started working with SketchTogether on their desktops or laptops, bringing in more structured content such as text, shapes, and images. Having to circle around big boxes quickly becomes annoying, so we introduced the more desktop-oriented selection tool, and made it available on desktops via right-click when in drawing mode.

Once we started focusing more on devices that come with a hardware keyboard attached (which by the way is also my weapon of choice when using SketchTogether), we added panning mode, and we introduced double-click when in selector mode to insert text. Undo and redo were always accessible through Ctrl-Z / ⌘-Z, because it just felt cruel not to add those bindings for such a ubiquitous feature. ⇧-Enter to create a new text box when in text editing mode has also been available for a long time now, but it's always been more of an easter egg for people in the know.

We still remain attached to our original "no mode switching!" vision, but at this point, we're leaving that decision to the user and only highly recommend trying to use lasso selection as much as possible 🙂.

The shortcuts

All tools on the left-hand panel are now associated with a keyboard shortcut 🎉.

Here's a handy summary:

Shortcut What it does When
1 Enables drawing mode No selection is active
2 Enables fading highlighter mode No selection is active
3 Enables shape mode No selection is active
4 or x Enables eraser mode No selection is active
5 Enables panning mode No selection is active
6 Enables selector mode No selection is active
Ctrl-z or ⌘-z Triggers undo Always
Ctrl-⇧-z or ⌘-⇧-z
Ctrl-y or ⌘-y
Triggers redo Always
i Enables image add mode No selection is active
t or Space Enables text add mode No selection is active
c Enables code text add mode No selection is active
+ Zooms in Not in text editing mode
- Zooms out Not in text editing mode
⇧-⏎ Creates a new text box below In text editing mode
right-click and drag Activates selection In drawing mode
double left-click Creates a new text box where clicked In selector mode
⇧-left-drag Locks straight line angle to multiples of 45° In line add mode
⇧-left-drag Draws circles In ellipse add mode
⇧-left-drag Draws squares In rectangle add mode
⇧-left-drag Locks current aspect ratio A selection is active

All shortcuts for tools are also displayed in the tooltips that you can activate by pressing on the bottom-right ? button (which is also accessible via the ? key).

Whenever you switch modes, the corresponding toolbar icon gets highlighted. Together with shortcuts, we've also introduced different cursor types for different modes:

  • a crosshair for drawing, fading highlighter, and shapes
  • the default arrow cursor for selector and eraser
  • a hand cursor for panning
  • a text edit cursor for text

Hope these new shortcuts will help making sketching in SketchTogether even more fluid!

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