Creating Custom Sketch Shortcuts

April 25th, 2015

There’s no doubt Sketch is one of the best web design apps for the Mac. But while the interface is excellent, one area where it lacks completion is in its shortcuts. A majority of Sketch’s menu commands are accessible via the keyboard, but some of the more common features I use are still lacking easy keyboard access, like for object alignment and plugins.

Every Mac has the ability to create custom shortcuts for any application, overriding existing shortcuts or creating entirely new ones. Let’s walk through how to do this for Sketch.

  1. Creating a Custom Shortcut
  2. Example Shortcuts

Creating a Custom Shortcut

For this example we’ll be creating a shortcut to align a group of selected objects horizontally.

  1. First, open System Preferences and go to the Keyboard section:

    System Preferences

  1. Next, go to the Shortcuts tab and click on App Shortcuts in the list to the left:

    System Preferences: Keyboard

  1. Then click the ‘+’ button. This is where you’ll create the new shortcut.
  2. Select Sketch from the Application select menu and in the Menu Title field, type the name of the menu item exactly as it appears in the Sketch menu. For example, if you want to create a shortcut to convert the selected text to uppercase by way of the Uppercase menu item, you’ll type “Uppercase.” For menu items that appear more than once in the Sketch menu, like the “Horizontally” command we want to use for this scenario, you need to type in the entire path to the menu item. For our use case, we’ll type: “Arrange->Align Items->Horizontally”. Then in the Keyboard Shortcut field, type the sequence of keys you want to use for your shortcut. Like this:

    System Preferences: Keyboard: Add Shortcut

  1. Finally, click the Add button. That’s it. If you jump back to Sketch you’ll see the new shortcut appear next to the menu item:

    Sketch Menu

Super easy. Even better is that this technique can be used for any Mac application.

Example Sketch Shortcuts

Align Objects

Menu Item Shortcut
Arrange->Align Objects->Left CmdShiftS
Arrange->Align Objects->Horizontally CmdShiftD
Arrange->Align Objects->Right CmdShiftF
Arrange->Align Objects->Top CmdShiftQ
Arrange->Align Objects->Vertically CmdShiftA
Arrange->Align Objects->Bottom CmdShiftZ

Layers

Menu Item Shortcut
Ignore Underlying Mask CtlCmdI

Update [21 July 2015]: Thanks to a comment from Ryan Belisle, we’ve discovered that including the “alt” key in your shortcut for aligning objects isn’t a great idea. You’ll see from this SketchTips article that using “alt” with the an align objects command aligns objects to the artboard rather than the objects themselves.

10 Comments

Abhijeet Wankhade

April 25, 2015 2:27 pm

Instead of “Arrange->Align Items->Horizontal”, you can also do just “Horizontal”.

Matt

April 25, 2015 3:27 pm

Abhijeet, you’re absolutely right for this particular instance. It looks like OS X will target the first menu item it finds with that name, so I think we just happened to get lucky this time. There is another “Horizontally” menu item in Sketch, however, under the “Distribute” sub-menu. If you wanted to target that particular item then you’d need to write out the full path: “Arrange->Distribute Objects->Horizontally”.

Ryan Belisle

July 20, 2015 12:06 pm

Matt,
For some reason if I use a shortcut for Align > Vertically, it always takes the objects I select and aligns them to the middle of the artboard instead of the objects themselves. Any thoughts?

Matt

July 20, 2015 3:08 pm

Ryan, not 100% sure. Are you selecting more than one item? Here’s more information on the different ways you can align: http://www.sketchtips.info/articles/aligning-everything

Ray

September 28, 2015 11:42 am

Ryan, If you use “alt” as part of your shortcut it will align layers to the artboard. DO NOT use “alt” in the shortcut if you wish to align layers to other layers.

Upesh

November 30, 2015 5:45 am

Thanks a lot Ray, i was struggling with one for a long time, and was clueless what is it aligning to artboard if i use the shortcut, but does the right job from menu.

v

December 1, 2015 1:23 pm

Cmd + Shift + Q
is a default shortcut on MacOS for logout user. I can’t set it up for Align top.

Cmd + Shift + Z
Is set up to make Redo in Sketch, so as Adobe, it’s bad to change this useful shortcut.

How you resolve this problem?

Ronald

February 9, 2016 4:03 pm

I found that new Sketch plugins that I installed, overrode my Mac Sketch shortcuts. Is there a way around this issue?

Fabrice Dubois

November 5, 2016 11:08 pm

Apparently when using the full menu path with the arrow notation, you have to use the exact syntax Name->Name->Name : Make sure the arrows are made of 2 characters ‘-‘ and ‘>’, and that there is no space around it.

Christian

December 21, 2016 6:45 pm

Is there a way to override the default shortcuts for things like the Vector tool. I have 20 years of Fireworks muscle memory and keep selecting the “V” key to switch back to a basic pointer tool. This always launches the Vector tool in Sketch and its driving me crazy. As far as I can tell there is no shortcut for getting to the selection tool.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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