Keyboard Freedom in Freehand

You say it is impossible to minimize your mouse use in a graphics program. Well think again! While you will undoubtedly need the mouse for actual drawing, many graphics operations can be simplified with keyboard shortcuts.

This month we discuss vector graphics, Freehand in particular. While keyboard shortcuts may vary between different applications, vector programs have many in common with each other; similarly, raster graphic applications have many shortcuts in common with each other. For example, in a vector application Ctrl + G groups objects, while Ctrl (+ Shift)+ U will ungroup them. When you draw a new object with the mouse holding Ctrl or sometimes Shift will make that object symmetrical (e.g .ellipse into a circle or rectangle into a square). Other shortcuts will depend on the special features within that application.

Keyboard Freedom in Freehand

Freehand is clearly more than just a vector graphics editor, but in the interest of simplicity and commonality with other vector editors, we will focus on drawing alone.
Try the following in Freehand.

  1. Perform the following steps:
    1. Type Start + D to view the Desktop.
    2. Navigate with the arrow keys to the Freehand 10 icon.
    3. Type Enter to open the application.
  2. Type Ctrl + N to create a new page.
  3. Type Ctrl + 7 to show the tools.
  4. Using the mouse, draw the following shapes anywhere on the blank page; hold the Shift key while drawing each to make each object symmetrical:
    1. Type Shift + F8 and draw a hexagon.
    2. Type Shift + F3 and draw a circle.
    3. Type Shift + F1 and draw a square.
  5. Type Ctrl + A to select all objects.
  6. Type Ctrl + Alt +2 then, Ctrl + Alt +5 to center all objects horizontally and vertically.
  7. Join all these objects by typing Ctrl + J.
  8. Type Ctrl + A again to reselect the newly joined object.
  9. Type Ctrl + Shift + F9 to select the text editor and click in object to activate.
  10. Type inside the object the text "This is a joined object."
  11. Repeat steps 5, 6, and 7.
  12. Type Ctrl + Enter to view the shapes as a flash object.

A Summary of Macromedia Freehand Keyboard Shortcuts

The table below summarizes most Freehand keyboard shortcuts.

Note: These shortcuts may vary depending on the version of Freehand that you use. For example, those shortcuts that work in version 9 may not work in version 10 and vice versa. In most cases, you can hide the function that you just showed by typing the same shortcut again. You can access the Keyboard Shortcut list in Freehand by typing Alt + E +S. If you are used to using earlier versions, you can customize the old shortcuts so that they work in the newer versions. See the link below:

Desired Action


Cascade window

Shift + F5

Color mixer

Ctrl + Shift + 9

Find and Replace colors and text

Ctrl (+ Shift) + F

Fit all

Ctrl + Alt + O

Fit to page

Ctrl + Shift + W


Ctrl + H

Magnification (zoom)






Ctrl + 1

Ctrl + 2

Ctrl + 4

Ctrl + 5

Ctrl + 8


Ctrl + U

Select from the following tools:

           Select/deselect object

           Sub-select object





           Pencil (freehand tool)

           Pen (bezel tool)



           Ctrl + mouse

           Alt + Ctrl + mouse

           Shift + F1

           Shift + F2

           Shift + F3

           Shift + F4

           Shift + F5

           Shift + F6

           Shift + F7

           Shift + F8

Show align objects

Align objects in the following directions



           Center horizontal

           Center vertical



Ctrl + Alt + A

           Ctrl + Alt + 4

           Ctrl + Alt + 6

           Ctrl + Alt + 5

           Ctrl + Alt + 2

           Ctrl + Alt + 1

           Ctrl + Alt + 3

Show Keyline (outline of picture only)

Ctrl + K

Show layers panel

Ctrl + 6

Show mixes and tints

Shift + F9

Show page rulers

Ctrl + Alt + R

Show styles

Ctrl + 3

Show swatches, layers, and styles

Shift + F11

Show Swatches/Layers/Style

Ctrl +3/6

Show text panel

Ctrl + T

Show Xtra operations

Ctrl + Alt + O

Show Xtra tools

Ctrl + Alt + X

Show/Hide all toolbars

Ctrl + Alt + T

Show/Hide tools

Ctrl + 7

Tile windows vertically

Shift + F4

Tint mixer

Ctrl + Shift + 3

Transform objects

Ctrl + M/F10/F2

View the drawing as a flash object

Ctrl + Enter

Next month: For comparison sake, we will examine keyboard shortcuts in a sample raster editor – Paint Shop Pro.

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