QuarkXPress 8: New Keyboard Shortcuts for Tools

Besides dramatically updating the look and function of the Tools palette in QuarkXPress 8, Quark also added keyboard shortcuts to each tool. Below is a quick rundown of the new keyboard shortcuts, along with some Power Tips for using the keyboard with specific tools, courtesy of X-Ray magazine. (This is an excerpt from “QuarkXPress 8: a Suite Response“.)


When Dan Logan, product manager for QuarkXPress, describes the new tools and features, he describes them as having behaviors and it always makes me think about manners. My overall assessment, given this, is that QuarkXPress 8’s new tools are very well mannered. Actually, I’ve found them to be downright polite. Here are some examples:

Keyboard shortcuts for switching tools:

In previous versions of QuarkXPress, you would press the OPTION modifier key before selecting a tool to keep it selected. Today, the default is to keep the tool selected until you change tools (this is called a persistent behavior). The tools can be accessed from easy-to-remember keyboard shortcuts.

If you’re not working with text, you can use the shortcuts for a quick switch. If you want to toggle between the tools in the fly-out menus, press the key multiple times until the tool you want is displayed. If you are working with text and want to select a different tool, press escape first, then the keyboard shortcut for the desired tool.


  To access


  item tool


  text content tool, text linking tool, text unlinking tool


  picture content tool


  rectangle box tool, oval box tool, star box tool, composition zones tool


  line tool


  Bézier pen tool, add point tool, remove point tool, convert point tool, scissors tool, select point tool, freehand drawing tool


  table tool


  zoom to

Specific to the item tool:

  • The first time that you launch QuarkXPress and double click a box with the item content tool you will be presented with a dialogue box. From here you need to choose how you will want to interact with this tool going forward. You may choose to switch to the content tool upon double click or to open the modify dialogue box (legacy behavior). You may also choose to skip this box for future sessions. (If you change your mind, go to the tool preferences for the item tool and choose a different setting. Item tool preferences are application level, whether or not you have a document open when you set this preference). Hold down the COMMAND key and double click the box to prompt the modify dialogue box if you have chosen to switch to the content tool as the default.
  • Also in the item tool preferences, choose the nudge amount applied when you press and hold SHIFT and a nudge key. (When you have the item tool selected and press the ARROW key, items are moved by 1 point. Add the OPTION modifier and they are moved 1/10th of 1 point.)Others:
  • Use the keyboard shortcuts (see previous page) to access tools in the tool palette.
  • When you have the text content tool selected, you may interact with the box scale and rotation — without modifier keys.
  • You may define the content of a box as you are drawing it by pressing the T key for a text box or the R key for a picture box.
  • You may switch to the pen tools by pressing the P key (except when you have text active and are using the text content tool).
  • Press the ESCAPE key to deselect an active text box and then press the keyboard shortcut to switch to another tool of your choosing.
  • When the text content tool is selected, you can add the COMMAND (Mac) or CONTROL (Windows) modifier keys to temporarily switch to the item content tool (this is not new to QuarkXPress 8).
  • Add the COMMAND (Mac) or CONTROL (Windows) modifier keys when scaling a box and the content will be scaled as well (this is not new to QuarkXPress 8).
  • Add SHIFT as you scale a box and the content and box are scaled proportionally (maintaining a 1:1 ratio).
  • Add OPTION as you scale a box and the content and box are scaled from the center.
  • Mix and match the three modifiers above.
  • When dragging a box, add the SHIFT key to constrain vertically or horizontally (this is not new to QuarkXPress 8).
  • Begin dragging a box and add the OPTION key. Release the mouse, then the OPTION key to create a duplicate of the box (leaving the original in place and intact). This is indicated by a plus sign at the tip of the mouse arrow as you are dragging.
  • Add the SHIFT key to the above function to constrain the duplicate to the same axis as the original.
  • For the two functions above, the measured distance of the drag-duplicate is stored in the step-and-repeat function and pressing COMMAND + D (Mac) or CONTROL + D (Windows) will repeat the duplication at the same offset.
  • Mouse near a corner handle to click and rotate a box or a picture within a box.
  • Add the SHIFT key as you rotate a box or a picture within a box to snap to 45° angles.

Note: When you rotate a picture within a box, keep in mind that the rotational value is in relation to the page, not to the picture box.

  • Press the COMMAND key when clicking on a picture to temporarily dismiss the picture overlay (ghosted image).

Note: If the content handles overlap the box handles, precedence is given to the content. This means that if you click to scale or rotate, the content will be selected first. If you prefer to affect the box instead, press the COMMAND key and perform the function. You could also press the ESCAPE key then the V key to switch to the item tool.

  • Use the OPTION key to access the panning tool (that has been added to the tool palette).

Note: For many of the modifier keys, especially the option key, you have to click and begin the process before adding the modifier key. As you probably know, the option key is also used to pan the page, so unless you are clicking down on a selected item, QuarkXPress 8 will provide you the hand icon for panning the window.

  • Press CONTROL while choosing a tool from the fly-out menus to add it below the default tool of the fly-out options.
  • To remove a tool added through the shortcut above, CONTROL + CLICK the tool.

Specific to the pen tools:

  • While using the pen tool to draw a Bézier path, press OPTION (Mac) or ALT (Windows) to convert a smooth point to a corner point. (With the pen tool selected, you are not able to pan the document using the OPTION key).
  • While in pen mode, use the COMMAND key to click on and select a point, then OPTION to convert the point.
  • Press COMMAND + OPTION to temporarily enter the item mode (so that you may drag to move your path).
  • To edit an embedded clipping path (of an image with an embedded path), choose the pen tool, go to EDIT > CLIPPING PATH. If you leave this mode, you must repeat this process to return to the editing mode.

Who needs a suite? Many features that users have requested as enhancements to the pen tool are, in fact, features that already existed. The problem was not that the features were not present; it was that they were not exposed very well in the interface and you either had to be a world-class sleuth or an avid reader of the manuals to discover the secrets. In response, Quark has completely retooled the Bézier path-editing tools.

While it seems that the tool palette became more simple you may think the tool preferences dialogue box has become more complex — and here’s why. When using the pen tool, if you complete the drawing at the point of origin, the pen tool will draw a closed box (to hold content or as none content). If you complete the line at a place other than the point of origin (by double clicking), the pen tool will draw an open path. In preferences, you can set the default for the pen tool when used to create a closed box or open path for text, a closed box for a picture, or a closed box or open path for none content.

There are a number of great shortcuts for working with the pen tool, and we covered  most of them under the tools section of this article, but here’s one more: When working with paths, press the COMMAND modifier key to select a point. When a point is selected, the measurements palette is updated with information about that point.

QuarkXPress 8 now supports native Adobe Illustrator file import (as early as version 8 and up to and including CS3), and along with the newly improved pen tools you can work easier with or without Illustrator.

If you use Illustrator regularly, the message here is not that QuarkXPress pen tools are adequate substitutes, only that if you are comfortable with the pen tool  the redesign here will make you feel right at home. If you’re not an illustrator, you will probably find that the pen-tool features more than meet the limited requirements you have for illustration capabilities in your desktop-publishing application.


The behavior of your tools, as we’ve already touched on, is controlled by the preferences. Go to QUARKXPRESS > PREFERENCES > TOOLS to set the default properties of each.

 QuarkXPress 8: New Keyboard Shortcuts for Tools

Figure 11 Also known as the item tool, the move tool has preferences for nudge distance, what happens when you double click on a box without content, and display options.