Here's me trying to fine tune something in Illustrator with the arrow keys.

enter image description here enter image description here

That's a single increment.
Trying to click & drag is futile, because the object won't actually start to move until you drag it a certain distance away from it's origin, and it lacks precision.

Which is frustrating because even basic, free software packages have mastered this. Here's me trimming the screenshots (above) with Apple's Preview; the basic image/document viewer that comes with every copy of macOS.

enter image description here enter image description here

As you can see, the arrow keys can be used to increment one pixel at a time. Just for clarity, or in case it's hard for some of you to see, here it is again, super close up @ 3,000:1 magnification.

enter image description here enter image description here

I realise that the former is a scalable vector graphic, and the latter is a raster image, but still. I can't get the new (pink/purple/violet/magenta/what even is this colour?) line to snap to the black line, and I can't seem to position it manually, with any kind of real precision. I don't know what the smallest quantum, incremental unit of a vector is, but that's the kind of precision I'm looking for.

  • As of illustratord cc the units are doube floats (while the app is running its gets rounded whan saved) so the smallest increment possible is really really small (near origin). But perhaps you want snapping insstead of nudging?
    – joojaa
    Sep 20, 2018 at 6:49
  • As values in Vector art are largely arbitrary, you could just scale your design up. E.g. instead of designing at 100px width, design at 1000px. Now you can be a lot more accurate without having to change any setting. Then just export to 100px once you're done.
    – PieBie
    Apr 1, 2020 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


In the preferences it's called "keyboard increment" and is under General: you can set it pretty darn small if you want to - I just tested 0.001 pt and it worked perfectly. In the Smart guides area of the preferences you can also set snap tolerance, which can also help with the kind of precision you're looking for.


enter image description here

Smart guides:

enter image description here

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    Great, thanks. There's so many different settings I kind of get lost. I'll try it and let you know how I go.
    – voices
    Sep 19, 2018 at 17:50
  • 1
    pica ˈpʌɪkə/ noun PRINTING a unit of type size and line length equal to 12 points (about 1/6" or 4.2 mm). • a size of letter in typewriting, with 10 characters to the inch (about 3.9 to the centimetre).
    – voices
    Sep 19, 2018 at 17:57
  • 1
    I used to use picas and points back in the 80's in newspapers... (I was briefly a staff artist / cartoonist for a youth newspaper when I was in high school) it was long a commonly used measure in the print publishing world. I used it in the 90's in graphic design for items to be printed in specific publications, but I had the feeling then that as a commonly-used unit of measure picas were on their way out - I think it's still used in some print pubs, but I don't think it's relevant outside of that milieu. Sep 19, 2018 at 18:03
  • 1
    OH - BTW - do remember that this is sheer vector art you're making, for SVG output. You absolutely could scale everything up, have an easier time with snaps during design and layout, then at the end scale back down as needed. Sep 19, 2018 at 18:04
  • 2
    At 14800% zoom, 0.001 pt increments are visible to me, however perhaps you don't need such small increments, try changing it to 0.01pt instead. Also, do you know you can hold down Shift while you press the arrow key to increment 10 steps at a time?
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 19, 2018 at 18:38

None of those answers will help you, unless you turn off the snapping options under View- Snap to... Simply choose View, then "uncheck" all the snapping options (Point, Pixel,Grid)

  • Nice! this was driving me crazy until I discovered this tip.
    – DavidS
    Oct 14, 2020 at 3:40

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