How do I make ctrl-dragging (to snap to other paths) the default way of dragging in Adobe Illustrator cs6 -- without pressing any key? I recently upgraded from Illustrator cs3 to cs6, and I had this behaviour in cs3. And I'm missing it.

1 Answer 1


Snapping has nothing to do with the Ctrl key, at least not in Illustrator. Items either snap or not based on preferences and view menu settings. The Ctrl (or Command for Mac users) does not alter snap behavior in any way, never has in Illustrator. I sorely wish it did.

You may need to turn on Snap to Point, Snap to Grid, or Smart Guides in the View Menu and ensure the snap distance in the preferences is set how you want it.

My guess would be you simply need to turn on Smart Guides.

  • Smart Guides are awesome! But they don't work in the Pixel Preview view mode. Has CS6 fixed this? Jan 4, 2013 at 18:19
  • No. Still no smart guides in Pixel Preview for CS6. BUT as of CS5 there's the Pixel Grid and items snap to pixels in Pixel Preview mode. So, Smart Guides are kind of redundant in that mode since CS5.
    – Scott
    Jan 4, 2013 at 18:21
  • Kinda sorta. I still miss them for helping me find anchors, among other awesome things. Jan 4, 2013 at 18:25
  • Weird. In my Ai CS6 ctrl does seem to have an effect, @Scott. For some reason, it lets me find and snap to paths and anchors alike when I press ctrl while dragging. That is, as long as 'snap to grid' is off... Smart guides allow to find paths with ctrl pressed, but even without those I can find points. So I guess I should be lucky that I have this? Oh, and I already had Smart Guides turned on. Can't live without those.
    – Vincent
    Jan 8, 2013 at 14:00
  • 2
    What Ctrl/Command does is focus the snap at the cursor rather than the object. So with Smart Guides on and no Ctrl/Command, you get intersections, centers, paths highlighted based on the boundaries of the object you are dragging. Hold down Ctrl/Command and you get intersections, centers, paths highlighted based upon the cursor. That's really the only difference.
    – Scott
    Jan 8, 2013 at 16:43

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