When I hold down Ctrl in Photoshop it displays spacing information between the layer that I have selected and other nearby layers.

Does Adobe Illustrator a similar function to this?

example from photoshop


I'm not aware of anything identical (would be great if there is though), but you can achieve something equivalent by:

  1. Turn on smart guides (from view menu or toggle with Ctrl+U).
  2. Move the second object so that it touches and the smart guides tell you it intersects with the other object. This snaps to the intersect so the distance between the edges is exactly 0. Drop it there.
  3. Start moving it again, and a grey box appears next to the object showing how far you've moved it on the X axis (dX:) and Y axis (dY:). Since the objects were exactly touching when you started moving them (distance was 0), this will equal the objects' new distance.

Be aware that, unlike Photoshop, pixel align is optional in Illustrator so with it disabled you might see things moved 14.42px for example.


If you are using a Mac you can do a key command: command-control-shift-4. This is for the screenshot tool that allows you to select a specific portion of the screen and take a pic. It also had X and Y coordinates. So you can use it to find the width or height and then hit escape to get out.

  • 2
    You only need cmd+shift+4, the ctrl saves it to the clipboard whereas without saves it to a file but since you're not worried about the actual screenshot the key less is better. Great tip though!
    – Cai
    Dec 21 '16 at 22:27

As of now, there is still no feature to get the spacing in illustrator.

There is a plugin by Astute Graphics, called VectorScribe which including a Measuring tool, it has multiple other very useful tools, (I encourage you to try out the free trial)

enter image description here

You can also convert the measurements panel into actual text (clicking on the down arrow of the box) - (then to a vector shape if necessary Ctrl+Shift+O) which can help if you're sharing the file with someone who doesn't have the plugin.


One method, easier than the Measure tool which doesn't snap to paths or anchors, is to use the Line Tool \ instead.

Enable Smart Guides, draw a line while holding down Shift to constrain it horizontally or vertically, and its width or height will show in the tool options along the top. Then Undo Ctrl+Z to remove it.

enter image description here

Obviously this will only work for horizontal or vertical measurements.

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