it seems illustrator adds and subtracts to selection with the same command: shift + click. I want to change this so that adding command is shift + click while subtracting is ctrl + click.

This would make things so much easier, for example: I have many straight lines from end to end of the artwork. Some lines though, are shorter. I want to select all the short lines, which vary in length, but are still shorter than the bigger ones.

Currently, I select all lines and then I have to shift + click every long line to deselect it.

If the commands could change, I could select all lines, then ctrl + click and create a selection window barely touching the longest lines, deselecting them.

This would be coherent with many software out there such as Autocad, Rhino, etc.


2 Answers 2


In Illustrator, you can modify existing keyboard shortcuts (Edit > Keybard Shortcuts...) but I don't think you can create new commands and apply shortcuts to them (if I'm wrong on this, please let me know!).

Try selecting all of the lines, then, holding down Shift, drag a selection marquee over the ends of the longer ones.

  • Not sure, I looked in keyboard shortcuts but there wasnt an option referring to subtraction or addition of selections. The line problem was just an example, the point is that sometimes Im forced to deselect things one by one, as there is not way of draging a selection marquee to deselect certain objects without adding new ones (as that marquee will add any object that was not previously selected) Pretty bad desing IMO
    – ShynnSup
    Apr 21, 2016 at 0:01
  • @ShynnSup Well its impossible to build something that isnt bad design according to somebody. Its built, it works for most of us. So be prepared to learn a new workflow that avoids your problem. Or as a alternatively you can choose to be unhappy with what is available for you. Your choice.
    – joojaa
    Apr 21, 2016 at 7:44
  • Its not impossible. People complaining with no valid argument is irrelevant, so you can actually design something that is good.Now, this is not good, its bad. Having same key combination for two opposite tasks is foolish. And this is not according to me, it simply is, following reasoning and logic. They are better ways, other software are proof of it. Being stubborn and defending something inherently badly designed instead of accepting flaws will take you no where. Btw, I posted this to welcome workarounds to this problem, not for someone to tell me "find a work around".
    – ShynnSup
    Apr 21, 2016 at 14:12

Adobe does not allow you to do this change, easily*, those buttons are reserved for other use**. I am not disputing that it wouldn't be useful. However, all designs have a limitation of some kind. These limitations are part of the makeup of the inherent design of an application. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. In case of all Adobe applications you have to accept that Adobe is less than willing to make changes to things like this.

* It is possible to make this kind of change, but not with that key combo**, if you want to make your own selection tool in the API. This is a bit involved as you must program several key elements again, as Adobe does not expose all functionality neatly. Its not a big deal though. Id estimate that it is a month or two of work for a adobe plugin writer expert. However as a single user this would be cost prohibitive and still not deliver exactly what you want.

** Part of Adobes design is that control and control, alt is bound to a tool override, which is useful. Adobe can not reroute these buttons or they will have a lot of angry customers at their hand from removing central functionality. So for users it is a win lose situation. The problem is that these buttons are reserved for other uses. Unfortunately, this design decision was made and it is very hard to go back on it as they already have millions of users invested in the functionality.


No. Nothing we can do about this within reason. Sorry.

  • It is easier to bring the functionality and 2D rendering of thicker lines ala illustrator to rhino and autocad than expect adobe to change.
    – joojaa
    May 21, 2016 at 7:07
  • I dont agree wtih you Joojaa. Photoshop works exactly as I described. shift + click adds to selection while alt+click substracts. Regarding the button design, I get it, the decision was made and those buttons have a different function. But its not the same as not having the function at all! Adobe should incorporate a way to substract and add to selection in Illustrator. Its already in photoshop. I dont get the logic behind this decision, a software that works with vectors, many lines, totally needs this functionality.
    – ShynnSup
    Jun 13, 2016 at 18:20
  • @ShynnSup Im just telling that illustrator not have any keybinding infrastructure for it, theres nothing we can do. I never said it was a good way of doing it. ". I dont get the logic behind this decision" the design predates the near universal control as modifier for this. You can ask adobe to do this change, its been requested many times during the last 10 or so years. But yeah doing a completely separate tool is possible, you just most likely can not afford to custom engineer one.
    – joojaa
    Jun 13, 2016 at 19:01
  • Just to add adobe illustrator is a 28 year old product. Early photoshop didn't have much of a GUI baggage while illustrator does. But yeah its not about what you think its about what exists. The idea that all keybindings are modal is so 1980's
    – joojaa
    Jun 13, 2016 at 19:03
  • Its about the function. The advantage and efficiency it provides. Not about having universal shortcuts. I dont want the exact same key combination as in other programs, I dont care about the combination, I care about the ability to actually add/subtract to selection efficiently.
    – ShynnSup
    Jun 13, 2016 at 19:25

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