Week #14 – Navigation and Drafting Power Tips
14-7. Keyboard Shortcuts and Special Mouse Clicks

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 14-7)

In this 63 minute lesson I share with you the best keyboard shortcuts and speed tricks to make your work go faster.

There are a huge number of keyboard shortcuts for ArchiCAD that are standard, and you can create your own as well as modify the standard ones to suit your fancy. I have focused on those that seem the most essential to me, the ones “I couldn’t live without”, as well as other useful ones that are less well-known.

I also included some special mouse clicks – these are not actually keyboard shortcuts, but they function in a similar way – if you know what they do, and you use them when appropriate, you’ll work faster.

In this video I have done something that I haven’t done before. Because keyboard shortcuts by their very nature are not visible directly in a demonstration, I have annotated the video with onscreen captions. You will find these helpful for taking notes.

Here is a list of all the shortcuts shown, in the order that they are demonstrated in this lesson.


  • Open File: Command/CTRL – O
  • Save File: Command/CTRL – S
  • Print: Command/CTRL – P
  • Command/CTRL – L: Layer Settings dialog


  • Escape key: one of the following actions (in this order) –
    • Cancels current editing or drawing operation (if one is in process)
    • Deselects Elements (if any are selected)
    • Removes Marquee (if drawn)
    • Switches to Arrow Tool (if set to another tool)
  • Delete(Mac)/Backspace(PC) key:
    • Backs up one step at a time in polywall, polyline or polygon input
  • Command/CTRL – Z: Undo
    • Option-Command / ALT-CTRL – Z: Redo
    • Undo followed by Redo – selects last created or pasted element(s)


  • x, y, r, a, d: Set coordinate values in Tracker (d = distance = r = radius)
    • + (plus key): add current value (whichever coordinate is being edited) to previous value shown in Tracker
    • – (minus or dash key): subtract current value from previous value in Tracker
    • (NOTE: in U.S., two dashes are necessary; one can be a separator between feet and inches, e.g. 5-6-)
  • Enter key: confirms current Tracker values as shown or current mouse position, and clicks mouse
  • n: brings up Tracker
  • b, t: In Info Box, set base and top values for wall, beam, column, slab, stair, mesh, object
    • Windows and Doors accept b or t depending on which anchor is set
    • Roofs accept b for pivot line height
  • Shift-` (PC) or Custom shortcut (Mac): Create Guideline segment
  • Shift-Option / ALT-SHIFT:
    • Moves User Origin to node point (on the fly)


  • Shift key – temporarily activates Arrow tool; adds to selection set; removes from selection set
    • NOTE: Shift key held down while drawing or editing (rubber-band line visible) constrains cursor to nearest known angle. ArchiCAD determines the nearest end or node point and makes that the Edit Origin; then determines the nearest known angle.
  • Command/CTRL – A: Select All (with variations)
  • Command/CTRL – F: Find and Select
  • W key:
    • Built-in shortcut to toggle between the Arrow tool and the last used drawing tool
  • TAB key:
    • When hovering with the Arrow tool or Shift key over two or more overlapping elements, cycles through elements allowing you to choose which one to select
  • Spacebar (holding down with Arrow tool active, or with Shift key also held down)
    • Toggles QuickSelect (magnet) mode
  • Group: Command/CTRL – G
    • Ungroup: Option-Command/ALT-CTRL – G
    • Suspend Groups: Option/ALT – G


  • Command/CTRL – T:
    • Element Settings (opens dialog based on which tool is active in Toolbox)
    • Default Settings if nothing is selected; or Selected Element Settings
  • Command-Option/CTRL-ALT – T:
    • Edit Selection Set (allows parameter setting for multiple types of elements in one dialog)
  • Option / ALT – Click: Eye-dropper
  • Option-Command / ALT-CTRL – Click: Syringe
  • Option-Command / ALT-CTRL – Click [in library part window]:
    • Selects different part while transferring parameters, keeps style or “family resemblance”


  • Drag: Command/CTRL – D Rotate: Command/CTRL – E (NOTE: “e” is the last letter of “Rotate”) Mirror: Command/CTRL – M Elevate: Command/CTRL – 9
  • Press and release Option / CTRL key: During Move, Rotate, Mirror or Elevate command, will make a copy
  • Press and release Option-Command / CTRL-ALT keys: During Move, Rotate, Mirror or Elevate command, will make multiple copies until the Escape key is pressed
  • Command/CTRL – U: Multiply
  • Spacebar With a linear or polygon drawing tool active (e.g. wall, slab, roof, fill, line, polyline, arc, etc.) Magic Wand (autotrace)
  • Drafting shortcuts in the Toolbar: Trim, Split, Adjust, Intersect, Fillet Adjust – Command/CTRL minus
  • Command / CTRL – Click (depends on context):
    • Nothing selected – Scissors icon – Trim pieces of linear or curved elements
    • Dimension chain selected – add points
    • Walls or Lines selected – Adjust to meet the edge of another element
    • Wall(s) and/or Roof(s) selected – Trim or Crop to clicked element (roof or wall)


  • F2: Floor Plan F3: Show 3D Window (last-used selection or marquee will be active) Command/CTRL – F3: Axonometric view mode Option/ALT – F3: Perspective view mode F4 (Mac) / F5 (Windows): Show Selection/Marquee in 3D Command-F4 (Mac) / CTRL-F5 (Windows): Show All in 3D F6: Last Section F7: Last Layout
  • Fit in Window Command / CTRL – ‘ On Windows, and recent versions on Mac: Double-click middle-mouse button
  • Zoom to Selection – Command/CTRL – Shift – ‘
  • Previous / Next Views Command/CTRL – [ Command/CTRL – ]
  • Virtual Trace Toggle Shift-F2
  • Hairline / True Line Weight Toggle Custom shortcut – H (conflicts with “Home Story” shortcut which I’ve never used)
  • Mouse middle-button press: Pan view NOTE: There is a free add-on called Magic Prefs that makes this work for the Apple Magic Mouse, which does not have any buttons
  • O key: In 3D window, triggers Orbit mode; end Orbit by hitting O again or using Escape key Middle-button plus Shift key: In 3D view, activates Orbit mode; release buttons to end Orbit mode
  • Cursor keys (Left, Right, Up, Down): Scroll in that direction
  • In Plan: Command / CTRL – Up Arrow: Go up a story Command / CTRL – Down Arrow: Go down a story
  • In Layout Book: Option / ALT – Left Arrow: Previous Layout Option / ALT – Right Arrow: Next Layout


  • Shift – Cursor keys (Left, Right, Up, Down): Nudge selected element(s) the distance set in the Snap Grid
  • Shift-Option / Shift-ALT – Cursor keys: Nudge selected elements the larger distance set in the Construction Grid
  • Shift-S: Turns on or off the Grid Snap (NOTE: this used to be “s” without the Shift-key modifier)
  • M key: Measure tool; hit M again or Escape to finish Measure mode
  • Q key: While drawing or editing an element with the mouse constrained on an angle (usually with the Shift key), this will cycle through Cursor Snap Variations.
  • F key: While editing an element with a Pet Palette option in effect, this will “flick” through the available Pet Palette options.


  • Double-click Magnifier Plus button: Zoom in to twice the magnification Double-click Magnifier Minus button: Zoom out to half the magnification
  • Favorites palette – double-click: Activate tool and set default; If elements of that type are selected, injects the saved settings into the element(s)
  • Flick buttons [<< and >>] in Library Part Settings or Info Box: Switches to next or previous library part; has the side effect of resetting the library part to the default settings.
  • Empty hole button: In Window or Door Settings or Info Box, will switch to Empty Opening while maintaining the same width and height.
  • Arrow-click or Shift-click on EDGE of hole (within polygon element such as Slab, Roof, Mesh, Fill, etc.): Select HOLE only (allows the hole to be dragged, drag a copy, multiply, deleted, etc.)

Please post your comments, questions and suggestions below. Eric

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ArchiCAD Training: Keyboard Shortcuts and Special Mouse Clicks

Let us know how you feel... (11 comments so far)

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  1. Scott Newland
    11 years ago

    This had some excellent tips that I didn’t know before – thank you!

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Glad you liked it!

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Scott –
      You are very welcome!
      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment – I appreciate it.

    11 years ago

    hi, my cursor selects in an angle way i don’t know when i did that, please i need help to get it back to select in an orthogonal way!!!

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Hello Stella –

      It sounds like you may have changed the setting for the Arrow tool geometry in the Info Box. If that’s the case, simply activate the Arrow tool, and look in the Info Box, and change the setting from Rotated Box to Orthogonal.

      Other possibilities: you may have changed your grid settings to a rotated grid. Check the grid settings under the Edit menu > Grid Options.

      A final place that could be useful to check is under the Options menu > Work Environment > Mouse Constraints, where you can turn on or off the sensitivity to the main axis lines and set other angles for ArchiCAD to pay attention to.


  3. Ingolf Antonsen
    11 years ago

    For general drawing, try ALT + SHIFT. This shortcut is one of the most powerful in Archicad. The shortcut key is very useful in most cases where you need to adjust the walls, doors, windows etc.
    ALT + SHIFT (reset tracker)- Move the user origin to a node of an existing element.

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Ingolf –
      Excellent suggestion.
      I will include ALT-Shift (Option-Shift on Mac) in the video, as it is very useful!

  4. Christopher Boyd
    11 years ago

    I create shortcuts for my most commonly used commands and keep them, as much as possible, on the left side of my keyboard. That way I can keep my left hand on the keyboard, my right hand on the mouse, and my eyes on the screen the whole time. Commands that change view (zoom commands, up or down a story, panning, etc.) are just a letter by itself (a,s,d,f,v,c,e,w, etc.) because I use those the most. Modifying commands that get a lot of use are all accessed via the command key plus one of those left-side letters (command + D = drag, command + F = mirror). I can hit the command key with my thumb since it’s right next to my space bar, so I still don’t have to look down at my hands to do this. Same with command + option + a letter — I can hold down both modifier keys with my thumb, then hit the letter with one of my other left fingers. This has worked well for me. I used to do it all with a multi-button mouse, assigning one keyboard modifier key to each of the extra buttons, so “Drag” would be command + D or thumb-button + D. This worked really well too, but I gave up this functionality when I adopted the improved Apple mice. I’ll be checking into the “Magic Prefs” mentioned in the notes on lesson 14.7, above.

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Chris –

      Thanks for your note.

      I think these are good ideas, but I do have a few questions. You mention the use of single letter commands such as “a” and “d” that are built into the Tracker. Are you able to override the built-in association to “angle” and “distance” in the Tracker? Or are you not using the Tracker?

      Also, you mention “panning” as among your frequently-used keyboard commands. Are you using a keyboard shortcut for this instead of the middle-mouse button because you haven’t been able to press the middle button with your Magic Mouse? Do check out Magic Prefs – it’s free, and “I couldn’t live without it…”


      • Christopher Boyd
        11 years ago


        I don’t use the tracker; instead, I rely on the X,Y, delta-R, and angle panes in the coordinates palette for reading and inputting dimensions etc. (The tracker seems redundant to me, so I’ve never used it) So the ‘a’ and ‘d’ work fine for me except on the rare occasion when I accidentally bring the tracker up through some mysterious keyboard shortcut that I didn’t realize I was hitting.
        I saw your note in an earlier something about MagicPrefs and I’ve downloaded it but not yet configured it, because yes, that IS why I am using a keyboard shortcut for panning. I’ll try out MagicPrefs to get that functionality back.

        Sorry I didn’t respond sooner — I’ve been checking in regularly to see what others have to say about shortcuts, but I neglected to do so for awhile. Is there any way to follow or like this thread and get email notifications when someone submits a new comment?


        • Eric Bobrow
          11 years ago

          Chris –
          I understand that you are used to using the coordinate palette, and find the tracker redundant. However, I recommend you try it out – I find it more efficient and convenient. For one thing, you don’t have to type in a coordinate name such as “x” or “r” – you can simply type in the distance value, since it automatically highlights the distance / radius value and will replace it with whatever you’re typing. Also, it appears right where you are working, so you can see how long or how far something is without taking your eyes away from what you’re doing. It remains compact (showing distance and angle) most of the time, but automatically expands when you type in an “x” or “y” value to show these extra options.
          With regards to getting notifications, I don’t know if there is a system (like there is on many bulletin boards) to get notified when there is a response or a new comment. Sorry…