Shortcut Keys: Moving and Resizing Objects


In a previous posting I promised to write something about my favourite shortcut keys.  And since editing is something that takes up quite a lot of time, I want to share some tips about that part of the workflow. How can you move, resize and align objects in an efficient way using shortcut keys? And there are quite a lot of (hidden) shortcuts. In the Captivate blog

Do you know the Registration point?

For Captivate users that are not familiar with Flash, I first want to explain the importance of the registration point for Captivate objects. If you are a Flash user just skip this, but you will have to know that in Captivate it is not possible to move this registration point.
The registration point is always the upper left corner of the bounding box of an object: you see some examples in the first image. The coordinates you are seeing in the Properties panel, region Size and Position are the coordinates of this point. For the math lovers (also for non-math-lovers): do know that the zero point of the coordinates is situated in the upper left corner of the stage. This means that the X-coordinate of the registration point is the horizontal  distance (in pixels) from the left side of the stage and the Y-coordinate is the vertical distance from the upper side of the stage. In the image gallery included in this posting I show the registration points for some objects.

Why is this point so important?

  • If you use the snap to grid feature, it is the registration point that will snap to the grid.
  • If you use a shortcut key to increase the size of an object, the registration point will not move, it is the opposite corner (down right) that will move.
  • If you align objects their registration points will be aligned. I added some alignment examples in the image gallery

Grid and Snap

Did you ever use the grid? There is a button to show/hide that grid (or you can use the View menu). The default size of the grid mesh width is 16 pixels, but you can change this in the Preferences, Global, General Settings. If you activate the "Snap to Grid" (with button or View menu), moving an object with the mouse or with an arrow key will cause the registration point of that object to snap to one of the grid points.  But did you know that the mesh width is also important when moving and resizing objects with shortcut keys?

Moving objects using shortcut keys 

How can you move an object with shortcut keys?  Be sure to have the Selector tool activated and select the object.  If the Snap to Grid is activated, an arrow key will always move the registration point to the next grid point. But if this snap is deactivated:
  • Using an arrow will move the object (by its registration point) by one pixel in that direction.
  • Using an arrow in combination with SHIFT will move the object 10 pixels in that direction.
  • Using an arrow in combination with CTRL will move the object by the mesh width of the grid, thus 16pixels if you did not change the default valuedirection.
This works also fine with multiple selections


Resizing objects using shortcut keys

For resizing activate/deactivate the snap is not important. Here are the possible shortcuts:
  • Using ALT+RIGHT will increase the width of the bounding box with one pixel (registration point will not move).
  • Using ALT+LEFT will decrease the width of the bounding box with one pixel (registration point will not move).
  • Using ALT+DOWN will increase the height of the bounding box with one pixel (registration point will not move).
  • Using ALT+UP will decrease the height of the bounding box with one pixel (registration point will not move).
If you combine SHIFT+ALT+Arrow: instead of 1 pixel the size change will be in steps of 10 pixels.
If you combine CTRL+ALT+Arrow: instead of 1 pixel the size change will be the mesh width (16 pixels if you did not change the default value).
As with moving those shortcut keys also work with a multiple selection.

My favourite sequence

  • Duplicate an object with CTRL-D; the duplicate will be placed 10 pixels to the right and 10 pixels down the original
  • Use SHIFT+UP to align the tops of the duplicate and the original; then you can use one of the other shortcuts to move the duplicate to the right  OR
  • Use SHIFT+LEFT to align duplicate's left side with the original; then you can use one of the other shortcuts to move the duplicate down.
Here is a captivate training to practice this workflow.

8 responses
Thanks for this. Keyboard shortcuts really save your mousing hand along with saving time. The more I learn, the better!
I use Ctl+D to duplicate all the time... never thought to use the SHIFT-UP and SHIFT-LEFT to align them. I'm always learning something new on your blog! Thanks Lieve!
Jim, this really spares time when having to create aligned objects, I'm using it all the time, was also functional in Captivate 4. Thanks for your comment.
thanks Lieve, this is awesome! -- I will totally try to put these in practice! :)
Excellent. The short demos are very helpful and remind me how well CPT can illustrate concepts and actions. Thank you.

I use keyboard shortcuts for elements in the timeline. Is there one for aligning the end of an action with the playhead? Is there a shortcut for moving the playhead (with the keyboard)?

Thanks for your nice comment. One of the features I have been asking multiple times is to have a shortcut to align the end of a timeline with the playhead like it is possible to align the start (CTRL-L) but it is not there yet. No way to move the playhead by the keyboard either. Some of the shortcuts for the Timeline are treated in another blog post 'Tiny Timeline Tidbits'.
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