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Perhaps the single thing you can do to become more productive in any software environment is to learn the shortcut keys. Keystrokes are more efficient than carefully positioning a mouse over a button or drilling through menus, and once learned become second nature. This page gathers together the default shortcuts that are available across the various design domains within Altium Designer.

Accessing Shortcuts

In a multi-editor environment like Altium Designer it can be hard to remember the shortcuts, particularly those special-purpose ones that are available when you are running a command. To help with this, Altium Designer provides a shortcut menu that can be used from within all interactive Schematic and PCB commands. When an interactive command is running, for example Place » Wire in the Schematic Editor, use the Shift+F1 keyboard shortcut to access a menu, listing all valid shortcuts for that stage of the interactive command. You can either process another command by choosing it from the menu, or press Esc to close the menu without impact on the currently running command.


Use the Shift+F1 shortcuts menu to refresh your memory about the shortcuts available, or use it in the traditional menu sense, to
select the required option with the mouse.

Alternative, and while the interactive command is running, use the F1 keyboard shortcut. This gives access to the Graphical Editing Hot key List dialog, which simply provides a listing of the shortcuts available (but which cannot be launched), as well as access to the documentation for the currently running command.

Rather than using the Close button to exit the dialog - which can affect the currently running command with a change to the current cursor location - simply press Esc, or Enter, instead.

Use the Graphical Editing Hot key List dialog to also refresh your memory about the shortcuts available for the currently running interactive command.
Use the Graphical Editing Hot key List dialog to also refresh your memory about the shortcuts available for the currently running interactive command.

For a less transient approach, Altium Designer offers the context-sensitive Shortcuts panel, which can be docked, or made to float in the editor space. By keeping the Shortcuts panel visible, you can quickly peruse the shortcuts available to you, depending on what you are working on. For example, having a schematic document open will show the various Schematic Editor shortcuts. And when you are running an interactive command, those interactive shortcuts will also be listed in the panel.


Use the Shortcuts panel to access a listing of the shortcuts for the active Editor. For a Schematic or PCB interactive command, the applicable
interactive shortcuts will also be listed.

Editing Shortcut Keys

The fastest way to add or edit the shortcut keys assigned to a command, is to Ctrl+click on the entry for that command on the relevant menu or toolbar. This will open the Edit Command dialog, from where you can add a shortcut, or edit the currently assigned shortcut.

To add or edit a shortcut, hold Ctrl as you click on the menu or toolbar entry - this will open the Edit Command dialog.
To add or edit a shortcut, hold Ctrl as you click on the menu or toolbar entry - this will open the Edit Command dialog.

To define the shortcut, click in the Primary field (in the Shortcuts region of the dialog), then press the key combination you wish to use on your keyboard. Alternatively, use the dropdown list and scroll to the required key(s). If that shortcut key combination is currently in use, the command using it will be displayed below in the Currently in use by field. If you continue with the new assignment it will be removed from that other command.

An alternative approach to customizing shortcuts or commands, is to open the Customizing Editor dialog. You can access this dialog by double-clicking in a command-free region of the main menu bar, or by choosing the DXP » Customize command from the main menus. To locate the command that you wish to add/edit the shortcut for, select the [All] option in the dialog's Categories list, then use the filter field to quickly find it. Double click on the required command in the Commands list to open the Edit Command dialog, and add/edit the shortcut key.

The Customizing Editor dialog gives access to all commands and their shortcuts. Use the filter to quickly locate a command.
The Customizing Editor dialog gives access to all commands and their shortcuts. Use the filter to quickly locate a command.

Shortcut Listings

Click on any of the following collapsible sections (on the title) to access a listing of the default shortcuts available for the indicated Editor.

When referring to shortcuts, use of the plus (+) symbol denotes holding multiple keys down on the keyboard in the indicated sequence. So Shift+F1 means holding down the Shift key, then pressing the F1 key. Likewise, Shift+Ctrl+PgUp means holding down the Shift key, then holding down the Ctrl key at the same time, and then pressing the PgUp key.
Where use of the standard mouse buttons is made, Click refers to a single click of the mouse's left-hand button, Double-Click refers to two clicks of the mouse's left-hand button, and Right-Click refers to a single click of the mouse's right-hand button.

Accelerator Keys

In addition to standard shortcut keys, Altium Designer also employs the use of Accelerator Keys. These are used as part of the main menu system (not right-click context menus), to be able to access commands through the sequential use of one or more such keys.

Specifying an Accelerator Key

An accelerator key is specified as part of a menu or command's caption, by adding the ampersand (&) character immediately before the letter that you wish to use as the accelerator. Within a menu, the current accelerator key is distinguished by the use of underlining.

Ctrl+Click on a menu entry to access the Edit Drop Down Menu dialog. Ctrl+Click on a command entry to access the Edit Command dialog. Add the & character at the required position within the defined Caption.
Within any given menu, or sub-menu, a particular letter can only be used once as an accelerator key.


A key becomes an accelerator key through use of the & prefix. The chosen key can then be used to quickly access a menu, or be used in
a sequence of accelerator keys to launch a specific command on a menu/sub-menu.

Main Menu Accelerators

Strictly speaking, access to a root main menu through its accelerator key requires holding down the Alt key. This is because the same key may also be assigned to a pop-up menu. So for example, access to the Auto Route menu in the PCB Editor would, at first sight, look to be a case of clicking the A key. However, while this is the menu's defined accelerator key, doing so will pop-up the Align sub-menu. By using Alt+A, the intended Auto Route menu is accessed.

In some cases, a main menu will also have a pop-up key assigned. Where this is the case, using that key will access the menu in pop-up form. For example, the File menu can strictly be accessed using Alt+F, but also in pop-up form using F. This functionality is defined for a menu in the Edit Drop Down Menu dialog, by using the Popup Key field.

A menu can be accessed as a pop-up by specifying a popup key.
A menu can be accessed as a pop-up by specifying a popup key.

For obvious reasons, pop-up keys are not assigned to menus in text-based editors, and main menus can only be accessed through use of the Alt key.

The following table summarizes the accelerator and popup keys assigned to various main menus available across editors:

Menu Accelerator Key Popup Key
DXP X -
File F F
Edit E E
View V V
Project C C
Place P P
Design D D
Tools T T
Auto Route A -
Reports R R
Window W W
Help H H

Accelerator Key Sequence Examples

Click on one of the following collapsible sections (on the title) to access a listing of example accelerator key sequences available for the indicated Editor. With hundreds of permutations available, you'll soon build your own list of favorite keyboard sequences that you'll like to keep in mind, and use, as you design.

When referring to accelerator key sequences, use of the comma (,) symbol denotes pressing each key in the sequence in succession. So T, V, U means pressing the T key, then pressing the V key, and then finally pressing the U key.
In some of these examples, accelerator keys are used in combination with key sequences within dialogs, ultimately arriving at a quick sequence of keystrokes to achieve a dialog setting and apply it.

 

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