The Magic of Copy-Paste: PART 1-Simple tricks

This post in Productivista is about one of my favorite functions in Adobe Illustrator. It is a big time saver, easy to use and works like magic. I love it.

Like in many other applications you can Copy your object or text by using the shortcut key “Ctrl/Cmd+C”

You can cut your object or text with shortcut “Ctrl/Cmd+X”

If you afterwards press the shortcut key “Ctrl/Cmd+V” (Paste) Adobe Illustrator pastes your object somewhere. It is usually some unintended place. (I can never figure out where my object will appears, and need to drag it to its intended place).

You can can continue to use these shortcuts, but I want to introduce you to two other very useful shortcuts:

“Ctrl/Cmd+F”-Place in front

“Ctrl/Cmd+B”-Place in back

I hope you will be as happy for them as I do.

Paste in front

  • Choose the object you want to copy
  • Press “Ctrl/Cmd+C”
  • Then press “Ctrl/Cmd+F”

You can see in the layers panel, that you now have two objects just on top of each other.

Then, as an example, the fill can be changed on the top object to a pattern.

If you want to paste your object in front of all objects in a layer stack

  • Choose object you want to copy
  • Press “Ctrl/Cmd+C”.
  • Than deselect the current object by clicking some place on the artboard

  • Then press “Ctrl/Cmd+F”

Your object is now on top of the stack in the layer.

You can now easily make a clipping mask.

Paste in back “Ctrl/Cmd+B”

Paste in back works in a similar way

  • Choose the object you want to copy
  • Press “Ctrl/Cmd+C”
  • Then press “Ctrl/Cmd+B”

Adobe Illustrator pastes the copy just below the original object.

To paste your object below all elements in the layer stack you must click somewhere on the artboard in order to deselect everything and then press “Ctrl/Cmd+B”

You can also use this functions with “Ctrl/Cmd+X”

If I need to make some changes to an object, which is just below some other object and for some reason I can’t click on it and choose it.

The I cut the top object with “Ctrl/Cmd+X”

Make changes to the object below.

And than paste the top object back again with Ctrl/Cmd+F

As I mentioned before, I found these shortcut very smart and I use it a lot in my work flow.

I hope you can also find it useful in your working process.

There is no more magic for today, but next time here on the Productivista blog, I will show more magical tricks with copy-paste….


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My name is Katja Bjerrum and I love to eliminate boring routine tasks in Adobe Illustrator. I work with scripts, actions and other tricks in Adobe Illustrator to streamline work processes.

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