Navigate Through Layer List at The Speed of Light

Marko Vuletič
Nov 28, 2016 · 4 min read

On a path to becoming a Sketch app master, a keyboard is your best friend. Keyboard shortcuts will save you a ton of time if they’re used wisely. You can find shortcuts for almost anything, and if there’s something that’s missing, you’re able to can create custom ones.

Today we’ll look at how to navigate through layer list as fast as the light brightens your room in the morning when you open the blinds.

There’s nothing more annoying than selecting a text layer which is buried under tons of groups. In the example below I tried to select last coffee shop’s result by clicking through the groups. This process took me four double-clicks before selecting a text layer.

Clicking through the layers

That’s a lot of clicking to select a simple text, isn’t it? If only there’s a way to select the text with just one click. Like magic!

Fortunately, there is a way to do that. Hold down Command key and hover through text layer again. You should now be able to select text with a single click! How cool is that? Holding Command key allows you to penetrate through all the groups and select elements you’re currently hovering over.

Penetrating through all groups with CMD+Click

Next, let’s try to select groups without a mouse. Once you’ve selected a Layer or a Group you can cycle between them by pressing Tab. To cycle them in the opposite direction press Shift + Tab.

This trick is very useful when we’d like to rename a bunch of layers very quickly. Command + R is a keyboard shortcut that highlights current layer’s name. With a combination of the Tab technique you’ve learned above, you’re now able to rename layers faster! Pressing Tab before hitting Return while renaming a layer will highlight the next layer in the group.

Using Tab and CMD+R to quickly rename layers

I hope you’re now able to see how much time you can reduce while designing with a power of keyboard shortcuts. Well, there’s more!

This time we’ll try to select the same text layer we selected earlier. But this time we’re going to do it with just a keyboard. While Return moves selection one level deeper, Esc bumps it up by one level. I don’t usually use Return key that often but I use Esc quite frequently to select parent’s groups.

Selecting text with just a keyboard

For example, if I’d like to select an icon inside of one of the results I’d first select an icon’s background with the help of a Command + Click trick. Then I’d press Esc which would bump selection up by one level and select an entire icon.

Using CMD+Click with a combination of Esc to select icon fast

There are a lot of times when you’d like to re-arrange layers or groups in the layer list. I know what you’re thinking — yes, there’s a way to do that without a mouse!

Simply hold down Command + Option and press Up or Down Arrow to move selected Layer or a Group around the layer list. Holding down Control at the same time will move a selection to the top or bottom of the layer list depending on the arrows.

Rearranging groups with keyboard

Let’s wrap it up by learning how to lock or hide layers with a keyboard. Hit Command + Shift + L to Lock or Unlock Layer and Command + Shift + H to toggle the visibility of the layer.

Hiding and locking groups with keyboard

Mastering keyboard shortcuts is the fastest way to increase your efficiency with Sketch app. Open a new document and play around with the tricks you’ve seen above. Let me know if this made a positive change in your workflow!

Sketch Tricks

Sketch Tricks

Sketch Tricks is the place to learn about Sketch skills that pay the bills. From setting up artboards & grids, all the way to handing the assets off to a developer.

Marko Vuletič

Written by

UI/UX Design Consultant, an ex-guy behind @SketchTricks. Passionate about design, skateboarding and photography.

Sketch Tricks

Sketch Tricks is the place to learn about Sketch skills that pay the bills. From setting up artboards & grids, all the way to handing the assets off to a developer.