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Illustrator CS5 : Using the Edit Commands

10/11/2011 4:55:54 PM
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In most programs, including Illustrator, many basic functions of the Edit menu work the same way. If you've used the Edit menu in Photoshop or Microsoft Word, for example, you should have no trouble using the same functions in Illustrator because the menu options are located in the same place in each program, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. The various commands under the Edit menu help you to quickly cut, copy, and paste objects from place to place as well as help you undo and redo previously applied commands.

1. Using the Clear command

The most simplistic Edit command is Clear. In Illustrator, it works almost exactly like Backspace (Delete). When something is selected, choosing Clear eliminates what is selected.

You're probably asking yourself, "If Backspace (Delete) does the same thing, why do we need Clear?" or "Why didn't they just call the Clear command Backspace (Delete)?" Ah, the makers of Illustrator are a step ahead of you in this respect. Note that I said "almost" the same way; there's a subtle yet important difference in what the Clear command does and what Backspace (Delete) does, due to Illustrator's abundant use of panels.

If you're working on a panel and have just typed a value in an editable text field, Backspace (Delete) deletes the last character typed. If you tabbed down or up to an editable text field and highlighted text or if you dragged across text in an editable text field and highlighted text, then Backspace (Delete) deletes the highlighted characters. In all three situations, the Clear command deletes anything that's selected in the document.

2. Cutting, copying, and pasting

The Cut, Copy, and Paste commands in Illustrator are very handy. Copying and cutting selected objects places them on the Clipboard, which is a temporary holding place for objects that have been cut or copied. After you place an object on the Clipboard, you can paste it in the center of the same document, the same location as the cut or copied object, or another document, such as Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop.

Choosing Cut from the Edit menu deletes the selected objects and copies them to the Clipboard, where they're stored until you cut or copy another object or until you shut down or restart your computer. Quitting Illustrator doesn't remove objects from the Clipboard.

Choosing Copy from the Edit menu works like Cut, but it doesn't delete the selected objects. Instead, it just copies them to the Clipboard, at which time you can choose Paste and slap another copy into your document.

Choosing Paste from the Edit menu places any objects on the Clipboard into the center of the document window. Paste is not available if nothing is on the Clipboard.

Alternatively, you can use the Paste in Front and Paste in Back options to position the object you're pasting relative to other objects.

Now, here's the really cool part: Just because you've pasted the object somewhere doesn't mean it isn't on the Clipboard any more. It is! You can paste again and again — and keep on pasting until you get bored or until your page is an indecipherable mess, whichever comes first. The most important rule to remember about Cut, Copy, and Paste is that whatever is currently on the Clipboard is replaced by anything that subsequently gets cut or copied to the Clipboard.

Cut, Copy, and Paste also work with text that you type in a document. Using the Type tools, you can select type, cut or copy it, and then paste it. When you're pasting type, it goes wherever your blinking text cursor is located. If you have type selected (highlighted) and you choose Paste, the type that was selected is replaced by whatever you had on the Clipboard.

You can cut or copy as much or as little of an illustration as you choose; you're limited only by your hard drive space (which is used only if you run out of RAM).

If you ever get a message saying you can't cut or copy because you're out of hard drive space, it's time to start deleting stuff from your hard drive — or simply get a bigger hard drive.

Thanks to the Adobe PostScript capability on the Clipboard, Illustrator can copy paths to other Adobe software, including InDesign and Photoshop. Paths created in those packages (with the exception of InDesign) can be pasted into Illustrator. With Photoshop, you have the option of pasting your Clipboard contents as rasterized pixels instead of as paths.

You have the ability to drag Illustrator artwork from an Illustrator document right into a Photoshop document. In addition, because Adobe lets you move things in both directions, you can drag a Photoshop selection from any Photoshop document right into an Illustrator document.

3. Undoing and redoing

You can keep undoing in Illustrator until you run out of either computer memory or patience. After you undo a bunch of times, you can redo by choosing Redo a bunch of times, which is found right below Undo in the Edit menu. And guess what? You can redo everything you've undone. So, if you undo 20 times, you can then immediately redo 20 times, and your art looks just like it did before you started undoing.

Choosing Undo from the Edit menu undoes the last activity that was performed in the document. Successive undos undo more and more activities, until the document is at the point where it was opened or created or you've run out of memory.

Choosing Redo from the Edit menu redoes the last undo. You can continue to redo undos until you're back to the point where you started undoing or you perform another activity, at which time you can no longer redo any previous undos. You have to undo the last thing you did and then actually do everything again. In other words, all the steps that you undid are gone. It's fine to use the Undo feature to go back and check out what you did, but after you've used multiple undos, don't do anything if you want to redo back to where you started undoing from. Got that?

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