Maya Keyboard Shortcut Cheats

Common Keyboard Shortcuts in Autodesk Maya

With a program as complex as Maya, there's so much functionality that unless you're an incredibly versatile artist there will be parts of the package that you'll barely touch.

The key to learning a sophisticated piece of software is to break it down and approach it according to the features you'll be most likely to need on a daily basis. Only after you've learned the core fundamentals should you begin attacking some of the more specialized facets of the software.

While you could just as easily open your Maya help documents and bring up a sprawling list of keyboard shortcuts, we thought it would be beneficial to provide an abbreviated list that just shows you the essentials—the stuff you'll be most likely to need in your first weeks or months with the software.

This list is meant to supplement our existing Maya training. We go into greater detail for each of the functions listed in the first lessons of our training series, so if something isn't making sense, be sure to refer back to the earlier material.

Navigation Shortcuts

The navigation commands are central to virtually everything you do in Maya. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that just because something looks good from the front or side that it'll look good from every angle. You should be continually orbiting around your model and viewing it from every possible perspective.

 

  • Alt + RMB + Drag - Rotate camera (tumble).
  • Alt + LMB + Drag (or Scroll Wheel) - Zoom in/out. This doesn't actually "zoom" the camera lens, but instead moves the camera forward or backward in space (like a dolly).
  • Alt + MMB + Drag - Track (Move camera up, down, left, or right).
  • Spacebar - Tap spacebar to switch between four-panel and single-panel layouts.

Read a more in-depth explanation of Maya navigation here.

Manipulators

After the navigation controls, the manipulator shortcuts are almost like “home-row” for a modeler. Q, W, E, and R let you switch between the selection, translate, scale, and rotate tools quickly and efficiently.

 

  • Q - Selection Tool
  • W - Translate (Move)
  • E - Rotate
  • R - Scale

Viewport Command Shortcuts

Most of Maya's view-port options can be accessed from the number keys. Numerals 1-3 control object smoothing, while 4-7 control Maya's display modes:

 

  1. Sub-D Preview / Smoothing:
    • 1 - Polygon cage (smoothing off)
    • 2 - Polygon cage + Subdivision Preview
    • 3 - Subdivision Preview (smoothing on)
  2. Display Modes:
    • 4 - Wireframe
    • 5 - Shaded
    • 6 - Texture Preview
    • 6 - Lighting Preview

Miscellaneous Maya Shortcuts

And finally, here's a selection of miscellaneous tools you should get to know as soon as possible:

 

  • F - Frame object. Zooms in on an object so that it fills the viewport panel.
  • G - Repeat a command. It's tough to describe just how handy this can be to someone who hasn't done a whole lot of modeling, but this will be useful time and time agan.
  • X - Snapping. Holding down X while using the move, scale, or rotate tools will enable grid snapping.
  • Ctrl + Z - Undo. Obviously, this is enormously useful. Maya's default memory allocation for the Undo function is limited at 50. This might sound like a lot of undo, but I strongly recommend going into Settings/Preferences and setting the undo steps to something larger (like 100, 200, or even infinite.)
  • Ctrl + G - Group objects. Read more about grouping here.
  • Ctrl + D - Duplicate
  • Shift + Ctrl + D - Duplicate special. Read more about this here.
  • Ctrl + A - Open attribute editor.
  • (+ or -) - Scale manipulator tool up or down. Making your object manipulator larger actually gives you a finer degree of control over Maya's move, scale, and rotate tools. If you're having trouble with a precise object movement, try scaling your manipulator.