What Is a KYS File?

KYS files store keyboard shortcuts that can be used for navigating Photoshop

What to Know

  • A KYS file is an Adobe Photoshop keyboard shortcuts file.
  • Double-click to open one in Photoshop or Illustrator.
  • Edit the shortcuts through one of those program's settings.

This article describes what a KYS file is and how it works, plus how to open one with an Adobe program and how to edit the file to change its shortcuts.

What Is a KYS File?

A file with the KYS file extension is an Adobe Photoshop keyboard shortcuts file. Photoshop lets you save custom keyboard shortcuts for opening menus or running certain commands, and the KYS file is what's used to store those saved shortcuts.

For example, you can save custom shortcuts for opening images, creating new layers, saving projects, flattening all the layers, and lots more.

KYS files in Windows 10

How to Open or Edit a KYS File

KYS files are created by and can be opened with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Since this is a proprietary format, you probably won't find other programs that can use these files.

If you double-click one to open it with Photoshop, nothing will show up on the screen. However, in the background, the new shortcut settings will be saved as the default set of shortcuts the program should use.

Opening the file this way is the fastest method to start using it with Photoshop. However, if you need to make changes to the shortcuts or change which set should be used at any given time, you have to go into Photoshop's settings.

You can make changes to which set of shortcuts Photoshop should have "active" by going into the same screen used to make the KYS file, which is Window > Workspace > Keyboard Shortcuts & Menus. In that window is a tab called Keyboard Shortcuts.

Photoshop keyboard shortcuts and menus screen

That screen lets you not only pick which KYS file should be used but also lets you edit each and every shortcut from that set. Use the save button, name it something unique, and then change the shortcuts by selecting the action and entering the keys that should trigger it.

You can also import several KYS files into Photoshop by putting them in a specific folder that Photoshop can read from. However, if you do put them in this folder, you have to then reopen Photoshop, go into the menu explained above, select the KYS file, and save the changes to start using those shortcuts.

One of these two folders are what's used in Windows, depending on your Windows version or Photoshop version. It's probably down a similar path in macOS.

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop [version]\Locales\en_US\Support Files\Shortcuts\Win\Default Keyboard Shortcuts.kys
C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop [version]\Presets\Keyboard Shortcuts\

KYS files are actually just plain text files. This means you can also open them with Notepad in Windows, TextEdit in macOS, or any other text editor. However, doing this just lets you see the shortcuts that are stored within the file but doesn't let you use them. To actually use the shortcuts, you need to follow the instructions above to import and activate them within Photoshop.

How to Convert a KYS File

This file format is used only with Adobe programs. Converting one to a different file format would mean that those programs can't read it correctly, and therefore not use any custom keyboard shortcuts. This is why there aren't conversion tools that work with KYS file.

Still Can't Open It?

If double-clicking and copying the file doesn't make it work with Photoshop or Illustrator, double-check the file extension. If, after the file name, the letters don't say .kys exactly, then you're dealing with a totally different file format that most likely can't be used with an Adobe program.

For example, KS is short and easy to mix up with KYS, but it actually has two primary purposes: it belongs to a format used for creating images on Linux-based operating systems, and is also called a keystore security file since it's used to store cryptographic keys and certificates.

There are other examples that could be given, but the idea is the same. If you don't really have a KYS file, you'll most likely need something other than an Adobe program to view/edit/use it.

Making a KYS File in Photoshop

To create a keyboard shortcuts file in Photoshop, navigate to Window > Workspace > Keyboard Shortcuts & Menus, and use the Keyboard Shortcuts tab to find the small download button that makes the KYS file.

  • Can I import shortcuts into Photoshop?

    Yes, you can import KYS shortcut files into Photoshop. To add more than one or add files quickly, use the import/export tool. Select Edit Presets > Export/Import Presets Select Import Folder. Choose your KYS files from this folder and click Import Presets to add them to Photoshop.

  • Where can I find my KYS files for Adobe?

    Open AppData > Roaming > Application Name > Settings on Windows. On Macs, click Applications > Application Name. For example, to locate KYS files in Photoshop for Mac, click Locales > Language > Support Files > Shortcuts > Mac. To find KYS files for Illustrator on Mac, choose Presets Language > Keyboard Shortcuts.

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