We all know these people, they sit in front of a computer and it seems like they just use some kind of dark magic. New windows open, tools change within seconds, they search for things without even touching the mouse. And after a blink they changed so much and you have no idea what happend.

This magic is called the usage of shortcuts. And like everything in the IT in general, you first need to know they exists and after that it’s easy to use them or search for them in case you forgot it.

Unity has a lot of useful shortcuts and today I want to show you some of them. I discovered recently that a lot of people don’t know a lot of “common” shortcuts, so this post will cover these too.

At the end I hope you can practice the magic of shortcuts yourself. Before getting started… Almost every shortcut I tell you about is also written down in Unity itself and you can edit them if you want to have it different. Just go to Edit -> Shortcuts... in your Unity Window. But now, lets get started!

Object Tools

Maybe one of the first things you came across while using Unity are these object tools.

Image of Object Tools in Unity

There are different ways to manipulate an object in a scene. First of all you can set the position, rotation and scale in the Transform Component. But sometimes you don’t know the values you want. Maybe you want to try things out to get a feeling for the values.

In this case you can switch between these tools. With each of them you can manipulate the object by dragging an arrow or something else around. This is really quick and it can be useful to quickly switch between the Move and Rotation Tool for example. Especially if you’re not a real fan of the combination tool, where you can do everything at the same time.

These tools have a really easy shortcut. You just need to remember one key and then you can find out any tool. Great, right? The Shortcuts are as follows:

Tool Shortcut-Key
Hand Tool Q
Move Tool W
Rotate Tool E
Scale Tool R
Rect Tool T
Combined Tool Y

The trick is, that the order of the keys is the same as displayed at the top of your unity editor. You can easily switch between those tool without moving your mouse away from your object just by looking at the top of your editor (or just try it out until you have the right one).

If you are using a QWERTZ-Keyboard, you may notice that your combined tool is not in the row as all the others. But I think that is okay, because either you get used to it or you just use the single tools as I do.

Two additional shortcuts worth knowing are for toggling the values next to the tools. To look at the center of an object or its pivot (especially useful when editing a UI) and toggle between global and local transform of an object.

Tool Shortcut-Key
Toggle Pivot/Center Z
Toggle Global/Local X

Again QWERTZ-Keyboard kinda messes with Unitys intention to have it between each other, but you can change it in your preferences as mentioned before.

Expanding/collapse GameObjects

While working on a project it will get a lot bigger every time you commit. As well as the depth of some GameObjects increase during the development. It can be really annoying to collapse and expand everything every time. So I will show you some tricks to save some time while doing so.

The first shortcut is maybe the most useful and the most recent one I know. A friend told be about it while we always use it without intention which got really annoying.

When you want to collapse or expand ALL objects in your scene or in a specific GameObject you can hold ALT while opening/closing it. It kinda tells all children to do the same action as the parent. To indicate it for you, the hand symbol in the tool selection will change to an eye instead of a hand. I will show you a quick example (at the right button are the keys I pressed at this time).

Example Collapse and Expand while holding ALT Key

Renaming GameObjects

There are several ways of renaming a GameObject in Unity. You can do it the long way, where you right click on the object and click on rename. Or you can do some kind of slow double click. Once an object is selected, clicking on this object enables the renaming.

But for those who like to use the keyboard, of course there is a way. Some of you already know about it, because it is the same shortcut as it is for the Linux file browser. Just press F2 and you can rename the object you have selected.

Placing Objects

Sometimes we create something like a road, or walls. Things that needed to be right beside each other. But nobody wants to count pixels to get it right or just leave it chaotic in the scene. But you don’t have to!

Unity has something called “Snapping”. Just to know that snapping exists helped me so much. I will show you some examples.

The first kind of snapping is the Face-Snapping. By holding CTRL + SHIFT the center of your tool kinda looks different (as seen in the gif below). When you move your object near a surface now, the object will stick to it. And that’s what we want most of the time, to just have our objects on the ground, right?

Example for Face Snapping

The second thing is Vertex-Snapping. While holding V the center of your tool changes again, to let you know you are snapping now. Furthermore you’re not selecting the center of the object anymore. While hovering over the object, the tool you choose sticks to the nearest corner of the object. If you move your object like that, you can fit the selected vertex to a vertex of another object.

Example for Vertex Snapping

Flying Scene Camera

We all know the pain, we want to go near an object, because we want to see something. But using the mouse weel just doesn’t work as we want. Either we are too far away or we look through the object. But of course Unity has a solution for it, you just need to know it exists! As you may already noticed, by holding the Right Mouse Button you can look around at your viewpoint. And for those with good eyes also notice the small icon beside the eye icon on your mouse cursor. It indicates that you can use WASD to navigate through your scene smoothly.

Here is a list of the important keys you can use while holding Right Mouse Button down to navigate. The action will be executed as long as you hold the keys down.

Action Shortcut-Key
forward W
left A
backwards S
right D
down Q
up E
move faster SHIFT

Here is a small example how it looks like:

Example for the scene navigation

I must admit, it may take some time to get used to it. But even if you do not need it right now, it is good to know that it exists and you can google how it works. Or come back to this post.

Hopefully these tips helps you when starting with Unity or even tell you some tricks if you already work with it. There are many more shortcuts, if you like them, just look them up in the documentation. These are just the ones I didn’t know a long time and would be happy to have known before. Because we all know, we don’t read the full documentation, we just read the parts we are searching for.

And now good luck with your coding!

Additional Information

Overview about all Unity Shortcuts:

Overview about the scene view navigation:

I currently use Unity versions:

  • Unity 2019.4.17f1
  • Unity 2020.2.1f1

In case of questions or feedback, feel free to contact me. All links can be found at the front page.