The most useful Maya shortcuts, tools and project settings

Goal: Master the keyboard shortcuts to maintain the flow.

Maya keyboard Shortcuts


Q hide manipulator tool
W translate
E rotate
R scale
G redo the same tool

Viewing modes

4 wireframe mode
5 shaded mode
6 textured mode
7 lit mode

Working modes

F2 Modelling
F3 Rigging
F4 Animation
F6 Rendering

Selection mode

f7 multi component selection

f8 object selection

alt + arrow: moves selection 1 pixel at a time

arrow: pick walking through vertices

ctrl/cmd + Z: Undo

shift + Z: Redo

x: snap to grid

c: snap to line/edge

v: snap to vertice

f: frame camera to selection in viewport

a: frame camera to all objects in viewport

g: redo last command(or edit > repeat)

y: end tool but remain selected

b: adjust brush size

p: parent


Ctrl + G: group

ctrl + N: New scene

ctrl + S: Save scene

ctrl + E: Extrude

F1: help/search

Unlimited undos:

undo mistakes as far back as you wish. comes at memory cost
    1. select window/setting pref
    2. select undo
    3. select infinite at queue

Turn on border edges highlight and changing edge thickness

when it’s difficult to see edges or open edges clearly:
  1. select window/setting pref > prefs
  2. select polygons under polygon display
  3. check border edges
increase the edge thickness by selecting polygon display / edge width

Creating a custom tool shelf

  1. select window/setting pref > prefs > shelf editor
  2. select new shelf and rename it
  3. select save all shelves
  4. hold down ctrl + shift keys
  5. select favourite tools to add

Common tools

  • Combine: join meshes into 1 object
  • insert edge loop: adds new edge split across object and quickly inserts a continuous row of edges.
  • append to poly: mends open faces
  • fill hole: fills open faces quickly
  • split poly: divides mesh
  • merge vertices: cleans up open mesh
  • soften edge: softens edging for smooth curves
  • harden edge: hardens sharp edges and corners
  • UV Tex ed: views and cleans up uvs for texturing
  • centre pivot: centres the object pivot automatically
  • delete history: removes old processes to reduce memory
  • Hypershade: builds shaders and applies materials to mesh

Good housekeeping: Setting up a new project and making sure work folders are well-organised and clean

Setting up a new project properly is important because all folders corresponding to textures, mesh and other data related to that specific model will be organised correctly and transferable to other users without breaking any paths – this will save a lot of grief and trouble.

  1. create a folder
  2. change project folder name settings in maya > file > project > project window
  3. maya > file > project > set project
  4. create a new name
  5. hit browse and locate the created folder in locations
  6. select use defaults
  7. select accept
  8. file > project/set > click on folder > select ok

Enable unlimited undos in preferences > settings > unto queue settings to go as far back as you wish into a project.

Prepare the modeling template by creating a template layer and 2 polygon template planes(front and side view).