Transitioning from Adobe to Affinity

I’ve been using Adobe products since approximately 2002. This is a long time to develop shortcuts, expectations, and unconscious habits, all of which serves to make my design and production workflows better so that my focus can be on the thing itself, and not the tools around the thing. When I discovered Affinity’s robust alternatives, I was excited for my personal and freelance projects, and then quickly weary at the learning curve I was facing.

In switching to Affinity for design and graphics, I never expected everything to be the same—I’m of an age where I’ve also had to understand Quark’s quirks—but I expected there to be a sort of quick-switch guide to make the transition easier. There’s not! Not that I can find (as of April 2023).

So I’m making one.


This is Mac-based, because that’s my OS. If you’re on Windows and can throw together that side of things, I’ll happily add it!

Especially in the early stages, this is focused on my workflow and the type of projects I do. My workflow is heavily geared toward print, and particularly books and zines.

I also recognize I have workflow idiosyncrasies, so I may skip over things that are important to others.

Developing it is also dependent on my time and what projects I can pick up to test.

Basic resources

I’ve been referencing a handful of different sites to either learn, or make sure I’m correctly remembering things or describing InDesign defaults (rather than tweaks I’ve made over the years).

Affinity Publisher help documentation

Adobe InDesign keyboard shortcuts

Adobe InDesign -> Affinity Publisher

Notes I haven’t yet researched

Interface and workflow

  • Doesn’t seem possible to select an object and know the precise positioning on the page, as with InDesign’s top toolbar, which displays positioning relative to zero point, as well as dimensions of the object.
    • This can be found under Window -> Transform. The panel can be kept in the sidebar or detached to float.
  • Guides do not act like objects, and cannot be selected and deleted individually. To delete, drag them into the ruler, like with Photoshop.
  • Cannot select a guide and reference the precise positioning.
  • What are Assets?
  • What are Content Categories?

Print production

  • Overprinting behaves strangely: overprinting is applied on the swatch level, not the object level.
  • There is no separations preview.
  • Preflight functions are not very robust.


  • Object Styles: I don’t expect to use this element, but I couldn’t find a way to clear an object style from an object. I had to undo until all my playing around was reversed.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Here’s a list of keyboard shortcuts I have altered in Publisher in order to behave as I expect, coming from InDesign.

Some of these are changed so that the shortcut I expect for something else doesn’t conflict with Affinity defaults. These are marked with an asterisk. I may share the saved shortcuts file as a download if there’s interest/I remember.

PlaceCMD + DShift + CMD + M
Deselect*Shift + CMD + ACMD + D
Save as PackageShift + OPT + CMD + P
ExportCMD + EALT + Shift + CMD + S
Add PageShift + CMD + PShift + CMD + Page Down
Document Set-upOPT + CMD + P
Go to PageCMD + J
Duplicate*Shift + OPT + CMD + DCMD + J
Next PageShift + Page DownCMD + Page Down
Previous PageShift + Page UpCMD + Page Up
Show BleedCTRL + W
PreviewWCTRL + W
Show Baseline GridCMD + OPT + ‘
Show Column GuidesOPT + /
Lock GuidesCMD + OPT + ;
Show Text FlowCMD + OPT + Y


Can clicking and dragging over the design not select all objects dragged over? Yes, it can! Turn it on here: Application menu / Preferences / Tools / Select object when intersects with selection marquee

Text and Typesetting

Autoflow: To flow a manuscript into pages that are automatically created:

  • Flow one page at a time: Hold OPT and click the red triangle.
  • Autoflow until text runs out: Hold SHIFT and click the red triangle.
  • Load text onto cursor and continue placing until text runs out: Does not exist.

Bulleted Lists: It appears that you have to create separate styles for each level in a bulleted list. (Still checking this out.)

Adobe Photoshop -> Affinity Photo

Notes I haven’t yet researched

  • Is there no possible keyboard shortcut to adjust brush hardness? (I expect SHIFT + [ / ])
  • Can I drag a layer/group onto the “new layer” button to duplicate?
  • Why does eraser not work as expected when editing a mask? (Likely user error, will return to this…)


Brush Previews: Turn them off here: Application menu / Preferences / UI / Show brush previews

Keyboard Shortcuts

Free TransformCommand + TSelect Layer, press V

Update log

  • 2023-04-08: Created page with initial round of notes. Very much a work in progress! Please be patient.
  • 2023-07-03: Small updates—Transform panel, bulleted lists, deleting guides.