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Align Left Keyboard Shortcut Stopped Working (and how to fix it)

There has been a rash of hijackings amongst Macintosh InDesign users who have upgraded or are using the latest version of the Macintosh OSX 10.8 (known as Mountain Lion). Specifically, the tried-and-true keystroke for aligning text to the left—Cmd-Shift-L—had stopped working. Align Right and Center are fine. But Align Left lost its keystroke.

Fortunately, the culprit was discovered to be lurking in a hidden corner of the Keyboard System Preferences.

If you have experienced this problem, here’s how to fix it:

Open your System Preferences by going to Apple menu > System Preferences and then clicking the Keyboard icon.

Click Keyboard in System Preferences

Click Keyboard in System Preferences

This opens the Keyboard Preferences area. Click the tab for Keyboard Shortcuts and then click Services. Finally, scroll down for the Search With Google section under Searching. You’ll see that Cmd-Shift-L has been assigned to that command and is interfering with InDesign’s Align Left command.

Keyboard Shortcuts tab

Keyboard Shortcuts tab

Click to highlight the offending keystroke.

highlight shortcut

Highlighting the shortcut for Search With Google

And then delete what’s there! (Alternatively, you can turn off the checkbox to the left of the command.) Of course if you absolutely need a keystroke to search with Google, you can enter a new one. Just be sure it doesn’t conflict with some other InDesign keyboard command.

The results of deleting the shortcut. (Notice the very faint "None" in that position.)

The results of deleting the shortcut. (Notice the very faint “None” in that position.)

That’s it! You’ve just brought Cmd-Shift-L back into the InDesign family of shortcuts.

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18 Comments on “Align Left Keyboard Shortcut Stopped Working (and how to fix it)

  1. Thanks for this, Sandee! I figured that OSX had hijacked this shortcut, but I hadn’t had time to look to see where it was. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I also don’t have “cmd/shft s” (the mighty Save As). Thanks Sandee, for showing where to look! Maybe the KB SysPrefs will have this one too…

  3. This is great! I was wondering what had happened and thought maybe it was just me. I keep using that shortcut even though I know it won’t work. But, after reading this I made the change, tested it and back to normal. Thanks, Sandee. Great tip.

  4. Cmd+Shift+S, for Save as, apparently has been hijacked, but I couldn’t find it in the Keyboard Shortcuts list as I did Cmd+Shift+L. Anyone resolve this?

      • Thanks, Sandee. I’m happy to report it’s now working (it wasn’t a week ago). There was an ID update the other day that apparently fixed it; I should have checked before posting! Duh!

  5. Actually, Nick, you have only experienced the phenomena that problems instantly are solved as soon as you ask someone for help.

  6. That was great!!! thanks!
    I also couldn’t find a way to set a “Align horizontal centers” Shortcut in Indesign!! anyone have a clue?? (I suppose it’s the same for all adobes)

  7. @clara torres,

    That command can be assigned in the Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, by going to the Object Editing area and looking under “Horizontal Align Center”.

    I agree it should be under “Align Horizontal Center” but that’s how engineer’s minds work.

  8. I don’t think this is a Mountain Lion issue… I’m using Snow Leopard, but the Align Left shortcut fails to work only in InDesign CC (it’s fine in CS3, CS4 and CS5.5, which I have to use on some jobs). I checked System Prefs, and there it was, exactly as outlined above, in Google Search. Unchecking the box allows it to work in InDesign CC, so I suspect the issue is one of CC’s preferences either not being se the same as earlier versions, or that CC allows System Prefs to take precedence.

  9. @Phil Long

    Your observations are very important.

    I would agree that CC has allowed System Prefs to take precedence.

    And this might be part of the fact that ID CC was totally rewritten for Cocoa. Perhaps being a “Carbon” application allowed ID to be more powerful. But when it became Cocoa, Apple’s code reared its superiority.

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