How to Zoom Out in Adobe Illustrator in 8 Ways (Updated 2022)

how to zoom out in illustrator

There is not just one way to navigate an Adobe Illustrator document. Also, similar to Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Indesign, there are a lot of tools and options available in Adobe Illustrator to help you achieve the same result you want. So how to zoom out in Adobe Illustrator?

You will find different tools that give you different experiences in the zooming process. Illustrator gives you a large range of choices to help you achieve the same outcome in different ways when it comes to zooming out and zooming in. There are various options you can explore to use in the appropriate situations.

Zooming is an operation that shrinks or enlarges the view of your drawing canvas. Zooming not only allows you to view more of your illustration at one time but also allows you to work on a larger scale. This means that as you zoom out, you get a more detailed view of small parts as well as a larger view of the whole illustration, making it easier to work across different areas. Zooming in is like cropping away some parts and moving closer to one area of your artwork.

Here, you will learn various zoom controls to zoom out in Adobe Illustrator CC and also how to zoom in as well. Pick your most comfortable way from the best practices in the following guide.

Focus On Specific Artboard

Sometimes you have many artboards in one Illustrator file. There isn’t any tool or keyboard shortcut to indicate to Illustrator which artwork you’d like it to zoom in and out from. What happens is, when you use them, Illustrator will zoom in or out based on where your cursor is placed and you may have to keep shifting the space to focus on the artboard in question.

Before using any zoom tools and commands to zoom out or in, you may wish to first focus on the artboard you want to work on first with the Artboards function, and then zoom out from there.

Here’s what you do.

Open the Artboards panel by clicking on Windows and scrolling down the menu to Artboards. Click on Artboards and the panel will open up. If you have one artboard, the Artboard panel will show one artboard. If you have ten, it will show ten artboards.

To focus on the artboard you want to zoom in and out, double click on the specific artboard in the Artboard panel. Once you do that, you will see that only the artboard you’ve double-clicked will be shown fully on your screen. From here, you can focus on this artboard and start zooming out and in on this artboard only.

Focus on the artboard you want to zoom out and in from

1. Select the Zoom Tool

The zoom tool can be found in the Toolbar. If you don’t see the Toolbar, go to the top menu bar, click Window, scroll to Toolbars, then click on either Advanced or Basic. Either one will have the Toolbar appear with the Zoom tool. The difference is that the Advanced Toolbar includes more tools than the Basic Toolbar.

Open Toolbar
Select magnifying glass or Zoom Tool from the Toolbar

With your Toolbar visible, you will see a magnifying glass icon amongst some other tool option icons. Click on that and your cursor will change to a magnifying glass icon with a plus (+) sign inside. Then bring your magnifying glass cursor to your artboard and left-click on your mouse or tap once on your trackpad. You will zoom in to your artwork one time. Every time you use this zoom tool with a plus sign to click on your opened file in Illustrator, you will zoom in and your artwork becomes bigger.

To zoom out, change the cursor first by pressing and holding down the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows), and the magnifying glass icon will show a minus (–) sign instead. Still holding on to the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows), left-click on your mouse or tap once on your trackpad. You will zoom out of your artwork one time. Click the minus sign a couple of times and you will start to see your artwork becoming smaller in size or further away from your view.

Zoom out commands

To zoom back in, let go of the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows), and the minus sign in the magnifying glass changes to a plus sign. The same thing as before, left-click on your mouse or trackpad and your artwork will zoom in.

Zoom in tool

2. Switch to Zoom Tool with a Keyboard Shortcut

A lot of times, you’d want to work on your designs as fast as you can. On normal less hurried days, you may be using your mouse a lot, directing your cursor to the zoom tool, and clicking on it, then zooming out and in.

But in days when timelines are urgent, you’ll find that using the mouse can be too much of a hassle and involves too many steps to do one thing. Every second counts. In this case, there’s no need to use the mouse to zoom. You can switch your cursor to the Zoom Tool with a keyboard shortcut.

Say you are using a pen tool now. To change it to the cursor with a magnifying glass icon, press the Z key for the zoom command on the keyboard, and your cursor changes to the Zoom Tool. At this point, your default icon should show a plus sign in the magnifying glass. Zoom in by left-clicking the cursor on your artwork.

Zoom in tool with the keyboard shortcut Z key

To zoom out, hold down the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows) while clicking the mouse or tapping the trackpad.

3. Using Zoom Shortcuts

Using the Zoom Tool is flexible, but in some cases, you don’t wish to take the extra step to change your cursor to the Zoom Tool or use the mouse or trackpad. You just want to go one step faster by quickly using keyboard shortcuts to zoom out and in without even changing the tool you are using to the Zoom Tool.

In this case, there’s no need to change your cursor and no need to click on your mouse or trackpad. Simply press the following on the keyboard for the zoom level you want:

Zoom Out On Mac OS

Keyboard shortcut: Press command –

Result: Zoom out by 16.67% of every command

zoom out keyboard shortcut on mac os

Zoom In On Mac OS

Keyboard shortcut: Press command +

Result: Zoom in by 16.67% of every command

zoom in keyboard shortcut on mac os

Reset Zoom On Mac OS

Keyboard shortcut: Press command 1

Result: 100% view of your artboard

reset zoom on Mac OS

Keyboard shortcut: Press command 0

Result: Fit the artboard in the document window or actual size

reset zoom on mac os

Zoom Out On Windows

On Windows, you will press the ctrl keys instead of the command keys.

Keyboard shortcut: Press ctrl –

Result: Zoom out by 16.67% of every command

zoom out on windows keyboard shortcut

Zoom In On Windows

Keyboard shortcut: Press ctrl +

Result: zoom in by 16.67% of every command

Zoom in on windows keyboard shortcut

Reset Zoom On Windows

Keyboard shortcut: Press ctrl 1

Result: 100% view of your artboard

Reset zoom on windows keyboard shortcut

Keyboard shortcut: Press ctrl 0

Result: Fit the artboard in the document window or actual size

reset zoom on windows keyboard shortcut

When using keyboard commands like these, Illustrator does not know where you want to zoom into or zoom out from. It will only take action with reference to what you see at the point when you press the keyboard shortcuts. In order for you to zoom out and in at the right place, you may first have to go to the spot where you want to do the zoom actions.

In this case, you will have to make use of your keyboard. First, hold down the space bar on your keyboard to show the Hand Tool or press the H key on the keyboard. If you use the space bar, while holding it down, left-click on your mouse or trackpad and drag the cursor to move around. If you press H, the cursor will change to the Hand tool. You can let go of the H key and left-click the mouse or trackpad to move it around.

Sometimes you will have to interchange the actions between using the Hand Tool and zoom commands to view the part where you wish to zoom out or in.

4. Zoom Without Switching Tools

There are times you want to zoom out and in while using another tool or without switching tools. This is one of the most convenient ways to zoom to different sizes while working on your artwork in Illustrator.

Use Keyboard and Scrolling

On your keyboard, hold down the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows) while you scroll your mouse wheel up and down. If you are using the trackpad on your laptop, use two fingers to swipe up and down the trackpad.

Swiping down with two fingers while holding the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows) zooms you out further away from your artwork.

cute cat photo zoom out on illustrator
option key on Apple Mac OS or Alt key on Windows keyboard shortcut
illustration of two fingers swiping down trackpad to zoom out

Swiping up with two fingers while holding the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows) zooms you in closer to your artwork.

cute cat photo zoom in on illustrator
option key on Apple Mac OS or Alt key on Windows keyboard shortcut
illustration of two fingers swiping up trackpad to zoom in

This method is great if you are using another tool and would like to zoom out for a second. This will let you zoom out and in without needing to switch your current tool to the Zoom Tool, and you can return back to the previous size just as easily by holding Alt and swiping up.

5. Zoom With Trackpad Only

If you are using a laptop, you can take advantage of zooming with just the trackpad only, without pressing anything else. In this method, you just have to use two fingers and a trackpad will do.

First, open your artwork file in Adobe Illustrator, and make sure you are at the place where you’d like to zoom out or in.

To zoom out, put two fingers on the trackpad and do a pinching action by drawing your two fingers together.

To zoom in, stretch your two fingers away from each other on the trackpad.

6. Use the Zoom Options in the View Menu

Illustrator is great. But there are days when things don’t turn out well and your keyboard just doesn’t work. That’s when you fall back on using the cursor and Illustrator’s menu items to carry on with your work without delay.

In this case, go to the top menu bar, then, click on View and a drop-down menu appears. Scroll to the submenu that says Zoom Out, click on that and your artwork zooms out. Click on another submenu that says Zoom In to go nearer to your artwork.

Zoom out and in with View menu
Zoom out and in with the View menu

This is the most basic way to zoom in Illustrator and takes up a lot of time and action to keep having to bring your cursor to the menu bar to zoom just one time. But when you need it, it’s there for you.

7. Zoom to Any Size

All the tools that Illustrator provides you to zoom in and out of your artboard are great, but there are times you don’t want to zoom too much. Sometimes you only need to zoom up to 0.1% and the zoom methods so far can only zoom up to 1% onwards.

There’s a way to help you zoom with one action to any size without clicking many times and without using the keyboard. Here’s where you take advantage of the GPU Performance. How do you do that?

Select GPU Performance and Animated Zoom

First, you need to make sure the GPU Performance and Animated Zoom features are checked.

Go to Illustrator, scroll down to Preferences, and select Performance in the dropdown submenu.

Or you can access the Preferences section by clicking on the Preferences button on the control panel, usually found at the top, below the menu bar.

If you don’t see your control panel, go to the workspace section and click on any of the workspaces to reset the navigator panel. You can click on any of the workspaces except for Essentials.

The preferences window will pop up. Then, scroll down to Performance and click on it.

Performance submenu in Illustrator

The performance section appears and you will see the GPU Performance section. Select both GPU Performance and Animated Zoom. Then, click the OK button.

GPU Performance and Animated Zoom

Once Animated Zoom is selected or checked, zoom out and in on your artboard by clicking the mouse button or trackpad and dragging it right and left. To zoom in, drag the cursor to the right and to zoom out, drag the cursor to the left. You can see the continuous zooming effect from big to small or small to big size without skipping or jumping sizes in between. It is as if you are looking at your artwork moving towards you or moving away from you.

When GPU Performance and Animated Zoom are selected

In this way, you are able to see all the sizes by the zoom effect as you drag your cursor and stop dragging anytime you are satisfied with the zoomed size in one action. This feature also allows you to keep yourself in place while you are working because by being able to see every stage of the zooming in and out process you know exactly where you are zooming in and out from.

If it’s not selected, the zoom percentage depends on the size of the area you drag your cursor on. The zooming effect jumps abruptly from one size to another. This can be too big or too small and harder to gauge whether you are zooming with the right percentage.

When GPU Performance and Animated Zoom are not selected

8. Zoom Out and In Based on Percentages

Sometimes you want to zoom based on specific percentages and not just randomly zoom based on what you see. In this case, move your cursor over to the very bottom-left corner of your screen and double click your cursor in the percentage field box. Then key in the percentage value that you’d like to zoom to and your canvas will zoom accordingly.

There are also preset percentages provided. If want to use the given percentages, click on the arrow that’s pointing down on the right side of the percentage field. This will bring up a box that has all of the percentages. From this box, you can choose between various options: From zoom to “Fit on screen” to 64000%. Select the one you wish to zoom to and click on the value. The zooming effect takes place immediately.

Select zoom percentage

Use The One That Works Best

Clearly, the Adobe team knows that graphic designers can’t work with just one way of zooming out and in. If you have to use the mouse, there are options for that. If you don’t wish to switch tools, there are also keyboard commands for that. You are spoilt for choice, so use the one that works best for your situation.

In general, the Zoom Tool and the View menu are the two main methods of zooming within Illustrator. No matter which method you choose to use, you can always repeat it by pressing Command/Ctrl +1.

Note: If you don’t have Adobe Illustrator and wish to try the zoom function, you can download the free trial for 7-days here.

Featured image from: Online illustrations by Storyset

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