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  • 7/30/2019 3D Studio MAX Hotkeys and Mouse Essentials


    3D Studio MAX Hotkeys and Mouse


    Posted onJanuary 12, 2007byMike Nuts

    When you start out with 3D Studio MAX you will likely start with trying out different tools and

    features and the basics. Something that should be included in those basics, but is often left out, isusing hotkeys. As you already know, or will certainly find out soon, creating 3D art is a time-

    consuming activity. Using hotkeys and the mouse efficiently can save you tons of time. At firstyou may need to spend some time looking up the hotkey (see printer-friendly version of thistutorial here), but once you memorize them through using them, they will allow you to produce

    results at least twice as fast. When you modeling for example (moving, scaling, rotating, etc.),

    with one hand on the mouse, you will have your other hand free to press one of the hotkeys.

    Lets start with several of the main hotkeys you just cant ignore:

    F1Opens 3D Max Reference (Help)

    Depending on the feature you are currently working with, it may take you directly to the main

    help page regarding that feature.

    F2Shade selected faces toggle

    When you are in polygon sub-object level and select one or more polygons, they will be shadedentirely (red) by default, like this:

    When you press the F2 key you can toggle between the default setting and having only the edges

    turn red for select faces/polygons, as shown below. This can be very useful when you havecomplex models.

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    F3Toggle between Wireframe and Smooth + Highlights

    By default, a viewport in 3D Studio MAX will show objects as wireframes. Instead of right-

    clicking the viewport and choosing Smooth + Highlights to show the shaded object, you can

    simply press the F3 key to set a viewport to Smooth + Highlights as shown below, or back to


    F4View Edged Faces

    As you can see in the picture above, when you switch to Smooth + Highlights, 3D Studio MAX

    will not show the edges of the faces. By pressing the F4 key, you can have the object display the

    edges of all faces, regardless of whether they are selected:

    The following two are usually the first two keys I press when starting with a default emptyscene:

    GHide/Show Grid

    Unless you actually need the grid (e.g. to snap to), it can get in the way. The G key allows you tohide or show it.

    JShow Selection Bracket Toggle

    The reason for using this key is similar to using the G key. By default, 3D Studio MAX shows a

    selection bracket around each select object (unless the viewport is in Wireframe mode). This can

    become very annoying, but can easily be removed by pressing the J key.

    The following four keys are amongst the first I suggest you start using:


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    Enables the Select tool:

    WSelect and Move

    Enables the Select and Move tool:

    ESelect and Rotate

    Enables the Select and Rotate tool:

    RSelect and Scale

    Enables the Select and Scale tool:

    HSelect by Name

    Opens the Select by name dialog. This dialog shows a list with all visible objects in the scene.When you need to attach or link objects for example, and there are many objects in the scene,selecting by name can make things a lot easier.

    CTRL-ASelect all

    CTRL-DDeselect all

    Spacebar Selection Lock toggle

    This key can be useful sometimes, but annoying more often. When you try to select a certain

    object and a different object remains selected, press the Spacebar key because you probablyalready hit it by accident and locked your selection.

    1 to 5Sub-object level X

    This is another good example of a real timesaver. Instead of using the mouse button to select a

    sub-object level of an Editable Poly for example, you can press one of the following keys.






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    These allows you to quickly change between the sub-object levels, e.g. move a vertex, than scale

    a polygons, chamfer a line, etc.

    7Polygon counter

    The 7 key allows you to display a polygon counter in the upper left of the upper left viewport:

    8Open Environment and Effects Dialog

    Viewport Hotkeys

    FSwitch to the Front viewport


    Switch to the Top viewport

    LSwitch to the Left viewport

    RSwitch to the Right viewport

    PSwitch to the Perspective viewport

    BSwitch to the Bottom viewport

    CSwitch to a Camera viewport

    CTRL-CCreate camera from viewport

    Creates a new Camera, work only on Perspective viewports.

    VOpen view shortcut menu

    Allows you to pick a view from a list (using another key again of course). For example, press the

    V key and then the K key for Back view.

    ZZooms in on the current selection

    CTRL-XToggle Expert mode

    Removes command panels, toolbars, etc. and leaves you only with viewports. Dont even think

    about using this unless you know your hotkeys.

    ALT-QIsolate Object

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    Isolates the object you selected and hides all others. This is a great feature for when you work

    with a scene or object consisting of many individual objects. Unfortunately, it does not work forsub-object selections such as a group of polygons. If you got used to hiding and unhiding objects,

    this option will definitely save you a lot of time.


    Adaptive Degradation Toggle

    Shows objects as boxes while moving, rotating, zooming on viewport to increase viewportperformance. I hardly ever use this one, but its one of those darn keys you may hit by accidentand wonder what the heck is going on with your objects.

    XTransform Gizmo Toggle

    Another good example of a key you may hit by accident and wonder why you cannot move,

    scale, rotate, etc. anymore. Pressing X will change the gizmo from


    DDisables the viewport

    Although this one can be useful, it is also one I occasionally press by accident. Press the D keyagain to disable/enable the viewport.

    Shift-Z / Shift-YUndo /Redo viewport operation

    Undo operations such as switching to a different view, rotating, zooming or moving through


    + andIncrease/decrease Gizmo size

    The following are three rendering related hotkeys I used the most:

    F9Render last rendered viewport, or, in case of the first render, render selected viewport.

    Shift-QQuick render, renders selected viewport.

    F10Opens the Render Scene window allowing you to set rendering options.

    MOpens the Material Editor

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    CTRL-VClone object

    Although holding down the Shift key and moving, rotating, or scaling an object also allows you

    to create a clone, by using CTRL-V you can create a clone on the exact same location and of the

    same size as the original.

    Alt-XDisplay As See-Through Toggle

    By pressing the ALT-X keys you can display an object as see-through, partly transparent. This is

    useful for when you need to see the model sheet/reference/blueprint or other models/geometrythrough it.

    The following three are useful for while working with an Editable Poly:

    Alt-LSelect Edge Loop

    This is the same as pressing the Loop button in the Editable Poly section when you are in Edge

    sub-object level.


    Enables the Cut tool, which you can use to draw edges on polygons.

    SHIFT -E / ALT-E Extrude poly

    Enable the Extrude tool.

    The hotkeys mentioned in this tutorial are just a small subset of the available hotkeys in 3D

    Studio MAX. And additional or different hotkeys can be available depending on what featuresyou are using. If you search for Default Keyboard Shortcuts in the 3D Studio MAX user

    reference, you should be able to find a complete overview.

    In addition to the default keyboard shortcuts, you can use the following procedure to create a

    custom keyboard shortcut:

    1. Choose Customize menu > Customize User Interface > Keyboard panel.

    2. Use the Group and Category lists to find the action for which you want to create a shortcut.

    3. Click action in the Action list to highlight it.

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    4. In the Hotkey field, enter the keyboard shortcut you want to assign to the action.

    5. Click Assign.

    Using the Mouse Efficiently

    Just as important as using hotkeys is for working efficiently, using the mouse properly can be a

    huge timesaver as well. Using the primary mouse button frequently (thats the left button for themost of us) is mandatory when you use 3D Studio MAX but the others (middle, and right for

    example) are just as useful.

    Lets start with the secondary mouse button (usually the right-mouse button). The most common

    purpose of this button is opening the shortcut menu. For example, if you right click on the nameof the viewport (e.g. Front, Left, and Perspective) a popup menu appears allowing you to

    perform several tasks related to the viewport. For many of these options, you should use hotkeys

    such as mentioned above, but for other options, such as the Properties of the viewports, its still

    an useful menu. More useful though, is the main shortcut menu that opens when you right-clickon the viewport:

    Some of the options on this menu I use frequently are:

    - Unhide/Hide selected/unselected, by name, all

    - Convert to Face/Vertex/Edge

    This converts, for example, a selection of vertexes to a selection of edges. It does not actually

    change the geometry of your model; it merely changes the sub-object level and remembers the


    - Save and manage Scene States (very useful!)

    Another common task for the right mouse button is to open the shortcut menu of a selected

    object, e.g. to manage its Properties.

    Some less common use of the right-mouse button:

    - Right-click the Undo or Redo to see and select a list of undo/redo actions.

    - Right-click a spinner to reset it to zero.

    - Right-click a color or map slot to cut/clear/copy/paste it.

    The middle mouse button I use more often than the right mouse button, especially during the

    modeling process, and saves me a huge amount of time. The following are the most commontasks I perform with the middle mouse button:

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    - Hold it to drag/move through viewport. This saves time because you dont have to switch your

    current tool to the Pan View tool (little hand) at the right bottom of the interface and switch itback to the tool you were using.

    - Hold it while also holding the ALT key to rotate the viewport, this saves time because you

    dont have to switch your current tool to the Arc Rotate tool at the right bot tom of the interface(which you could do with CTRL-R if you dont have a middle mouse button).

    - Since my middle button is also a scroll wheel, I use it to zoom in and out on the viewport. If

    you hold the ALT key, you can zoom in more gradually.

    If you merely read this article/tutorial, I suggest reading it again and trying the different hotkeys

    and mouse operation. It will change the way you work with 3D Studio Max and you will be able

    to produce a lot more results in the same amount of time. Below is a link to a printer-friendlyPDF version of this tutorial. Have fun!

    3D Studio MAX Hotkeys and Mouse EssentialsPDF version

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    Keyboard shortcuts (3ds Max 7)


    This guide is based on 3D Studio Max 7.

    Description Keyboard shortcut

    Snaps Action Table

    Snap To Edge/Segment Toggle Alt+F10

    Snap To Endpoint Toggle Alt+F8

    Snap To Face Toggle Alt+F11

    Snap To Grid Points Toggle Alt+F5

    Snap To Midpoint Toggle Alt+F9

    Snap To Pivot Toggle Alt+F6

    Snap To Vertex Toggle Alt+F7

    Main UI

    Adaptive Degradation Toggle O

    Align Alt+A

    Angle Snap Toggle A

    Arc Rotate View Mode Ctrl+R

    Auto Key Mode Toggle N

    Background Lock Toggle Alt+Ctrl+B

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    Backup Time One Unit ,

    Bottom View B

    Camera View C

    Clone Ctrl+V

    Cycle Active Snap Type Alt+S

    Cycle Selection Method Ctrl+F

    Cycle Snap Hit Alt+Shift+S

    Default Lighting Toggle Ctrl+L

    Delete Objects .

    Disable Viewport D

    Display as See-Through Toggle Alt+X

    Environment Dialog Toggle 8

    Expert Mode Toggle Ctrl+X

    Fetch Alt+Ctrl+F

    Forward Time One Unit .

    Front View F

    Go to End Frame End

    Go to Start Frame Home

    Hide Cameras Toggle Shift+C

    Hide Geometry Toggle Shift+G

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    Hide Grids Toggle G

    Hide Helpers Toggle Shift+H

    Hide Lights Toggle Shift+L

    Hide Particle Systems Toggle Shift+P

    Hide Shapes Toggle Shift+S

    Hide Space Warps Toggle Shift+W

    Hold Alt+Ctrl+H

    Isometric User View U

    Left View L

    Lock User Interface Toggle Alt+0

    Material Editor Toggle M

    Maximize Viewport Toggle Alt+W

    MAXScript Listener F11

    New Scene Ctrl+N

    Normal Align Alt+N

    Open File Ctrl+O

    Pan View Ctrl+P

    Pan Viewport I

    Percent Snap Toggle Shift+Ctrl+P

    Perspective User View P

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    Place Highlight Ctrl+H

    Play Animation /

    Quick Align Shift+A

    Quick Render Shift+Q

    Redo Scene Operation Ctrl+Y

    Redo Viewport Operation Shift+Y

    Redraw All Views `

    Render Last F9

    Render Scene Dialog Toggle F10

    Restrict Plane Cycle F8

    Restrict to X F5

    Restrict to Y F6

    Restrict to Z F7

    Save File Ctrl+S

    Scale Cycle Ctrl+E

    Select All Ctrl+A

    Select Ancestor PageUp

    Select and Move W

    Select and Rotate E

    Select By Name H

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    Select Child PageDown

    Select Children Ctrl+PageDown

    Select Invert Ctrl+I

    Select None Ctrl+D

    Selection Lock Toggle Space

    Set Key Mode '

    Set Keys K

    Shade Selected Faces Toggle F2

    Show Floating Dialogs Ctrl+`

    Show Main Toolbar Toggle Alt+6

    Show Safeframes Toggle Shift+F

    Show Selection Bracket Toggle J

    Snap To Frozen Objects Toggle Alt+F2

    Snaps Toggle S

    Snaps Use Axis Constraints Toggle Alt+D, Alt+F3

    Sound Toggle \

    Spacing Tool Shift+I

    Spot/Directional Light View Shift+4

    Sub-object Level Cycle Insert

    Sub-object Selection Toggle Ctrl+B

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    Top View T

    Transform Gizmo Size Down -

    Transform Gizmo Size Up =

    Transform Gizmo Toggle X

    Transform Type-In Dialog Toggle F12

    Undo Scene Operation Ctrl+Z

    Undo Viewport Operation Shift+Z

    Update Background Image Alt+Shift+Ctrl+B

    View Edged Faces Toggle F4

    Viewport Background Alt+B

    Virtual Viewport Pan Down NumPad 2

    Virtual Viewport Pan Left NumPad 4

    Virtual Viewport Pan Right NumPad 6

    Virtual Viewport Pan Up NumPad 8

    Virtual Viewport Toggle NumPad /

    Virtual Viewport Zoom In NumPad +

    Virtual Viewport Zoom Out NumPad -

    Wireframe / Smooth+Highlights Toggle F3

    Zoom Extents All Selected Z

    Zoom Extents All Shift+Ctrl+Z

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    Zoom Extents Alt+Ctrl+Z

    Zoom In 2X Alt+Shift+Ctrl+Z

    Zoom Mode Alt+Z

    Zoom Out 2X Alt+Shift+Z

    Zoom Region Mode Ctrl+W

    Zoom Viewport In [, Ctrl+=

    Zoom Viewport Out ], Ctrl+-

    Track View

    Add Keys A

    Apply Ease Curve Ctrl+E

    Apply Multiplier Curve Ctrl+M

    Assign Controller C

    Copy Controller Ctrl+C

    Expand Object Toggle O

    Expand Track Toggle Enter, T

    Filters Q

    Lock Selection Space

    Lock Tangents Toggle L

    Make Controller Unique U

    Move Highlight Down Down Arrow

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    Move Highlight Up Up Arrow

    Move Keys M

    Nudge Keys Left Left Arrow

    Nudge Keys Right Right Arrow

    Pan P

    Paste Controller Ctrl+V

    Scroll Down Ctrl+Down Arrow

    Scroll Up Ctrl+Up Arrow

    Snap Frames S

    Zoom Horizontal Extents Keys Alt+X

    Zoom Z

    Material Editor

    Background B

    Backlight L

    Cycle 3X2, 5X3, 6X4 Sample Slots X

    Get Material G

    Go Backward to Sibling Left Arrow

    Go Forward to Sibling Right Arrow

    Go to Parent Up Arrow

    Make Preview P

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    Options O

    Schematic View

    Add Bookmark B

    Display Floater D

    Filters P

    Free All Alt+F

    Free Selected Alt+S

    Invert Selected Nodes Ctrl+I

    Move Children Alt+C

    Next Bookmark Right Arrow

    Previous Bookmark Left Arrow

    Rename Object R

    Select All Nodes Ctrl+A

    Select Children Ctrl+C

    Select None Ctrl+D

    Show Grid G

    Toggle Shrink Ctrl+S

    Use Connect Tool C

    Use Select Tool S

    Zoom Selected Extents Z

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    Close Q

    Draw Region D

    Render R

    Select Object S

    Toggle Toolbar (Docked) Space

    Video Post

    Add Image Filter Event Ctrl+F

    Add Image Input Event Ctrl+I

    Add Image Layer Event Ctrl+L

    Add Image Output Event Ctrl+O

    Add New Event Ctrl+A

    Add Scene Event Ctrl+S

    Edit Current Event Ctrl+E

    Execute Sequence Ctrl+R

    New Sequence Ctrl+N


    CV Constrained Normal Move Alt+N

    CV Constrained U Move Alt+U

    CV Constrained V Move Alt+V

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    Display Curves Shift+Ctrl+C

    Display Dependents Ctrl+D

    Display Lattices Ctrl+L

    Display Shaded Lattice Alt+L

    Display Surfaces Shift+Ctrl+S

    Display Toolbox Ctrl+T

    Display Trims Shift+Ctrl+T

    Local Select Sub-Object By Name Ctrl+H

    Lock 2D Selection Space

    Select Next in U Ctrl+Right Arrow

    Select Next in V Ctrl+Up Arrow

    Select Previous in U Ctrl+Left Arrow

    Select Previous in V Ctrl+Down Arrow

    Select Sub-Object By Name H

    Set Tessellation Preset 1 Alt+1

    Set Tessellation Preset 2 Alt+2

    Set Tessellation Preset 3 Alt+3

    Soft Selection Ctrl+S

    Switch To Curve CV Level Alt+Shift+Z

    Switch To Curve Level Alt+Shift+C

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    Switch To Imports Level Alt+Shift+I

    Switch To Point Level Alt+Shift+P

    Switch To Surface CV Level Alt+Shift+V

    Switch To Surface Level Alt+Shift+S

    Switch To Top Level Alt+Shift+T

    Transform Degrade Ctrl+X

    Editable Poly

    Bevel Mode Shift+Ctrl+B

    Border Level 3

    Chamfer Mode Shift+Ctrl+C

    Connect Shift+Ctrl+E

    Constrain to Edges Shift+X

    Cut Alt+C

    Edge Level 2

    Element Level 5

    Extrude Mode Shift+E

    Face Level 4

    Grow Selection Ctrl+PageUp

    Hide Unselected Alt+I

    Hide Alt+H

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    Object Level 6

    Quickslice Mode Shift+Ctrl+Q

    Repeat Last Operation ;

    Select Edge Loop Alt+L

    Select Edge Ring Alt+R

    Shrink Selection Ctrl+PageDown

    Unhide All Alt+U

    Vertex Level 1

    Weld Mode Shift+Ctrl+W

    Edit/Editable Mesh

    Bevel Mode Ctrl+V, Ctrl+B

    Chamfer Mode Ctrl+C

    Cut Mode Alt+C

    Detach Ctrl+D

    Edge Invisible Ctrl+I

    Edge Level 2

    Edge Turn Ctrl+T

    Element Level 5

    Extrude Mode Ctrl+E

    Face Level 3

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    Polygon Level 4

    Vertex Level 1

    Weld Selected Ctrl+W

    Weld Target Mode Alt+W

    Edit Normals

    Break Normals B

    Copy Normal Ctrl+C

    Edge Level Ctrl+3

    Face Level Ctrl+4

    Make Explicit E

    Normal Level Ctrl+1

    Object Level Ctrl+0

    Paste Normal Ctrl+V

    Reset Normals R

    Specify Normals S

    Unify Normals U

    Vertex Level Ctrl+2


    Switch To Control Point Level Alt+Shift+C

    Switch To Lattice Level Alt+Shift+L

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    Switch To Set Volume Level Alt+Shift+S

    Switch To Top Level Alt+Shift+T

    Edit Poly

    Bevel Mode Shift+Ctrl+B

    Border Level 3

    Chamfer Mode Shift+Ctrl+C

    Connect Shift+Ctrl+E

    Constrain to Edges Shift+X

    Cut Alt+C

    Edge Level 2

    Element Level 5

    Extrude Mode Shift+E

    Grow Selection Ctrl+PageUp

    Hide Unselected Alt+I

    Hide Alt+H

    Object Level 6

    Polygon Level 4

    Quickslice Mode Shift+Ctrl+Q

    Repeat Last Operation ;

    Select Edge Loop Alt+L

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    Select Edge Ring Alt+R

    Shrink Selection Ctrl+PageDown

    Unhide All Alt+U

    Vertex Level 1

    Weld Mode Shift+Ctrl+W


    Copy Envelope Ctrl+C

    Delete Ctrl+D

    Next PageDown

    Paste Envelope Ctrl+V

    Previous Selection Level Shift+

    Previous PageUp

    Reset Envelopes Ctrl+E

    Unwrap UVW

    Break Selected Vertices Ctrl+B

    Detach Edge Verts D, Ctrl+D

    Edit UVW's Ctrl+E

    Filter Selected Faces Alt+F

    Freeze Selected Ctrl+F

    Get Face Selection From Stack Alt+Shift+Ctrl+F

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    Zoom Extents Selected Alt+Ctrl+Z

    Zoom Extents X

    Zoom Region Ctrl+X

    Zoom To Gizmo Shift+Space

    Zoom Z


    Solve S


    Change Leg State Alt+Ctrl+S

    Collapse Move All Mode changes Alt+M

    Copy Posture Alt+C

    Fix Graphs Alt+Ctrl+F

    Lock Selected Keys (toggle) Alt+Ctrl+L

    Paste Posture Opposite Alt+B

    Paste Posture Alt+V

    Play Biped V

    Reset all limb keys Alt+K

    Scale In Transform (toggle) Alt+Ctrl+E

    Set Key 0

    Set Range Alt+R

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    Toggle Biped Keys in TrackBar Alt+T

    TV Select end of footsteps Alt+D

    TV Select entire foostep Alt+S

    TV Select start of foosteps Alt+A

    Biped Curve Editing

    Pos Curve Relative To Bip Root Ctrl+A

    Pos Curve Relative To World Ctrl+A

    Show Pos Accel Curve Ctrl+A

    Show Pos Curve Ctrl+A

    Show Pos Jerk Curve Ctrl+A

    Show Pos Speed Curve Ctrl+A

    Show Quat Curve Ctrl+A

    Show Rot Accel Curve Ctrl+A

    Show Rot Speed Curve Ctrl+A

    Toggle Draw Every Frame Ctrl+A

    Toggle Layered Edit Ctrl+A

    Toggle Limit Quat Curve to 180 Ctrl+A

    Toggle Manipulate Subanims Ctrl+A

    Toggle Show Z Ctrl+A

    Toggle Show X Ctrl+A

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    Toggle Show Y Ctrl+A

    Toggle Subanims Ctrl+A

    Reaction Manager

    Set Max Influence Ctrl+I

    Set Min Influence Alt+I

    Particle Flow

    Particle Emission Toggle ;

    Particle View Toggle 6

    Particle Flow

    Selected Particle Emission Toggle Shift+;

    Particle Flow

    Copy Selected In Particle View Ctrl+C

    Paste In Particle View Ctrl+V

    Select All In Particle View Ctrl+A

    ActiveShade (Scanline)

    Initialize P

    Update U


    Advanced Lighting Panel 9

    Object Display Culling

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    Object Display Culling Alt+O


    Accelerate Toggle Q

    Back S, Down Arrow

    Decelerate Toggle Z

    Decrease Step Size [

    Down C, Shift+Down Arrow

    Forward W, Up Arrow

    Increase Step Size ]

    Left A, Left Arrow

    Level Shift+Space

    Lock Vertical Rotation Space

    Reset Step Size Alt+[

    Right D, Right Arrow

    Up E, Shift+Up Arrow

    Macro Scripts

    Add/Edit Parameters... (TV) Ctrl+1

    Cap (Poly) Alt+P

    Collapse (Poly) Alt+Ctrl+C

    Collect Parameters SV Alt+3

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    Collect Parameters TV Alt+4

    Create Camera From View Ctrl+C

    Cut (Poly) Alt+C

    Extrude Face (Poly) Alt+E

    Geometry Selection Visibility Toggle Alt+G

    Isolate Selection Alt+Q

    Meshsmooth (Poly) Ctrl+M

    Parameter Collector Alt+2

    Parameter Editor Alt+1

    Parameter Wiring Dialog... Alt+5

    Render to Texture Dialog Toggle 0

    Smart Scale R

    Smart Select Q

    Start Parameter Wiring... Ctrl+5

    Sub-Object Level 1 1

    Sub-Object Level 2 2

    Sub-Object Level 3 3

    Sub-Object Level 4 4

    Sub-object Level 5 5

    WalkThrough View Mode Up Arrow

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    Quad Menu Sets

    Animation [Alt+RMB]

    Custom [Shift+Ctrl+Alt+RMB]

    Custom [Shift+Ctrl+RMB]

    Lighting | Render [Ctrl+Alt+RMB]

    Modeling [Ctrl+RMB]

    reactor [Shift+Alt+RMB]

    Snap [Shift+RMB]

    Viewports V