Single Handle Operations


Clicking on a handle without any modifier keys will simply select the handle’s associated point (the point will also become selected whenever one of its handles is modified, as below). Note that unlike with the Direct Selection tool, other paths are not affected: if they were fully- or partially-selected, they remain so. To deselect everything, click on a blank area of the document.

Adding one more modifier keys while clicking a handle changes or adds functionality. As with all Astute tool keypresses, most of these will be indicated on the Astute Buddy panel.

Shift: Shift-clicking on a handle will, by default, add or remove the handle’s associated point from the selection. However, by enabling the preference Shift-Clicking Equalizes Handle Lengths, you change this functionality. Shift-clicking on a handle with the preference set will adjust the handle’s length to match the point’s other handle. If the other handle is completely retracted, then the clicked handle will be retracted as well.

VectorScribe PathScribe handle equalization

VectorScribe PathScribe handle equalization

Option/Alt: Option/Alt-clicking on a handle will change the type of point from corner to smooth or vice versa. (When cursor highlighting with text annotations is enabled, which it is by default, you can determine a point’s type by holding the cursor over it.) When a smooth point is converted to a corner point, neither handle is changed. When a corner point is converted to a smooth point, and it has two handles, the clicked handle will move, changing its angle so it is opposite (180° from) the existing handle.

Shift+Option/Alt: Shift+Option/Alt-clicking on a handle will retract the handle. The point type remains unchanged.


Dragging a handle will move it in the same manner as the Direct Selection tool (unless connector point recognition is enabled and the point is a connector point; see Connector Points). While dragging, there are various keys which can be pressed to perform additional functions:

Shift: Constrains the handle angle to 45° increments around the general constrain angle.

Option/Alt: Constrains the handle’s angle to its original angle, or the angle that is 180° away from the original angle (this lets you flip which side the handle is on if you drag it back past its originating point).

VectorScribe PathScribe handle angle constraining

VectorScribe PathScribe handle angle constraining

Shift+Option/Alt: Same as Option/Alt-dragging, except when Smart Guides are turned on. In this case, the handle will snap to other items on the page while remaining constrained to its original angle.

Control [Mac only]: Toggles slow-drag.

Command/Ctrl: On Mac, hides handle annotations; on Windows, either toggles slow-drag or hides handle annotations, depending on the preference setting (see PathScribe: Preferences).

Space bar: Temporarily locks the handle’s anchor point to the handle’s so they move in tandem.

C: Changes the handle’s anchor point to corner type.

L: Toggles length constraining. When the handle’s length is constrained, you can only change its angle.

R: Retracts the handle completely.

S: Changes the handle’s anchor point to smooth type.