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Introduction

I enjoy making visual and graphics designs, though I admit my first-grader son can easily outperform my drawing skill. This lack of artistic talent never deterred me, and I love trying new design tools. So, I was ecstatic when Gemi introduced me to Canva

Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create beautiful visual assets quickly and easily. This tool may sound familiar if you have worked on social media content. Canva provides a web-based drag-and-drop builder that also is accessible through mobile devices. In addition to many out-of-the-box templates, it accepts user-provided pictures as design elements. Finally, Canva allows collaborative editing for users working in teams.

Compared to more sophisticated design tools, like Illustrator, Canva only provides basic functionalities. For example, custom shapes are not allowed in Canva, but it offers gazillions for element templates (although many are not free). These ready-to-use elements greatly simplify our production workflow, making it suitable for day-to-day operations at Noorbiz. We use them to create website assets, social media content, and PDF worksheets in Canva. 

Canva is so easy to use that it can be operated without reading any documentation. On the other hand, Canva provides documentation showered with tremendous resources and tutorials. It is available under the ‘Learn’ menu and includes valuable guidelines for design, marketing, branding, and many other things. The documentation is worth your time if you want to leverage all Canva’s features or its advanced functionalities. Likewise, Canva Help Center and newsletters are also great resources. Honestly, I learned trick #1 from the newsletter I got while preparing this draft.

Based on my experience using Canva and reading its resources, I have collected several tips and tricks that helped my day-to-day tasks tremendously. Here are my 10 favorite picks that you may not want to miss out on. All of them are available under the free Canva plan. Let’s get started!

The 10 Canva Features and Tricks

1. Canva.new

This trick works like magic. Instantly open a blank template by typing Canva.new in your browser’s address bar. You are not required to have a Canva account to create and download your design unless you want to save it there.

2. More menu

Canva editor
Canva editor

Have you ever wanted to embed other media into your design? It is easy to do in Canva. Simply click ⋯ More at the bottom of the editor’s left side panel. Then, choose the type of media you want to add: charts, Pexels, PixaBay, QR Code, Emoji, Google Maps, and many others. Any kind of media you choose will be affixed to the side panel.

Some options from Canva More menu
Some of options under More menu: (left) top-to-bottom: YouTube, Google Maps, Emoji, (right) top-to-bottom: barcode, chart, embed link

3. Shortcut to duplicate

It becomes natural for most of us to use the shortcut key copy (Mac: command + C, Windows: Ctrl + C) and paste (Mac: command + V, Windows: Ctrl + V) to duplicate items. But, Canva has a shorter cut: command + D (on Mac) or Ctrl + D (on Windows).

4. Rulers and Guides

I never really used rulers and guides on Canva until I needed to edit a YouTube channel art. I only knew about the guideline for channel art when I was uploading it to YouTube and continued the process just to see the tagline was cropped. 

Rulers and guides are powerful tools to help us place any object into our design. Click File on the top menu bar to show rulers and guides, then check both Show rulers and Show guides. The numbers on rulers are the pixel with an origin point of 0 at the top-left corner. To create the guide, click anywhere on the horizontal or vertical ruler, then drag it to the position you want to place the guide.

Back to the YouTube channel art, you can read this article to have an illustration where to place the guide.

5. Adjust Image on The Background or Inside The Frame

Canva will autofit and position an image in the center of the background or frame if you insert it as background or to the frame. To adjust the image, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the background or the frame.
  2. Start adjusting the image. You can move and resize the image.
  3. When you are done, you can click the Done button on the toolbar or press Enter or return on the keyboard.

6. Select Covered (Or Difficult to Pick) Object

On Canva, it’s possible to alter covered objects without moving the object on the top. To do it, first, select the top object. Then, command + left-click (for Mac) or Ctrl + left-click (for Windows) to select an object one layer back. You can repeat the same shortcut until the backmost object’s selected.

7. Resize and Crop Image

Resize

Resizing and cropping images is unavoidable to compose a nice and proportional-looking design on Canva. While Canva locks the Resize menu for the Pro plan, alternatively, you can do it by (i) dragging the white circle on the corner of the image or (ii) dragging the circular arrows below the image while pressing the Shift key. Drag in to make the image smaller or drag out to make it bigger.

As the image is resized, the position of the corner across the dragged circle on the method (i) or the position of the image’s center on the method (ii) is stationary.

Crop

Once you click any image on Canva, you can find the Crop menu on the Toolbar. Click that Crop menu and drag any corner to specify crop boundaries. Part of the image outside those boundaries will be removed. Drag in to shrink the crop boundaries. Drag out to enlarge the image but keep the crop boundaries as big as the original size of the image.

Or, you can crop the image by dragging the edge of the image. Drag in to remove part of the image but keep its original size. Drag out the horizontal or vertical edge to enlarge the image but crop down its width or height to the original width or height, respectively.

8. Resize and Wrap Text

Like the image, we can also manipulate the text by dragging the edge or corner of the text area. Drag the corner of the text area to resize the font. Drag the vertical or horizontal edge of the text area to change the width or height of that text area, respectively.

9. Add Link to The Text

While we can add a link to any text in our design, it will be clickable in PDF only. To add a link, follow these steps:

  1. Select the text you want to hyperlink.
  2. Click the three dots () on the Toolbar. It will open the submenu under the toolbar.
  3. Click the link icon ().
  4. In the hyperlink box, type or paste your link.
  5. Click Apply button.

10. Group The Objects

The main idea of grouping the objects is to work on many objects as if a single object. You can duplicate, resize, move, and transform the grouped object. You can concurrently change the color of shapes or the width of lines. Yet, you can still manipulate any single object in a group.

To group the objects, take these steps:

  1. Select all objects you want to group. It can be elements, images, or text. To select all objects, you can use shortcut keys command + A (for Mac) or Ctrl + A (for Windows). Or select only the objects you want to group while holding the Shift key.
  2. To group
    • Click Group on the Toolbar, or
    • Use shortcut keys command + G (for Mac) or Ctrl + G (for Windows), or
    • Right-click (or double-finger-click on Mac) to show the options box, then click Group. 

Final Thoughts

So, those are 10 tips and tricks I think every Canva user needs to know. What are your thoughts? Did I miss your favorite trick? Should we write more articles like this? Please comment on our Instagram or connect with me through my email.

Thanks for reading!

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