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Free update – September 2023

Version 2.2 introduces exciting new features and improvements across all apps and platforms, including cross-references, custom text variables, long press tool shortcuts, hide effects and greyscale view modes, OCIO v2 support, data entry options, and much more. Learn all about these additions below.

OCIO v2 support added Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

Great news for VFX, film and 3D artists – we have added support for OCIO v2 so config files including the more advanced features available in OCIO v2 can now be used.

Custom text variables in Publisher Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

Affinity Publisher now has the ability to define custom text variables as fields. This allows you to add new fields and assign whatever value to them you wish.

Within the Fields Panel, you will now see a new section for ‘Custom’. Within that there is a + button where you can add your own fields into your document, so any references to the price, name and date are drawn from the field values. For example, this means when the price and product name are confirmed, you can just update the field value and every instance of that will be updated throughout your document.

For iPad, custom fields can be found at the bottom of the Fields Panel. You can add fields using the ‘Add custom field’ button, and to edit the field, simply long press on it to view options in the flyout menu.

Additional keyboard shortcuts for pixel brush tools Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

Additional keyboard shortcuts have been added to all pixel-based brush tools (e.g. Paint Brush, Smudge, Sponge, Dodge, Burn, etc.):

  • Shift + number key now changes flow percentage (in the same way that number key on its own adjusts opacity)
  • Shift + square brackets now changes hardness in 10% increments
  • Number key in Paint Mixer and Smudge Brush now adjusts strength percentage
  • Fill with Primary colour has now been set with a default shortcut of Alt/ + Backspace
  • Fill with Secondary colour has now been set with a default shortcut of Ctrl/ + Backspace

An updated list of core brush shortcuts are shown below (those highlighted in red are the new additions):

Additional keyboard shortcuts for pixel brush tools

Action Windows macOS & iPad
Action: Decrease/increase brush size Windows: [ or ] macOS & iPad: [ or ]
Action: Decrease/increase brush hardness in 10% increments Windows: Shift + [ or ] macOS & iPad: Shift + [ or ]
Action: Switch to Eyedropper tool Windows: Alt drag macOS & iPad: drag
Action: Set opacity or strength Windows: Number keys (e.g. 0=100%, 3=30%, 6 and 5 in quick succession=65%). For most brush tools this sets opacity, for smudge and paint mixer this sets strength macOS & iPad: Number keys (e.g. 0=100%, 3=30%, 6 and 5 in quick succession=65%). For most brush tools this sets opacity, for smudge and paint mixer this sets strength
Action: Set flow Windows: Shift + Number keys (with same logic as opacity above). macOS & iPad: Shift + Number keys (with same logic as opacity above).
Action: Cycle through blending modes Windows: Shift + + or - macOS & iPad: Shift + + or -
Action: Set to specific blend mode Windows: Shift + Alt + (associated letter for blend mode) macOS & iPad: Shift + + (associated letter for blend mode)
Action: Display Fill dialog box Windows: Shift + F5 macOS & iPad: Shift + F5 (not available on iPad)
Action: Fill pixel layer / selection with Primary Colour Windows: Alt + Backspace macOS & iPad: + Backspace (not available on iPad)
Action: Fill pixel layer / selection with Secondary Colour Windows: Ctrl + Backspace macOS & iPad: + Backspace (not available on iPad)
Action: Draw straight line Windows: Shift-click macOS & iPad: Shift-click
Action: Switch brush cursor to cross hair Windows: Caps Lock macOS & iPad: Caps Lock (not available on iPad)
Action: Rotate brush nozzle Windows: Left or Right arrow keys (+ Shift to accelerate) macOS & iPad: Left or Right Arrow keys (+ Shift to accelerate)
Action: Select new brush without changing width Windows: Alt-click new brush in brushes panel macOS & iPad: -click new brush in brushes panel
Action: Select new brush ignoring any associated tool Windows: Shift + Alt-click new brush in brushes panel macOS & iPad: Shift + -click new brush in brushes panel
Action: Toggle between primary / secondary colour Windows: X macOS & iPad: X (not available in iPad)
Action: Swap primary / secondary colour Windows: Shift + X macOS & iPad: Shift + X (not available in iPad)
Action: Set primary / secondary colour to black and white Windows: D macOS & iPad: D (not available in iPad)
Action: Indicate on screen drag of attributes Windows: Ctrl + Alt. Click-drag to adjust, single click to cycle between Width / Hardness, Shape / Spacing and Rotation macOS & iPad: Ctrl + . Click-drag to adjust, single click to cycle between Width / Hardness, Shape / Spacing and Rotation
Alt-click new layer automatically adds selection to that new layer Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

In the Layers Panel, if you Alt-click ‘Add new layer’ (-click on macOS/iPad) when you have a selection, all items in that selection are moved to the new layer created. In other words, this behaves like grouping, but rather than creating a group, it puts your selection into a new layer.

Additionally, for desktop versions, you will find a new option in the right-click menu for ‘Move Selection to New Layer’ which achieves the same thing. This makes it far easier to organise your work into layers, without having to create an empty layer first and drag the items you want into it.

Cross-references added to Publisher Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

The ability to insert cross-references from one part of a document to another—for example, ‘For more information, see page 24’—has been added to Affinity Publisher.

On desktop, cross-references are managed on the Cross-References Panel (Window > References > Cross-References). To access this feature on iPad, press the three-circle ellipse icon on the right-hand side toolbar and select the cross-references option.

To insert a cross-reference, create an insertion point in a text object, and then click ‘Insert Cross-Reference’ (the circled plus symbol) at the lower-right of the panel. Inserting a cross-reference is also available from the right-click menu when you are editing text. On the resulting dialog:

  • Select the cross-reference‘s target, which can be an existing anchor, paragraph or index marker
  • Specify the text to be displayed by the cross-reference
  • Optionally, apply formatting and limit the amount of quoted text displayed by any field you‘ve inserted into the display text.

Selecting a target

Use the upper part of the dialog to select a target. Choose the target‘s type (Anchor, Paragraph, or Index Marker) and then select the required target in the list below.

If too many targets are listed, use the Filter text and Filter style options to limit what‘s listed based on target text and/or paragraph style.

Specifying what a cross-reference displays

The Text option specifies what your cross-reference will display. This can be a simple attribute of the target, such as its page number or quoted text, or you can enter complete phrasing into the box, e.g. ‘For further information, see 'Deciduous varieties' on page 264’.

Click the downward-pointing arrow at the field‘s upper-left corner to insert an attribute of the target or a commonly used special character.

Using presets

Phrases can be saved as presets for use across all your documents. Presets also ensure your cross-references adhere to a publication‘s style guides.

Fields in cross-references are automatically hyperlinked to their target when you export to PDF.

Limiting quoted text

Character style and other formatting options in the lower part of the dialog become available when the insertion point is immediately before or after a field, or when a text selection encompasses a field. (If more than one field is selected, the formatting options affect only the first one.)

The Page Number, Above/Below and List/Note Number fields display the corresponding attribute‘s value in full. All other fields display text that might be lengthy, such as a full paragraph. Use the ‘Limit displayed length’ option to restrict them to a sensible amount of text.

Quoted text can be limited to a number of words or the first instance of an ‘end character’, whichever occurs first. You can also choose whether to include an ellipsis or encountered end character in your cross-reference.

More about the Cross-References Panel

When you insert a cross-reference to a paragraph, Affinity Publisher creates an anchor at the paragraph’s start and uses that as the target. You can rename the anchor, if you wish, via the Anchors Panel.

The Source Spread option allows you to narrow the scope of cross-references listed on the panel, e.g. to the current spread or a specific spread.

With the insertion point at a cross-reference or target in document text, options at the foot of the panel allow you to instantly focus the document view on its counterpart.

Finally, changes to a document may result in out-of-date values in cross-references. For example, changing pagination, section names, or paragraph text at a target. The foot of the panel also includes options to update them individually or all at once.

‘Hide effects’ and ‘greyscale’ view mode options in Publisher and Designer Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

In Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher, you can now choose to toggle your view to hide all layer effects or switch to greyscale. Being able to hide layer effects in this way is particularly important for those creating very complex designs with thousands of layers and effects – having a view mode where effects can be turned off greatly improves performance as you work.

Toggling to greyscale mode can also be useful to evaluate contrast and dynamic range more easily.

On desktop, you will find these new options in the View Mode options, and on iPad you can toggle them using the buttons next to the View Mode options in the navigator.

Additionally, on desktop we have created new buttons you can optionally add to your toolbar to make it more convenient for those who want to toggle between these views regularly. You can find these by right clicking on top toolbar and selecting “Customise Toolbar” and drag either of them on where you see fit.

Change guide colour Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

There is now an option in the guide manager to change the colour of your guides. On desktop, you can set this by going to guide manager (View -> Guides… or double-click on any guide) and find the colour preference in the bottom left-hand side of the dialog.

On iPad, the colour setting is available from the ring towards the top of the Guides Panel (available from the View drop-down menu or again by double tapping on a guide).

Long press tool shortcuts Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

Holding onto any tool shortcut will now just put you in that tool temporarily until you release the shortcut key, at which point you will return to your previous tool. So for example, when you are using the Pen Tool, you could hold V to change to Move Tool to move your curve, and then on release be immediately back in Pen Tool. Another useful example would be when in Brush Tool, you could hold E to put you in Eraser and release to toggle back to Brush Tool.

Custom date formats available in Publisher Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

You can now apply your own custom formats to any date fields. Simply right-click on the field / long press on iPad and choose ‘Edit Field’ for the option to switch between preset formats, or include your own custom format.

There is a lot of flexibility with this – see the full list of available format date field characters below:

Custom date formatting

Symbol Meaning Pattern Example Output Notes
Symbol: G Meaning: Era designator Pattern: G
Example output: AD
Anno Domini
Symbol: y Meaning: Year Pattern: y
Example output: 2023
Symbol: Q Meaning: Quarter Pattern: Q
Example output: 2
2nd quarter
Symbol: M Meaning: Month in year Pattern: M
Example output: 9
Symbol: L Meaning: Standalone month in year Pattern: L
Example output: 9
Notes: Some languages use a different spelling of the month in certain contexts, e.g. when a month is mentioned without a date and year. These spellings can be accessed using these patterns. For example, in Polish MMMM displays `Lipca` for July, whereas LLLL displays `Lipiec`.
Symbol: w Meaning: Week of year Pattern: w Example output: 27 Notes: Consecutive instances of the symbol add a leading zero to the resulting value.
Symbol: w Meaning: Week of month Pattern: W Example output: 2 Notes: Consecutive instances of the symbol add a leading zero to the resulting value.
Symbol: d Meaning: Day in month Pattern: d
Example output: 2
Symbol: D Meaning: Day of year Pattern: D
Example output: 1
Notes: Example is 1st of January.
Symbol: F Meaning: Day of week in month Pattern: F Example output: 2 Notes: Example is second Wednesday in July. Consecutive instances of the symbol add a leading zero to the resulting value.
Symbol: E Meaning: Day of week Pattern: E
Example output: Tue
Symbol: e Meaning: Local day of week Pattern: e
Example output: 2
Notes: When the field's language is set to US English, Monday is day 2 as the week starts on Sunday, whereas for UK English it is day 1 as the week starts on Monday.
Symbol: a Meaning: AM or PM Pattern: a
Example output: PM
Symbol: B Meaning: Flexible time periods Pattern: B Example output: at night Notes: Possible values are in the morning, noon, in the afternoon and at night.
Symbol: h Meaning: Hour in day (1–12) Pattern: h
Example output: 7
Symbol: H Meaning: Hour (0–23) Pattern: H
Example output: 7
Symbol: k Meaning: Hour number in day (1–24) Pattern: k
Example output: 4
Symbol: K Meaning: Hour in am/pm (0–11) Pattern: K
Example output: 4
Symbol: m Meaning: Minute in hour (0–59) Pattern: m
Example output: 8
Symbol: s Meaning: Second in minute (0–59) Pattern: s
Example output: 3
Symbol: z Meaning: Short/Long Timezone Pattern: z
Example output: BST
British Summer Time
Symbol: o Meaning: Time Zone: short localised GMT,
Time Zone: long localised GMT
Pattern: o
Example output: GMT-8
Symbol: V Meaning: Time Zone: short time zone ID,
Time Zone: long time zone ID,
Time Zone: time zone exemplar city,
Time Zone: generic location
Pattern: V
Example output: gblon
United Kingdom Time
Symbol: ' Meaning: Escape character to include literal text Pattern: 'Today is' EEEE Example output: Today is Tuesday Notes: Surround literal text with apostrophes to display it alongside date and time values in a field.
Symbol: ' ' Meaning: Two single quotes produce one Pattern: 'Today''s date is' dd/MM/yyyy Example output: Today’s date is 03/07/2023 Notes:
All supported image files now available from File -> Open in Publisher Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

Previously, Publisher only gave options to open document file types from File -> Open. There have been a number of requests to extend this to allow image files to be opened in that dialog, especially for those who now directly edit images and other graphics work using the StudioLink functionality in Publisher, so this has now been added.

‘Find and Replace’ now includes scope and result count in Publisher Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

The Find and Replace Panel in Publisher now includes the ability to limit the scope of the search to document, current spread, current story and current selection. Also included is a result count to quickly show the number of instances your search criteria fulfils.

For iPad, the scope option is available from the Cog button to the left of the search field, with result count appearing on the right.

Go to previously viewed spread in Publisher Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

There is now a new option to go to your previously viewed spread in Affinity Publisher. So, for example, if you are on page 30 and then go to page 400 to edit something, clicking on ‘Previously Viewed Spread’ in the Document menu will jump you back to page 30 (and hitting again will jump back to page 400 – so you can switch between the two pages quickly).

You can also set a keyboard shortcut for this using the new button with the rest of the page navigation options in the bottom left of the UI.

On the iPad version you can find this option at the bottom of the View menu.

‘Create symbol’ option added to Layer menu in Designer Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

Assign a shortcut* with the new ‘Create Symbol’ option, now available from the Layer menu in Affinity Designer. In the case of the iPad version, this isn't a menu item, but is available to set as a shortcut. You can find it under Settings -> Shortcuts -> Commands.

*default shortcut when in Designer Persona is Ctrl + Shift + K (Windows) / + Shift + K (macOS and iPad)

Additional options when creating indexes in Publisher Available on both desktop and iPad

Windows, macOS and iPad

On the Index Panel, you‘ll find new options that provide increased control over the presentation of index entries.

In addition to being able to customise the words that precede cross-references within an index, six new options are available: After Topic, Between Items, Between Ranges, Before References, After References, and After See (Also).

Inserting special characters

Commonly used special characters are easily inserted into your custom separator text. On desktop, click the arrow at the left of the box. On iPad, tap the Insert icon at the top left of the on-screen keyboard.

Special characters can also be inserted using your operating system's feature for typing emoji and symbols, or by copying and pasting.

Object creation data entry Available on desktop only

Windows and macOS

In any of the shape tools, picture frame tools and artboard tools, you can now Ctrl+click (Windows) / +click (macOS) to bring up a dialog to manually specify the size and other properties of the object you want to create. The new object will be created in the position that you clicked, and you have the option in the dialog to change whether that position relates to a specific corner, side or the centre of the shape being created.

Each tool will remember the settings of the last time you created that shape.

Some additional notes about this feature:

  • When the dialog is up, you can commit by clicking OK, hitting Return / Enter or clicking anywhere else on the document
  • You can cancel by clicking Cancel or hitting Esc
  • You can click-drag on any of the labels in these dialogs to change the values (so here you could click-drag on the ‘Width:’ label for example)
  • Hover + mouse roll over the values also changes them (along with Shift or Alt modifiers to increase / decrease steps made by a factor of 10)
  • If you create a shape by dragging it out on your document, that will also set the W+H for the next time you Ctrl / + click.
Move data entry Available on desktop only

Windows and macOS

When in the Move Tool—as well as other object creation tools such as shapes, picture frames and artboard—pressing Return or Enter will now show a new dialog, which will allow you to specify the precise distance that you want to move your current selection.

You can also choose to duplicate an object to the new position and specify how many copies of it you want to make.

You will get a live preview of your result as you are adjusting any of the values. You can choose to cancel the operation with the Cancel button (or Esc), commit with the OK button (or Return / Enter) or simply click off the dialog.

The dialog will remember its previous values the next time you bring it up, meaning you can move multiple objects one by one by the same amount (for example, in a case where items are on different spreads / artboards or in other cases where achieving a multiple selection of them to begin with is difficult). A Reset button is also available to quickly zero all the values in the dialogs to start from scratch.

As well as manually typing the values in, you can also change them by click-drag on any of the labels or by using the mouse roller when hovering over any of the input boxes.


We’ve also added the option of Rotation to this feature. This makes it easy to rotate an object by a specific amount and also opens up some useful options when used in combination with ‘duplicate’.

Tip: Try playing with rotation and distance steps on duplicates for various effects.

‘Delete Node’ added to right-click menu Available on desktop only

Windows and macOS

The right-click menu available when in Node Tool (or while holding / Ctrl in Pen Tool) now has the additional option of deleting the node. Both delete methods (standard delete or ‘Fit to Curve’ delete) are available from this menu. The ‘Fit to Curve’ option gives you the same result as pressing Alt/ + Delete.

‘Select All on Current Layer’ option now available Available on desktop only

Windows and macOS

From the Select menu, you will find a new option of ‘Select All on Current Layer’ with a default shortcut of Shift+Ctrl+A on Windows and Shift++A on macOS.

This was requested as a quick way to achieve the same result of unchecking ‘Edit all layers’ in Layers Panel and doing Select All. A good example would be if you want to select everything on an artboard, you can now just click on the artboard label and hit Shift+Ctrl / +A.

Grid presets and favourite fonts now sync between apps on device Available on desktop only

Windows and macOS

We have added another couple of requested settings which are sync'd between your Affinity apps (on the same device):

  • Favourite fonts – any fonts you mark as favourite (heart icon in fonts list) will now be shown in your favourite list in all apps
  • Grid presets – any grid presets you save will now sync
Data merge in Publisher now allows fields to set URLs, file locations, emails and anchors Available on desktop only

Windows and macOS

You can now include URLs, file locations, email addresses and anchors in your data merge dataset and use those fields to create an active link in your merged result.

You can then set up a data merge layout using those fields, and once you’ve done that, you can select the <Twitter Handle> field and ‘Insert Hyperlink’. When you insert a hyperlink in a data merge document, you will get an additional option to take the URL from a data merge field, which will activate a drop-down to select which field you want the URL to come from.

You can also do the same with a link type of email and set that to = the <email address> field. Then when you generate the merged result, the hyperlinks will dynamically generate to be correct for the record in question.


Choose a data merge field link to anchor in your document or create anchors from your data. This gives powerful options enabling you to have links from one record to another.

Decimal place accuracy preferences added to iPad Available on ipad only


iPad versions of all apps now have the preferences available on desktop versions to set the decimal place precision of different unit types. We expect these preferences to be reflected in all areas of the UI; for example, if you set mm to be three decimal places, then in the Transform Panel, sliders and all other controls, you should now see any values in mm to three decimal places. This should also be shown when you go to edit any values using the single tap - calculator on any field.

‘Prefer to keep selection’ preference added to iPad Available on ipad only


All iPad versions now have the preference available to keep selection after delete. This option (which was already available in the desktop versions) determines whether the next object in your layer stack is automatically selected or not after deleting an object.

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