How do you rotate in inkscape?

How do i rotate is one of the most frequently asked questions for beginner Inkscape users. There are multiple ways to rotate in inkscape, and this FAQ will show you the basics for four of them. The three different ways for rotating objects are: the toolbar buttons, the on-canvas rotation handles, transform dialog, and the keyboard shortcuts.

Method 1, the toolbar buttons

Rotating with the toolbar buttons only lets you rotate objects 90 degrees at a time. To rotate with the toolbar buttons, first choose the select tool:

Next, select the object that you want to rotate by simply clicking on it. Once you have clicked on the group once, arrows  and a dotted line should appear around the object:

Finally, press the rotate button on the toolbar to rotate your selection in 90 degree increments.

Method 2, Rotate on Canvas

Using the toolbar buttons to rotate objects in inkscape is by far the easiest method to discover. However, it only lets you rotate in 90 degree increments.

For a wider range of motion, using the on-canvas rotate handles is the way to go. As with the previous method, choose the select tool, and then select the object that you wish to rotate. The select box and handles should appear as before:

Now that the resize handles are visible, simply click on the object again to display the rotate handles:

Now that the rotate handles are visible, simply click on one of them, and drag it to rotate your object freely.

Method 3, the Transform dialog.

The free rotate that the on-canvas rotate controls (method 2) give are great, but what if you need more accurate control? When using method 2, you can hold down the ctrl key to limit the rotation to 15 degree increments, but what if you want to rotate the object by a specific, arbitary amount?

That is where the transform dialog comes in. First, as with the other methods, select the object that you want to rotate. Then open the transform dialog from the menu, Object > Transform.

Switch to the “Rotate” tab of the newly opened Transform Dialog, enter in how many degrees you need your object rotated, and click apply to rotate.

Method 4, the keyboard shortcuts

This method is super simple. Select the object(s) that you wish to rotate, and press the square brackets key( [ or ]  ) to rotate left and right by chunks.

For finer-grained rotation with the keyboard shortcuts, use the shortcuts alt + [ and alt + ] to rotate one degree at a time.


The four methods above outline the basics of rotating objects in inkscape. For further information about rotating and transforming objects in Inkscape the “Select Tool” chapter of the Inkscape Manual has more detailed information, including how to change the rotation point or rotation center of your object. The transforms chapter of Tav’s Inkscape Guide also provides some in-depth documentation of rotating in Inkscape.


8 thoughts on “How do you rotate in inkscape?

  1. Another interesting tutorial!
    I’d tell a little about the change of the rotation center in method 2 by dragging the cross. It is simple and could be useful – perhaps combined with the snap tools – to realize compositions with multiple copies of an object.

  2. That was a perfect explanation, thank you. Rotating in Inkscape is easy, but not obvious to a beginner, or someone like me with Illustrator ingrained in the mind.

  3. How do i undo a rotation of an object, i.e. set the angle to 0? Or even more general, how do i set the rotation anlge to a specific value?
    Many ways to rotate, but none of them is really useful if you want to work preceisely :-(.

  4. Is there any way to create a macro that will will rotate the image for you in the direction desired by a specified amount and save the result as a .png with sequential names? Then repeat until the image is back at the starting position?

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