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Is there a shortcut for switching between these three modes?

enter image description here

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This can be accomplished by pressing Ctrl+Tab. This will bring up the shown popup, in which you can select either Vertex, Edge, or Face mode. Note that you can use V, E, and F or 1, 2, and 3 to complete the action using shortcuts.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm... interesting. Using a V, E or F buttons after inputting the Ctrl+Tab shortcut is a great solution I haven't heard about before. $\endgroup$ – Paul Gonet Aug 6 '15 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ You can also use 1, 2 or 3 to select vert, edge or face respectively (based on the order they appear in the list). $\endgroup$ – Greg Zaal Aug 1 '16 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ You can by the way also add your own hotkeys in the right click menu of the items here. So no need to create the hotkey nodes by hand. Right click at Vertex, add shortcut ... $\endgroup$ – Tiles Aug 1 '16 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ Oh Man, @Tilles, your comment is deserve to be converted to an answer here so we can endorse it. Kudos man, it is what I looked for for years! $\endgroup$ – Ernest Oct 29 '16 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ For Blender 2.8 see angabriel's answer $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Hübelbauer Apr 22 at 17:34
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If you prefer to have own shortcuts, you can create custom ones in the Input section of Blenders User Preferences (File > User-Preferences > Input). Open the 3D View section, and add your shortcut to the Mesh section:

addon prefs

You'll need to fill in the path of the operator to call. For the Mesh selection, this will be view3d.select_component. Once done, define the keystroke you like, and choose a type from the dropdown box which appeared after setting the operator. Note: Even if the dropdown box already says 'Vertex', choose the option again. The box will be greyed out until you do that, and the keystroke won't function. Save User Settings after that, and enjoy your own keymap!

shortcut

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After pressing the CtrlTab, you can use 1, 2 or 3 in place of V, E or F I find it flow better to end the gesture :)

In every menu/popup you can use these key shortcuts, notice underlined letters.

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It's 2019 ;)

Blender 2.80 became much more intuitive. The hotkeys for the select mode are now pre-configured.

Number keys 1, 2, 3 switch between vertex, edge, face selection mode.

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  • $\begingroup$ I actualy made these as custom shortcuts some time ago $\endgroup$ – aky-her Jan 29 at 22:28
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It's 2018 so let me add the shortcut command name for Blender 2.79:

shortcut command

mesh.select_mode is what you need for toggling vertex/edge/face in edit mode.

You want to add it under User Preference -> Input -> 3D View -> Mesh as described by this answer

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