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If you've used InDesign for any amount of time, you know that it's a deep, feature-rich application with all kinds of preferences that can change the way it behaves and displays content. So you definitely should take a few minutes to customize InDesign and help you work faster and smoother. Let's take a look at some of InDesign's preferences you might want to change before working on interactive documents. In fact, before we even open the Preferences dialog box, it's important to understand the difference between global preferences and document- specific preferences. Although they are not distinguished in any way in the Preferences dialog box, some of InDesign's preferences are global, meaning they apply to every document, whereas, others can be set on a document-by-document basis.
So when you change a document specific- preference with a document open, that change only applies to the open document. The other thing to remember is that your document-specific settings travel with the document. So no matter how you set your document- specific preferences, if you open someone else's document where those preferences were set differently, their settings will take effect in that document, not yours. So for example, if all of a sudden you're not seeing typographer's quotes being used in a document, it's probably because of the preferences that were saved in that document you're working on.
So how can you tell which preferences are global and which are document-specific? Well, you can go to indesignsecrets.com and check out the visual guide to InDesign preferences that I created there. It's a PDF file that you can download with screenshots of each pane in the Preferences dialog box, and the document- specific preferences are highlighted in yellow. So let's go back to InDesign. And the first thing you might want to do is get rid of this Welcome screen. If it's not something you typically use, you don't want to have to be closing it over and over again. So just click Don't show again, and close it.
To open InDesign's Preferences, you can press Command+K or Ctrl+K or you can choose InDesign > Preferences > General on the Mac, or Edit > Preferences > General on the PC. And the first thing that you notice in the Preferences dialog box is there are 18 different sets of preferences in InDesign. Each one has several different preferences within it. Fortunately, we're not concerned with each and every one of those right now; we just want to consider the ones that might especially impact your work with interactive documents. So with no documents open, I know that regardless of whether a preference is document-specific or global, the changes I make will apply to all new documents I create.
So, under Interface preferences, you might want to turn off Enable Multi-Touch Gestures here, if you find that you don't use them or if they're getting in your way, causing you to inadvertently do things like zoom and rotate images or move things out of the way. On the other hand, gestures like pinch and zoom are becoming kind of commonplace now that many people are using tablet devices. So this really is a personal preference. The next one, Highlight Object Under Selection tool, is one that a lot of people like to change so that they don't see the frame edges every time they mouse over an object. This can be kind of distracting, especially if you have lots of objects on the page.
I tend to leave it on, but some folks like to turn it off. Live Screen Drawing is now set to be delayed by default in CS6, so you won't see a full rendering of objects as you move them, unless you pause for a moment before you start to move them. If you'd rather see them always fully rendered, switch this from Delayed to Immediate. I am going to leave it back on Delayed. And also new in CS6 we have the option to Greek Vector Graphics on Drag, which is the same thing as the Delayed Live Screen Drawing. Under Type, it's most likely that you're going to want to apply leading to entire paragraphs, so I always change this preference to selected.
Otherwise, you can have different leading values for each line of text. If you know that you're going to have some situations where you'd want this, then leave the setting alone, but again, most people would typically want consistent leading throughout an entire paragraph. Under Units & Increments, if you're going to be primarily creating documents for the screen instead of print, you might think you'd want to change your Ruler Units from Picas to something like Pixels. But that's not really necessary. When you create a new document you'll always have to choose an intent, either print, web, or digital publishing. And if you choose web or digital publishing, your Ruler Units will automatically be switched to Pixels.
Under Display Performance, you might want to set your Default View to High Quality. If you have a fast computer and you generally like to see things like placed graphics and transparency at full quality instead of using low-res previews, definitely use High Quality. Also you might want to turn off Type Greeking. I always set it to zero. That way I can always see my type, no matter how far I am zoomed out. Under File Handling, you can set the number of pages to be rendered as preview images within a document. By default it's the first 2 pages at medium resolution, but you can choose to include all pages if you want to, and you can include really large previews if you want to.
Again, the trade-off is file size. The more you include in the document, the larger the file size will get. That's it for the Preferences dialog box, so I'll click OK to save my changes. And there are also preferences you can set outside the dialog box to increase your efficiency. One on the Macintosh is the application frame. This puts the whole InDesign user interface, including every document window and every panel, including the control panel, into one window. And this is useful because it keeps everything handy, it makes it simple to move everything around all at once, and it blocks out distractions from other applications you might be running.
So to turn on the application frame, I go to Window > Application Frame. Now you can see everything is grouped in this one window. I'll click on the green button to expand it, and it fills up my whole screen. Another example of a preference you might want to change is in the Pages panel. If you display pages horizontally or by alternate layout, you can have much less wasted screen space than if you display them vertically, which is the default. You can choose how pages are displayed just by right-clicking in the Pages panel and choose View Pages: Horizontally, Vertically, or By Alternate Layout. I am going to select Horizontally as my default.
Note that the preference for viewing pages is a global setting, so it doesn't matter if you have a document open or not; whatever you choose here will apply to all documents. Also, in the View Extras menu, you can choose whether to show or hide things like Link Badges, the Content Grabber, Live Corners, and the Anchored Object Control. These are all meant to give you added convenience and efficiency in working, but if you find them distracting, it's nice to know that you can customize your view however you want. Getting your preferences set up right and understanding which ones are global and which ones are document-specific is one of the keys to a smooth workflow so you and InDesign can work together in sync.
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