Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Using a SWF slideshow in a PDF


InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents

with Mike Rankin

Video: Using a SWF slideshow in a PDF

Slideshows are a great way to bring content alive in interactive documents, and there are a few different ways of making slideshows. One way that gives you a lot of flexibility is to use multi-state objects together with buttons. When you use this method, you have to export the slideshow as a SWF. If your final product is then an interactive PDF, you'll have to place the SWF file back in InDesign and then export to PDF. So let's go through the process of creating a SWF slideshow in an interactive PDF. Here I have a PDF of an artist portfolio.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 45s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files and scripts
  2. 22m 41s
    1. Case study: tomaxxi's InDesign shortcuts guide
      4m 19s
    2. Case study: The Magic of Reality app
      3m 20s
    3. Exploring PDF digital magazines: InDesign Magazine
      2m 45s
    4. Looking at digital newspapers:
      3m 44s
    5. Reviewing digital magazines: National Geographic
      4m 58s
    6. Exploring
      3m 35s
  3. 21m 56s
    1. Setting preferences for interactive documents
      6m 32s
    2. Customizing the workspace
      5m 48s
    3. Understanding intent and presets
      3m 5s
    4. Working with images and swatches
      5m 2s
    5. Installing scripts
      1m 29s
  4. 37m 24s
    1. Using Liquid Layout
      9m 17s
    2. Creating alternate layouts
      4m 4s
    3. Using primary text frames
      3m 49s
    4. Using the Content Conveyor
      5m 42s
    5. Linking text
      4m 32s
    6. Linking page items
      3m 19s
    7. Fitting frames to content
      3m 33s
    8. Using style mapping
      3m 8s
  5. 49m 49s
    1. Reviewing what we're going to build
      1m 56s
    2. Previewing with the SWF Preview panel
      4m 51s
    3. Presentation design tips
      2m 41s
    4. Setting up a presentation file with layers
      4m 54s
    5. Creating a navigation system
      8m 32s
    6. Creating a title and content slides
      7m 57s
    7. Overriding master page items
      5m 59s
    8. Setting page transitions
      4m 34s
    9. Creating hyperlinks
      3m 40s
    10. Using the slug for notes
      4m 45s
  6. 37m 40s
    1. Understanding what we're going to build
      1m 11s
    2. Building an interactive table of contents
      5m 9s
    3. Building a navigation system
      4m 5s
    4. Creating PDF-only buttons
      3m 33s
    5. Using a SWF slideshow in a PDF
      9m 33s
    6. Placing a video and using the Media panel
      5m 44s
    7. Setting navigation points
      4m 28s
    8. Placing a video from a URL
      1m 21s
    9. Creating hyperlinks from URLs
      2m 36s
  7. 18m 7s
    1. An overview of PDF forms
      2m 6s
    2. Creating text fields and signature fields
      3m 13s
    3. Creating list boxes and combo boxes
      3m 56s
    4. Creating checkboxes and radio buttons
      3m 47s
    5. Creating tab order for PDF forms
      3m 14s
    6. Creating Submit, Print, and Clear Form actions
      1m 51s
  8. 53m 36s
    1. Exploring the Animation Encyclopedia script
      10m 57s
    2. Using the Animation panel
      6m 56s
    3. Animating on a motion path
      3m 57s
    4. Animating a list
      4m 29s
    5. Creating navigation buttons
      5m 15s
    6. Creating a multi-state object
      6m 23s
    7. Creating a page number indicator
      2m 57s
    8. Animating an opening page
      3m 9s
    9. Creating a multi-purpose button
      3m 11s
    10. Exporting your presentation and embedded fonts to SWF
      3m 46s
    11. Working with transitions and animation
      2m 36s
  9. 40m 34s
    1. An overview of the DPS workflow and the publishing process
      4m 31s
    2. Creating hyperlinks
      5m 17s
    3. Creating slideshows
      3m 25s
    4. Using the Image Sequence feature
      4m 58s
    5. Adding audio and video
      5m 6s
    6. Creating panoramas
      4m 21s
    7. Adding web content
      3m 56s
    8. Panning and zooming
      4m 1s
    9. Creating scrollable frames
      4m 59s
  10. 27m 19s
    1. Using the Folio Builder panel
      5m 28s
    2. Creating a folio
      5m 28s
    3. Adding articles to a folio
      5m 47s
    4. Using the Content Viewer to preview a folio
      3m 53s
    5. Using the Folio Producer
      4m 55s
    6. Viewing a folio on an iPad
      1m 48s
  11. 49s
    1. Next steps

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents
5h 11m Intermediate Jun 11, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join Adobe InDesign and publishing expert Mike Rankin as he explains how to use InDesign to design a wide range of digital documents, including interactive PDFs and apps for the iPad. This course provides a tour of digital publishing trends and shows how to bring these trends to bear in various projects, such as a slide presentation, a PDF form, and an interactive portfolio. Mike also introduces the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and shows how to publish dynamic interactive documents to the iPad and other mobile devices.

Topics include:
  • Examining trends in digital design
  • Setting preferences for interactive documents
  • Understanding intent and presets
  • Working with images and swatches
  • Creating and working with interactive PDFs
  • Creating alternate layouts for multiple screens
  • Linking text and page items
  • Fitting frames to content
  • Setting up a file with layers
  • Creating a slideshow with transitions and hyperlinks
  • Building a table of contents
  • Adding a SWF slideshow to a PDF
  • Placing video
  • Creating PDF forms
  • Adding animation
  • Working with the Digital Publishing Suite
InDesign Digital Publishing Suite
Mike Rankin

Using a SWF slideshow in a PDF

Slideshows are a great way to bring content alive in interactive documents, and there are a few different ways of making slideshows. One way that gives you a lot of flexibility is to use multi-state objects together with buttons. When you use this method, you have to export the slideshow as a SWF. If your final product is then an interactive PDF, you'll have to place the SWF file back in InDesign and then export to PDF. So let's go through the process of creating a SWF slideshow in an interactive PDF. Here I have a PDF of an artist portfolio.

PDF contains a slideshow where the person viewing it can view the paintings, either by clicking a number on the side or by clicking the forward and back buttons. So I'll click the numbers and we have the forward and back buttons. And you can see that as I navigate through the portfolio there's some animation there too. The number I click on gets that purple-colored bar and the painting and the description of it fade in. Now let's go to InDesign and see how to build this. I'll open my Layers panel and look at the images layer.

In the images layer of this document I have a group for each portfolio piece. So I can tip open one of these and see what I have here. So I have a JPEG of the picture, I have a text frame, and I have a rectangle which is going to correspond to the little purple rectangle over here in the navigation controls. They are all stacked one on top of another and aligned so the top and left edges of the paintings all line up. There is also a frame with no stroke and no fill; that's this rectangle down here at the bottom. This empty frame will allow me to hide the slideshow as needed. And also notice the circle icons on the bottom right of all these objects.

That shows that there's some animation applied here too. So if I select one and go to the Animation panel, I can see that it's set to fade in on page load and if I look in the Timing panel, I can see groupings where the picture and the description are grouped together. So that way they will fade in at the same time. Now I want to select all the paintings and make them into a multi-state object and since I set this document up with everything I need for the multi-state object on a single layer, I can just go the Layers panel and click the square on the right side to select all the objects.

Now I can go to my Object States panel, click the New button, and I have a multi-state object with each one of the paintings as a state. And down at the bottom I have that empty state. I am actually going to rename this "none" and drag it to the top. This way I can keep the slideshow hidden until I want it to play. I will give my multi-state object a name. I will call it portfolio. And now I need to set up some buttons to trigger each of the states that I want to show.

So over on the left I will select this top rectangle, I will go to my Buttons panel, I'll click on the plus, and choose Go To State of our multistate object portfolio, Go To State 1. I'll select the second rectangle and do the same thing: convert it to a button, go to State, portfolio Object, and this one will go to State 2, and so on. I'll repeat the process for the remaining buttons.

Now I want to set up the forward and back buttons for another way to navigate the portfolio. I'll select the triangle pointing to the right and in the Buttons and Forms panel, I see it already made it into a button. I've named it Next and I've even given it a rollover state with our purple fill. Now let's add an action, Go To Next State of the Object portfolio. We will do the other one. Select it. This button is called previous, Action, Go To Previous State. I'll deselect and select my navigation controls, and notice how they're grouped, and that's so I can apply an animation to them.

I will go to the Animation panel. I'll choose Fade In and we will make it a little quicker, say three quarters of a second. Now let's test the slideshow in the SWF Preview panel. The animation fades in. I can click on the navigation controls and use them to navigate through the portfolio. And this will work great in SWF exported from this file. But what about a PDF? If I just export this file right now to PDF, none of this will work.

That's because the actions I attached to the buttons were SWF-only actions, plus the animations were SWF-only. So what I have to do first is export these elements to SWF and then place that SWF in my layout, and finally export it all to PDF, and then it will work. I will close the SWF Preview panel, and first I will draw out some guides to mark the locations of the objects that I am going to export to SWF. I'll drag out a horizontal guide and a vertical guide. I'll open the Layers panel.

I will select everything on my images layer and hold down Shift and click to select everything on the Navigation layer too, so everything I want to export out to SWF. I'll press Command+E or Ctrl+E. I will export to the desktop and I'll just call this Portfolio, Format > SWF, and save. I am going to export just this selection, Scale of 100%, Background is Transparent, although as we will soon see, we have more work to do there, and I'll click OK.

Once the SWF is done exporting then I am going to hide the original content. So I'll hide the Navigation layer and hide the images layer and I'll place that SWF back into my InDesign file. I'll press Command+D to place. I'll choose Portfolio.swf and click Open. Now I can't put it on my images layer, because I'd hidden that and actually, I didn't want it there anyway, so I am going to create a new layer. I'll Option+Click or Alt+Click on the Create New Layer button and I'll name it SWF.

Now I can place my place my SWF right at the same location as the original InDesign objects. Now I'll go to the Media panel and I'll select Play on Page Load, and I'll choose Poster from Current Frame. And it doesn't look like much right now, does it? It looks like a big white frame and that's fairly accurate, because unless we apply a little fix in Acrobat, this is what the final file is going to look like, And this is a problem that's been around for a while in InDesign, that it just doesn't render an embedded SWF properly inside a PDF. But fortunately, in Acrobat, the fix is quick and easy.

But first, let's export the PDF. I'll press Command+E, Ctrl+E, I will choose Format, Adobe PDF, call it Portfolio, and save. I'll accept these settings and click OK. So there you have it, the big white box. Now, to get rid of this, we are in Adobe Acrobat. We will go to Tools > Content > Multimedia > SWF. I'll double-click. This opens the Edit SWF dialog box, and right here we have Transparent background.

We will click OK, save the file, close it, and then I'll open it again, and there we have it. The animation plays, I see my navigation controls come into view, and I can use them to navigate the slideshow. Now, there is one more thing I want to mention. This process of exporting content out to SWF and then placing it back into InDesign can get a little tedious, especially if you have lots of pages with things like animations and slideshows.

Fortunately, there's a great script you can use to automate the process. The script is called SWF Presenter, and it's available from the web site And even though the web site says the script is for InDesign CS5, it works just as well with InDesign CS6. So let's go back to InDesign. I'll remove the SWF file that I placed before and go back to my Layers panel and show the original InDesign content. I'll select it, select everything on the navigation, and Shift+Click to select everything on images layer. And then I'll run the script by choosing Window > Utilities > Scripts. And I have a SWF Presenter in my User scripts folder.

I will double-click on it and the first thing it does is it asked me where to store the SWF files, so I will just store them on the desktop. And then I get to choose my export settings. I'll export just the selection at 100% with a transparent background and click OK. The script exports the SWF and then places it back into InDesign and it creates a new layer for it called swf.presenter. I could go through the same steps as before, hiding the original content, exporting out to PDF, and then editing it in Acrobat to make sure that I get that white background removed.

In this particular case I'd have one more step in InDesign also. The SWF Presenter script put the SWF at the top and left of my page and I need to position it at the same location as the original content, right there. Here we saw how to create an interactive slideshow with buttons, multi-state objects, and animation. It took a few steps. We had to set everything up in the multi-state object, export to SWF, place that back into InDesign, export to PDF, and then edit the PDF in Acrobat. But by following those steps, we were able to get the best of both worlds: an interactive PDF with a working SWF inside it. And we saw a cool script that can help automate the process.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: I'm following along with the movie "Using a SWF slideshow in a PDF," but when I go to the Tools menu in Acrobat, there is no Multimedia option. Can you help me complete the tutorial?
A: With each new version of Acrobat, Adobe seems to enjoy moving commands to different menus, and sometimes renaming them. To remove the background in Acrobat XI, take the Selection tool (black arrow) and right-click anywhere in the window and choose Properties. This opens the Edit SWF dialog box where you can select Transparent Background in the Launch Settings. You can do the same thing by choosing Tools > Interactive Objects > Select Object and then double clicking anywhere on the SWF.
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed InDesign CS6: Interactive Documents.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Start your FREE 10-day trial

Begin learning software, business, and creative skills—anytime,
anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts. provides
Unlimited access to over 4,000 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
Expert-led instruction
On-the-go learning. Watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Switch back and forth as you choose.
Start Your FREE Trial Now

A trusted source for knowledge.


We provide training to more than 4 million people, and our members tell us that helps them stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies. What can we help you do?

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.