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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
Anne-Marie Concepcion: You know it always shocks me when InDesign can't do everything. You know, when there are features missing, because by this time you think of it would have come up with every single feature and added it to the program, but the good thing is that InDesign is very scriptable. It's very easy to add scripts, sort of like little mini programs that add the features that for some reason the InDesign engineers didn't add to the program itself. The scripts community is very rich in InDesign and what I want to show you in this video is how you might locate scripts and then how you install them and how you use them.
It's surprising to me that so few InDesign users who depend on it for their daily living, don't even know that there are free scripts that come with the program. So let's take this one example. Here we have a document with two different tables. Now say that I heard from the client and they say "you know what, we want this to be one table." So like well how can I select these two tables and make them into one? I mean there is no Merge Tables. There is just a Merge Cells command. You think "oh man, I am going to have to figure out how to do this and add empty rows and copy and paste," but actually there is a Merge Tables script around and I read about it some place and I know that it's here in this website in-tools.com.
INtools is a company that makes free and commercial scripts and plug-ins for Adobe InDesign, and in their scripts page, they have one called Table Merger. This is a simple script which merges two tables. But before I go ahead and download that, let's talk a little bit about where you might find the script in InDesign and then we'll go ahead and install that Table Merger script. So in InDesign-- and we are in CS 5.5 right now. In 5.5, and I believe in 5 as well, the Scripts panel is hiding down here in Utilities.
You choose Scripts. In earlier versions of InDesign you'll find it under Window > Automation and then there will be fly out that says Scripts Automation, but here we're in Utilities. So you open up Scripts and I am just going to drag this panel out so we can concentrate on it. Here's two folders, Application and User, and what that means is there are scripts that are installed at the application level so anybody who logs on to this computer can use them, or there are scripts that are private only to the current user and right now that folder is empty. I don't have anything installed.
And actually these are here to help people who want to learn how to script practice some essential concept because InDesign does ship with a PDF about how to script InDesign. But I'm not teaching you how to actually script. What's interesting is that a lot of these object lesson scripts actually do very useful things and to run a script all you need to do is double-click something. So like for example, if I make a selection, let me just drag out a little square here and I have it selected and then I choose for example CropMarks, I get a little dialog box that says where do you want me to put the CropMarks, should I include Registration Marks? Where should I draw the marks around each object or just the entire selection? I'll say the Selection and it made little crop marks around my selection.
So there are all sorts of interesting things that these scripts can do. Unfortunately, I'm not finding Merge Tables here, right? So there's no Merge Tables script here, but I did hear about that one that was offered for free at the in-tools.com website. Now the question is how do I get that script into my Scripts panel? It's actually really simple. You don't have to quit InDesign and by the way the instructions that I am showing you here on the Mac also work exactly the same in Windows. In fact it's a lot easier if you start up the program and open up your Scripts panel, because if you right-click on the folder that you want your new script to go into, it will bring you right to it in the OS. So on a Mac it will bring you to that folder in the Finder and on Windows it will bring you to that folder in Windows Explorer.
So I could do this myself actually just in the Finder. I don't have to always right-click from that folder. Inside there, there is another folder called Scripts panel and then that is where you want to install your scripts, inside the Scripts panel folder. Same on Windows and the Macintosh. You don't have to use the Samples folder. You can create your own folder. In fact I think I will. I am just going to select this and then go to New Folder and I'll call this my scripts. Now this is the folder that I want to install the script in. So I am going to now go back that web site and download the script Table Merger. It is a zip file.
Merge Below or Merge Beside. I want to merge it below, there it goes. Now I actually experimented with this script first before I demoed it, because I wasn't sure if it would be smart enough to merge two tables that were separated by a paragraph and that's what you need to do a lot of times. You need to experiment with the script, especially the ones that are free, because they don't often come with documentation. Now the ones on this website, if you remember in-tools.com, actually does come with documentation. So I could have read more about it, but sometimes some scripts require selection and you don't know some scripts don't work if you have something selected.
Other places that you might find scripts, other than just you know on developer's websites, will be in any form having to deal with the InDesign or a web site like on our own indesignsecrets. com web site. We talk about scripts all the time and some of them we add to this Resources page, Plug-ins and Scripts, but you can download them and then you would install it just as I showed you. A lot of times some of the best scripts aren't even sold or listed as a script. Scripters, who are very handy with scripting, would just go ahead and type out a script in a form post or in a comment in a blog.
Like for example here's one on our website where people were mentioning to us that in InDesign CS5 when you export a facing pages document to an interactive PDF, it always has spreads turned on. There's no control in the Export Interactive PDF to split that up into single pages and somebody said "how do I make a single page interactive PDF from a Facing Pages document, is it possible?" 62 people are vitally interested in this question and if I scroll down a bit, you will see that a couple of scripters took a whack at it, right.
It might be that you better say yes, Use .jsx. All right! So let's find that in the Finder, here it is. I'll copy that to my Clipboard and go back to that same folder, my scripts, and I'll paste it in there. And now when we go back to InDesign, there it is, ready to use whenever I want to automatically split a spread when I am creating an interactive PDF. So make sure and check out the rich community of scripters and all of the cool free and low-cost commercial scripts that are out there for InDesign.
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