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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.
Isn't this a beautiful document? You know sometimes looks can be deceiving though. Have you ever had a problem child document that you didn't create, maybe you just got hired and they said here, here's your file of InDesign documents we need you to work with, or you are a freelancer and your client gave you an InDesign file and it just keeps crashing, or won't print right, or there is just something probably wrong with it. In addition to doing the usual troubleshooting steps like rebuilding preferences and so on, I find it helpful to learn a little bit about this document's history.
There is a secret dialog box that has been around I think in every version of InDesign, right now I am using CS6, but no matter which version of InDesign you're using, you can find the secret Document History dialog box. All you need to do is hold down the Command key if you are on a Mac or the Ctrl key if you are on a PC, and choose About InDesign. Now on a PC that would be here under the Help menu, and you get a secret Adobe InDesign Component Information. And this stuff on the right-hand side is really not useful at all, especially this thing often gives people pause where it says Missing Plug-ins: 2, that just means whoever last used this document, had these plug-ins installed, but it doesn't mean that this document won't work, unless you have them installed. This is kind of interesting though anyway.
What is more interesting is this bit up here which tells you the exact Adobe InDesign Version that you're using. So I am using CS6 which is technically Version 8.0.0 because this is right when CS6 was released is when I am recording this, and then it has a build number of 370. And sometimes when you're posting tech support questions in a forum or you are on the phone with Adobe tech-support, telling them the build number helps them figure out, oh! You didn't get the latest patch or oh, you know that's why that was a known problem with that build number.
And also you know, it can help you show off a little bit. You know, let your geek flag fly and say, oh yes. I am using CS6, build 370. But the most interesting and useful part of this little dialog box is down here Document Info. So it tells you the name of the file which you probably already know and it tells you down here the Document History. So take a close look. If anybody who's using this document, ever had a crash in InDesign and then when they restarted InDesign, this document opened up, you would see Recovered File - yes, and oftentimes when you crash with an InDesign document and it opens up again, if you save it and you continue using the same document, there might be some corruption in there.
So that would give you a little clue that well, maybe this thing you know has some corruption from that time that it crashed, or a Recovered MiniSave is sort of the same thing. Was this ever converted from an older version to the newer version? Yes. Was it ever opened as a copy? Yes. Some things you know have no bearing at all if the document is giving you problems. But let's say that one of the issues is that the styles that are all kind of screwed up, maybe the paragraph styles just have so many attributes. In my experience, that usually happens because the document has been converted from QuarkXPress, and it's usually not a good idea to convert from Quark and then just continue on your merry way. It's usually a better idea to create a new document in InDesign that closely matches what your design looked like in Quark.
So converting the Quark document to InDesign is okay for non-important one-off projects, but not really like for your magazine or your book series. So if this said Converted from QuarkXPress then that would also give me a clue that maybe at time we should take the time to actually rebuild this correctly in InDesign, and I can see if it was converted from PageMaker as well, let's scroll down. Was this ever synced in a book? Was it ever repaginated in a book? Was it ever opened from InDesign Interchange, that means if you exported this document to INX or IDML to Interchange formats and then opened it again and saved it, this would say yes.
Then we have some interesting ones down here that are CS6 specific, which I thought was kind of interesting. Did they ever use the Content Dropper, Layout Adjustment? Has this ever been exported to EPUB or SWF? But I love this part at the very end which is, when was this document created and how many times has it been saved as since then? Not saved, but saved as. So this document was created using Macintosh system software 10.49 in version 4.0.5, build 688, and there is my geek flag, but version 4.0.5 is I believe CS2, and look, it was first created Wednesday, April 23, 2008, more than four years ago as I recorded this, then it was saved five minutes later, and so on. We don't have to go through everyone of these, but look at how many times this document was saved as.
Here is your Recovered MiniSave, let me go all the way down to the bottom, look at this, until finally, just now, I did a Save As in Version 126.96.36.1990. Now if for some reason you really want to study this in detail, you know take it with you to a meeting or something, you could choose Write a Log File and it will go ahead and write this out and you can print it out if you wanted to. But here's the other side of the coin. Let's say that you are the owner of this document, and you need to hand it off, and you want to erase this history. You don't want people to know all this information. Why do they need to know your business, right? So how do you erase the Document History? You simply export it to one of those Interchange formats and then open it again.
So I am going to choose File > Export and choose IDML as the File Format. We'll save it right here on the Desktop and then open it again. That's a typical troubleshooting step, there is our IDML, it opens a copy of it as an untitled document and we'll save this on the Desktop. We'll call it news2 and now let's look at the Document History. I am holding the Command key and choosing About InDesign, on a PC that would be Ctrl, and let's look at the history.
Ah, nice and short! It was created today and it was saved as today, well, it was opened from InDesign Interchange today, okay, that's fine, but now nobody needs to know that I created this actually four years ago and I've been too lazy to actually create a new version. I've just been doing a Save As for four years. So that's just a little interesting hidden history of your InDesign document right there in the Component Information screen.
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