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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.
One of the interesting new features in InDesign CS6 is this thing called the Content Tools, Content Collector, Content Placer, and Content Conveyor, and they're used to grab content from one area of your InDesign document and put them elsewhere in the same document or in another document, kind of like a permanent clipboard while the InDesign document is active. The tools are right here in the Toolbar, the Content Collector Tool. The shortcut is B, and if you press B again it switches to its partner in crime, which is the Content Placer.
And if I press and hold down here, you can see the Content Collector is an arrow that goes into a little bucket and the Content Placer is an arrow that comes out of the bucket. And whenever you choose either of these tools, you'll get the Content Conveyor, which is this gray thing right here. And when the Content Conveyor is active, meaning that one of these tools is active, then when you click on an object with the Content Collector it selects that object and copies it to the Content Conveyor, so click, click, click, that's a group, click picture, caption, and so on.
These are normal content items, and so the cursor is telling you that you are still in collecting mode, and so far you have five items, a group is counted as one item. And if you tap the B key, which toggles to the other content tool which is the Content Placer, then you'll see a preview. Unfortunately, you don't see previews of text if it's small, but if I press the Right Arrow key to cycle through, you'll see--if the text is large enough--you'll see a preview and your cursor. That's the group, so if I click, the group gets placed. So that is the basics of the Content Conveyor, and you might already know how this works, but I want to talk about working with sets. So what is a set? Let's back out.
I'm just pressing the Escape key to get rid of some of these things. And I'll get rid of you too. I don't want to place you. There we go. So I'm going to press the B key again to start all over, and now instead of just clicking on an item to add it to my Conveyor, I'm going to drag across and Marquee Select a bunch of items. That gets added as a set. So it's different than a group. A set shows up as one item in the Content Conveyor, but it's got a number on it showing you how many items are in the set.
So now I can go to another page or another document, I'm just going to press Command+Shift+P or Ctrl+Shift+P on a PC to add another page. And if I tap the B key to switch to the Content Placer, you see the icon how it shows those three squares? That means that a set is active. And the number one means that this is the one item that is in my Conveyor. If I just click, it places everything in the set in the same relationship and at the same size as what it was when I first grabbed it, I remember I did a marquee select.
I'm going to undo, I'm still in Content Collector mode, look at the active tool in the toolbar. I need to tap the B key to switch to the Content Placer, now I see the three squares. Now let's say that in that set of multiple items, I want to just place one of them. And this time instead of clicking, I'm going to tap the down arrow, and that drills down into the set. Take a look what's happening here. You can see that you are drilled down, you're like going down into the basement, down one level, and now we see the individual members of this set.
And I can use my arrow keys to cycle through here and choose whichever item I want to place. So if I just want to place this guy I can click there. And I don't have to place all of them. If I want to move up again in the hierarchy, tap the Up Arrow key, and there we have the set again. And if I drag, those items get placed, except for this one that I already placed. So let's try that again. This time we'll do a combination of single items and a set. Let's come up over here, so you are in Content Collector mode, click on one item, that gets added.
Click on one item, that gets added. And now I'm going to click on a group of items. I'm holding down the Spacebar key to get my little grabber hand to pan the screen around. Let's say that I want to grab these three things all together, so I will marquee drag around all of them and they get added as a set. I'll just move out here to the pasteboard a bit--let me give us some more room. I'm going to switch to the Content Placer by tapping the B key, toggles between Content Collector, Content Placer and look at the cursor.
So right now I have that type on a circle loaded in my place gun. And I see a little preview of it, really hard to see this piece of artwork. But the more important thing to look at is that there's a paintbrush icon upper-left. That tells you that you have one thing that you're about to place. So I'm just going to drag it off over here. Now we have text, and it's really hard to see, but there is a little icon upper-left of tiny type, and I'll place that over here. And now look at what we have, we have a picture of a girl, but look at the icon.
It's not a paintbrush, it's the three dots that means that you have a set loaded. Now if I drag, it's going to drag all three items. I'm going to undo. If I don't want to place all three items, if I just want to place like the text frame, you always have to remember get to the Content Placer Tool, tap the B key, tap the Down Arrow key, and we have drilled down into this set. Now I can tap the right arrow until I get to my text frame, there is the text frame.
If you don't want to place anything else from that set, you can just keep pressing the Escape key until it's all cleared up. When the Content Conveyor panel is empty, pressing the Escape key one more time closes it up, and then you can switch to another tool and go on your merry way. All right, so that's how you get a set as you can marquee drag around a bunch of items. But what happens if the items are not right next to each other, items that you want to be in a set, you want a group of them? Because you know that if you want to start collecting a whole bunch of different objects from your document, it can get pretty long.
So you might want to grab like everything on a page and keep it as a set. You might want to just grab certain pictures on a spread and keep that as a set, rather than having them take up all that room in the Conveyor. Let's come back down here, and then I'm going to ungroup this, because remember the group really doesn't work as a set. The group isn't a single item. So I'm just going to select it and ungroup it so we have more things to play with. The answer to create a set out of a number of items that are not right next to each other, in other words you can't marquee select them with the Content Collector Tool is to select them normally with a Selection Tool.
So let's say I wanted this caption and picture, and I'm holding down the Shift key, this caption, this picture, this caption, this picture. Now with the selection, I'm going to switch to the Content Collector Tool by tapping the B key or clicking it in the toolbar. And now I can come all the way over here, do you see this little icon right here? It looks like those three boxes that we were seeing on the cursor. It's called the Load Conveyor button. Click it and you can say that I want this selection. This is a little bug, I think that may be different as they come out with patches, but this should be checked automatically.
When you have a selection and you turn on mode Conveyor, it's automatically going to turn it into a set. So I'll click OK, and you can see that there it is, it's a set. And if I switch to the Content Placer, we see the tell-tale three little squares there. So that's one way to create a set, and let me press the Escape key to clear it out. Another way to create a set, you don't have to select anything. I'm going to press Command+Shift+A or Ctrl+Shift+A to deselect everything. And I have opened up the Content Conveyor, and I'll click right here.
You could select All Pages including Pasteboard Objects, and of course you'd want to turn on Create a Single Set. That's what you wanted to do, or you could select certain pages. You could say all the pages which is the same as this, except it's not going to get the stuff on the pasteboard, or you could swipe over here and say pages 4 to 5 or whatever range that you want. The other choices that you have down here are any other alternative layouts. So if you have alternate layouts included in this document, you can choose that as well.
But here I'm going to say get me all the pages. I don't want the stuff on the Pasteboard, and I want to create a single set. And I add them all. There is 62 items here. What I find this could be useful for--here I'll do this article. This is like a magazine article with a whole bunch of stuff. I'll grab this, too, and I want all the pages as a single set. And here, this is just one page of a poster, and I'll say all the pages as a single set. And now I have all of the elements of these three documents. Now I can easily create another new document or maybe go over to a document that I'm working on, and I can grab the items that I need to from these other documents and place them here.
So even if I go on and switch to the Selection Tool and I am doing something else, or I type a headline or something like that, as soon as I type the B key or I click the Content Collector Tool, they're still active. And I can say, well, I want to grab some of the artwork from the posters. So I'm going to tap the right arrow a couple of times, and what happens? Nothing, because I'm on the wrong tool. I have to tap the B key again. Look at that tool, it is the Content Collector. You need to be in the Content Placer if you want to start actually placing stuff.
So now I'll tap the Right Arrow key because I want to make the colored stuff active, and now I'll tap the Down Arrow key. I'll put my cursor out here so you can see what's happening, there you go. This is now saying there is three items in this set, there's actually seven items in the set. That number three on the icon is saying there's three sets total in the Conveyor. I'm going to tap the down arrow and now there is all of the different items in the set, and let's say that I just wanted to get the logo. So I'm going to tap the right arrow to get the logo active, and I want the logo right there, here we go.
Tap the up arrow, and I still have all the three things ready to go. So I don't have to keep flipping back to the other documents, scrolling, looking for where the logo is, copying and pasting, I have all sets ready to go anytime that I want right here in the Conveyor. And then I can show and hide at will, I can just tap the V key to switch to the Selection Tool, work, tap the B key to bring it back, V key to go back. So there you have it, Content Collector, Content Placer, and Content Conveyor in InDesign.
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