Working with the Selection tool
Video: Working with the Selection toolNo matter what kind of documents you work on in InDesign, one of the first things you're going to find that's completely new to you in CS5 is what happens with the Selection tool and all the cool new features that are involved. Like for example here I am just looking at a normal spread, nothing is selected, right? I have my Selection tool, and as I start moving over the layout, different things start flashing at me. This is all new. One thing that's flashing is called frame edge highlighting. So as you go over a group, I'm not dragging or clicking. I'm just hovering.
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Author Anne-Marie Concepción gives a comprehensive demonstration of the latest features in Adobe InDesign CS5, including desktop publishing tips, workarounds, and practical applications of each feature. InDesign CS5 New Features covers creating interactive documents, tracking text changes with Word, a number of object selection and transformation enhancements, and the ability to mix page sizes. Exercise files are included with the course.
- Adding spanning heads over columns and splitting columns
- Using the revamped Layers panel
- Editing and customizing motion path presets
- Adding interactive features
- Controlling and managing multiple animations
- Mixing page sizes in a single document
- Publishing to a variety of Flash formats using the enhanced Export dialog
- Creating multi-state objects
- Using the new Gap tool and Gridify techniques
Working with the Selection tool
No matter what kind of documents you work on in InDesign, one of the first things you're going to find that's completely new to you in CS5 is what happens with the Selection tool and all the cool new features that are involved. Like for example here I am just looking at a normal spread, nothing is selected, right? I have my Selection tool, and as I start moving over the layout, different things start flashing at me. This is all new. One thing that's flashing is called frame edge highlighting. So as you go over a group, I'm not dragging or clicking. I'm just hovering.
As I go over a group, you can see the edge of the group highlighted. As I go over a frame, it's kind of subtle, but can you see that blue change. As I go over a text frame, that highlights. So different groups highlight and it shows you the color of the layer that they are on. And this frame that's highlighting, it's just a way for you to understand what's happening with that complex layout, especially if you're not the one who built it. The other thing that you see flashing on and off is this circle. What the heck is that thing? It's completely new. It's called the Content Grabber. Notice that when my Selection tool hovers over the Content Grabber, it turns into a grabber hand.
If I just start dragging right on the Content Grabber icon, the circle, I'm actually able to reposition the contents of an image frame. I didn't need to select the image first. I didn't need to switch to the Direct Selection tool. Everything is done just by hovering and dragging when I am over that little Content Grabber guy. So even like right here, I can start moving things around. So even if these are grouped together, you can still edit the contents of a single image frame with the Selection tool.
So that means then that you really don't need the Direct Selection tool to do that anymore. Say that I wanted to scale the contents of this image frame. I can do that with the Selection tool without changing the size of the frame itself, simply by clicking instead of dragging on the Content Grabber. When you click instead of just drag, then it selects the image content, so you can see the bounding box. I'm still on the Selection tool, notice. I have not switched to the Direct Selection tool. Now I can drag this or I can even rotate.
I don't know if you saw that I can rotate, if I hover outside of the frame with the Direct Selection tool. So now I'm just rotating the contents of the flowers inside the image frame, which doesn't look very good. So I'm going to undo that. Then just click in any blank area to start all over again. So you may be wondering, what happens then if when you're over an image and you double-click, does it switch to the Direct Selection tool? Oh, no it doesn't. What toggles instead is what's selected.
So double-click with the Selection tool to toggle the selection to contents or frame, contents or frame. I'm just double-clicking each time. When the frame is selected, then the Selection tool works as normal. You can resize the edges or adjust the edges to re-crop the image. So what would you use the Direct Selection tool for then? Well, let's deselect everything. Select the Direct Selection tool and now notice we're still getting the same kind of frame highlighting, except it's actually highlighting the paths and the points, which is extremely cool. So here is a group of petals in a flower.
I don't know if you remember this is actually a group, and let's zoom in a bit here. The frame highlighting with the Direct Selection tool lets you immediately select the point and change its shape without having to select the path first, which is pretty cool. I'm going to switch back to Fit Spread in Window with Command+Option+0 or Ctrl+Alt+0, and click on this image with the Direct Selection tool. So now I have the image content highlighted and I can use it just like you see it, but as you can see it's not really that necessary.
I can just use the Selection tool for that. What are you going to find when you first start working with CS5, especially if a lot of your files have a ton of images, is that you're constantly accidentally selecting or clicking on the Content Grabber and moving the image contents around when you didn't mean to, because you're so used to only being able to do that with the Direct Selection tool. So if you want, you can turn off that feature. You can turn off the Grabber Hand by going to the View menu and choosing Extras > Hide Content Grabber. You see they sort of rearranged the furniture here in the View menu.
So you can choose Hide Content Grabber and then you won't get that feature anymore. If you double-click, it would still toggle from selecting the contents of the frame to the frame itself, but you wouldn't be able to drag the contents around without making any selection whatsoever. So you might consider that good or bad. I am going to turn it back on, because I actually really like it. Another subtle tweak is that if I select a frame and I lock it, let's zoom in here with Command+Plus or Ctrl+Plus, and I go up to the Object menu, and I choose Lock.
Look, I get a cute little lock icon. I can click that little lock icon to unlock it if I wanted to. But before I do that let me show you that I still have the Selection tool. I cannot select this locked item. That's new. People were complaining I guess that when you lock something, it wasn't truly locked. You could still select it and edit the contents for example. So, Adobe said, okay, fine. Now it's completely locked. And I couldn't unlock it if I wanted to. Actually, the only way to unlock something would be to come up here to the Object menu, and choose Unlock All on Spread.
Well, there is a way to do it with the Layers panel that we'll cover later. But if for some reason you would like to be able to select something that's locked, perhaps you want to align other objects to it or perhaps you want to be able to fill it with an image frame or you don't want to be able to edit the contents, you just want to lock the frame, then you can turn this feature off in Preferences. So if you'll open up Preferences, InDesign > Preferences > General, and just uncheck the checkbox for Prevent Selection of Locked Objects. It's turned on by default. I'll leave it turned on.
Choose Fit in Window again, and deselect all and now another interesting new thing that you can do in CS5 concerns groups. Notice as I am hovering over this group, I see the frame edge highlighting, but if I want to edit a single member of this group, I can just double-click and it will select the single member of this group. Now actually, I think that was also possible to do in CS4. What is definitely new though is that I can use the Escape key and Shift+Escape to sort of drill down and drill back. When you have selected a group, you can press Shift+Escape to select just one member of that group.
So if it had nested subgroups, you'd select one of those nested subgroups, then Shift+Escape continue drilling down in that nested subgroup. When you have an individual member or subgroup selected, you can then just simply click on any other part of that group to edit it. Pressing the Escape key then drills you back up, for want of a better term, and reselects the group. The second spread in this document lets me show you couple more interesting features. First let's select this frame of this cute little boy and girl, and just to make sure that you understand that you can rotate not just the image contents like I did before, but also the entire frame, I just hover right outside, and you get the little readout, that's from CS4. That's what you would get with the Rotate tool in CS4.
Now we don't need the Rotate tool to rotate images and their frames. Not just image frames, but also text frames can be rotated as well. Just hover your cursor right outside at any corner. It works just how it works in Illustrator. I am going to undo to get this straight. In fact, all of the Transform tools have now been hidden inside this fly-out menu next to the Free Transform tools, because they are not quite as necessary as they were in previous versions. Another interesting selection related feature in CS5 is called favored selected item.
Take a look at this little arrangement here. Let me zoom in a bit. We have a text frame on top of a colored frame. If I open up the Layers panel, you can see that the text frame is up here, and if I hold down Command+Click or Ctrl+Click to drill through and select the object behind it, page furniture is down here, so it is definitely underneath the text frame. In previous versions it was kind of difficult to be able to edit items that were completely overlapped by something else. You had to know to click directly on the center point of the selected object.
Well, we don't have the center points anymore, as you can see, and that's because they're not really necessary. Because there is the new favorite selected object, as soon as you get that object selected then you can start dragging anywhere and it will not accidentally drag the object on top like it used to. Let's choose Fit Spread in Window and look at this stuff on the right. This is the last interesting cool new feature I want to show you. It has to do with multiple selections. Let me switch back to my Selection tool.
Say that I wanted to resize all of these four frames so that they went from the left edge to the right edge of this column. If this were an earlier version, I would want to select all four of these, group them, and then transform the group. Then I would ungroup them. That is no longer necessary in CS5. When you have a multiple selection, you can transform them all at once by default. Notice that we have one set of handles surrounding the multiple selection. So now I just drag at any of these handles and all of the items that were in the selection get transformed.
I click outside of it and they are once again individual items. I love that feature. So as you can see there are a lot of interesting improvements as far as selections and transformations are concerned in InDesign CS5. They take just a little bit of getting used to and then you'll wonder how you ever lived without them.
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