Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video The Control panel, part of InDesign CS4 Power Shortcuts.
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If there's one thing you can say InDesign is not lacking of, that would be panels. There are certainly a lot of panels inside InDesign. I often joke that pretty soon we are going to have the new Quit panel, where you go to a panel to quit the application when you're done for the day. Not really. We hopefully won't go that far. But here's an example of just how many panels there are. I mean, there's actually quite a few more panels that I don't even have open right now, and the reason I have all these up above on the screen is to illustrate the point that a lot of these panels actually are no longer necessary, because the Control panel can replace them.
It consolidates either all or almost all of the functionality of many of these panels into one contextual strip at the top of your screen. By contextual I mean it changes based on the object that you have selected. Just right now I have nothing selected on the page, so there is a basic set of controls here. For instance, as I move my mouse around, you'll see the x/y position of the cursor. If I click on a text frame, of course, it changes to show you attributes that are relevant to the frame of that object. If I double-click to go into the text, it now switches to text attributes.
So, by default there's the character attributes. Hey, look at that. That actually replaces everything or almost everything in the Character panel. So, there is a panel I don't need. Let's close that. If I switch to the paragraph settings, hey, look at that. That looks kind of familiar. That's because that pretty much replaces everything in the paragraph panel as well. So, I don't need that panel. All right, so if I select these two objects here, I see that I have Align and Distribute options. So, I don't need that panel. There is some stuff here at the bottom of the Align panel that is not available in the Control panel.
So, if you actually need to use the Distribute Spacing command, then go open that panel when you need to use it, rather than taking up the screen real estate by having this panel opened all the time. You are not going to be using it very frequently. So, we will close the Align panel. All right, Transform. Well, I've got Width and Height fields up there, I've got Scale and Rotate and Skew in the Control proxy widget here. All over here on the left-hand side, so I don't need the Transform panel either. I want to apply a Drop Shadow to this selected object. Well, there is the little fx icon that pretty much replaces all the simple effects.
You have an Opacity slider as well, so that replaces that field there. So I am going to get rid of the Effects panel. Object Styles, there is the widget there for replacing the Object Styles panel. Ahhh. I can actually see my artwork. Now technically, I could actually remove some of the panels from the panel dock here as well. I don't really need Paragraph Styles and Character Styles, although some people make the argument it's nice to see the complete list of styles when the panel is expanded, right? So, that's sometimes a nice convenience, but if you only care about the current style of the paragraph that you are in, well, of course, you have that access there in the Control panel as well.
So, the idea being that the Control panel can eliminate the need for a large percentage of the panels that you could have open, and this just frees up your screen real estate,so you can really focus on your design. Now, one thing that some people don't realize is the Control panel actually can be customized. In the far right side of the Control panel, there is a little flyout menu for it and at the bottom is Customize. And this is where you can turn on or off controls that you want to display or have hidden. Perhaps you don't really care about ever seeing Object Styles, okay, so you could turn off.
And when I click OK, that set of controls will disappear from the Control panel. Now it's important to note as well that if you save a workspace, like right now we are in a modified version of the Advanced workspace, that would capture all the customization you have done to the Control panel as well. So, kind of a nice tip to remember, that you can customize and save those settings. I want to go back and turn Objects Styles back on. You can see these multiple categories here and you can cycle through them and see which you care about and which you don't. So, there you have it.
On my particular monitor, because we're capturing at a relatively narrow screen resolution, maybe narrower than for those of you have 30-inch cinema displays. Obviously the wider the screen, the more controls you can see in the Control panel, so one last note there.
- Scaling a frame and its content at the same time
- Using the Control panel
- Switching to the Hand tool while editing text
- Placing multipage Illustrator, PDF, and InDesign files into a layout
- Selecting and moving items that are behind other items
- Setting frame-fitting options before starting work
- Working with layers, master pages, frames, text, styles, and more!