Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Positioning your panels, part of InDesign: Beyond the Essentials.
From the very beginning, way back when InDesign first came out in 1999, InDesign users have been complaining about all its panels. Back then, Adobe called them palettes, but the name change doesn't matter, there are a lot of them. Now, everybody knows that you can open a panel by going to the Window menu and choosing one of panels out of this list. For example, I'll go to the Interactive submenu and choose Hyperlinks. Up comes the panel right there in the middle of the screen. I can move this panel anywhere I want on the screen by dragging this little tab that has its name or the gray title bar at the top.
Just drag it and drop it where I want it. I can even drag this all the way over into this dock on the right side of the screen, and that turns out to be the best way to manage your panels. Keep them in a dock. When I see that blue line, I can let go and the panel is added to the dock. Now, I'll do the same thing to this Info panel down here. Drag, but instead of letting go when I see this kind of blue line, I'm going to drag a little higher, on top of the Hyperlinks panel name itself. Now, that whole group gets highlighted and when I let go, the Info panel is added into this Hyperlinks group.
It works pretty much the same, but if I click on one of those, you can see that now Hyperlinks and Info are both part of a group. Let's go ahead and add some more panels. I'll drag my Character Styles over here in between these two, and then I'll add some other styles to that as well, like the Object Styles. I'll add that to my Character Styles, I'll take my Paragraph Styles, drop that in there, and you get idea, you can very quickly put together your dock. You can even drag panels out of the dock. For example, I'll grab this Swatches panel, I'll open it just by clicking on it, and then I will drag its little title bar out.
Let's close the Gradient panel by clicking on its name. And now I'm going to show you how you can create a different kind of dock. I'm going to grab that Swatches panel and drag it underneath the Color panel. And when it gets really close, when my cursor is just underneath the bottom edge of that Color panel, I'll let go, and now it is docked with the Color panel. That means, if I move this gray title bar at the top, they both move at the same time. That can be really handy when you always use two or more panels at the same time.
The problem is it's floating there in the middle of my screen. Unfortunately, you cannot move this over into the dock on the right side of the screen, but what you can do is click on this little double-headed arrow in the upper right corner of the dock group. When you do that, you get this little floating dock and you can put that anywhere you want on your screen. One of the cool things about docks is that you can stretch them or condense them. For example, this dock, this floating dock, is just icons, but if I put my cursor on the right edge or the left edge and start dragging, I can actually make it wider.
Now, I can see the icon and the names. I can do the same thing with the dock on the right side of the screen. I'll move my cursor right over the left edge and then I'll start dragging and you'll see that the names can go away and I'm left with just the icons. That's the way I prefer using InDesign because I know what all these icons mean. I know that's the Paragraph Style panel just by looking at its icon, so I can always go back to it quickly. I don't need the name. Of course, if you are a beginning InDesign user, you're going to want to see the names, but after a couple of months, when you're used to it, you can go ahead and minimize this down to just the icons, and really make the most of your limited screen real estate.
Here's an even better way to make use of limited screen real estate. Press the tab key. When you do that, all of your panels disappear. Press tab again, and they come back. If I'm working on a small screen like a laptop, I'll often press that tab key, so I can really maximize the space I have to work with, and I can still get to those panels, simply by moving the cursor to the side of the screen. When I move it over here to where the dock should be, the dock appears. Now, I can click on these icons to see the panels. But when I move the cursor away, the dock disappears.
I can do the same thing with the tool panel on the left side of the screen. Now, I can see all my tools, move the cursor away, and the panel disappears. I want to point out one more thing having to do with panels, so I'll press the tab key, so I can see them again. You'll notice that as I'm working in this document, by selecting various frames, this panel, docked over here on the side, remains open. It doesn't have to. That's a preference in InDesign. If I go to the InDesign menu on the Mac or the Edit menu on Windows and choose the Preferences submenu, I can choose the Interface pane of the preferences dialogue box.
Right down here, in the Panels section, you see an option called Auto-Collapse Icon Panels. When that's turned on, those panels will disappear as soon as I don't need them anymore. Click the OK button, and now, as soon as I click on anything or do almost anything in my document, that panel, which was docked over here, disappears. Click on it to open it, click over here, and it disappears. Now, panels are a fact of life in InDesign, but they don't have to be a pain, if you take advantage of all these tricks.
- Setting preferences
- Working with parent and child master pages
- Adding alternate layouts
- Exporting and importing page snippets
- Tracking text changes
- Choosing other languages
- Aligning to a baseline grid
- Applying styles automatically with nested and line styles
- Embedding links
- Turning image layers on and off
- Using the Pathfinder and compound paths
- Power scaling and spacing