Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Reviewing Control panel shortcuts, part of InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics.
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You have probably heard me say it before and you will hear it again, the best way to get efficient in InDesign is to keep your hands on the keyboard as much as possible and that means learning the keyboard shortcuts. And because the Control panel is one of the most important tools in InDesign, learning the shortcuts for managing it well is crucial. For example, if I hold on Command+Option and press 6 on the Mac or Ctrl+Alt+6 on Windows, it hides the Control panel. Press it again and it shows the Control panel. That's one that you are not going to use too often but it is useful when you really need to maximize your screen real estate.
Here is the one that I use all the time. I select an object on my page and then I press Command+6 on the Mac or Ctrl+ 6 on Windows. That jumps right to the first field in the Control panel. I use that all the time. Then once my cursor is there, once the focus is in that first field, I can press Tab to move forward through each of those fields or Shift+Tab to move back. This is very, very useful and a great way to move through InDesign quickly while keeping your hands on the keyboard. Now as I move through this you will notice I am selecting each of those fields, then I press Tab again and it actually selects the button up here, this Link button. That's pretty interesting. You can actually change the status of buttons in the Control panel simply by tabbing over to them and then hitting the Return or Enter key.
Here I will press Return or Enter and it links that button. It's as though I actually clicked on top of the button. I will go back there Command+6 or Ctrl+6 on Windows, tab over to it and I could hit Return or Enter again, but let me show you a trick. I am going to hold down the Shift key when pressing Return or Enter. So Shift+Enter or Shift+Return actually changes the status of button and keeps the focus on the button. That means I can turn it on and then Shift+Tab back and change the size of this. For example, I will set this to 5 inches, hit Tab and you can see that it actually changes both the height and the width.
Let's make it little bit more dramatic. I will change this to 8 inches, hit Enter and you can see that it changes both the height and width proportionally because that Link button was turned on. So very handy to be able to turn on and off buttons and we will see that even more in just a moment, because I want to show you how you can change the Control panel to show the type formatting. Right now, I have this object selected with the Selection tool, so the Control panel only shows me the Selection tool features, that is, the size and the height and the width and the scale and all of that. But if I press the T key, which of course switches to the Type tool, then the Control panel updates because it's context driven. I now have the object selected but the Type tool is selected as well.
So the Control panel shows me the Type features. Now when I do a Command+6 or Ctrl+6, it jumps up to the Control panel up to the first field, which is the Font field. So let's say I want to change this to Minion Pro. I just type 'min' and as soon as I hit Tab or Enter it will change. I will press Tab to go to the next field and you will see that the font changes right here on my page. Now I am down on the second field of the Control panel because I tabbed over to it. I will just type the letter I. It guesses that I want Italic, I hit Tab again and then it takes effect there on the page. Now I can change the size.
Let's make this 45 points instead. This time I am going to tab over twice and I have now actually selected the buttons over here. I tabbed over to the buttons of the Control panel. Now once I am in this little button field, this little area that has all these buttons in it, I can move through those buttons by pressing the arrow keys on my keyboard. So I will move over, you see it's highlighting just that part. I will move down by pressing the down arrow, down to the Small Caps button. I will do a Shift+Enter and remember what that does? It applies that button. It's as though I clicked on the button but I didn't actually use the mouse at all.
I just Shift+Return or Shift+Enter, selects the button and keeps the focus up there. Now I can hit Tab again to go over to the Kerning area and then tab again to go to Tracking. I will make this a little tighter, maybe 20 units, and finally I will hit Enter or Return and when you hit Enter or Return without the Shift key, it actually jumps out of the Control panel of course and then we are done. So I have applied all that text formatting without selecting any of the text inside the frame. I actually selected a frame itself and therefore all the text formatting was applied to all the text inside the frame and I did all of that using the Control panel with my hands on the keyboard. Very, very efficient.
Now what if I want to change the paragraph attributes of that text.? Right now, the Control panel is showing me the Character attributes. I want to switch over to the Paragraph attributes. I could move my cursor all the way across the screen and click on this little Paragraph button over there, but no. I want to keep my hands on the keyboard. So we are learning keyboard shortcuts. I am going to press Command+Option+7 on the Mac or Ctrl+Alt+7 on Windows and that switches over to the Paragraph. That's actually a toggle. It goes back and forth. Press it again and it goes back to the Character attributes and I press it again and I am back to the Paragraph attributes.
Now Command+6 or Ctrl+6 on Windows, jumps up to the first field and I can Tab through here and you can see that there are all kinds of options there. I have Shift+Tabbed back here, in fact I will Shift+Tab over to the horizontal alignment and I want to -- let's say I want to center align this, so I will hit the Right Arrow to move over to the next one in that list. Hit Return or Enter and it applies it to that and jumps out of the Control panel. I am going to press the V key to jump back to the Selection tool because I want to show a couple more things about the Control panel, little cool shortcuts.
One is that the proxy panel or that proxy figure, that reference point up at the upper left corner of the Control panel. That too can be controlled with your keyboard. I will press Command+6 or Ctrl+6 on Windows and instead of pressing Tab to move forward I will press Shift+ Tab to move back and you can see that the reference point, this little icon up here is now selected, the focus is now on that. I can change where that reference point is, which one of those dots has a little black dot in it, by using the arrow keys on my keyboard. So I will press the Right Arrow and I will go to the center point. Up arrow and it goes up to the top and now it's a little bit hard to see that little tiny icon, but trust me it's there and you can control that with the keyboard shortcuts.
If you have an extended keyboard, one that actually has a numeric keypad built into it, you can use that numeric keypad to choose one of those reference points as well. For example, I will press the 1 on the numeric keypad and it jumps to the lower left corner of reference point. 9 it jumps to the upper right. So that's a very fast way. Let's say I wanted to set the left edge of this at exactly the left edge of the page at zero. So I could press 7 to jump over to the upper left corner then Tab and I will just type zero and now I have told InDesign to change the X coordinate, the horizontal coordinate of the left point to zero. Hit Enter and it moves it over.
Earlier I mentioned what the Shift+ Enter or Shift+Return does in the Control panel. It changes the value and keeps the focus in that field, but let me tell you what happens if you use Option or Alt instead. Let me show you. I am going to select an object, let's say I will select this image down here. Let me zoom this 200% with Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. Let me delete this. I am just going to delete that so I have some room to move this over. I am going to make a duplicate of this over here and the way I am going to do that is by doing Command+6, I will press Command+6 or Ctrl+6 on Windows and I am going to change the X coordinate of this to let's say four inches, but in this case instead of pressing Enter to actually move it over, I am going to hold down the Option key on the Mac or Alt on Windows when I press Return and you will see that it moves it over to four inches and duplicates that. So I have duplicated the object while moving it over. Very, very handy.
The Option or Alt key works in all of the fields in the Control panel. For example, I can rotate this object maybe 15 degrees and you can see that it rotated around the upper left corner or I could come back up here and rotate this back to -15 degrees. This changes to -15 degrees and in this case, I will hold down the Option or Alt key on Windows and press Return and it rotates it and duplicates that. I know this seems like a lot of arcane keyboard shortcuts but trust me, the more you keep your hands on the keyboard, the more efficient you are going to be and the faster you are going to get your work done.
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