Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting preferences, part of InDesign for the In-House Designer.
- [Instructor] InDesign gives you a lot of control over the way it behaves by letting you change its preferences. Now you can just leave the preferences at the default if you like but I'm going to change mine, I'm going to show you the way I like to work. That doesn't mean that you have to change yours although there are a couple of changes that I'm going to make in my preferences that I'm going to recommend that you make in your preferences. So let's get started. Speaking of which, this is the start screen, and you can see that it says get started, create something new or you can see on the left it also will show you recent files, I've cleaned out my preferences so this is as if I've just installed InDesign, or I could open an existing file.
They've created this start screen to try to make things easy for you to sort of ease you into using the program. And if you look at the upper right, notice that word start. That's the name of this workspace and we're going to look at workspaces in another video, but workspaces let you control the way a lot of the obvious controls like the tools and the panels look to you. But we're not ready for that yet. We're going to look at the preferences. Now I'm on a Mac, so I'm going to come up to InDesign CC and choose preferences. If you're on Windows, it's pretty much the same thing except you'll go up to edit and down at the bottom of that edit pull down you'll see preferences.
Once you choose preferences, we're looking at pretty much the same controls, so once you've found preferences, go to general. Now this looks like a lot to think about when you look at that left hand column you think gosh do I have to know how to handle all of these things? No. You're going to find that most people tend to leave most of these preferences at their default, and again, I'm going to show you the things that I like to change. So starting with general, if you want to see your recent files, this is one way to see them, there's another way too and you're going to find that's true of so much of what you do in InDesign.
There are multiple ways to get to the same endpoint or to accomplish the same task. I leave everything pretty much the way you see it here, the default. Now under interface there is something I change. A lot of people like the dark interface, I still haven't really gotten used to it and I'm going to lighten up my interface because I think it might make it easier for you to see some of my controls. So you see these four color blocks at the top? If I choose the darkest one, that's very serious, this is the default, medium dark, brace yourself it's going to get substantially brighter here when I choose medium light.
Again this is what I'm sort of used to from previous versions of InDesign, you don't have to change it, it's not going to affect the way you work. But here's something that I would strongly recommend that you do change. Here where it says match pasteboard to theme color. If you've never used InDesign that's just a bunch of words in a row and it doesn't really mean anything to you. Over time it will but I'll just tell you that there is a mode in InDesign called preview mode which lets you hide all the junk, everything outside the page, and you're just looking at the page the way that it would print. When you're in that mode, traditionally, everything outside the page, and that's called a pasteboard, is gray.
Well now they have it gray whether you're in that mode or not. It's a little bit different shade of gray but it confuses some people to no end and I'm one of those people so I recommend that you uncheck match pasteboard to theme color because it's going to make your mode change obvious. Again, optional, but that's one I really recommend. Everything else here I leave at the default. Type, I leave at the default. Ah, but here's something I bet you'll want to change. Units and increments. InDesign thinks natively in picas and unless you've worked in a publication background or a newspaper background, picas may not mean anything to you.
Here in the US we tend to think in inches, so if you're in the US, I would change both horizontal and vertical to inches. Now if you're working in Europe you may be more comfortable working in millimeters or centimeters. Ciceros are a little bit foreign to almost everybody, agates, pixels, you can design stuff that's going to be viewed on screen, we're going to be largely focusing on stuff that you create for print, in house or commercial print. So I'm going to change both to inches, I'll make a little aside here, if you set this to inches but you think natively in millimeters, you can leave it at inches and you can type in whatever value you want, just put mm after it so you can always type what you normally think in regardless of what the measurement system for the program is so again InDesign's very flexible, it gives you lots of ways to do things.
I don't change anything else here and I really don't change anything else until I get down to display performance. There are some settings in InDesign that are sort of leftover from the olden days when computers were much slower and these settings were meant to speed up performance. This is one of them where it says Greek type below 7 points. That doesn't mean that it translates it to Greek, it means that when you zoom way out, your text is going to look like little gray strips, and that's almost universally hated. Even if your eyesight isn't good enough to read little bitty text it just kind of drives people crazy that it doesn't look like text.
So here's the way to fix that, highlight that seven, change it to zero, and while I'm here I'm going to make a point. I'm really through changing my preferences, so I'm ready to exit this dialogue. If I hit the return or enter key on my keyboard, that's the same as hitting okay, but I want you to get in the habit of using the tab key when you're in dialogues like this, if you hit the tab key that commits to that value and then if you need to change something else in that dialogue or in a panel, that lets you commit to the value but not exit the dialogue, so kind of stash that away and I'll harp on that later on but when you're entering values, try to keep your pinkie away from that enter key and get in the habit of using the tab key.
So to revisit, all I really changed was under interface, I brightened it up. I recommended that you uncheck that match pasteboard to theme color. Under units and increments I put it in my native tongue, inches, and again, pick what works for you. And then finally, display performance, Greek type below zero points and that's it and now I'm ready to go a little farther in InDesign so for now I'm going to close my preferences and then we'll go on to something else.
- Creating a workspace
- Setting up your document
- Using master pages
- Importing and formatting text
- Creating paragraph and character styles
- Scaling, rotating, and transforming graphics
- Adding color with swatches
- Adding content to tables
- Storing assets in InDesign Libraries and CC Libraries
- Saving and using a template
- Creating an automatic TOC
- Exporting to PDF
- Preparing for printing