Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video Smart Guides, part of InDesign CS4 Power Shortcuts.
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In this video I get to talk about one of my favorite features of InDesign Smart Guides, and what I love about it is that there's really nothing to learn. It just kind of does its thing for you as you interact with page items. So, let me give you an example. I am going to select this object here. Then I am going to start moving around the screen, and you'll start seeing some pink guides here. Well what's going on here? Well, the bottom of this frame is now lined up with the vertical center of the page. Hey, how cool is that? If I keep dragging, the center of the frame will now be lined up to the center of the page there. What if I want it to be center-center? Well again, just keep dragging around and eventually you'll see the crisscross guides showing you that you are aligned in both vertical and horizontal center on the page.
Hey, that's pretty cool. Awesome. So let's go ahead and drag this to the left. I am going to hold down the Shift key as I start dragging, just to keep it aligned on that one axis, great! So, let's see a few more things that Smart Guides can do. I am going to pull out a copy of this frame, so I hold down the Option or Alt key and drag out a copy, and I want that one to be about that far away from the original, and then I want another copy. So I am going to hold down the Option key again, start dragging, and look what happens. When that object here gets to be the same distance away from the other two on the page there, you now get smart spacing guides telling you that there's a match.
What I love about Smart Guides too is that it's accurate regardless of your zoom percentage. How many of you have ever done this? You zoom up to 4000% let's say, let's go ahead and select this frame, and then Plus, Command+Plus, Command+Plus, and you're panning around. When you are zooming, and you are turning your ruler guides on, and making sure you get this thing as very accurate at this large zoom level. What's great about Smart Guides is that you can get the Smart Spacing feedback and the Alignment feedback regardless of your zoom level, and it's always going to be accurate.
So you don't have to go back and check your work by zooming out. So kind of handy. Let's go back to Fit to Window on 100%. Command+1, Control+1, Command+0 to fit to window, Command+1 to go back to 100%. What else is going on with Smart Guides? Well, you've actually got Smart Rotation as well. So, if I select this frame here and press the R key to switch to the Rotate tool, we will go ahead and rotate this. In conjunction with Smart Guides, you will now get a tooltip telling you the angle of rotation, so it keeps your focus right on the object that you are manipulating, so you don't have to go to the Control panel or the Transform panel or something to try to see this information. So there, 23 degrees, perfect.
I am going to hold down the Command key or Control key on Windows to select another object. Let go that key. You are still back in the Rotate tool here and now I am going to rotate and I've kind of forgotten how much I rotated this other object. But that's okay, because as I rotate, when there is a match of rotation angles for another object in the current view here, the Smart Rotation Guides kick in. Now, here is a tip that I need to give you. You can see that the Smart Guide color is kind of faint and greenish by default. So, it's kind of hard to see. So, what I do is I usually change my Smart Guide color to red or some bright color that makes it easier to see on screen.
So I am going to open up our Preferences. Command+K or Control+K and I believe it's under Guides and Pasteboards. This is where you can specify the colors for all the different type of guides that you can have in InDesign. And there is one Smart Guides called Grid Green and I am just going to change this to red. Go ahead and click OK in my Preferences. Now, because I have a document open, I'm only changing the color of Smart Guides for this document. If you wanted this to be a permanent change of course, you would close all documents, keep InDesign open, and make the Preference change there.
That would affect all new documents. All right, great, click OK. Let's go back and get this particular object selected, hold down the Command or Control key to select it. We are still in our Rotate tool, and I'll let go the key. Now when I drag, and you can see there's a match of rotation. Now the guides are much easier to see because they are red. Excellent. So I am going to undo that rotation, awesome, and I am going to go ahead and grab another tool, which is the Frame tool here, and watch what happens when I drag out another rectangle and you are going to see it, when it matches the dimension of another object on the page, in this case the width, I get Smart Guides kicking and telling me that there's a match there as well.
And if I drag out the height so that it matches as well, it shows both dimensions, width and height are matching. So a lot less having to work around in panels to specify numeric numbers. You get a tooltip telling you exactly what the dimensions are as you are dragging. You get the Guide feedback telling you when there's a match. Very handy. One additional tip to know about Smart Guides. Some people get frustrated or complain about too much feedback depending on how busy your page is. How many items are on the page. So, as I move this object here, it's aligning to the left of that header up there.
When I drag it here, it's lining up to the center of that page number. All very useful, but sometimes it starts giving you feedback on objects you just don't care about. If that's the case, you can control Smart Guides by zooming in or out of the document. Basically here's the rule. Smart Guides only sees and acts on matches that you can see as well in your current view. So right now because the entire page is visible, Smart Guides is looking for matches for anything on the page.
If I want to limit the focus, so if I go ahead and drag out a zoom rectangle, I am holding down Command+Space or Control+Space, and zoom in. Now when I click-and-drag this rectangle around, I am only going to get matches for the other objects that are currently in my view. Smart Guides ignores anything that you cannot actually see on screen. So nice little hidden secret shortcut on how to make Smart Guides respond to less or more objects on your page depending on what your goal is.
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- 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!