Category: Adobe Apps

InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator

How to make your Adobe Illustrator documents much smaller

If you’ve used Adobe Illustrator for any amount of time, you’ve probably created a complicated piece of artwork. Those files can be fairly large, making file transfer and storage cumbersome. Thankfully there’s a simple way to drastically reduce your file sizes.

When saving your files, choose the native AI format. This offers you the most flexibility, and the ability to reduce the files. You’ll also want to tick the Create PDF Compatible File box. This allows Illustrator to recover the file should the program crash.

Illustrator Options
In the Illustrator Options dialog box that pops up, tick the Use Compression box. That’s it! Instant smaller files.

Now you may have guessed that ticking that PDF Compatible File box also adds some overhead to the file, so if you’re looking for the smallest file size possible, go ahead and uncheck the box.

Illustrator file sizes
As you can see in the image above, the original Illustrator file weighs-in at 101.2 MB. Saving the file with PDF Compatibility and Compression reduces the file to 63.7 MB. Unchecking the PDF Compatibility box reduces the file even further to 25.4 MB in size.

That’s a big savings!

How to use InDesign’s Span and Split Columns feature

Nothing drives me crazy like working on a file that another designer created that doesn’t know about InDesign’s Span or Split Columns feature. There’s just no need to create a separate Text Box just to have the headline go across the top of two columns of text. It’s a pain in the behind. Span Columns to the rescue!
InDesign's Span Columns
Following close behind is when a designer wants to have two, three or more columns of bullet points in the middle of their text flow and doesn’t realize that you don’t have to create a separate multi-column text box in the middle of the text flow and then use multiple carriage returns to leave space for it. Edit the text above that separate text box and you have to move the text box with the bullets every time. Such a pain. Simply use the Split Column feature.
InDesign's Split Columns
If you don’t know how to use them, Erica Gamet has a great how-to article at CreativePro on how to use Span and Split Columns feature.

Easily switch between Photoshop’s Layer Blend Modes

When you have a multi-layer Photoshop file and you want to set one of the layers to Multiply, Overlay or one of the numerous other Blend Modes, you can click the drop-down menu in the Layers panel, but that can be tedious.

An easier way is to use the keyboard shortcut. Simply have the layer you want to switch Blend Modes on selected and have the Move, Lasso or other tool that doesn’t use Blend Modes (such as the Brush tool) active, and hit Shift + (plus) or Shift – (minus) to cycle through the different Blend Modes.

The shortcut works with tools that DO offer Blend Modes (such as the previously mentioned Brush tool or the Gradient tool) as well.

Incidentally, if you use the Multiply Blend Mode as often as I do, you’ll be happy to know you can simply hit Shift + Option + M to quickly apply it without cycling through it or bothering with the drop-down menu. Other often-used Blend Mode Shortcuts include Shift + Option + S applies Screen, Shift + Option + C applies Color.

Getting more from InDesign’s Eyedropper tool

InDesign Eyedropper Options
Most designers new to InDesign think the Eyedropper tool exists solely to choose a color from an image or other object on the page. More experienced users know just how powerful it can be, and much easier it can make things.

Not only can you choose colors, but you can apply fonts, styles, colors, transparency and more to other objects with simple clicks.

Take a look at InDesign Eyedropper Tool Tips over at CreativePro for a look at this highly useful tool.

Don’t apply Baseline Shift to move a paragraph up or down in Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign’s Baseline Shift feature is designed for moving a character up or down a little bit—and it’s great for when a bullet is too low, or a trademark symbol needs to move down, or something like that. But it was not designed for setting the vertical position of a whole line or paragraph!

David Blatner has a great run-through at InDesign Secrets on how and when to properly adjust the Baseline of your text.

Ever wonder what new features were added to every version of InDesign?

InDesign New Feature Guide
I was fortunate enough back in 1997 to be part of a team of Adobe beta testers for an app called K2, which would later become InDesign 1.0. Even having come from Pagemaker, then years of Quark use, and a buggy as hell K2 beta, I could see even then that InDesign was going to thoroughly destroy the competition and take over the industry in short order. It ended up doing just that—despite its lack of features in version 1.0.

James Wamser, an Adobe Certified Instructor, has put together a list of features Adobe has added to InDesign since… well, since ever. I’m not sure how useful his PDF will be to you, but it’s possible that you read through and find out about a feature you weren’t even aware of that’s been there for years.

Download the InDesign New Feature Guide, a 1.5MB PDF, for free.

Possible fix for laggy Photoshop features

Adobe PhotoshopIf you’re using Photoshop to work on your image then switch to another app like Safari, Mail, InDesign, etc., then switch back to Photoshop, you may notice that Photoshop gets a little laggy or even stuck.

Conventional wisdom says you need more RAM. Unfortunately that is neither cheap nor possible with most Macs. A fast SSD drive will help, but again it’s neither cheap or even possible to upgrade your storage drive on most Macs anymore.

The solution might be found in Photoshop itself.

Go in to your PS Preferences (Command+K) and choose the Performance tab from the list on the left. Once in the dialog, tick the Use Graphics Processor checkbox if it isn’t already checked, click the Advanced Settings button. Change the Drawing Mode drop-down menu from Advanced to Normal (if it’s already set to Normal, change it to Basic). Also make sure Use Graphics Processor to Accelerate Computation and Use OpenCL/GL are checked. Hit OK and you’re done

This will tell Photoshop to use your Mac’s video card to help with the heavy lifting, but not to over-do it.

Photoshop Graphics Processor prefs
While you’re in the Performance tab, you might also want to set the Memory use to about 70%. Over the years I’ve found that using much more than that of your total RAM for Photoshop has more negative effects than positive ones.