It’s an old article covering Adobe InDesign CS5, but Secrets of the InDesign Control Panel is worth taking a look at because almost everything still applies to InDesign CS6 today.
Tagged: Control panel
One unfortunate fact of using Adobe InDesign is the plethora of panels that most designers have to keep open and accessible at all times in order to be productive. It doesn’t leave a lot of space to view your document.
Fortunately, InDesign CS5‘s Control panel includes a full version of the color Swatches panel, so you can save yourself some screen real estate by using it instead of keeping the Swatches panel open on the screen at all times. The bonus of using the Swatches panel this way is that it scoots out of the way automatically when you’re done applying a color swatch to a fill or stroke to your object or text. You also have access to the Swatches panel fly-out menu.
With more and more designers opting to use laptops for their work, screen real estate becomes more of an issue. One unfortunate side-effect of using Adobe Creative Suite applications like InDesign is the plethora of panels a designer keeps open on the screen in day-to-day work. But Adobe does make efforts to lighten the load of panels you have to keep open for convenience.
Rather than keeping the Color Swatches and Fill/Stroke Panels open all the time, you can keep them closed and use the shortcut icons in the Control Panel across the top of the screen. Hitting the “X” key switches between fill and stroke, a text entry box allows you to adjust stroke weight and style, and drop down icons offer access to your colors in the Color Swatches Panel. All of this fits in a relatively small area in the Control Panel, as seen in the screenshot at the right.
If you have an existing object and want to resize it by a precise amount, you don’t have to re-create the box, or even do the math yourself to resize it. You can simply have InDesign do the math for you.
For example, if you have a box that measures 1.25 inches wide, but you really want it to be 1 3/8 inches wide, you can simply add +.125 to the existing 1.25 width measurement in the Control Panel input box and hit the Enter key (see image at right). While that seems trivial, the usefulness becomes apparent when you consider you can also use “/3” to divide the width by 3, or use “-” and a number to subtract an amount, or even “*” and a number to multiply the amount.
You may have noticed that some of the functions in the Control panel in Adobe Illustrator are blue with a dotted line underneath – they’ve actually been around since at least Illustrator CS2. Those blue words with the dotted underline mean that particular function is clickable. When you click on the function name, the appropriate panel for that function opens on the fly (see screenshot above). The panel will close when you click anywhere in the document, or select a different tool. The Control panel is already context-sensitive, meaning it changes depending on which tool you have active, but this clickable function feature makes it even more handy because you don’t have to keep as many panels open to have them readily available, nor do you have to use a keyboard shortcut.