FUDWatch: Multi-file Place

One of my favorite new features in InDesign CS3 is multi-file place. It’s something that I’ve been wanting in my layout app for a long time, and in CS3 we were finally able to implement it.

Is it really the case that this feature has limited appeal…that most designers don’t really need this feature? Based on my experience showing this feature, a whole lot of designers and production people around the world are glad to see this in CS3.

The feature is great for both templated and non-templated workflows. It’s a productivity boon any time you need to import more than one file from one file or directory into your InDesign document, whether it’s an image, a graphic, text or an Excel spreadsheet. It also works with InDesign XML snippets. This enables you to place or drag and drop multiple, pre-designed InDesign objects and geometries into your document, thus speeding up the production of modular layouts.

You can use the multi-file place feature via the Place command, dragging and dropping from the desktop into an InDesign document window, or dragging and dropping multiple files from Adobe Bridge (Mac Users can benefit from using OSX’s Exposé feature to further increase the speed and convenience of this method).

A few multi-file place tips:

  1. You can scroll through the multiple files loaded in your place cursor by using the up and down arrow keys. You will see the thumbnail cursor change to show you which imported file is active.
  2. If you change your mind or if you selected one or more files by mistake, you can remove any incoming file by pressing the Esc key when the file’s thumbnail is displayed in the cursor. This removes it from the list of files to be imported.
  3. Using the cmd/ctrl+shift modifier when you place multiple files into an InDesign document places all the files at once in a cascading stack on your page. This reproduces the behavior you got in CS2 when you dragged and dropped multiple files.
  4. Suppose you’re recycling last week’s or last month’s layout, but just replacing the content. You don’t have to relink the image frames to new content one by one. You don’t have to manually delete the old content either. Just press the option/alt key to replace content in your targeted frames with the new content you’ve imported using the multi-file place feature. It’s a very quick and efficient way to update an old layout with new content.
  5. If you team up the multi-file place feature with InDesign CS3’s ability to apply frame fitting options as an object property, then you’re not only placing multiple files in one continuous process, you’re also saving yourself time in scaling the newly placed content to fit as separate, individual steps. Just make your desired fitting option a part of the the object style you apply to your image and graphic frames, and the incoming content will be automatically adjusted when you drop it into its frame.


Multi-file place enables you to view thumbnails of the incoming files you’ve loaded into your place cursor. Combine multi-file place with Frame Fitting options in an object style to dramatically cut the time it takes to place scale and crop incoming image and graphic content.

You can read what PC Magazine’s Galen Fott said about Multi-file Place (and a lot of the other new features) in his review of InDesign CS3. Or, try Michael Murphy’s review on Creative Pro.

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