FUDWatch: Quick Apply

Quick Apply is a great InDesign feature that was a major productivity enhancer in CS2, and has been significantly expanded for CS3. If you’re not using now, you probably should be.

The purpose of the feature is to enable you to keep your fingers on the keyboard, and not have to search through menus and palettes for commands, styles, etc. that you need to select in order to get your work done. You can assign numeric keypad shortcuts to styles in InDesign, which is a smart thing to do if you’re working with a manageable number of styles.

However, what if:

  1. you work with documents that use dozens or even hundreds of different paragraph and character styles?
  2. you work with documents that use dozens or more object styles?
  3. you work with documents that use a lot of table and table cell styles?
  4. you have dozens or more scripts that you use to automate various tasks?
  5. you can’t remember all the keyboard shortcuts for all those styles and scripts, not to mention all of InDesign’s menu commands?

Keyboard shortcuts are great if you use all of them often enough to commit them all to memory (and InDesign enables you to customize your shortcuts to make it as easy as possible for you to create shortcut sets that make the most sense to you). However, real life intrudes on that way of working when you have more commands, styles, scripts, etc. than any non-savant could possibly commit to memory (true savants should not bother with any user interface at all, and just use InDesign Server, writing scripts on the fly).

Enter Quick Apply. Cmd/ctrl+Return triggers the display of the Quick Apply search window:

To use Quick Apply, all you have to remember is part of the name of a style, script, or menu command. Enter that string of characters into the search field, and InDesign will immediately give you a list of items that match your search string, starting with exact matches, and then partial matches. You can use the arrow keys to move up and down the list to select the item you want to select or apply, then just hit the Return key.

The Quick Apply feature enables you to choose what gets displayed in the list of results in two different ways:

  1. By clicking on the down arrowhead next to the text entry field, you get a list of the different types of items for which you can search. You can turn those types on and off by selecting them in that menu.
  2. You’ll notice in that list menu that the different types are followed by a code enclosed in parentheses (for example, (p:) for paragraph styles); to filter selections on the fly, first enter the code and then the desired search string. Example: if I want to search only for menu commands with the word “guides” in them, I’d enter “m: guides”.

Quick Apply Tips:

  1. Just like applying styles from a palette, adding the opt/alt modifier removes local formatting, shift+opt/alt removes local formatting plus any applied character styles.
  2. When you use the return/enter key to apply a command or style, the window will close…unless you use shift+return/enter, which keeps the window open so that you can find another style/command to apply.
  3. Esc enables you to exit the window without applying a style or command.
  4. cmd/ctrl+enter enables you to open a style to edit it.