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:
- you work with documents that use dozens or even hundreds of different paragraph and character styles?
- you work with documents that use dozens or more object styles?
- you work with documents that use a lot of table and table cell styles?
- you have dozens or more scripts that you use to automate various tasks?
- 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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Esc enables you to exit the window without applying a style or command.
- cmd/ctrl+enter enables you to open a style to edit it.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
In a stunning development that runs contrary to competitve positioning, there’s now even more empirical evidence that InDesign’s gradient feather tool is popular for more than just quick and dirty comps:
Creative Techs: Clients Like Gradient Feather
See also Designorati’s Samuel Klein’s review for his comments on the new CS3 transparency effects features.
I’ve recently become aware of some interesting comments and assertions circulated by dark, competetive forces about InDesign CS3.
For example, in regard to the new transparency effects in InDesign CS3 (the bevels, glows, etc.), the dark forces say that all they’re really good for is making “quick and dirty comps,” and that “professionals” won’t actually use them for the actual production of the final product because the results look “canned.” Designers will continue to “hand craft” these effects in Photoshop, they claim.
The message: real designers do all their effects in Photoshop. Ignore the cool new creative features in InDesign CS3. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
There are a number of problems with these assertions:
- The majority of magazine titles produced world-wide are now using InDesign and its transparency effects every day for their finished product, including covers—covers that, in some cases, required high-end proprietary systems to produce prior to InDesign 2.0. Apparently no one told them that they should only be making “quick and dirty” comps with all their copies of InDesign. No, quite the contrary, they found they could save a lot of time and money and produce covers and editorial pages with high quality transparency effects created in InDesign. Whether it’s titles like Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Vogue, GQ, Oprah and too many others to mention, these publishers appear to believe that InDesign’s effects are just as good as Photoshop’s…with good reason, because they are Photoshop’s…which leads me to problem #2.
- InDesign and Photoshop use the same code to produce these effects, therefore the quality of the output is the same. The UI is a little different, and Photoshop has more effects options in some cases (InDesign has more in others; for example InDesign enables you to
use spot colors for shadow/bevel/highlight colors). InDesign’s effects features are implemented to address the types of effects that users use most in their day-to-day design work, and will do that job with an output quality identical to that of Photoshop.
- All the non-destructive image controls in other products (and much, much more) can be found in Photoshop, so–using their own logic–why use those “canned” features in any other product when you can “hand craft” them in Photoshop? I think the answer is obvious: if the layout application can give you identical results (as in InDesign), then the time saved and the creative freedom allowed by applying them in the layout application make that the most desireable place to apply them.
Another interesting assertion concerns drop shadows and productivity. The claim here is that that fact that InDesign doesn’t automatically apply text wrap around an object’s drop shadow is a “major” omission when used in documents like product catalogs. The reality is that InDesign has all that you need to handle that kind of long document.
If you’re creating a catalog, the drop shadows you apply will be standardized on all the “like” product photos. In InDesign you would manually edit the text wrap path to accommodate your drop shadow settings in the most desireable way (in reality there isn’t a one-size fits all sort of solution for determining the runaround for an object with a shadow). After you edit your wrap offset settings, you would then create an object style based on that original element, and apply the style to both the original element and any other similar image elements in your catalog. Your text wrap settings are stored in the object style as an object property, and are applied automatically to any page object to which the style is applied. InDesign’s object styles feature can automate the formatting of not only image frames, but also text frames and their styled content. Object styles combined with InDesign’s nested styles, anchored frames, text variables and other features make it a superior environment in which to layout a long catalog document.
Text Wrap can be customized in InDesign, and then applied and updated automatically across a long document via an object style.