Before you read this post, know o faithful reader, that it is but an shadow of a longer, greater, wittier post that was lost in a horrible instant when a flaky trackpad conspired with WordPress autosave to destroy five hours of writing and editing. Would you believe me if I told you it was the best, funniest thing I’d ever written for this blog? Only the good die young. But why, why did it have to be that post?
In concrete terms, my sticky trackpad jump scrolled to select the entire post instead of one line I wanted, and in that exact moment, as I was pressing the delete key, WordPress autosaved the draft, obliterating everything I’d written. No undo. No back-up. Breathtaking. Horror. Finality. Despair. Gone. All gone. Deep breath. Rueful laugh. Writers keep writing. And now we rise from the ashes to give you…
Confessions From the Double Clique
I have a confession to make. It’s not easy to admit this, but here goes. I… am a double-click snob. There, I said it. I can’t stand watching someone double-click their mouse when a single-click would do. For example, to select an item from the Mac OS Dock, you single-click on it. It’s been that way since the Dock was invented, and even before then, with the Dock’s granddaddy, the Launcher in Mac OS 8. Yet I’ve seen several people who use Macs every day double-click on the Dock. I don’t know why, but it’s like fingernails on a blackboard to me. Yes, this is truly petty. And incredibly geeky. I have a feeling I’m coming across like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. Hopefully not.
Usually I have plenty of patience when I see someone doing something not quite right on a computer. I used to be a software trainer, and I’d like to think I was a good one. I enjoy watching the wobbly waltz that we humans do with our computer partners. And when I’m doing a demo or a training, my default assumption is tabula rasa, nobody knows nothin’. And really, why would they know all the click-this-don’t-click-that digital trivia. Most folks have have better things to do with their neurons.
Besides, we all have programs we struggle with but still have to use. Mine is Excel. I just hate it. And thus, I suck at it. To me, editing a spreadsheet is like going to the dentist. In Mordor. I know I could RTFM and be fine, but somehow it’s been 13 years and I still haven’t gotten around to it.
But there is just something about that second, unnecessary, redundant, gratuitous, uncalled for click. It’s like driving for miles with your turn signal on. It is a waste of a neural impulse and one millionth of a calorie. An aesthetic sin. Glad I got that off my chest.
And yet as I smugly sat in my ivory tower of nerddom, self-doubt began to gnaw at me. Something didn’t fit. I was a psych major and I know that behavior which is not rewarded is extinguished. Doesn’t matter if you’re a rat pressing a lever in search of a rat treat, or a person double-clicking on a panel in InDesign. An intermittent or even random reward will do. But is has to come sometime. Furthermore, if you vary the amount of the reward the frequency of the behavior goes through the roof. Think Aunt Mabel sitting at the slot machine all night long. So the double-clickers have to be getting something good for their tiny efforts. Perhaps in my No Click Left Behind policy, I’ve missed out on even greater goodies and efficiency. Perhaps these double-clickers are out-geeking me. This cannot stand.
So I brewed a double-espresso and kicked the cats out of the room, and set out to systematically double-click on every conceivable target in an application in search of whatever I might find. InDesign CS3 was on my screen at the time, so my journey into click hell begins there. Ladies and gentlemen, do not attempt this at home. I am a trained professional.
Luckily I ran out of targets before the tendon in my thumb gave out. Mmmm, feel the burn.
Herewith I give you the fruits of my clicky labor.
The Top Ten InDesign DCs (Double-Clicks)
10. With the Selection tool, DC on a text frame to switch to the Text tool. This isn’t news to anyone, but it rates a mention because of its sheer brilliance. This one trick is the essence of InDesign.
9. DC the Polygon Tool to show its Options. This is how you make a star or starburst. Face it, stars are fun. You know you love it. Go ahead make one right now, I’ll wait here.
8. Command-shift-option-DC a swatch or style to edit it without applying it. You always have something selected. And unless you’re willing to invest all those fingers, you’re going to apply a swatch or style by mistake when you just want to edit it.
7. DC Hand tool = Fit Page In Window. Sure command-0 is faster, but tapping that pudgy little hand is like giving InDesign a high five. Sweet.
6 Option-DC frames with the Selection tool. Do it to a placed image = Edit Original, do it to a text frame and you get Text Frame Options. Super sweet.
5. DC a spot on the ruler to set a guide at that point. So easy it makes you feel like a chump for ever dragging out a guide.
4. DC a placed image to toggle the Selection and Direct Selection tools. Edit Frame, Edit Content. Edit Frame, Edit Content. Hee hee, now I feel like Homer Simpson.
3. Double Double-clicking in the Pages panel. Your 1st DC jumps you to the page, your second DC second fits that page in the window. Your 3rd DC should enable InDesign to read your mind and select the exact object you want on the page. Maybe in CS4.
2. DC Overset/Underset text frame. This one has some ’splaining to do. If you DC an overset text frame it will expand to show all the text (as long as there’s not too much text to fit on the page). But the twist is, you control the direction in which the frame will expand by which handle you click on. Basically, the frame expands towards the handle you DC on. This works with free-standing frames as well as the last frame in a linked series. Here’s some visual evidence.
Conversely, if you DC an “underset” text frame (my term) you shrink the frame so it fits the frame contents. As before, clicking different handles gives you different results. But this time, you may end up moving the text frame. Whoa, who asked to move the frame? Again, the visual evidence:
1. Link-o-rama. DC a link name = Show Link Info. Option-DC = Go To Link, and Command-DC = select all links for handy relinking, updating, etc.
At the end of all this, the anti-double-clicker inside me is still not satisfied. So I leave you with a bonus: the #1 thing you should NOT double-click on. Namely, any text field in a panel with a corresponding icon.
It is way easier to single-click on the icon, which highlights all the text in the field so you can immediately type a new value. Or if you aspire to the David Blatner/Anne-Marie Concepcion 9th Degree InDesign Black Belt, hit Command-6 to highlight the first Control panel field, then tab through to the one you want. Or better yet, read this from Anne-Marie on InDesign Secrets.
If you use InDesign all day, knowing when and where to double-click (and when NOT to) will definitely save you enough time to take an extra coffee break. If you’re buyin’ I take mine black.