Swatch What You Say, and The 8 Roads to Magenta

Let’s start with a leeetle correction on something I wrote the other day, on the Swatch panel trick of putting focus on the swatch list by cmd+opt+clicking on a swatch. I wrote that if you click anywhere outside the list, even on the panel itself, you lose focus on the list and can’t select swatches by typing their names or using the arrow keys. Not so!

I was just playing around with some stroked text, and using the arrows to flip through different swatches. By habit, I hit x to change the fill of the text, which did nothing, and so again by habit I clicked the little toggle button on the panel to bring the fill to the front. (You can show/hide the toggle thing by choosing Show/Hide Options from the panel menu.) Lo and behold, the focus was still on the swatch list. Same thing happens if you click the toggle stroke/fill button on the Tools panel. The swatches even keep focus if you click on the Default Colors button on the Tools panel. You can even do random other stuff, like change the visibility of a layer. Wowzers. Clicking the Formatting Affects Text/Container buttons does make you lose swatch focus. So does clicking Tint.

OK, so I screwed up. Pobody’s nerfect. This discovery also reinforced one of my life rules: Speak a Little, Click a Lot. In fact, I think I’ll change it to Shut Up and Click EVERYTHING.

The focus trick also works if you change the panel preference to view swatches as, well, swatches (instead of by Name/Small Name). The same black line is your cue, and now you’re really cookin’ with gas because you can navigate swatches in eight directions. Up, down, left, right, and diagonal, if you combine two arrow keys. Of course, you can’t see the swatch names, so this may be a “play” trick more than a “work” trick. But it sure is fun. Geek fun, that is. And now I will shut up and you will click.

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