A Tailored Fit

It’s the topic that just won’t go away, at least in my mind. InDesign’s Fit Selection In Window command. In his comment, David injected a dose of reality on my overhyped enthusiasm for this command. In my joy at finding such a hidden gem of a feature in my live-in application, I overlooked some limitations. So I spent a little time taking a closer look at when this command works really well, when it doesn’t, and what you can do about it. Here are a few tips for understanding and making the most of Fit Selection in Window.

  • FSIW adjusts the view so that the bounding box of the current frame(s) is centered and occupies no more than 50% of the window in any direction. Because of this, it will zoom a lot closer on frames that are squarish, than ones that are much wider than they are tall, or vice versa.

Employ FSIW on a square frame and you’ll zoom roughly twice a much as you will on a frame 4x as wide as it is tall.

  • The amount of zoom is also dependent on the amount of real estate available in the window. FSIW zooms the most with a fully expanded window. It doesn’t play well with tiled windows. For the same reason, your screen resolution matters. The higher the resolution, the greater the zoom.

  • Selecting text does not affect the zoom (it would be a lot cooler if it did). A blinking cursor yields the same zoom as selecting any or all the text in the frame. But the good news is, selecting a table or a cell within a table does affect the zoom. Selected tables and cells are zoomed on just like frames.
  • FSIW will zoom on inline frames and anchored items when they are selected with a selection tool, not with the type tool.
  • With text frames, the zoom is always greater with the type tool than either selection tool but the difference gets smaller with bigger frames. This shot shows four frames and the zoom percentages I got when I used the Selection tool (top) and the Type tool (bottom).

  • Since the nature of the command is to fit the entire frame in the window, the larger the frame, the less readable text will be. If you try it on a column that spans the height of a page, you will zoom out. Way out, to some village near Athens (where all your text is Greeked).
  • In those situations where FSIW just won’t zoom close enough, let your fingers do the walking. Since the key command here is command-option-= it’s a piece of cake to just lift a finger (the one one on the option key) and then hit command-= again as needed to zoom closer. After you do this a few times it becomes second nature.

Alright, I think I’ve exceeded the recommended daily dose of InDesign SubMicroMinutae. So that, my friends is the last I will be writing about Fit Selection In Window.


; )

Crack Coda

A few extra thoughts on my obsession with InDesign’s Fit Selection in Window:

1. I think some of my joy stems from the fact that I am left handed and thus mouse with my left hand and do keyboard shortcuts with my right hand. So I feel very balanced using stuff on the right side of the keyboard. Righties, your mileage may vary. Still, it won’t be as awkward as the many times I visited a right handed co-worker’s desk and had to cross my arms to drive their Macs out of some digital ditch.

2. Daring Doers of Desktop Demos may also have a conflict, since they often employ command-option-= to trigger the Mac’s Universal Access System Pref screen zoom.

This is an awesome feature when you’re putting on a show and need be sure your audience can see exactly what your cursor is up to. I’ve also used it to magnify markup on scanned PDFs that was otherwise illegible (my eyes are old and bent). But if you’re not in front of an audience you’ll probably benefit by turning it off and using those keys for InDesign.

3. Laptop users, where’s the love? If you have a model with no option key on the right side, you have no choice but to go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts and assign something else. Maybe just change it to command-shift-= True, that’s assigned to Superscript by default, but I think Fit Selection easily trumps Superscript. And command-shift-0 is unassigned, so there’s your Fit Spread in Window.

Keyboard Shortcrack

Is it possible to get addicted to a keyboard shortcut? To obsess about it. To look for excuses to use it. To waste time because you go out of your way to use it. To make up off-key ditties of praise and hum them while nobody is listening. Uh, a friend told me they did that. Yeah. A friend.

The answer is true, and I am living proof. The keyboard shortcut I am about to share with you is dangerous. If you aren’t careful, it might take over your life. At least your life using InDesign. Still, it’s so sweet, you have to try it. C’mon, all the cool kids are doing it. Just don’t inhale.

Ready? It’s command-option-=. Go to InDesign, select something, and press command-option-=. I mean it. Do it now, and come back.

How cool was that? InDesign zooms in or out to frame your selection nicely in the window. Not surprising then that the name of this feature you invoked is Fit Selection In Window. Just think of it as intelligent zooming. You may remember a while back when I wrote about double-clicks, and snarkily suggested there should be a feature that reads my mind and selects the thing I need. Well, this is as close as I’m going to get till I get the GoogleBrain implant. There is no reason to ever touch the Zoom tool again. Even pressing command-= more than once makes me feel hackish now.

I just don’t understand why the good folks at Adobe didn’t give this puppy a line in the View Menu. It deserves to be there. And there was room. The Type, Edit, and Window menus are all longer than View. It does appear in the contextual menu when you right-click on a selected object. But I never noticed it before. And I’m betting that 95% of InDesign users don’t know about it because it’s been so unheralded. The only documentation I could find is lost in a bland table on page 636 of the User Guide.

If you have a large frame selected, you’ll zoom out to something near Fit Page in Window. If you can’t see all of the object you have selected, it zooms out (or just re-centers) to show you the whole thing. But in most cases it will zoom in so that the object(s) you selected are centered with a nice amount of space around on all sides. Curiously, the zooming has a limit of 2000%, even though InDesign will go to 4000% with other methods. I can’t think of a time I ever zoomed to more than 2000% to actually do anything other than giggle, so I’ll let this slide.

plus command-option-= becomes

What makes this shortcut even cooler is:

  • It works when you have text selected, or just a blinking cursor. Even in linked frames!
  • It works as document navigation: when you’re zoomed way out, you can instantly zoom to anywhere in the document.
  • It’s easy to remember, since we’re used to command-= (usually thought of as command-+) to zoom in. Or you could think of the = as squinty eyelids, focusing on something far away.
  • It’s even better paired with command-option-0 (Fit Spread in Window). Use them to zoom in to work, and zoom out to admire your work and pick your next target.

If using command-option-= does become an addiction for you, know that you always have a kindred spirit here. We can all form a support group. Zoomaholics Anonymous.

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Double-Clicks

A Lament

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…

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