4 Time-Saving InDesign Tips

What designer doesn’t want to learn efficient ways of using InDesign? As we all know about the world of Adobe, their programs have multiple methods for completing one task. Luckily for us, we have a skilled InDesign instructor who is willing to share their expertise on how to streamline the design process with the program.

Excerpted from the Sessions College and HOW Design University course, Adobe InDesign Advanced, instructor Kristen Becker shares her time-saving InDesign tips.

Image from Adobe.com

Image from Adobe.com

4 Time-Saving InDesign Tips:

Customizing Your Workspace:

Time is money, as they say. In your InDesign projects, arguably the single most important time saver is to have the program show you exactly what you want to see, preferably all the time. Customize your workspace to suit your work. Remember that you can always switch to one of the preset workspaces (Window > Workspace) and go back to your own.


For my general work, I have these panels minimized on the left of my screen.

Here’s my mindset for my personal workspace: I have the Library panel open, as I almost always save repeated pieces of a design for future work with each client. Even if it is a one-off job that probably will not be repeated, you never know. If I do a great job for the client, they will probably come back, and I will already have their logo, address, headshots, product descriptions, or other pertinent information already formatted to save time in future projects. I make libraries for every client.

I don’t have Character or Paragraph selected as all of their settings are in the Control panel. I don’t have Align selected, as I rely on Smart Guides to do my alignment. I don’t have Separation or Flattener previews on as I switch to the Printing and Proofing workspace when I need to check how everything is working. I don’t have Colors turned on, because when I want a color, I create it in the Swatches panel. That way it will show up correctly in the Ink Manager and I will always have it available in that job if I need to reuse a color. Also, it means that I get to select the names of the colors, so I will recognize them. I do not have any interactive panels available, as I hardly ever make interactive documents.

Your work will almost certainly be different from mine, and so you will have a different set of needs.


Libraries are useful for items that are used repeatedly, such as logos, copyright information, and addresses. Library items can be placed wherever you want them. But sometimes you may want to place an item, or a group of items, in their exact location. In that case, it’s best to use Snippets.

Drag and drop any combination of objects on a page from your desktop. InDesign will save these objects and their relative positioning as a Snippet with a thumbnail preview. You can also drag these onto the Library panel (File > New > Library), then your Library item will contain all page geometry instead of a floating item. These Snippets can also be dragged onto Adobe Bridge, or even into an email.

On a Mac, if you drag the item onto an open email document, the actual image of what was dragged will show up in the resulting email as an attachment and as it appeared in InDesign. On Windows, the result will depend on how you receive email. If you are set up to receive HTML you will see an image, but if you receive text only, then it will be just an attachment in PDF format. If you wish to share the Snippet with another InDesign user, save it first and then include it manually as a regular email attachment.

Snippets are remarkably small and very easy to share. Don’t forget to give them an identifiable name, as dragging them to the desktop will name them generically. It is useful to place these in folders where they will be easily found, named for a company, a specific client, or job.

Power Zoom

To use Power Zoom, select the Hand tool and hold the spacebar, then click and hold the mouse button to zoom. With the mouse button held, move your mouse around to change the location of the red zoom box.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Image provided by Shutterstock

Image provided by Shutterstock

The Keyboard Shortcuts dialog can be found at the bottom of the Edit menu. You will see that the Product Area allows you to select any of the different menus and some other locations such as Object Editing and Structure Navigation. Under each one, you will find a list of all the programmable options.

When you select an item, if there already is a keyboard allocated, InDesign will show you what it is in the Current Shortcuts window. Click in the New Shortcut window and type in the keystroke you wish to add.

It is OK to have more than one keystroke for a command. If you want to see just what can be controlled by a keyboard shortcut, make sure the Set is at Default, and click the Show Set button and this will open a text file showing you a list of every possible keystroke that can be defined and the strokes that are presently allocated.

Unless you share the computer with others, there is no real reason to make an additional set—you can just add your changes to the defaults. The one exception is if you are doing something very repetitive, and you want to allocate easy keystrokes such as Ctrl/Control+1, Ctrl/Control+2, and Ctrl/Control+3. In that case, you can make a new set, define that keystroke, and when you are finished, just delete the setting.

However tempting it may be to create hundreds of keystrokes, it is best to create them only for things that you do very often. If you add twenty or so new ones, you will probably not remember most of them in 24 hours.

For more advanced InDesign knowledge, such as how to adjust your workflow for speedier design processes, how to use advanced typography and drawing features, how to manage transparency and trapping, and more, enroll in the course here.