**This information is for InDesign CC 2015.4
As I’ve discussed before, InDesign has so many awesome tools available to you.
It took me a little bit of time to get used to everything and figure out what tools I use the most often. But how that I know what those tools are, I want them easily accessible!
So, how can we do that? Luckily, it’s super easy!
Why Customize Your Workspace in InDesign?
When I started at my current job, I got a laptop with InDesign installed, so I set to work getting my workspace perfectly customized with the tools I’d be using every day.
Well, that laptop was a dinosaur (and not the good kind), so after a month or two, it was replaced with a new one. And by the time I got it, I was so swamped with other projects that I didn’t have any time to set up my InDesign workspace.
And you know what happened? I did everything slower than normal. It wasn’t intentional, I just couldn’t find my favorite tools nearly as quickly as I could before, so every little task took a few more clicks than normal.
So finally, I decided to set aside a few minutes (this literally only takes 5-10 minutes, guys) and customize my workspace on this new computer.
Now, I don’t have to spend a ton of time scrambling as I look for the tools I want to use. Because trust me, there are a lot of them.
Having all of my tools available in my workspace makes it so much easier to access everything at once.
Here’s what InDesign looks like the first time you open it:
Here’s what it looks like when it’s all cleaned up and organized the way I want it:
So, how do we get there?Short on time? Make sure all of your InDesign tools are within arm's reach!Click To Tweet
How to Customize Your Workspace in InDesign
1 | Decide what tools you’re always using
This one takes a little bit of experimentation within InDesign. You need to figure out what tools you’re always using in order to best customize your InDesign workspace.
For example, I’ve got a few tools I’m always reaching for: color, swatches, CC Libraries, pathfinder, and align.
But I’ve also got plenty of tools I use fairly regularly and want easy access to: pages, layers, links, stroke, gradient, text wrap, buttons and forms, hyperlinks, character styles, paragraph styles, and object styles.
With Photoshop, it would get pretty crowded to have all of these in my workspace at once, because they’re primarily “open” in Photoshop. But in InDesign, you really only have one tool “open” at a time. Think of them like tabs in your browser: you can easily click on them to see what information you need, but you’re only looking at one tool at a time.
And, if you need two open at the same time (usually this happens with Swatches and Gradient, for example, because you’re dragging a swatch into your gradient palette), simply drag one tool out of its place in your sidebar and you can have them open at once!
It’s organizational bliss!
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2 | Grab all of those items from Window
Got your list of tools ready to go? Awesome! Now we have to get them into the workspace.
To do this, go up to the top of your screen and click on Window. This is where all of the tools are hiding. To open them, simply click on whichever tools you need! They might be hiding in a sub-menu of one of the tools, so you might need to do a little digging.
Depending on the tools you’re opening, you might get more than one at once. For example, if you choose Pathfinder, you’re also going to get Align at the same time.
This is great if you want both of those tools. Less clicking for you! But what if you don’t want both? Simply drag one tab away from the other to separate them into their own windows. Once you’ve done that, you can close the extra window! Here’s what that looks like:
Once you open all of the tools you’d like, your screen should look something like this:
A little messy, right? Well continue to the next step and we’ll get it hella organized!
3 | Arrange them how you want in your sidebar
Now it’s time for the fun part—organizing all of these windows!
To do this, simply drag the windows into your InDesign sidebar in whatever order you want them.
You’ll notice that within your sidebar there are boxes you can use to separate tools into groups. If you don’t want to do this, just move them into the same box!
As you’re dragging your windows into your sidebar, you’ll notice a blue indicator appear where that tool will go. If it’s going in the same box, the box will be outlined in blue and there will be a line where that tool is going to go.
ANd you’re creating a new box, a thick blue line will appear between the two boxes or at the bottom of the list.
Feel free to arrange these however you want! You can use the boxes if you want, or just keep them all in one box if that’s easier for you. Here’s what mine looks like at this point:
In addition to my sidebar, I like to change the dimensions of the toolbar on the left side. The single-column option is a bit too long for me, and it makes it hard to know where each tool is.
Instead, I like to use the two-column version. To get it, you first drag the toolbar a little bit away from the edge.
Then, click on the two arrows at the top of the toolbar. First it will do a horizontal toolbar, but if you click it again, it will go to two columns!
Much easier to navigate!
4 | Save your workspace
Once you’ve got your workspace set up exactly how you want it, it’s time to save it!
In the top right corner of InDesign, you should see the word Essentials with a down arrow next to it. Click on that. It’s where all of your workspace options are!
Near the bottom of the dropdown menu, you should see the option to create New Workspace. Click on on it and enter the name of your workspace there. I typically just use my name for my main workspace. Hit Okay, and your newly created workspace will appear in this dropdown menu!
Whichever workspace you left off on is going to be the one that will appear when you open a new document. So, if you were using Essentials and closed InDesign, Essentials would be the workspace that’s open when you open a new document.
To switch to your new one, simply click on the dropdown and choose your preferred workspace!
You can also choose Reset [Workspace] if you have moved the tools around and want to go back to how it was when you first set it up.
5 | Customize your swatches, fonts, etc. if desired
Have you noticed that a particular font and color scheme always comes up whenever you open a new document in InDesign? Well, if there’s a specific font or color palette you’re always using, you can enable those to come up automatically as well!
You’ll want to open up InDesign without having a document open. When you first start InDesign, the Start workspace opens automatically. To get away from this screen without opening a document, go up to the workspaces dropdown (it will say Start with a down arrow) and choose a workspace.
Then, click on the text tool so your font choices come up. Choose whatever font settings (typeface, size, leading, etc) you want to come up automatically. You can do the same in the Swatches palette and the color settings in the toolbar.
It’s important to note, though, that these aren’t dependent on a workspace. These are set with InDesign, so whether you open your custom workspace or Essentials, these settings will be saved.
Want to figure out what fonts and colors you should be saving to your settings? Join the InDesign Adventure Guide to create your own brand style guide!
6 | Repeat if needed
If you’ve got a few different projects you’re constantly working on, create different workspaces for each project!
For example, I’ve got a few different needs for my job than I do for my blog, so those are two different workspaces. Create however many workspaces you need!
It’s really easy to customize your workspace in InDesign! Plus, it’s going to save you a ton of time (and therefore headaches) when all of your favorite tools are within arm’s reach.
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