InDesign The Tools Palette – Part 1

Using the selection tools

Let’s have a look at the first two tools. The black arrow on the left is called the Selection Tool. The white arrow on the right is the Direct Selection Tool.

The first tool lets you select graphics and text and work with an object using its bounding box. The second tool lets you work with the content of text or graphics frame.

For example, if you want to move a picture with the box that contains it, you would select the object with the selection tool and drag your picture around your page. If you wanted to move the picture inside the box, or frame, that contains it, but you want to leave the box itself where it is, you select the object with the Direct Selection Tool. It might be of help to try that on your own computer.

Direct Selection VS Selection toolLeft: Object selected with the Selection Tool. Right: Object selected with the Direct Selection Tool.
(enlarged version)

Open a new document and click on the Rectangle Frame Tool (not to be confused with the Rectangle Tool which is just next to it), then draw a rectangle. Then go to File > Place, find a picture in your hard drive and then click OK. You should now have a picture in the rectangle you have just drew. Then do what I said above with the Selection Tool and the Direct Selection Tool and see what happens.

Selecting Objects in a Group.

The Direct Selection Tool has also other uses. If you have grouped objects, the Direct Selection Tool will allow you to choose only one object within that group while the Selection Tool would choose the whole group. To group objects: select all the objects with the Selection Tool then go to Object > Group. Now if you click on any of the objects of that group with the Selection Tool, you will see that InDesign will select them all at once and will treat them as one object. So if you had three objects in the group, instead of seeing three bounding boxes, you will see one bounding box around them all. If you want to move or modify all of the objects in your group together, select them with the Selection Tool, if you want to move or modify only one object within the group select it with the Direct Selection tool.

Selection Tools Tips and Tricks.

Let’s have a look at a couple of ways of selecting things. Let’s say you have two overlapping objects. You want to get the object that is below, but you don’t want to move the one that is on top. You have two ways of doing that. You right click (Windows) or Control + click (Mac OS) on the object you want to select and a contextual menu will appear. Go to Select and you will see a list of options of things you can select. It should appear as in the illustration below.

select order(Enlarged Version)

Choose the option you need. The last two options in the Select sub-menu will appear if an object which was part of a group was selected before you made the contextual menu show up.

If you want to select all the object on a page, you have a shortcut for this: Control + A (Windows) or Option + A (Mac OS).

If you want to select several objects you can: with selection tool point somewhere next to an object and then with your mouse button pressed drag your mouse and make a rectangle, as you would do with the Rectangle Tool, which goes around the objects you want to select. When you release the mouse, the rectangle will disappear and the objects that were inside it will be selected. See illustration below. In the first part of the illustration one I am selecting two objects, in the second one I have released the mouse button and two objects are now selected.

selecting several objects(enlarged version)

Another way to select several object is by pressing Shift and then click on each object you want to select with the Selection Tool or the Direct Selection Tool, make sure you keep Shift pressed as you do that.

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