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InDesign has thousands of settings. Some of them can really speed up our work. Let’s change a few to make sure the application works best for us.


Un-check Application frame here: Window > Application Frame.

Workspaces in Adobe applications are saved sets of panels. You open only panels you want. Position them where you want them, then save them as a Workspace. To do so, go Window > Workspace > New Workspace…, then save it with your first name.

You’ll also want to use the Legacy New Document Dialogue. It’s simpler and faster.

The old New Documetn dialogue is better/faster than the new one.

While you’re there, un-check the Show Start Workspace….

Keyboard Shortcuts

Download and install Al’s Most Excellent InDesign keyboard shortcuts. Unzip the file, then move it here:

Load these improved InDesign keyboard shortcuts.
Remember, to get into your Library folder, you need to go to the Finder's Go menu. Hold the Option key, then click on Library.

InDesign Defaults

InDesign has a system of default settings. To establish them, change settings with no document open. Each new document your create after this will have those settings.

Change these settings.

Better Basic Paragraph

Set a more reasonable text size for Basic Paragraph.

Make Basic Paragraph 9pt in the Paragraph Styles panel. Since we’re making the default font size 9 points, we should change the default baseline grid to the corresponding leading size, which is 10.8 points.


Better hyphenation settings.

Change Hyphenation defaults in Basic Paragraph. This way, this hyphenation will be the default in all future documents. If it’s not right in some document you’re working in, you can always make changes in that document.

Justification Settings

Better justification settings for justified text only.

Change Justification defaults. This will make justified type set prettier. It makes the spaces between words, letters and glyphs flexible in small amounts. They’re really subtle changes, but they make a big difference over long lengths of text.

Set your baseline grid to increment at a more reasonable interval.

Smart Text Reflow

Smart Text Reflow add and removes pages from your document as you add or remove text. It does it automatically. It’s quite surprising, if you don’t know why it’s happening. Let’s turn it off.

Turn off Smart Text Reflow

No Dark Pasteboards!

Make your pasteboard white, not dark.

Uncheck Match Pasteboard to Theme Colour. This will make the area outside your pages white rather than grey. Grey is just silly. You can lose artwork on a grey background. I think Adobe sets it to grey to look stylish, but it’s not functional.

H & J’s

Show missing fonts and hyphenation problems.

Turn on highlighting for H&J Violations and Missing Fonts. This makes it that missing fonts and hyphenation & justification problems get highlighted in yellow so you can resolve issues.

Appearance of Blacks

Change blacks printed or on-screen to appear as they are built.

Make blacks always appear as they are built.

Optical Margin Alignment

Set Optical Margin alignment.

Turn on Optical Margin Alignment in Window > Type > Story panel. The number in this panel should always match the body copy text size. It makes glyphs exceed the text frames by a bit. This makes the margin alignment look straighter.

Show Text Threads

Go View > Extras > Show Text Threads.

Make text threads always show.

Quit and Re-launch

Once we’ve done this, re-launch InDesign. Setting for an app are written to disk when you quit the app. So it’s a good idea to quit and re-launch.