Applying Alt-W for Preview in Windows
It started with a simple request from my co-author Diane Burns. She was about to teach a class basic InDesign the next day, but all the people at the company are on Windows machines.
She wanted two simple screen shots to show how to add A new command to Toggle between Preview and Normal for when someone is in a text frame. I immediately understood the request. I see many students with errant Ws inserted in their text because they tried to invoke the Preview command while in a text field.
She always teaches Mac classes and routinely shows how to modify the keyboard set to include Opt+W as an additional shortcut. She chooses Opt+W because it is easy to remember, and only adds one key to make it easy to apply with one hand.
So I fired up my old Dell machine, running Windows 7, and opened the keyboard shortcuts dialog box. The command for Toggle view setting between default (Normal) and preview is under the Tools menu. And the default shortcut of W is listed—just like on my Mac.
So I clicked inside the New Shortcut field and typed Alt+W. Imagine my surprise when, instead of adding Alt+W to the command, Notepad opened with a list of all the shortcuts in the set.
I tried several different ways to insert the keystroke in the New Shortcut field, but Notepad opened every time. Obviously there was a problem
Not being a regular Windows user, it took me a while, but I finally saw the little underlines under a letter in the commands when I pressed the Alt key in preparation to typing the W.
And then I remembered: Windows has the ability to navigate around commands using the Alt key and a key that is underlined in the command. For example, if I want to create a new set, I can hold the Alt key and then press N. It’s a shortcut that is quicker than tabbing through all the buttons in a dialog box. I’m not sure Mac users would even notice the underlines, but they are there. And despite an option in the Keyboard controls for Windows, I was unable to turn them off. What these underlines meant is that while Alt+W is totally fine to use on the InDesign page, it is not available to insert in the New Shortcut field because it keeps invoking the Show Set command. This paragraph is NOT an invitation to start a Mac/Windows food fight. It is just a description of a feature on Windows that Mac users may not be aware of. Heck, there may be Windows users who are unaware of the feature.
I explained the problem to Diane who wondered “If you were to edit the Notepad file, would that allow you to use Alt+W on the page?” I knew that editing the Show Set file wouldn’t, but that comment did start me wondering. There must be a file, somewhere, that InDesign uses to read the shortcuts created in the user sets. I wondered if that file would be in a form that an ordinary human like me could read and modify or would it be some sort of Cobol code that only Russian programmers would understand.
So I created a set and gave it a distinct name, ZZZZZZZZZZ. I went to the Toggle view setting command and applied the new shortcut Alt+F. There is no F underlined in the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box so it was assigned with no problems. I saved the set and closed the dialog box.
I then made sure I had all the invisible Windows files visible (under the Advanced View settings of the Show Folder Options). I also made sure I had Admin permissions on the machine. (I’m the only user, but it’s always a good idea to check.) I then did a File Find and searched for ZZZZZZZZZZ. A indk file popped up in the following location: \\SANDEE-PC\Users\Sandee\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\InDesign\Version 9.0\InDesign Shortcut Sets\ZZZZZZZZZZ.indk. (I don’t think I would have ever found it had I not used File Find.)
Once I found the file, I used Notepad ++ to open it. I had first tried ordinary Notepad, but the text was a jumble with no line breaks. Moving to Notepad ++ cleaned it up. (There might be a setting in Notepad that would have fixed the jumble, but I didn’t want to complicate my life any further.)
In Notepad ++ I did a search for Alt+F and quickly jumped to the Toggle view command. I changed the F to a W (no special codes!), saved, and closed the indk file.
I didn’t even have to quit and relaunch InDesign. I just reopened the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box and there was Alt+W in the proper place.
Back on the InDesign page, I realized that there is an underlined W for the Window command. I was nervous about what would happen if the two commands clashed. Fortunately there was no problem. The Alt+W toggled in an out of the preview mode without invoking Windows.
So, although I don’t need this technique for my work, I think it might be helpful for a Windows user—especially those who transferred from a Mac over to Windows.