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Presentation Mode in InDesign: Some Secrets

You probably know about Preview display mode: Press W and suddenly the pasteboard goes neutral gray and all non-printing objects (guides, stuff hanging off the edge of the page, etc.) disappears. You can also get to Preview mode from the View > Screen Mode menu. But there’s another feature lurking in that menu, too: Presentation mode.

I love Presentation mode because it takes over your entire screen. It’s like Preview on steroids. The menus go away, the panels go away, all other programs disappear, everything of non-importance goes away, and you’re left with your page on a black background. It’s a terrific way to show a document to your boss or a client.

To jump into Presentation mode you can also press Shift-W. And to exit Presentation mode, you press the same shortcut, or press the Esc key.

Here are a few other Presentation mode secrets you should know:

  • When you’re in Presentation mode, you can press W to change the background white, or G to set it to gray. Press B to set it back to Black.
  • If you have more than one monitor, the document goes into Presentation mode on whatever monitor the document is currently on. (That might be different than where your InDesign menus and panels are.
  • You cannot work on your document in Presentation mode, but you can navigate through the document, one spread at a time by pressing the arrow keys on your keyboard. Also, clicking with the mouse moves forward one spread, and Shift-clicking moves back.
  • Even though this is called Presentation mode, unfortunately none of the interactive features work in this mode: no buttons, movies, animations, or anything like that. Too bad.
  • Some people like to change their keyboard shortcuts, but if you change or add a keyboard shortcut to Presentation mode, be aware:
    • You can find this shortcut by choosing Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, choosing the Product Area called View menu, and scrolling down the list until you find Screen Mode: Presentation.
    • If you want the same shortcut to both enter and exit Presentation mode (as a toggle), you need to make two shortcuts for the same feature. First, assign your shortcut to this feature while the Context menu is set to Default. Then, assign the same shortcut while the Context menu is set to Presentation Mode. Otherwise, you will be able to enter Presentation Mode, but you won’t be able to exit it again with that shortcut.

I hope that helps!

David Blatner
David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at Lynda.com are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at 63p.com.
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29 Comments on “Presentation Mode in InDesign: Some Secrets

  1. Small thing : the presentation mode is not really full screen, it has (at least on my computers) a small 10px black border around, which makes screen sized pixel documents slightly of pixel perfection when displayed.

  2. I love reviewing my artwork in presentation mode — especially high res brochures when I’m working in a screen mode where my graphics are less than “high quality.” Best of both worlds!

  3. You can work while in Presentation view if you have two monitors:

    Window > Arrange > New view
    Drag new view to 2nd monitor
    Shift-W

    Go back to your first view and continue editing – changes are mirrored in real time on the 2nd monitor…

      • You have to uncheck “displays have separate spaces” within Mission Control / System Prefs…note, this does change/prevents all apps from using Mac fullscreen features in the same way (or at all). Also, the Split Screen /Multi Tasking feature in El Capitan doesn’t work.

    • Under document setup if you uncheck the “facing pages” option it will make your document into singular pages instead of spreads.

  4. Just got stuck in presentation mode and had to force quit to get out (shift-w did not work). Looks like another useless Adobe feature to me (especially when preview does the same thing and allows you to get out without force quitting). A quick google search indicates that I’m not the only one to get stuck in presentation mode. Looks to me like another “cool” feature with no real practical functionality.

    • @Jeff: That’s weird. The Esc key didn’t work either? I’ve never heard of someone getting stuck in Presentation mode. Personally, I find it really useful sometimes, though I use it less frequently than Preview mode.

  5. I, too am stuck in Presentation mode. (CS6, Mac 10.8.4) I remember trying this once before and getting stuck but somehow found a way out. Today nothing works. From the F3 button I accessed Firefox to look for an answer but am not finding it. OK, off to Force Quit and recapture lost work. Any suggestions would be helpful for next time I forget not to try this!

  6. OK, thanks Anne-Marie. Luckily, Cmd-Q worked so I was able to save all open docs before ID closed. On reopening, I looked at keyboard shortcuts and remembered that I am still hanging on to the old Quark 4.0 set. Maybe that’s what is stuck in the windpipe? ;-) I’ll consider a preferences rebuild, but oh so much to re-establish there . . .

  7. I do love Presentation mode. It’s great when I show an artwork to my boss. However, Presentation mode is not displaying very clear (pixelated), any help?

  8. I had the same issue. Just wouldn’t work no matter what i did.
    Copied all of the content into a new document, entering and exiting preview mode worked fine with W again.

  9. Presentation Mode is great.
    To improve it however, I hope that Adobe:

    1. Makes it Pixel Perfect in size.

    2. On dual monitor systems, it should (or by option should) hide/black out the second monitor. I find the second monitor with all the pallets on it distracting, especially since they are entirely unusable in Presentation mode.

  10. When I pressed shift W to exit presentation mode, my cursor was no longer visible except outside of the area of my InDesign document. I clicked cmd w to close the file but it wanted me to save. I couldn’t get the cursor to click on ‘not save’. (I’m in Windows here at this work place. Sigh.)

    • PJ: That sounds frustrating. I find that sometimes switching from InDesign to another application and then back again clears up cursor problems. Also, you can use keyboard shortcuts for pressing buttons in dialog boxes. On the Mac, Cmd-D clicks “Don’t Save.” I don’t recall what it is on Windows, but if you hold down the Alt key, you might see a letter underlined; that’s a clue to which key to press to “click” that button.

  11. I have a question, actually. I am new to Adobe CC. I’ve noticed that when I am in preview mode and then toggle to normal view (W) that I will get different images on my newspaper layout, as in changes that I made, pictures that I placed, etc. will revert back to previous versions and then go back to what I placed last when I toggle back to preview mode. When I print it will print the latest version even though I’m seeing a different version, but why am I seeing different versions between those 2 views and how can I be certain that I’m changing the correct information? Is there a way to turn that off, whatever it is? I’ve been toggling between the two views with “W” for years, so what changed in CC and how do I turn it off? Does that make sense? I can send screen shots if you need them. I am on an iMac. Thank you!

    • Darcy: Wow, that is really strange. I’ve not seen it do that before. Consider rebuilding your preferences (if you don’t know how to do that, click Resources in the nav bar at the top of the page and click the InDesign FAQ)

  12. Presentation mode is awesome. However exiting it; it goes to the center of the screen.
    Is there any way to exit presentation mode and stay in the same area and zoom you were just in?

    I work sometimes at 500% working on small details. Every so often I enter presentation mode and would like when I exit to stay in the zoomed in section I was just at?

    Any clue

  13. I’m using the presentation mode for InDesign already a couple of years, but suddenly it seems the presentation mode isn’t full screen. My windows task bar stays visible and hides a portion of my file. It’s really annoying, can I put this off?

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