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Custom Zoom/Magnification Settings in InDesign

Everyone notices, sooner or later, that when they jump to 100% magnification (View > Actual Size), the rulers on their screen are not accurate. One inch does not equal 1″ on a “real world” ruler. One centimeter does not equal 1 cm. Adobe’s answer to this since InDesign 1.0 is (to paraphrase): “tough beans, learn to live with it.” And so most users have, for the most part, learned to live with it, accepting it without really understanding how to fix it.

The reason 100% size is wrong, by the way, is that InDesign makes a bizarre assumption: That you’re using a 72 dpi monitor. Now, I happen to have a 72 dpi monitor in my garage, from 1987 or so, but that’s certainly not what I’m using.

If there were a way to tell InDesign what resolution my current monitor actually was (as you can do in Acrobat and Photoshop), then it could adjust its Actual Size so that the rulers (and all other objects on the page) would be accurate. But you can’t do that.

What you can do, however, is change your magnification. For example, you can hold a ruler up to your screen and change the view magnification setting until the ruler is (more or less) correct. On my laptop monitor, that’s about 139%. Now, whenever I want “actual view” I just need to jump to 139%.

If you have the Application Bar turned off (in the View menu), then you can press Command-Option-5 (or Ctrl-Alt-5) to jump to the view magnification field. Then you can type the number you want, followed by Enter, and InDesign jumps to it. For some reason (bug?), this shortcut has not worked since the application bar was introduced in CS4 (if I recall correctly), which is exceedingly annoying. I hope Adobe fixes that someday, as I like to work with the Bar turned on.

Automate the View!

Okay, but who wants to type in 139 all day? That’s ridiculous. Once you figure out what view is truly Actual Size, you need to tell InDesign to jump to it quickly. You can’t tell it to change the View > Actual Size menu item, but you can tell it to change Command-1 (or Ctrl-1) to jump to the magnification you want. Here’s how.

First, you need to install a very simple script. It’s such a simple script that it’s just one line long, and you don’t even need to know how it works. To install it:

  1. Open the Scripts panel. In CS5 and later, you find this in Window > Utilities > Scripts. In earlier versions, it’s… um… I don’t remember, but it’s easily found in the Window menu somewhere.
  2. Right-click (or ctrl-click with a one-button mouse) on the User folder inside the Scripts panel, and choose Reveal in Finder from the context menu (or Reveal in Explorer, in Windows).
  3. This opens the Scripts folder, inside which you will find a Scripts Panel folder. Put this script (click or right-click on that link to download it) inside the Scripts Panel folder. By the way, when you download it, your web browser may rename the file to give it a “.txt” name; if so, remove that and make sure it ends with “.jsx”
  4. Now, in InDesign, choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts and choose your custom shortcut set (or create a new one by clicking New Set).
  5. Choose Scripts from the Product Area pop-up menu, and choose the script (which is called zoomto140percent.jsx) in the list of Commands (it’s probably at the end of the list).
  6. In the New Shortcut field, type Command-1 (or Ctrl-1). You’ll see that it tells you that this is currently set to Actual Size. That’s fine. Click Assign, then click OK.

Changing actual size percentage

That’s it! Now, whenever you press that shortcut, you’ll jump to 139%. (The first time you do it, it might take a moment, but it’s faster from then on.)

Of course, your screen may not require 139%… so figure out what percentage you want, then open that script in any text editor (such as Notepad on Windows or TextWrangler on Mac OS), and change the number 139 to whatever you want:

Zoom to 140 percent

Save the file, close it, go back to InDesign and try your shortcut. You’ll see it works right away!

Is this a new feature or a brand new script? Nope! Long-time listeners will recognize that Dave Saunders wrote this, and we first talked about it in Podcast Episode 4, in January, 2006!

Of course, you can duplicate the script in the scripts panel folder (using a slightly different name for each), then edit each one’s percentage value, then assign different shortcuts to each one. That way you can have one shortcut take you to exactly 227%, and other take you to 17%… or whatever your heart desires!

David Blatner

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 are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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62 Comments on “Custom Zoom/Magnification Settings in InDesign

  1. Alex is right. My screen now shows actual size as 100%. However, I found this script useful because I like to view my pages at 150% when entering final text corrections (200% is just too big and my aging eyes don’t always find 100% enough).

    So yes, thanks for posting this, David, and please don’t remove it since there are other reasons to want a keyboard shortcut to quickly switch to a particular zoom level, and I couldn’t find how to do this anywhere else.

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