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Tip of the Week: Finding Without the Find/Change Dialog Box

This InDesign tip on finding without the Find/Change dialog box was sent to Tip of the Week email subscribers on September 6, 2018.

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InDesign’s Find/Change dialog box has always weirded me out. It simply doesn’t behave like most other things in the user interface. Panels are the things that can be left open all the time and docked together. Other dialog boxes must be closed before you can move on. And windows, well, you know what windows are. But Find/Change doesn’t neatly fit into any of those categories. In that way, it reminds me of the scene in the movie Stand By Me where the kids try to figure out what kind of animal Goofy is.

Regardless of where you come down on the nature of Goofy and Find/Change, here’s a cool trick that allows you to repeat the last used find/change operation with a keyboard shortcut. Just press Command+Option+F/Ctrl+Alt+F to trigger the Find Next command. This works even if Find/Change is not open. Don’t bother trying to do that with any other dialog box!

Even cooler: InDesign remembers the direction you last used, and will search forward or backward with the same keyboard shortcut.

Note that there are other shortcuts to invoke Change To and Change To/Find Next.

The defaults are:
Replace with Change To text — Text: Ctrl/Cmd+F3
Replace with Change To text and Find Next — Text: Shift+F3
You can of course, change them to whatever you want by editing your keyboard shortcuts. But just be aware that you have to leave the Find/Change dialog box open for them to work (unlike the Find Next shortcut). Also, there are separate shortcuts if you’re using GREP Find/Change which are not defined by default, so you’d have to set them up yourself.
Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of LinkedIn Learning courses on InDesign, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Adobe Dimension.
Mike Rankin

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7 Comments on “Tip of the Week: Finding Without the Find/Change Dialog Box

  1. I guess I don’t understand the importance of it.

    Isn’t it easier to simply hit apple (command) + f and call up the find/replace box? After all, it’s going to remember the last used stuff and will remember the direction.

    It’s cool, I guess, that there are keyboard shortcuts for that, but I think it’s much easier to just do it the normal way. But that’s just me.

    I hope others chime in with their opinions as it may sway my opinion.

    • As they say, your mileage may vary. I’ve received emails from folks at the other end of the spectrum who thought it was an amazing tip. Everyone’s different.

      • Mike, I agree everyone’s different. That’s why I said I was hoping others would chime in with their opinions.

  2. I agree with Dwayne, I’m not sure of the reason for needing to learn a new key command when command + f brings up the whole kit and caboodle. Mike, could you explain why you prefer to trigger the Find Next command instead of bring up the Find/Change dialog box? I think that Dwayne might be asking for that reasoning, too, and didn’t deserve a defensive reply. What makes this an amazing tip others are emailing you about — expanding on their reasoning might help those of us scratching our heads.

  3. This is a great tip! I use this all the time. In fact, I’ve set up shortcuts on the Function keys (F2, F3, F4) for Find Next, Change, and Change/Find respectively, and with Shift (Shift+F2, etc.) for the equivalent GREP commands.
    It’s a lot quicker than having to open the Find/Change window and click on the appropriate button, but more importantly, it leaves your screen real-estate uncluttered. The Find/Change dialog takes up a lot of space, and can hide information on the page that is crucial in deciding whether you really want to make that change or not. Using the shortcut keys means you can keep it closed.
    Great tip!

  4. Excellent tip. I use it a lot for copying characters and strings to the the Find what and/or Change to fields when I don’t know how to type them, such as accented characters.

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