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First Thing You Should Do In CS4: Choose Advanced Workspace

If or when you upgrade to CS4, do yourself a favor: The first time you launch it, take a moment and change the workspace to Advanced. Apparently, Adobe shipped the default workspace set to Essentials, which is fine if you’re a brand new user, easily spooked by having too many features in front of you. But for the vast majority of users, it’s just annoying.

When you choose Advanced from the Workspace pop-up menu in the Application Bar (or from the Window > Workspace menu), you’ll get the features you want and need. For example, several features in the Control panel are hidden in Essentials, but appear in Advanced. (Menu customization is saved in workspaces.

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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17 Comments on “First Thing You Should Do In CS4: Choose Advanced Workspace

  1. But if you’re a real hot-shot like us guys who real InDesignSecrets , you’ll have a few of your own customized workspaces, right? And where better to start off customizing your own spaces than at the “essentials” workspace!

  2. Since this post is aimed at the new users I think it’s worth pointing out that menu customization CAN be saved with workspaces. It’s a user selectable option, along with panel locations, when saving the workspace.

  3. Good points. But it’s often easier to turn stuff off than go search for things to turn on. For example, you may not realize that some options are turned off in the Control panel customization dialog box. So, I guess the better lesson is: First switch to Advanced, and then make a custom workspace that suits your needs.

  4. When you go to a restaurant, do you tell the waiter you’ll have everything on the menu apart from this — this — this — and this?

    Ah… this discussion brings back memories of my first Mac… it looked so clean, so minimalist, so beautiful… yet when you looked under the hood (or bonnet, as we who had to pay 60% more for CS4 would say) there was so much unspoken power, so much unshowy brilliance…

    Well, same with InDesign. CS4’s default workspace suggests that things should be simple unless they need to be complicated, and if they do, an expert knows where to go. And beginners aren’t overwhelmed.

  5. I think the reasoning behind it was simple:

    If you don’t realize you are missing a bunch of features and don’t know how to switch to the advanced workspace, you should, in fact, be using the essentials workspace.

  6. It was most likely an oversight. The engineers almost always do whatever they can to make the user aware of features. That’s why smart guides are turned on by default.

  7. I admit I had a couple of minutes of perplexed “Are they kidding?” with that tacky “Show All Menu” thing, when it seemed like everything I looked for was hidden by default on the menus. After a bit I found that selecting Advanced would give me what I wanted, but it was a bit annoying.

  8. My first reaction on seeing the Essentials workspace was:

    “What the… is this Microsoft Office? Where the heck is my InDesign, and what the heck have I installed?”

    Fortunately it is easy to change to a usable workspace. For one accustomed to seeing all the InDesign options in their full glory, the minimalist approach was offensive.

  9. see, that’s what the 2nd monitor is for. you put all your clutter over there (many palettes) so your primary screen with the actual document in it is beautiful and pristine.

  10. This is a related post (I couldn’t figure out how out start a new post).
    Is anyone else experiencing the panels going blank? I’m using a double monitor with the panels on the right screen and the workspace on the left (using application window). I’m using CS4 on a MacPro (8 core).
    I click on the panel and everything comes back but it was a real shock at first. This might only happen when I Apple tab between applications (when I return to ID).

  11. @Doug, we’re not really set up as a forum, so there’s no way to post your own questions… yet. We’re exploring how to do that for 2009. In the meantime, that sounds painful. I haven’t heard of that one. I do know that some blank-panel problems get fixed when you rebuild your preferences.

  12. I’m a new user and reading a book about CS4 InDesign. It suggests turning on all the menus at Window>Workspace>Show Full Menus. But the Show Full Menus is grayed out.

    The entire book is written with the assumption that Show Full Menus is enabled. Any ideas why this menu option would be grayed out (unavailable)?

  13. Kathy, if it’s unavailable, then my guess is that all your menus item are already visible. If you don’t see “Show Full Menus” at the bottom of any of your menus, then you don’t have to worry about it.

  14. I’m running into a problem migrating to CS4 and wondering if it’s related: none of my scripts show up. Not even the ones that come default in the install, nor the lovely ones I’ve picked up from all of the folks here. I’m pretty much jumping back and forth from CS3 to CS4 depending on how bad I need a script right now. Has anyone seen this? Sorry if it’s a bit off the topic…

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