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Palettes to Toolbars and Vice Versa

Microsoft Office is a toolbar-centric set of programs. Adobe Creative Suite has a palette-cenric philosophy.

And InCopy is a mash-up of the two. It’s an Adobe Creative Suite program designed to appeal to editors most familiar with Microsoft Word. That’s why it has horizontal toolbars at the top and the bottom along with the usual side palettes at the right.

You’ve probably already discovered various ways to rearrange the palettes … converting the side ones to floating palettes, opening new palettes from the Window menu, docking palettes on the left side as well as the right, saving palette arrangements as Workspaces, and so on.

Did you know that you can also convert the toolbars to palettes, and the palettes to toolbars? It’s a feature uniquely InCopy.

Toolbars to Palettes

To turn a toolbar into a floating palette, press and drag on its “grab bar” — a tiny, rectangular vertical strip at the left end of it. In CS2 the grab bar looks like it’s textured, in CS3 it’s a flat, dark grey color. As you drag the toolbar over your main window area you’ll see its outline appear. Release the mouse button and voila, it’s a palette.

Some of the toolbars look quite different when they’re a palette — try it with the CopyFit toolbar to see what I mean. These types sprout a Close box and can be docked to the sides of the monitor just like the other palettes.

Other toolbars aren’t so flexible, such as the Command Bar (the one with icons for Open, Save, Print, etc.). These can float, so you can drag them around the screen and tuck them into a corner or something; but they can’t be collapsed into side palettes. To close them completely, choose their name from the Window menu. (And choose it again to re-open it.)

Rearranging Toolbars

All toolbars, though, can be relocated to either the top or the bottom of the screen. You can even change their order (maybe you’d like the Track Changes toolbar at the far left?), and add additional toolbar rows.

To do any of this, just drag from their grab bar and drop them where you want them in their new toolbar position. They pop right in like they’ve lived there for years.

You can drop them anywhere in the toolbar area — to the left or right of another toolbar, into the empty gray area, or directly above or below an existing toolbar, if you want to make multiple toolbar rows a la Microsoft Word.

Palettes to Toolbars

To turn a palette, like the Paragraph Styles palette, into a toolbar, hold your mouse button down on its “sensitive area” and drag and drop it on the top or bottom toolbar well. In CS2 the sensitive area of a palette is its tab, the tab containing the name of the palette. In CS3 you can drag the tab or title bar at the top of the palette (err, panel).

Not every palette can be turned into a toolbar. The Table palette, for example, will just sit there overlapping the toolbar when you drop it, no matter how gently you drag its sensitive area. (ahem.)

The ones that convert with aplomb are Paragraph, Paragraph Styles (very cool to have a dropdown or pop-up list of styles in the toolbar!), Character, Character Styles, Swatches, and Change Info.

To turn them back into palettes, drag from their grab bar at the far left and drop them anywhere in the main window area.

Save Your Work

When you’re done rearranging the furniture, remember that you can save your new look by choosing Window > Workspaces > Save Workspace. That way you can always recall it instantly, even if someone deletes your InCopy preferences (often a first troubleshooting step). Workspaces aren’t deleted when preferences are rebuilt, but the palettes are reset to their default positions. Choose Window > Workspace > [name of your workspace] to get it back the to way you want it.

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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4 Comments on “Palettes to Toolbars and Vice Versa

  1. Thanks for the helpful tips! I have a question about the paragraph styles palette. At the publishing company where I work, we use a plethora of both character and paragraph styles. When opening a file already loaded with the necessary styles in InCopy, they appear completely mixed up in the palettes and not in alphabetical order at all. Even when I select “Sort by Name”, the next time I open the file, they are a mess again. InDesign does not do this, is there a way to correct this in a preference somewhere?

  2. Hi Mark! You have the distinct honor of being the first commenter on the blog. Here, have some champagne … ;-)

    When you’re working with layouts and assignments (as opposed to opening native InCopy files — .incx), the sort order of the styles can only be permanently changed by InDesign.

    So you need to ask your designers to please choose Sort by Name and then save their changes to the layout/update the assignment.

    In the meantime, you can assign a keyboard shortcut to that command in Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. You’ll find it in the Product Area: Panel Menus section. That way, at least it’s just a quick keystroke to sort them when you open the file, instead of rooting around the panel menu.

  3. Hi everybody,

    I’m encountering a strange problem with Incopy, as all the palettes of Incopy as aligned at the right of the window and I can’t move or resize them,

    Has anybody encountered a similar problem?

    Thanks to all,

  4. Are you sure that’s not just the palette dock acting like a dock? To get a palette out of the dock so that it floats in the window (allowing you to move it around), drag it from its title tab out onto the document window.

    OTOH if you know how the palette dock works and it’s not working correctly, try rebuilding preferences, which tend to get damaged over time and then cause little bizarre problems in the program.

    To rebuild Prefs you can quit the program, then hold down the Command/Option/Shift/Control keys (Mac) or Control/Shift/Alt keys (Windows) while you start the program again. Keep the keys held down until you see the “Delete Preferences?” alert. Click the OK button and the program will rebuild the prefs while it finishes loading.

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