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The Hidden “Join Paths” Command

Cari Jansen, InDesign expert extraordinaire, came to the rescue in a recent discussion on the InDesignTalk listserv when she mentioned the existence of a Join Paths command in InDesign CS2. A Join Paths command? Where? It was surprising, but welcome news to everyone (working stiffs and ID pros alike) who were following the subject and trying to help out.

The “Joining Straight Line Segments” thread started as a simple question: “How do I join two straight line segments in InDesign CS?” For example, in this illustration, how can you join the apex of the open triangle so it becomes one line with three points?

Unjoined paths

If this were Illustrator it’d be easy. You could drag a marquee around the top two endpoints with the Direct Selection tool and choose Object > Path > Average > Horizontal and Vertical, which would move the selected points on top of each other; then keeping those points selected, choose Object > Path > Join. Et voila, one path with three points.

InDesign CS lacks both of those commands. Solutions offered in the thread included faking it with the Object > Compound > Make command (which has the same end effect as grouping the two lines – no actual “corner” is created), or doing it the manual way with the Pen tool.

The Pen tool way: Click on an endpoint of the first path, then click on the endpoint of the second path. InDesign joins the two paths with another path segment. Now you can delete one of the endpoints you clicked on to remove the extra path segment and redraw the single path. (Note the special appearance of the Pen Tool cursor in the first two illustrations below, indicating it’s about to join two paths.)

Unjoined paths

second click

new segment

delete the point


That’s how the job is done in InDesign CS, and in InDesign CS2 if the two endpoints are more than 6 points away from each other.

But Cari pointed out that if you’re using CS2 and you can drag the two endpoints close together (no more than a measure of 6 points separating them), you can use the Paths > Join command to hook ’em up, a la Illustrator. The command also averages the position of the two points before it joins them, so there’s no extra segment to delete.

Strangely, the Join command isn’t found in the Object > Paths flyout menu. You can only use the feature if you first assign a keyboard shortcut to it in Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts (Product Area: Object Menu), and then use that shortcut after you’ve selected the endpoints.

hidden command

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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12 Comments on “The Hidden “Join Paths” Command

  1. But there’s more there, Anne-Marie!

    There are at least five other commands under the Object Menu product area that have no user interface: You must assign a keyboard shortcut to them to use them!

    I haven’t tested these extensively, but quick testing reveals these:

    (1) Paths: Connect acts when two anchor points are selected with the Direct Selection tool. It connects them with a new line segment, placing smooth anchor points at each end of the new segment.

    (2) Convert Point: Corner works with one direct-selected anchor point. It turns a smooth anchor point into a corner point

    (3) Convert Point: Smooth does the opposite. It turns a corner point into a Smooth point

    (4) Convert Point: Symmetrical is especially interesting. QuarkXPress 4+ gave us the concept of a Symmetrical point which is a smooth point with equal-length handles. This command creates that when an anchor point is selected

    (5) Convert Point: Line End appears to suck in the handles of a smooth point.

  2. This was the first link to come up for my google search “join points indesign cs2”. Thanks, very helpful info!

  3. Ah, so easy when you know what hoops to jump through. Thank you, thank you! Using my brand new “command J” right now!

  4. Pingback: InDesignSecrets Podcast 168 | InDesignSecrets

  5. i did the usual selct both end point but it just kept saying they must be on same path and not in a differnt group….which they weren’t.

    Tip: the only way i got them to join was to make a new small path in between and then join each end to the new path. – – – then i could clean up point etc .

    joining 2 end points always seems to be hit and miss for me. Some times its fine sometimes it persiste with thats ground and must be on same path warning matter what.

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