Thanks for coming to, the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign!

The Mystery Of The Reappearing Sample Button Library

[This interesting, obscure, and illuminating story was sent to us by a friend. Enjoy! –db]]

The Trouble With Tribbles (a.k.a. The Mystery Of The Reappearing Sample Button Library)

Have you ever looked at the Recently Opened file list in InDesign CS4 or CS5 (File > Open Recent) and noticed that you have apparently recently opened a file called ButtonLibrary.indl… which is funny, because you don’t actually remember ever opening it? Perhaps you’ve been working too many hours recently and just forgot, or perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to finish the whole bottle last night… or perhaps it’s just InDesign playing tricks on you?

The Sample Button library was a clever feature that Adobe first added in InDesign CS4. “Well,” Adobe said “if you’d like to start creating some interactive documents in InDesign, perhaps we could offer you some simple, pre-built buttons within a Library?” That sounds useful enough. If you’ve never seen it, simply open the Buttons Panel and choose “Sample Buttons” from the panel menu. (For more info, see this blog post.)

Here’s the thing though: For some reason this library often seems to appear, as if by magic, in the recently-opened files list, even if you didn’t open it. What’s that about?

Okay, stick with me on this, as it’s a strange and bumpy ride! Adobe appears to have thought it a good idea to have the Sample Buttons library open whenever you switch to either the Interactive or Interactive PDF workspaces. After all, if you’re doing interactive work, you probably need some sample buttons right?

But here’s the odd thing. When you select either of those workspaces for the first time, InDesign opens the Sample Buttons Library BUT doesn’t actually make it visible. Don’t believe me? Activate the Interactive PDF Workspace and then look under the Window menu. Near the bottom of the list it shows all the documents, books and libraries that are open, and… oh, yes… there it is, the Sample Button Library. So it is open, but, errrr, not really open, if you know what I mean. To make it visible, simply select it from the list in the Window menu, and it will magically appear.

So what’s that got to do with the ButtonLibrary.indl magically appearing in the recently opened list every time you open InDesign? Sure, I once opened the Interactive PDF workspace because I was curious, but that was months ago, and I haven’t opened it since.

To understand this, let’s first quickly look at how workspaces work. A workspace is a great way to remember a commonly used set of panels and menu configurations, perhaps for a particular task or workflow. So, for example, the Typography workspace will open panels that someone working with type might find useful. Also, if you open or close any particular panel, the currently-active workspace will remember that. So if you start in the Typography workspace, make a change, switch to the What’s New In CS5 workspace, and finally move back to the Typography workspace, InDesign helpfully remembers all changes you made when you were last there.

So now let’s get back to the near-mythical Sample Buttons Library. The first time you move to the Interactive or Interactive PDF workspace, the Sample Buttons Library quietly opens itself. No problem there. Now, bored of these workspaces you innocently move to another — let’s say the Essentials workspace. This is where InDesign does something funny: It appears to be saying, “Oh! You have the Buttons Library open, but you’ve moved to another workspace. I bet you’d like me to remember that you had the Sample Button Library open whenever I go to the Essentials workspace” Then perhaps a little later you decide that what you really need is the Book workspace. Guess what happens now? Yep, you guessed it: the Book workspace also remembers this change, saying “Hey, tell you what, why don’t I add this fabulous Sample Button Library to the Book workspace for you.”

It’s like those Tribbles in the old Star Trek episode — they just keep propagating everywhere! The little library is cute, but not always welcome.

Okay, so now you quit InDesign, not having noticed all this Library activity happening quietly in the background. You go home, see loved ones and prepare yourself for the next exciting day at work, when… bright and early, you launch InDesign and notice — yep, you guessed it: ButtonLibrary.indl is at the top of your recently opened file list!

Plus, if you look, Sample Buttons is in the Window menu, even though you haven’t opened any files yet, and you’re not in the Interactive PDF or Interactive workspace (but of course isn’t displaying it… it’s “open” but not visible…)

Here’s what happened: When InDesign opened, it re-opened the last workspace you chose. Because the Sample Buttons Library has been added to that workspace, InDesign opens it.

Actually, this behavior isn’t unique to the Sample Button Library. This infectious behavior happens with any library you might open in InDesign. If you move to a new workspace with a library open, InDesign adds it to the new workspace whether you want to or not. More tribbles.

Great, so we now know why. But how do we stop these tribbles? Well, as we’ve seen, if you open a library in a workspace, InDesign remembers that. In the same way, if you close a library, the workspace also remembers. So to banish the Sample Buttons Library from your recently opened files list, simply step through each of your workspaces, and in each one check to see if the Sample Button’s Library is open (look for it near the bottom of the Window menu). If you see it, open it (by selecting Sample Buttons in the Windows menu), and then simply close the library panel. If you do that for every workspace, you’ll have now got rid of those darn tribbles — errr, I mean, Sample Button Libraries. Don’t forget, if you ever want the Sample Button Library back, you can always open it from the Button’s Panel flyout menu. But be careful if you leave it open when switching 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

Latest posts by David Blatner (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
Related Articles

7 Comments on “The Mystery Of The Reappearing Sample Button Library

  1. Oh, i only remember tribbles from the After Dark screen saver (Star trek edition, of course). Wasn’t born for their premiere :)

  2. Bob,

    One place libraries are very useful is for scripting. You can put all the necessary assets in a library and you’ll always be sure to have the correct assets no matter where the script is run…

  3. Thanks for the explanation, but after following your advice (find and close Sample Buttons panel in every workspace that had it open), and then immediately quitting InDesign (CS4), I find that now the Sample Buttons panel pops up front and center every time I re-open InDesign. No longer just an annoyance in the Recent Documents list, now it’s a *visible* unwanted panel that I have to close every time (also still in Recent menu). I even tried closing the Sample Buttons panel and then saving a new workspace and quitting InDesign. Restart, and it’s right there, in the new workspace. If I close it and switch workspaces and switch back, it doesn’t reappear, but nothing I’ve done seems to stop it from opening when InDesign launches.

    Sigh. Did I miss something?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *