Hide Your Tracks? Trash Your Preferences

The other day, Deke called asking if I knew how to erase the contents of the “Open a Recent Item” list that appears on the Welcome Screen of InDesign. Here’s how my thought process unfolded:

Thought 1) Basking in the dubious glory of the master thinking I know something he doesn’t.

Thought 2) Supressing speculation on what exactly he was doing in InDesign that he wants to hide. (What, you were writing detailed stories to go with your pictures?)

Thought 3) Noticing that the only questionable thing my Welcome Screen reveals is that I’ve been working on things other than dekeBooks.

Thought 4) Scrambling to try to figure out something that the master doesn’t know.

Thought 5) Mentally sighing with resignation when I can’t figure it out, and doing what I always do, ask Adobe Project Manager, Myke Ninness. (Thanks yet again, Michael!)

According to Myke, you have to trash your preferences to get rid of this list. This involves quitting InDesign, and mashing your fist (TM Deke) on the left side of your keyboard (that’s Command+Shift+Option+Control on Mac, Ctrl+Shift+Alt in Windows) as soon as you restart the app. Not only does this erase any traces of your illicit InDesign activity (except, you know, the files are still on your harddrive, but I expect you have them expertly hidden), but trashing your preferences in InDesign is a time-honored method of solving a bunch of other odd behaviors InDesign seems occaisionally prone to. A coupla years ago on InDesign Secrets, Anne-Marie wrote up an awesome description of this process and its benefits/effects, and as near as I can tell, her article holds for CS3.

The process seems to work for Illustrator, too. Holding down the keys takes me right to a pristine Welcome Screen. (So you know, you can hide your illicit drawings. Oh, I can only imagine….) When you use the operation in Photoshop, there is an intervening dialog box that looks like this:

I betcha Deke knows all about the effects of saying yes to that. He loves this stuff and spends hours researching when he’s not creating questionable documents in InDesign. But the thing is, you don’t need to rebuild preferences (or delete the Settings file as Photoshop likes to call it) in Photohsop in order to hide your document history. Choosing File > Open Recent gives you the civilized option of Clear Recent which does just that.

On a side note, Deke taught me this one bit of Photoshop skullduggery which makes the Clear Recent command quite useful (meaning use it to protect your history from the likes of Deke). If you think having your illicit file simply roll off your document history is enough, think again. The number of items in that list can be extended in Photoshop (by changing this number in the Preferences file to whatever you want).

This subsequently extends that Open Recent list retroactively, thus re-revealing the document you thought safely pushed off the list. The Clear Recent command is the only way to completely clean up your sordid document history. Trail obliterated.

Next entry:How Do You (or Do You) Manage Your Photos?

Previous entry:Stretching a Photo in Illustrator (and Elsewhere)


  • Just FYI…

    To trash the prefs in AI, you don’t need the Ctrl key (on Mac). It’s just the 3-fingered claw—Command-Option-Shift (Ctrl-Alt-Shift on Windows).

    Mordy Golding


  • Cool. Thanks, Mordy!

    But why does a wholesome guy like you need to cover his tracks?

  • Nice of the Deke’ster to

    Nice of the Deke’ster to feel confident enough to consult with you on such matters.

    Yea hopefully we all have a go-to person when we’re stuck on stuff. For me - googl’ing the issue usually offers a fix-it tip or two. And its great to have an adobe person to help with those problems we just can’t figure out.

    Holds up my splash screen for Colleen to view. Nope, nothing to hide.



  • Okay, so I just have to go on record

    After admonishing Colleen (ever so gently, mind you) that of course Mordy is right, you don’t have to press Control on the Mac. I mean, the mash-your-fist routine is painful enough without adding a ninja super-stylin’ fourth key to the mix.

    When I discovered that unlike AI, Photoshop, and the Bridge (which require just Cmd-Opt-Shift to reset prefs), InDesign really truly does make Mac users whip out their very last non-prehensile finger and clamp down on Control.

    (Okay, so “non-prehensile” is the wrong term. I meant “non-opposable.” But “prehensile” is an ape word, and I cannot turn my back on a fellow ape.)

    Anyway, in Photoshop, it is worth remembering that the Eleventh File is a card that can forever be revealed. Not that this fact should trouble You, beloved pure-of-heart visitor to this site. But I forever maintain that a small amount of larceny is good for the soul (not to mention, society in general), so who am I to deny advice to larcenists?

    Which might be a McClelland gene. For example: My youngest son entertains something of an elevated Star Wars interest. He loves Darth Vader and Jawas. Fair enough. But a few weeks back, in a moment of extreme frustration with the older sibling, he confided in me, “I’m sick of it! I’m going over to the Dark Side.” Of course, we talked at length and agreed that the Dark Side was not the side of The Force for us. (What is the nebulously defined good side of The Force, anyway? The Light Side? That’s just messed up.) But in the background, I was thinking, yep, that Dark Side holds its appeal. Luke is a cardboard cutout surfer kid. The two Anakins make me want to take a nap. But the voice of James Earl Jones set to a tall guy in a black suit? And that one guy with the red stripes on his face? Yow! The nefarious Darths are the cool team. Which is why you never see a Darth get caught on the Eleventh File.

    Oh look, I just checked. My Eleventh File is a scan of a really cute Ewok. Aw. But oops, the Twelfth File shows that same Ewok in a string bikini. Better choose Clear Recent!

  • Ah, see I knew I could trust my girl Anne-Marie

    It basically went like this. I got the four-key info straight from Her Geekness (and her charming co-host, who as it happens, needs a good nickname—-the Blanterator?) years ago. It worked in ID, and then it worked for the others when I tested it. But that’s just because adding the Ctrl key doesn’t harm anything. So everybody wins. Everybody’s authority is more or less intact. I’ve learned things from the Best in the Biz. And we’ve all managed to erase any document history that might incriminate us or undermine said authority.

  • I know how lucky I am

    Having the keys to Deke’s advance checks and gin expenses has really paid off for me over the years. He’s bailed me out of more than one problematic production crisis. A few years ago, I working on a book with noted photographer and teacher Stephen Johnson in his studio. We just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with our layout. I picked up my phone, explained the problem, hung up, and told Stephen how to fix it.

    Stephen: “Who was that on the phone?”

    Colleen: “Oh, I called Deke.”

    Stephen: “You called Deke McClelland to solve our little running head issue?”

    Colleen: “Well, yeah, can you think of a better person? Don’t worry, I just have to buy him a martini next time I see him.”

    So I actually feel good about occasionally having a tidbit or two to share back. (And often these are tidbits I steal from David and Anne-Marie, or one of my other talented authors, or as you point out, a few key Adobians I’m lucky enough to see at tradeshows when I’m working my “regular” job. )

    We kid around here alot, but Deke, as all inhabitants of dekeTown know, is extremely generous with his copious wisdom.

  • I don’t understand ...

    why Mike, Mordy and Deke bother to talk about InDesign when it’s obvious that I know everything already, and, as Colleen so graciously pointed out, wrote about IN DETAIL ... YEARS AGO. Tsk tsk.

    Mordy, in Leopard, if you neglect to include the Control key with the rest of ‘em when starting up an app (from the Dock), OS X hides all open applications and their document windows as it boots up the one you clicked on. Which can be disconcerting. It doesn’t happen when you double-click in the Apps folder, but who does that?

    Include the Control key, and everything remains on screen as nature intended, however you open it.

    Also: FWIW, it’s an urban legend that you have to “mash your fist (TM Deke) on the left side of your keyboard [...] as soon as you restart the app.” Actually, you can take your time with it. You’re in the Finder or Explorer. Hold down the force-rebuild-prefs keys for your platform, then open the app in whichever way you usually open the app. Depending on how you open it, you might get a contextual menu, in which case you can leisurely scroll down to and choose Open. Keep the keys held down as it opens, and wait for the magic alert.

  • All I gotta say

    Is all us little boys just got put in our places.

    Now what I wanna know is, how David Blatner escaped that trio of Bad Boys.

    But I already know the answer. David’s much too sweet to be on Anne Marie’s Bad List.

    Poor David.


    PS:  Okay, so despite AM’s obvious David favoritism, our boy Blatner is secretly a digital gremlin. As I write this, both David and I are in Ventura recording altogether disparate video series. The main difference between David and I? When I encounter the lad around 10:30 pm, he’s obviously ready to tuck in and I’m just finally waking up.

    So there I am recording my strangely addictive videos in my grim little pod at lynda.com. I extract myself for a moment to get some water or coffee—or perhaps release my exhaust from the same—and when I come back, there’s a Post-it note on my monitor. Curiously, it reads “Look Under Your Chair—d.b.” I see nothing on the floor. I check to make sure, whatever it is, it didn’t roll into the wheels. I feel under my chair. I turn the chair upside-down and check every single nook and cranny. Nothing. Where the hell’s my prize?

    Next day, I once again wander off, come back, someone has launched InDesign and added a text block that reads “Look Over Your Chair.”

    So I look over my chair only to . . . d’oh!

    See what I’m saying? That gremlin! And Anne Marie keeps on protecting him. Wake up, AM! David is an imp! He’d put chewing gum in your Hush Puppies, that’s the kind of JD we’re dealing with here!

    You chide us. Tsk tsk. But right under your nose is the very baddest of boys.

  • ummmmmmmmmmmmm

    So I’m running leopard and don’t see what Her Royal Geekness describes but hey, my brain is fried anyway from spending several days flying around the globe (oh Deke, you have no idea how much you owe me). All I was saying was that ID requires all four modifier keys wheras both AI and PS require just three. I guess the ID engineers have some kind of deal with the lawyers and get a cut from all the carpal tunnel syndrome disability cases?

    Oh and Colleen, it’s not about trying to hide anything and more about trying to get a nice clean screenshot for the book. You know how editors can get…

    Mordy Golding


  • one more thing…

    Just for the record, I do my best recording between the hours of 10pm and 3am with a case of red bull at my side.  I can only imagine what it would be like if Deke and I were to be in the studio at the same time. Not sure the world is ready for that just yet…

    Mordy Golding


  • I owe you?

    Oh, Mordy, what in the world are you talking about? I deny all knowledge of everything.

    (Did you pretend to be me? Did it work?)

    Clever the way you deduced my “Clearing the Welcome Screen” motives. You must have some inside knowledge into these things. Yes, sadly, I wasn’t trying to cover up a history of salacious InDesign documents. (Do such things exist? If so, please forward to tawdryletters@deke.com. I’ll make Colleen read them aloud to me.) I was recording videos out of order and I didn’t want prospective viewers to see that I had already opened the documents they were about to open in the not-so-distant future. Just the usual cover-your-ass stuff.

    I’ll have you know I recorded 17 movies between 10pm and 3am just last night. Very few prior to that.

    I treated myself by not getting up until 11:15am. I have my alarm set to Ben Folds’ live version of “Rock that Bi***.” I know, sounds like it might be naughty or demeaning. But it’s one of the most gentle lullabies you can imagine. Usually makes me go right back to sleep.

  • any other ways to do this

    while the world we live in dictates that anyone that wants to cover their tracks has an illicit reason for doing so… this is one instance where there may be another reason…

    I am looking for a way to just clear recent items (that is not porn related smile)

    I work off a portable hard drive during the day and pc by night… and the recent item list only shows file name and not drive or folder path… so when I click on it, I am never really sure what file I am opening due to different drives… file revisions (was revision 3 my latest or am I up to 4?)... once you package, Id moves your main file etc… so you can see my dilemma…

    so sometimes I just want to wipe that list… or if this is easier… have a path added to the file name… any suggestions?

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