The Amazingly Malleable Links Palette in InDesign CS4

The following is an excerpt from Adobe InDesign CS4 One-on-One which will not only entertain and enlighten you, but will inspire you to aquire the actual book for yourself. —cw

With InDesign CS4, Adobe has completely rebuilt the Links palette from the ground up. No longer simply a list of the graphics linked from the document and their status, the Links palette now offers a rather dizzying amount of information. Fortunately for all involved, you can easily customize how much information is displayed, allowing you to tailor the palette to suit your needs.

First, let’s examine the basics of the default palette. The palette is split into two panes:The links list pane functions similarly to the traditional Links palette from CS3 and before, but adds page links to the page numbers shown (this has the same functionality as Go to Link, but does not require selecting the link first). It also contains the traditional four buttons to work with links.

The link info pane shows you a host of information regarding the selected link, including color space, actual and effective PPI (pixels per inch, which I explain in a moment), and the directory path to the link. For even more convenience, the link info pane includes shortcuts for scrolling back and forth through the link info for all your links.

Just how much information is available? From the palette menu in the upper-right corner, select Panel Options.

The Panel Options dialog box appears, with a whopping 44 pieces of information you can show (or not show) in the palette. While you’ll know better than I any particulars you might need, what follows are some basics for customizing the palette for most workflows.

Stick with just Name, Status, and Page in the View Column category. You might be tempted to add other columns (and on occasion it could prove useful), but more often than not the columns will become too narrow to be of any use. Best to keep other information in the Info pane.

Keep Actual PPI and Effective PPI in the Info pane. These provide the actual (native) pixels per inch of the graphics file, and the effective PPI when output from InDesign (which is different if you have scaled your artwork). The effective PPI is the more critical of the two, because it will let you know if you’ve scaled an image too large to print smoothly. (300 PPI is considered the baseline for photo-quality images, but the ideal resolution varies depending on your final ouput destination.) Conversely, if your effective PPIs are all approaching or surpassing the thousand mark, you could improve both printing and InDesign’s performance by linking to lower-resolution versions of your art.

Turning on Color Space and ICC Profile will allow you to check that all your images are consistent, at least in terms of color settings, across your document. While InDesign’s output options—both to print and PDF—allow you to convert color settings at output, keeping your links in order helps to ensure that the color in your output is what you were expecting. (For more on output and color, see Lesson 12 in Adobe InDesign CS4 One-on-One.)

Transparency indicates a simple yes or no: whether or not an image contains transparency, such as alpha channels or Photoshop layers. (Transparency is covered fully in the next lesson.) This setting will help you determine what images might be affected by flattening. It may sound painful, but it’s simply the method InDesign uses to render transparencies and effects like drop shadows. Depending on your final output destination, flattening may or may not be something you need to worry about. You can find all the details in the sidebar “Rasterization and the Flattener Preview Palette” in Adobe InDesign CS4 One-on-One.

Layer Overrides, Scale, Skew, and Rotate are good indicators of whether the image has been altered in InDesign. Layer Overrides shows if any layers have been turned on or off that differ from the original Photoshop file; Scale, Skew, and Rotate specify what transformations have been made to the image inside InDesign. While there are plenty of reasons to make these changes in InDesign (isn’t that one of the advantages of the all-Adobe workflow?), some agencies and studios still frown upon altering images outside image-editing programs, and some professional printing houses may flag these issues during their prepress checks. At the very least, Scale is a great way to check that you haven’t accidentally scaled an image disproportionately.

Most of the other information is metadata regarding the image (including modification date, copyright, and creator) or, conversely, project management information. (Some of the information is specific to InCopy—the standalone story editor for InDesign—and text linked dynamically to the document. These bear no relevance to image links.)

Armed with this information and given some experimentation, you can bend the Links palette to your will, so that it provides only the information you want to see.

Next entry:InDesign Book Miraculously Appears in Stock

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  • Don’t forget to save Workspace…

    I love the new Link Panel in CS4. One thing your article does not tell is that the customization you do for the panel is remember tie to workspace, so it important to save a custom workspace AFTER you have customize it. If you don’t the next time you reset to one of the default workspace you will loose your setting.

  • To Deke and all the Deke follower’s community

    I know it may seem corny, but, I felt I had to do it.

    I first got interested in PS a few years back when I came across a now defunct website called Abnormis, where I saw “photomanips” from a community of weird ppl who liked dark colors and even darker subject matter. It was….dark and disturbing, I was like “wow”, so I asked my friend “are these ppl really THAT advanced in painting?” he replied to me with most of his flair and scholar background saying “are you f***ing nuts?!, these ppl use Photoshop man!....painting?! is wrong with you man?!”

    That was IT….I then proceeded to prove I was f***ing nuts and….bought PS CS,without even having tried it ever o_0

    I was then overwhelmed with all the bells and whistles in there….and the fact that, I was indeed f***ing nuts. So I went online to see several tutorials and trainings which looked and sounded dry, tedius and almost robotic. I then saw a book, PSCS One on One by Deke, I flipped throught the pages quickly and checked the table of content, and bought it

    The moment I put the CD that came with it in the drive and saw how Deke explained and did things. the non nonsense treatment of the matter at hand, BLAM, it all opened up, I was like “hey, this dude is nuts too, BUT he KNOWS what he is doing, and then some.

    Along the years, I picked up quite a bit of knowlege from Deke and his brand of teaching, and upgraded to CS2, CS3 and recently….I went f***ing nuts again, and bought the whole kittenkaboodle in the form of the CS4 Master Collection, yes sir I did, you know what my wife asked me? now….yeeees you do smile

    So I typed all this gathering of fonts, arranged in a manner you can all read….Just to say….Thanx Deke, thank you for doing what you do, the way you do it, a way that some newer training ppl “who shall remain nameless” try to emulate, but hey, you cant be The first when you’re the sencond, and your bother is third smile

    Mr Deke, Thanx man, and no matter under who’s company name you make training for, Never let them cramp your style man! You kick serious ass

    Stuff like Dekepod is what I’m talking about, Total “Deke on the loose, you will learn or you will burn” kinda thing

    ps: any chance of seeing training from you on Photoshop/After Effects/Flash/Dreamweaver workflow ?





    Photoshop users should be nice to everyone….Or take a picture of them and have revenge in Photoshop

  • Great tip, JC

    That’s good advice.

  • Same here

    Hey man, I’m glad you feel the same. As I wrote on this forum Deke is one of the few people all around that knows what he is teaching but he can also sell it. That’s why the 1On1 series is so popular and well known all around the world. To your point on painting. Photoshop is the best soft all around. You won’t find better written software for what it was meant to do. Even if you compare other software, office, other designs, publishing etc. It’s also with so few bugs. It’s the prestige that photoshop has and popularity that makes the Thomas Knoll and people around him nuts. Imagine that your software is known as well as OS itself. If you look at any magazine, photo journal or walk in any shopping mall you see it’s work.  Not for painting for everything but painting. Painter is the best for painting. But there is a difference between painter and photoshop. I learned that hard way. PS lets you do whatever everyone else can do. Clicks, masks, opacity boom boom done. You need to have a knowledge of each menu and you are master. Than only imagination. Painter is nothing if you are nothing. If you have mind of artist you bring you digital art to other media and then there are people like me. With sad eyes that other are gifted to see the purity in world and catch on ... well anything you want . Tablet, paper, wall or canvas. If you can draw or paint in real life, you won the lottery. If not well then welcome on board. I’m already there. I still believe I can break it but I can’t. I just don’t see it.

  • No problem man, I think we

    No problem man, I think we both stated the obvious about Deke AND Photoshop

    If you like PS, you should look at After Effects, its like PS is the lighter, and AE is the can of hairspray, all you have to do is line the flame in front of the nozzle, and press ! muuuuhaha

    Ok, I digress o_0

  • Happy Turkey Day to everyone


  • Love the analogy

    On the matter of Photoshop and After Effects. I’m not much of a motion guy—by which I mean, where video is concerned, I tend to spend more of my time in the hot seat than behind the editing wheel. I have some experience, but it’s not enough for me to put myself out there as an expert. But I gotta say, as a Photoshop user, I envy what you have in AE.

    Anyway, thanks for the outpouring of positive comments. Really nice to hear. Especially when I’ve got this Channels & Masks book wound around me like a boa constrictor. It’s me or him, baby—and it’s looking like a 50/50 proposition. Colleen will collect your bets.

  • Very sincerely

    Thanks to everyone who’s visited, created an account, submitted artwork, or commented on this site. When we went live with this hair-brained scheme just 5 months ago now, we had no idea what an unending source of ideas and amusement it would be. And we have you to thank.

    Or as Colleen so succinctly put it:

  • Ok Colleen I place my bet

    I’m betting on Deke McClelland, the boa constrictor is the “creation”. I bet on the creative mind that “spawns” it

    Its a modest bet, I have to keep some money to buy the boa, and its Canadian money so “heh”

    Man a whole book on channels and masks, that will be great, channels and masks are like THE tools for advanced masking, and I mean Advanced, from wispy hair and tiny lil bug antennas, to asparagus and brocoli being thrown at a green screen photoshoot.

    Heh I bet if someone really rolled up their sleeves, they could almost extract stupidity from the human genome with channels and masks….Before Photoshop even had layers, guess what you had to go to?....Chan….Anyway, preaching to the choir and the priest…. I mean I had a good start on the subject in CS One on One a few years back and a retouching book by Katrin Eismann, but I’m pretty sure this is going to be a lot deeper….And no I’m not on somesort of medication, come to think of it, I should page Dr Brown

    Thanx for putting up with my wacky enthusiasm








    Photoshop users should be nice to everyone….Or take a picture of them and have revenge in Photoshop

  • Thank you

    Thank you Colleen for nice words

  • AE

    I actually work with AE for years. It was always good companion with Premiere for me however when Nucleo announced the dual core support and I didn’t have one I cried. I still don’t have dual core pc even though I have render bank here so at least it’s going faster on multiple PC. That’s fun. TT had great tutorial. I think it was 15 DVD. I watched it once. I felt asleep but I watched it.

  • I knew it

    Rob777 wrote:

    Heh I bet if someone really rolled up their sleeves, they could almost extract stupidity from the human genome with channels and masks

    Shit, Deke, we shouldn’t have nixed Lesson 13.

  • I’ll Bet the Farm on Deke


    Please accept my marker as I’m cheerfully betting the works on Obiwan as usual. It’s sorta, kinda terrible Deke’s under this pressure to get the book out during this holiday season when his family needs him, but somehow, someway, I’m sure he will pull the rabbit out of his hat once again.

    Wow! I have already paid for this book (at 45% discount) and Deke is still finishing it up. I love this country! grin

    Hang in there Deke and, if you are feeling a wee bit overwhelmed by der Boa, just know that many of us owe you so much for what you have given us and believe in you and the high standards you demand of everything you produce. If I should get my book a few weeks late, I really won’t care.


    Thomas Benner

    The Art Institute of Austin

    p.s. I’m enjoying an all day marathon of those fellow world-famous denizens of Deke’s home town, Boulder, Colorado, “Mork and Mindy”. Nah-Nuu Nah-Nuu!! Plus I scored your complete video InDesign 2 DVD training set for $4 at Half-Price Books today… life is good. Keep on keeping on!

  • Colleen maybe there’s still time

    BTW, thank Deke and yourself for the replies to my crazy antics, its kind of weird, having a person who is to Photoshop and Illustrator, what Steve Vai is to electric guitar, tell you he likes a comparaison you made on his website’s forum.

    Tell him he can use any quotes he wants. I almost felt like bragging, but as my wife would be packing her bags and calling her parents, I would have had to explain who I was talking about, and how all the books and videos help justify that heavy credit card bill I just got a few weeks back with Adobe CS4 Master Collection Upgrade written all over it

    Seriously, If some creative person wont do it, or if floks at Adobe R&D dont come up with some other improvements to masking and extraction, that genome thing will still be in the spooky eugenisist’s dept, or on Dr Pianka’s desk o_0

    I will now simma down, and get back to work, before several scary music bands from the local scene start asking me “whats up with the CD sleeve artwork, the photoshoot, and the website man?!

    Coming right up, just lemme refresh that glass of bong water fo ya

    Greetings from Montreal








    Photoshop users should be nice to everyone….Or take a picture of them and have revenge in Photoshop

  • Regarding Mork and Mindy

    I used to have an office across the street from the house they show at the beginning of M&M.

    Poor people who owned that home. As I understand it, they were paid $200 for the use of that establishing shot.

    The University of Colorado—being as it is not only my alma mater but also one of the Top Ten Party Schools in the U.S., which is actually mostly a bad thing (b/c inasmuch as I love to throw down, anyone who says “who wants to party?” is an undeniable scrotum)—is a mile and a half from said home. The residents had such a hard time with students making off with fence posts and all matter of collectability during the wee hours that they eventually sold and moved out.

    Moral, never let anyone photograph your home. Especially not for something as lame as a podcast.

    Swell house tho. Lovely area. Beautiful Blue town. I love Boulder.

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