Chad Chelius details all the new features and fixes in the latest version of InDesign.
It’s that time of year again. The weather starts changing, the holidays approach, and the Adobe MAX conference once again offers us creative inspiration, new techniques to learn, and the announcement of the next major release of the tools that we use every day, including the one we’re most excited about: InDesign. Here’s a rundown of everything that’s new and/or improved in the 2020 version of InDesign.
The InDesign 2020 splash screen
We all want to see whiz-bang features added to InDesign, but sometimes the really important changes are ones that you just can’t see. Before we get to the cool new stuff, here are some under-the-hood changes that are sure to improve your day-to-day experience with InDesign.
Squash those bugs!
InDesign is a big product with a big audience. No matter what you use it for, you’ve likely encountered a bug or two along the way that stopped you in your tracks and forced you to come up with a workaround of some kind. Thankfully, the InDesign team has been tracking these and working diligently to fix them! InDesign 2020 contains a long list of bug fixes to address crashes related to things like IDML import, GREP searches, cross-references, anchored tables, and CC Libraries.
Just as important as bug-fixing is improving app performance, and I’m happy to report that InDesign 2020 offers some significant improvements in that area that are sure to make your work easier. One such enhancement is in text. In previous releases and in certain situations, it was common to be typing away in InDesign only to be forced to sit and wait for the display to catch up. This version promises faster text composition when working with vertical justification in frames, balance columns, and span columns.
In addition to overall performance improvements, Adobe has also worked hard to stamp out sources of document corruption that have resulted in lost work for some users. Many of those sources have been removed in this release.
You’ll notice a few minor interface changes when working in InDesign 2020. I hope you’ll find, as I have, that some of these changes result in better usability and easier access to features.
The Home screen
In CC 2015, InDesign introduced the Start workspace as the initial view shown when you launched InDesign and had no document open. The Start screen showed recent files that you had worked on and also offered access to both Adobe Stock and Adobe Help. However, one major limitation of the Start workspace was that it became unavailable once you opened a document, and the only way to bring it back was to close all documents. Not exactly what I’d call efficient.
Now, in InDesign 2020, the Start workspace has been replaced with the Home screen, which is displayed when you initially launch InDesign or any time you have no documents open. But you can also access the Home screen at any time by clicking its “house” icon (Figure 1) in the top left corner of the InDesign workspace. This is in the area that used to be called the Application Bar, but it’s now nameless and can’t be turned off.
Figure 1. The small house icon is used to activate the Home screen in InDesign 2020.
As part of this change, the other icons that were present in the Application Bar have been removed or repositioned to the bottom of the Tools panel. I’m not a fan of this move, since I liked having quick access to my document arrangement and Adobe Bridge in that location, but I suppose it’s something I’ll get used to.
The Home screen provides a quick view of your recent files along with InDesign tutorials to help beginners and even experienced users learn new techniques and features of the program. You can also perform searches within the Home screen, which scans through your recent files (called Your Work), Adobe Help, Adobe Forums, and Adobe Stock. I found the Home screen to be quite useful when running InDesign 2020 through its paces because it provides quick access to recently open documents and, when searching Adobe Stock, I like the larger thumbnails that appear in the Home screen (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Searches in the Home screen provide results from Adobe Help, Adobe Forums, Adobe Stock, and Your Work.
However, the Home screen does have one big “gotcha,” at least on the Mac: let’s say you have a document open and then switch to the Home screen. You’ll see a red “close” button in the upper left corner of the window, and you might be tempted to click it to leave the Home screen. Don’t do it—that closes the (now hidden) document, and you’ll be left wondering what happened to your file.