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Quick Tips: Make Light Work of iWork’s Inspectors

Apple's iWork '09 has emerged from humble beginnings as one of the most complete Office and productivity suites on the Mac platform. iWork '09 includes Pages, Keynote and Numbers. Not only is it ridiculously cheap compared to the competition... Micro$oft...who?... The iWork apps integrate seamlessly with the iLife suite and your Macs Media Browser, where you can conveniently store your still images, video and audio. I used to be an avid Microsoft Word user, and I don't say this lightly, but back in 2006/7 I was becoming more and more frustrated with Word on the Mac. I finally made the decision to switch over to iWork and haven't looked back since. In fact, all my presentations are handled by Keynote, my accounting by Numbers and all my letters, course manuals & notes, technical documents and blog tips are designed and created in Pages. (Yes, I'm even using Pages right now, and very happily too I might add).

OK. I'll stop eulogizing about iWork now... well, just long enough to provide you with some little known tips which work across the board in iWork '08 and '09. These power tips focus on the Inspector window and how to make it work for you!


Tip 1 - Multiple Inspectors?

The Inspector is a very useful window used for making adjustments to all sorts of objects and text in your Pages, Keynote or Numbers documents. I find I'm often switching between the tabs in the Inspector which can slow me down and distract me from my task in hand. For example, working with a Table and adjusting images may necessitate frequently switching between the Table Inspector and the Graphic Inspector.

You can open a new Inspector very easily here:
View > New Inspector


Tip 2 - Multiple Inspectors the Easy Way

If navigating to the View menu to open a new Inspector feels good, this next secret tip will feel magical. In fact when I discovered this for the first time, I couldn't believe I hadn't come across it sooner!

With an Inspector window open, Option - click a Tab to open a new Inspector window directly.


Tip 3 - Switch Inspector Tabs Using your Keyboard

Having multiple Inspectors is all very well, until you begin to realise how much screen real estate they consume. For many of us using iWork on smaller displays or who prefer to have one Inspector visible, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move between Inspector tabs.

Click on the Inspector windows Title Bar. It becomes highlighted and the selected Tab displays with a more prominent blue border.

Use the left, right, up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to view the different Tabs all within the same Inspector window.

This tip would be even more handy if you could use the keyboard to access the controls and options within each Inspector window, right? Well, it's possible!

First you need to go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts

Here you can change the behavior of the Tab key to move focus between text boxes and lists only or All Controls. Choose All Controls. Now you can navigate your Inspector type using the arrow keys and Tab key to explore the drop down menus and various editing controls!


Tip 4 - Open a New Inspector window Without a Mouse

Using the above techniques from Tip #3, you can now select different Inspector tabs, drill down into the options within the Inspector window and change settings all from the comfort of your keyboard. But there may be a time when you wish to open a new Inspector window while you're switching between Inspector tabs.

With the Inspector's Toolbar highlighted, use the arrow keys to select the desired Tab.
Option - Space bar will open the currently selected tab in a new Inspector window. In fact, Option - any arrow key also appears to have the same effect.

But, if you wish to keep the Inspector displaying your current tab, e.g. the Text Inspector while opening the Graphic Inspector, that too is possible:

With the Inspector's Toolbar highlighted, use the arrow keys to select the desired Tab.
Command - arrow keys will move the blue border to a tab without displaying it's content.
Option - Space bar will open the highlighted tab in a new inspector window.

To close all Inspector windows, Option - Command - I does the trick, but it will toggle hide/show them.

To close only the currently selected (highlighted) Inspector windows Command - W or Esc are useful shortcuts to use.

I always find it amazing how much care and attention the developers at Apple put into their software products... and it's the small things like these that I find make a big difference when using computer software.

Interested to learn more about iWork? These tutorials will help you to become proficient in Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

Rounik Sethi

Rounik Sethi | Articles by this author

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He has been a visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University's Teacher training program, facilitating workshops on using music and digital media tools in the classroom. If you're looking for Rounik, you'll most likely find him (and his articles) on Ask.Audio & macProVideo.com.

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