(Legacy) InDesign CS3: The InDesign Toolbox

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This article is based on legacy software.

The InDesign Toolbox contains all of the selection, drawing, and viewing tools for creating and manipulating text and objects. This document will familiarize you with the tools in the Toolbox.

Displaying the Toolbox

To maximize your work space, you can toggle between a hidden and visible Toolbox.

From the Window menu, select Tools.
NOTE: A check mark will appear next to Tools when the Toolbox is displayed.

Accessing Hidden Tools

Many tools are hidden beneath others on the Toolbox. Any button displaying a small arrow in the bottom right corner contains hidden tools.

  1. To access hidden tools, click and hold the mouse button over a tool.
    The button's hidden tools menu appears. 
    hidden tools

  2. Select the tool you want to use.
    The selected tool becomes the active tool and is displayed in the Toolbox.

The InDesign Toolbox

This table describes each available tool and its function.


FunctionDescriptionselection toolSelection ToolSelects lines, shapes, graphics, and text boxes. Selected objects can be moved, resized, and have their attributes changed.direct selection toolDirect Selection ToolSelects objects within objects, such as individual points on a path and objects inside groups or inside other objects.position toolPosition ToolAllows you to easily slide an image within a frame to crop it. Accessed through the Direct Selection Tool.pen toolPen ToolCreates precise, smooth lines using anchor points.add anchor point toolAdd Anchor Point ToolAdds anchor points to an existing pen selection. Accessed through the Pen Tool.delete anchor point toolDelete Anchor Point ToolDeletes anchor points from an existing pen selection. Accessed through the Pen Tool.convert direction point toolConvert Direction Point ToolToggles the direction point on an existing pen selection (corner point or curve point). Accessed through the Pen Tool.type toolType ToolSelects text or designates insertion point for adding text.type on a path toolType on a Path ToolEnters and edits text on a path. Accessed through the Type Tool.pencil toolPencil ToolDraws hard-edged freehand strokes on an image.smooth toolSmooth ToolProgressively smoothens a path with each pass. Accessed through the Pencil Tool.erase toolErase ToolErases line segments and points. Accessed through the Pencil Tool.line toolLine ToolCreates straight lines.rectangle frame toolRectangle Frame ToolCreates an empty rectangular placeholder.ellipse frame toolEllipse Frame ToolCreates an empty elliptical placeholder. Accessed through the Rectangle Frame Tool.polygon frame toolPolygon Frame ToolCreates an empty polygonal placeholder. Accessed through the Rectangle Frame Tool.rectangle toolRectangle ToolDraws a rectangle.ellipse toolEllipse ToolDraws an ellipse.
Accessed through the Rectangle Tool.polygon toolPolygon ToolDraws a polygon. Accessed through the Rectangle Tool.button toolButton ToolCreates buttons.scissors toolScissors ToolCuts paths or points.rotate toolRotate ToolRotates objects to the specified angle.scale toolScale ToolResizes an object.shear toolShear ToolSkews an object. Accessed through the Scale Tool.gradient toolGradient ToolApplies or changes the gradient (a gradual transition between two colors).gradient feather toolGradient Feather ToolChanges the gradient so that it gradually softens in the specified direction. Accessed through the Gradient Tool.free transform toolFree Transform ToolAllows you to drag an object to alter its scale, rotation, and location.note toolNote ToolApplies a note to a specified area of the document. This is particularly useful for comments during the editing process.eyedropper toolEyedropper ToolSamples formatting attributes from one area and allows you to apply them to another.measure toolMeasure ToolCalculates the distance between any two points in the work area. Accessed through the Eyedropper Tool.hand toolHand Tool (Panning)Repositions a page on-screen for optimal view.zoom toolZoom ToolMagnifies or reduces the area of the page on-screen.