Saturday, July 24, 2010

Snap to Grid Override (Nix Alignment Guides)

To disable 'snap to grid' function, click on the object and hold, press Command as you start moving it.

In user's manual and in Help 'snap to grid' function is described under 'Alignment Guides'.

This is really simple - once you know it. Like in many other Mac-features, Apple 'thinks differently'. Which includes terminology. So, if you are  drawing blanks when you type in a familiar term in Help search window, go instead through the table of contents of the Pages manual and look for a relevant chapter (Working with Images, Shapes, and Other Objects).

With super-fast broadband, Google, Wikipedia and intuitive software, nobody has any patience these days. Still, it would save a lot of time and frustration to settle down and read through, if not the whole manual, then at least the Table of Contents to learn some of Mac glossary (for alignment guides, see Pages'08 User Guide, Chapter 7, p.139 or Pages'09, Chapter 7, p.158) .

I have mentioned the snap to grid override several times in my previous posts, but had never thought of writing about  this little trick separately until some of my readers wrote to say how delighted they were to discover it.

I can't remember now how I myself found it. I suppose, like many others, I was frustrated with objects 'snapping' to align themselves with other shapes on the page when I really didn't want it.
- For example, a photo would snap to the margins of the page,
- or a piece of graphic or clip art would snap to the edges of the coloured box when you want it to be just off the border.
- When you edit a shape by moving editing points (little red dots that appear when you make a shape editable), they try to align themselves with other dots. If it's an original shape with many dots 'snap to grid' can be very annoying.  
- And worst of all, real nightmare, is when you are designing a complex graphic piece with dozens of separate objects, a map for example, and you can't move any, not by a point, without the object jumping to 'align' itself with others.

A radical option is to disable alignment guides altogether in Pages Preferences: uncheck 'Show Alignment Guides'. Preferences panel says 'Show', but it also enables/disables the guides.

There are some other solutions:

- You design a 'Property Box' for an estate agent (realtor) and want a small photo of the property to sit well centered inside the box crammed with text describing the house. Here, it may be best to put the photo as an Inline Object, i.e. anchored into a particular place within the text. Format text to be centered and the photo will be centered as well. If necessary, set the photo to be a paragraph on its own.

-  To move objects without 'snap to grid override': select object and use keyboard arrows.

- Another way of precisely setting the position and to move objects quickly is to change co-ordinates in Metrics Inspector. Select the first object, double click to select the x (horizontal reading), copy, select second object, double click the x reading, paste. Click on x or y up-down arrows to move the object without having to drag it.

Tip: if you use Text Boxes for photo captions and the photo wrapping pushes the text out of the box just use Arrange>Bring to Front to avoid this clash. Read more here

Language: The use of hide/show in Pages manual may also be the source of confusion here. It not only hides or shows, it also disables/enables the snap to grid function.

User Guide'08: To temporarily hide alignment guides, hold down the Command key while you drag an object.
User Guide'09: To momentarily hide guides, hold down the Command key while you drag an object.

Read about the famous marketing slogan 'Think different, think Apple' here.

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