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10 Minutes with Flash: Quick Tricks

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Did you know that Flash MX 2004 has some hidden powers? Discovering a few tricks can improve your workflow and make Flash useful in ways you probably didn't already know about. Spend another 10 minutes with Robert Hoekman, Jr and learn some quick tips and tricks for improving your experience with Flash.
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It turns out that Flash MX 2004 has some hidden powers. Macromedia almost never mentions them in the Help documentation, nor do most authors demonstrate these powers in articles or books. But discovering a few tricks can improve your workflow and make Flash useful in ways you probably didn't already know about. Because I've been given 10 minutes to teach you something, I'm going to show you some. Nice of me, huh?

Here are some tricks I've picked up, in no particular order, which you may find helpful.

Dealing with the Pesky Edit Bar

When I first started using Flash MX 2004, jumping up from Flash MX, the first thing I noticed was that the Edit bar moved. It bothered me because I didn't understand why Macromedia would change something that everyone was already used to. The Edit bar has always been underneath the Timeline—I'd gotten so used to it being there that I couldn't imagine getting used to the new layout.

Wanna know how to move it back?

TIP

To move the Edit bar back underneath the Timeline, press Ctrl + Shift on Windows or Command + Shift on Mac, and double-click the Edit bar. It magically moves back to its rightful place under the Timeline, and you no longer have to miss Flash MX.

The Edit bar has three purposes: navigating through nested Timelines, zooming in and out on the Stage, and navigating through scenes and symbols. Each task the Edit bar handles, however, can be performed in other ways. The Edit bar isn't useful at all if you know the following tricks:

TIP

To edit a symbol, you can double-click that symbol on the Stage to edit it in place, or double-click the symbol's icon in the Library to enter Edit mode. To leave Edit mode and return to Scene 1, simply double-click on the Stage.

To zoom, press Control (or Command); then press a number. Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 on your keyboard represent 100% of zooming fun, and the higher the number, the more you zoom in. Ctrl/Cmd + 1 zooms to 100%, Ctrl/Cmd + 2 zooms to 200%, and so on. Alternatively, use the Zoom tool in your toolbar. Click to zoom in, or press Alt and click to zoom out.

Navigating through scenes and symbols can be done with the Scene (Shift + F2) and Library (Ctrl/Cmd + L) panels, respectively, so we don't need the Edit bar for that either. Now that we've got workarounds for everything the Edit bar does, we can get rid of it and free up some screen space.

TIP

To remove the Edit bar from your workspace, choose Window > Toolbars > Edit Bar. It's gone for good.

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