It's getting harder for all of us to keep up with the latest software upgrades. Is that deadline making it impossible to make certain that an upgrade would be compatible with the rest of your workflow? Is your computer and operating system up to the upgrade? Or (like many of us) has the economy taken such a bite out of your budget that it’s hard to justify any upgrade at this point? Regardless of reason, these days most of us have to pick and choose where and when to allocate the precious money and time resources necessary for the proper upgrading of hardware and software.
And then, even when we do take the plunge and fully upgrade, it’s rare to have enough time to thoroughly learn everything that your new software has to offer.
Whether you’ve skipped the last couple of upgrades to Adobe Illustrator, or just haven’t had a chance to fully explore what these upgrades offer, I wanted to share with you some of the ways to use at least a few of my favorite new features from Illustrator CS5 and CS6. While the first of these new features is probably best described as “a little efficiency booster,” some of the others might actually change the way you work altogether. If you’ve held off upgrading, perhaps something on this list will inspire you to at least download the Adobe Illustrator CS6 free trial. If you’ve already upgraded, perhaps you’ll be challenged to take the time to more thoroughly explore the version you have. At the end of this post, I’ve included a link to an Adobe chart that identifies which feature was added to each version of Illustrator since CS3.
Locate Object Icon (AICS6)
This is perhaps one of my favorite little productivity enhancers. The surprise is that this feature has been available but hidden for a few versions of the software. No one really knew about it before, but now everyone should know that this little icon is now in the bottom-left corner of the Layers panel. Often with more complex images in Illustrator, if you select an object on your artboard and then open the Layers panel, you will see the selection indicator next to the layer containing your object.
But if your object is hidden within groups within layers, finding the actual object within that layers structure used to require that you open up the disclosure triangle for the layer within the layer, and then continue to open and scroll and open and scroll until you find the actual object within the Layers panel. With this little icon, even if your object is hidden within a group within groups and sublayers within layers, all you have to do now is select an object on your artboard, then click the icon in the Layers panel. Instantly this object will pop into view in the Layers panel, with all the necessary sublayers and groups disclosed (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 With this fabulous (and super complex) Illustrator artwork by Moses Tan, selecting the “E” in Petrol on the artboard merely displays the layer containing that object, with a selection indicator alongside the layer. Clicking the Locate Object icon in the lower-left corner of the Layers panel will open up any layers, sublayers, or groups, to pop the object itself into view in the Layers panel.