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Workspaces and multiple monitors

If your computer has the capability to use more than one monitor, I highly recommend it when working in Captivate. Monitors with higher resolutions do allow you to have more working space in applications, but the extra screen real estate you get with a second, and even third, monitor can greatly improve your workflow. Taking that one step further is Captivate’s custom Workspaces and then positioning pallets on another monitor instead of solely repositioning them within the application.

I’ve been using dual monitor for about 15 years as it’s very helpful to have my Adobe apps on the primary screen and other apps, like Word or Outlook, on the second. This way I’m not constantly flipping between two applications or having to split my screen with applications on both sides on a single monitor. Having two applications split on a screen isn’t terribly annoying, depending on the app, but as Adobe programs come allow for custom workspaces where you can move around pallets so it best fits your work style, splitting two apps on a screen will likely prevent you from being truly productive. This is why dual monitors are a benefit with each application on a separate screen.

What I’ve found to be a great benefit to placing the pallets anywhere I want is that you can also place them outside the application’s bounds. So instead of just floating them over the application or docking them to the side, you can place them on a second monitor as well. The benefit of placing the pallets on a second monitor is you can create more physical working space for your project files which reduces the amount of zooming and scrolling around the artboard.

The image below shows the workspace I use across three monitors when I’m working in Captivate. The main Captivate application in the middle monitor, a few pallets on the right monitor, and another program on the left monitor.


Before I started using a second monitor for my Captivate pallets I used the default layout with the Timeline pallet docked at the bottom. Because I’m frequently dealing with a lot of objects on a slide, I was always scrolling up and down the timeline to get to specific layers. So I decided to move the timeline to my second monitor where it takes up a good majority of the real estate. Most slides don’t have nearly the amount of images, text, and smart shapes as the active slide in the screenshot, but this is one of the most content intensive slides I’ve created in recent years. After grouping objects together and collapsing the group there is a lot more vertical room available, but when I am working within the individual groups it’s necessary to have everything expanded, as the image shows, so having to scroll less to find things is a benefit to productivity.

I’ve tried a few different workspace layouts until I finally landed on the one you see above. The pallets I use the most are the Filmstrip, Properties, Timing, Library, and Timeline, so those have really driven the arrangement.

Filmstrip, Master Slides, and Object State pallets


(docked on the left side of Captivate)

It made the most sense to have the Master Slides next to the Filmstrip since they have similar functions. The Object State pallet automatically opens when you enter the states of an object and since you then can’t interact with the filmstrip or master slides when you’ve done this, I didn’t see any reason to move this pallet to another location.

Timing and Drag and Drop pallets


(docked on the right side of Captivate)

The Drag and Drop pallet made sense to group with the Timing pallet as I rarely need to make any adjustments on both pallets at the same time.

Properties pallet


(docked on the left of the Timing and Drag and Drop pallets)

The Properties pallet is the second most frequently used for me and when I had it grouped with other pallets I found that I was switching back and forth between it and one of the pallets it was grouped with far too frequently. So, it made sense to separate it from everything else to stand alone. A larger factor for separating it is because I wanted to see the properties of an object while also being able to see its Timing or Quiz properties. By having all three pallets visible at the same time I don’t have to constantly flip between them while remembering what settings I’ve applied on each individual pallet.

Libraries, Find And Replace, and Quiz pallets


(floating on the left side of the second monitor)

I have the Libraries pallet positioned on the left side of my second monitor as I wanted the most space I could get to reduce the amount of vertical scrolling. The project that’s open uses over 200 images. Even after placing the images into folders inside the Library pallet, having the pallet on the second monitor gives me just a little bit more vertical space to work with.

Grouped with it are the Find And Replace and Quiz pallets. Both of them are pallets I never need open all at the same time, so that’s why they’re grouped together here.

Timeline pallet


(floating on the right of the second monitor)

Placing the Timeline pallet on my second monitor has resulted in the best performance improvement.  The active slide in the image above has 90 objects which create a very tall Timeline. In order to not have to scroll the Timeline up or down just on this slide would require a monitor with a vertical resolution of 2140 pixels. My second monitor is using a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and it only allows me to see a total of 44 individual objects so half of the objects in the timeline are only visible after scrolling up or down.

Having the extra width for the Timeline pallet is actually a better benefit than it is for the additional vertical height. I frequently adjust the scale of the width in and out so I can get a good overview of the entire slide or make finer adjustments, but the extra width means I’m able to stay scaled in more frequently so I don’t have to scroll left/right nearly as often.

A Third Monitor

It may seem like overkill to have a third monitor, but once I started putting pallets on my second monitor they covered and obscured any applications. The storyboards and design documents I use when creating online trainings are most beneficial when I can see them at the same time as Captivate, so having Word open on a third monitor uses the same reasoning as I used for the Properties, Timing, and Quiz pallets. The less time I spend flipping between active windows the better. It’s far easier to examine the differences between a Word and Captivate file by simply looking back and forth between them rather than constantly flipping between the applications when they’re on the same screen.

So if you have the ability to incorporate a second, or third, monitor into your workflow I highly recommend it. I know that purchasing a second monitor can seem like an unwanted/unjustified expense, but having another monitor allows you to spend more time on design instead of wading through panels, scrolling, or switching between applications.

One Response

  1. Thanks for this article Michael. Hope you will not mind me adding some (missing?) information?
    Custom workspaces are only available if you work in Expert UI, while the default UI is the Newbie. You have to enable that UI in Preferences, General Setttings, fourth option ‘Enable custom….’.
    Moreover, lot of users have mentioned problems when getting back to a setup with one screen (laptop or desktop screen). You have to drag everything back to the primary monitor if expecting to have the next Captivate with one screen.
    BTW I always have Advanced Interaction panel floating and minimized in most workspaces. Too bad that only in Captivate panels cannot be reduced to an icon as is the case for other Adobe apps, and was also possible in Captivate 7. I really do miss that functionality, because I don’t have the space for a multiple monitor setup.

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