Utilities & Miscellaneous Helper Tools

The following tools are Helper Utilities, intended to enhance your drawing and editing capabilities.

hand and zoom

Zoom Toolzoom tool

You use this tool to zoom in for a close up look at your work, or you can use this tool to zip back out when you're done.

zoom optionsIf you've used a Zoom Tool in other graphics programs, you're in for a bit of a surprise -- this tool works a little differently than expected! Like most of the tools in your Toolbox, the Zoom Tool has modifiers that control it's functionality:
Enlarge   Sets the magnification to "+", which means the tool will enlarge the view of the target area (zoom in).

Reduce   Sets the magnification to "-", which means the tool will reduce the view of the target area (zoom out).
Now it seems a bit unwieldy to have to use a modifier to use this tool. So let's take a simpler approach -- using the keyboard as a modifier!
  1. Click on the Zoom Tool to select it. (Default Zoom mode is "+".)
  2. Drag out a selection area on the stage that you would like to magnify.
  3. When you release the mouse button, Flash will zoom in on your target.

    Tip:   When you drag out a selection, Flash fills the window with the selection. If you do not drag out a selection, Flash magnifies the view based on where you placed the Zoom cursor when you click the left mouse button.

  4. Now... hold down the [Alt] key and look at your cursor -- it's a "-"! The [Alt]  key is a Zoom Tool modifier.
  5. While holding down the [Alt] key, click on the stage to zoom back out.

    Tip:   Holding down the [Alt] key when using the Zoom Tool reverses the mode of the tool.

Hand Tool hand tool

Find scroll bars a little imprecise? The Hand Tool is just what you're looking for! The Hand Tool lets you drag the stage to just the position you want in the edit window. Use it by holding down the left mouse button to drag the stage; release the mouse button when done. 
Let's see what other tricks are built in to the Hand Tool:
  1. Zoom in on a specific shape in your movie.
  2. Select any drawing tool and set some properties for that shape, as if you were getting ready to work with it.
  3. Hold down the [Spacebar] and click on the Hand Tool. Continue to hold down the [Spacebar] while using the Hand to reposition your stage.
  4. Release the [Spacebar]. Look! Your previously selected drawing tool is back, set just like you left it!

Other Viewing Options

As handy as it is, the Zoom Tool may not always do what you need. Fortunately, Flash MX offers us a range of other methods to alter our view of things.

Stage View Magnification Popup MenuThe Stage View Magnification Popup Menu is located in the lower right corner of the Timeline, next to the Edit Symbols List. This menu offers predefined magnification levels:
View Frame   Centers the stage, sized to available window space.

View All   Centers the stage, sized to show as much work area as necessary to show all offstage objects.

Percentages   Various predefined magnification percentages.

In addition, you can type in your own magnification percentage in the Stage View Magnification box and press [Enter] to have your entry accepted.
The View Menu (located above the main button bar) offers even more options, as well as displaying short-cut keys for some of the more commonly used magnification options.


Hiding Toolbars and Panels Sets

There will be times when you need much more space to work in than allowed by the Toolbox and Panel Sets in Flash MX. Rather than closing them -- which then requires you to go through and reopen each element -- you can temporarily hide all toolbars and panels sets, with the exception of the Timeline:
  1. Press [F4] to temporarily hide all tools bars and panels sets.
  2. When you want them back, press [F4] again!
Note:   This feature can also be invoked via the View menu.


Edit General Preferences

The last area we will look at in this lesson is the General System Settings & Preferences that can be set.

First, let's look at Preferences, accessible via Edit > Preferences:


While there are several windows of preferences that can be set, in most cases we will want to stay with the default settings..