Non-breaking space keyboard shortcut in InDesign CS

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 25th, 2004 • 4:58 am

This one is pretty strange… For some reason, I have been unable to use the usual keyboard shortcut (option-Spacebar) to enter a non-breaking space in InDesign CS.

According to the on-line help, this is still the valid keyboard shortcut in InDesign CS:

To create a nonbreaking space:
1. Using the Type tool, click where you want to insert the space.
2. Do one of the following:
- Choose Type > Insert White Space> Nonbreaking space (or any other white space character).
- Press Ctrl+Alt+x (Windows) or Option+spacebar (Mac OS).

However, if I go to the “Insert White Space” sub-menu in the “Type” menu, the keyboard shortcut that appears next to the “Non-breaking Space” item is shift-Spacebar:

Shortcut for non-breaking space

Then if I go to InDesign’s “Keyboard Shortcuts” dialog box to change the shortcut back to option-Spacebar, I find that I am unable to do so, not because the option-Spacebar is already assigned to another command, but because it doesn’t work at all. If I press the option-Spacebar combination while in that dialog, InDesign CS doesn’t do a thing. It doesn’t register the shortcut. It’s as if the shortcut was intercepted by the system and not available at all.

This is rather annoying. The non-breaking space is obviously much more frequently used in French than it is in English, so I suppose that not too many English-speaking people have complained to Adobe about it (and maybe the problem is fixed in the French version of InDesign CS). I also suppose that the fact that the on-line help still says “option-Spacebar” doesn’t mean much… That part of the document probably hasn’t been updated in ages.

You’d think that, after two decades in the desktop publishing / page layout business, Adobe would know better than to change the shortcut for such a common thing!


3 Responses to “Non-breaking space keyboard shortcut in InDesign CS”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    I don’t think it’s a limitation in OS X as a whole, because no other application seems to be affected by the problem (and that, of course, makes it very difficult to accept that things are now different in InDesign from all other applications, including Word, BBEdit, etc.). I don’t see much difference between using shift-spacebar or one of the other shortcuts you described. Either way, it’ll be different from other applications, and that’s a pain.

    As for cmd-H, given that Apple wants to use it for the “Hide” command, I wouldn’t bother. Some applications let you use it for other purposes (BBEdit, I think), but I doubt anyone at Adobe has bothered to research the issue and implement the shortcut in a way to can coexist with Mac OS X’s default behavior.

  2. Warren Beck says:

    Yep. Go figure; you can’t reassign the non-breaking space to option-space like you could obviously do it in Mac OS 9. I think this is either a limitation of the keyboard driver in Mac OS X or the driver on top of it that Adobe is using. There are a number of other keystrokes that are also not available for some unknown reason.

    I suggest using the back-quote key (`) for the non-breaking space rather than the default command-option X that is provided by default in InDesign (how did they come up with that?). My reasoning is this: if you can’t have option-space, you need something easy to find and preferably not used for regular typing. Also, the tilde character (~) is used as a non-breaking space in TeX and LaTeX, and the back-quote is on the tilde key.

    Lastly, I really wish that Adobe had provided a way to entirely clear the keyboard mapping to commands in InDesign. There must be 689 different keyboard mappings provided by default (and a different set is provided by the PageMaker plug-in, not all of them as they were in Mac OS 9 Pagemaker, if memory serves, and it has been a while), and I just don’t know how one is supposed to remember them or find an unused one for redefinition. I had to go manually through each of the assignments and clear them out so that I could use the ones I wanted for my own (evil) purposes.

    By the way, has anyone figured out how to redefine command-H for anything? It comes mapped to something (I can’t recall) but if you try to map it to, say, superscripts, it comes unstuck and gets assigned permanently to Hide Indesign (like in most Mac OS X apps). This is probably a bug in both Mac OS X and InDesign. So, don’t reassign command-H unless you want it to be mapped forcefully to Hide InDesign.

  3. Betalogue » Using Keyboard Maestro to fix Adobe InDesign’s shortcut for the non-breaking space says:

    [...] page layout application, there is little that irritates me more than Adobe’s on-going refusal to support the standard keyboard shortcut for inserting a non-breaking space, a character which is an essential part of French typography (and should be used more often even in [...]

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