Duplicate and Align at the Same Time

I’m going to sing the praises of DragNCopy, a free XTension from Badia Software. What makes it so good isn’t the basic function (it duplicates items… gosh) but what you can do with keyboard modifiers and its built-in memory.

What is DragNCopy? Well, in all Adobe design programs including InDesign, dragging on an object while holding down the Option key produces a duplicate of that object. DragNCopy lets you do the same in QuarkXPress 7 for Mac. Just download the XTension from here, drop it in your XTensions folder, relaunch QuarkXPress and away you go. If you haven’t heard of this free XTension, you haven’t been reading closely enough: Planet Quark told you about it last month, www.planetquark.com/2007/08/09/the-august-6th-design-tools-weekly-podcast

As someone who works with Adobe InDesign as much as with QuarkXPress, I really like having this feature in both programs. DragNCopy is a little different than Adobe’s approach, however, in that it only works with the Item tool (not the Content tool) and that you have to make sure you click the mouse before holding down the Option key.

First up, let’s change that Option key to something else. Option-dragging in QuarkXPress is normally used for scrolling around a layout, so I prefer another keyboard modifier. To change it, go to QuarkXPress’ Preferences and click on Badia DragNCopy. You’ll see that you can choose between the Control, Option and Command keys, or any combination thereof. I prefer the Control key but it’s completely up to you.

Badia DragNCopy

Now let’s try it out. Select an item in your layout with the Item tool and drag it to one side. Before you let go of the mouse button, though, hold down your chosen DragNCopy keyboard modifier — in my case, it’s Ctrl. If you let go of the mouse button now, you will have a duplicate of the item in precisely the position you dragged to.

Badia DragNCopy

But don’t let go of the mouse button just yet. Instead, hold down the Shift key as well. Notice how the outline of the dragged item snaps to a constrained horizontal or vertical.

Badia DragNCopy

Let go of the mouse button and release both keys. You have produced a duplicate item in perfect alignment with the original in one action: no need for ruler guides, dialogue windows, Align buttons or fiddling with X and Y co-ordinates. This, as far as I am concerned, is what makes DragNCopy so useful.

Badia DragNCopy

Better still, you can use this with multiple-selected items too. And better yet, DragNCopy memorizes your last duplication values within QuarkXPress’ Step and Repeat settings. So if you drag out an aligned duplicate like this…

Badia DragNCopy

…immediately pressing Command-D several times produces this:

Badia DragNCopy

Once you get the hang of dragging out aligned duplicates, you should find that it will save you lots of time. Have fun with it.