In the recent November Portland InDesign User Group Meeting I presented five panels that are relatively new and, in my experience as a teacher, not often used. Most of these have been around since CS5.
1. Tool Hints
Gives helpful information for each tool button in your tool panel as you select it. Particularly helpful for people new to InDesign or to those wishing to branch out beyond their regular workflows.
2. Background Tasks
Several versions ago InDesign started allowing certain processes, such as exporting PDFs, printing, and saving to be processed in the background so that you can keep working instead of sitting and waiting. This is great, but for large files it’s nice to be able to see the progress of the export. You can monitor your background tasks using this panel. I typically reduce this panel to the size of a button and then expand it if I need to check up on what has happened to a background task.
3. Kuler Panel
A great tool for selecting color schemes. Allows you to share and browse a large collection of schemes as well as create your own using standard color theory principles. According to Wikipedia’s article on Kuler, kuler is a Mauritian Creole word for color.
Try out Adobe’s iPhone app of the same name, too. It extends this functionality by allowing you to take a picture of your environment and sample the colors to use in a color scheme.
4. Adobe Exchange (NEW CC)
New in CC, this panel brings the Adobe Exchange website into a panel interface. If you’ve never been to exchange.adobe.com, it’s a great place to get great scripts, plugins, brushes, filters, effects, etc. for Adobe products—many of them free.
Adobe Bridge, but in a panel. You can park it permanently as part of your workspace and save it’s location so you don’t have to move it into place every time you start up. If you’re a Bridge user, you’ll probably like this.