I'm hoping there is an easy fix for this! In InDesign, I always use the Live Distribute feature to equally space objects. This is much quicker than trying to calculate the space you want between objects using Horizontal Distribute Space or Vertical Distribute Space. Does anyone know how to do this in Illustrator or have an alternative solution?

Now, I don't remember how I originally found out about the Live Distribute shortcut, and I only figured out what it was called by googling. This is an example of the feature I'm talking about:

  1. Say you have equal boxes on a page: enter image description here

  2. If you have them all highlighted and expand them right/left/up/down, all boxes get bigger/smaller while maintaining original spacing, like so: enter image description here

  3. However, If you have them all highlighted and hold down shift while dragging, it Live Distributes (i.e. keeps the boxes the same size and just expands the space between the objects) like so: enter image description here

Whenever I try the same steps in Illustrator, it just expands all of the objects. I have done every type of aligning I can find in Illustrator (within the Align window), but none of them have the freedom of the function I'm looking for. So, I Googled around to figure out what it was called in Indesign (Live Distribute), then googled that feature with Illustrator...Nada. I've spent entirely too much time on several different occasions trying to figure this shortcut out, and I give up every time. ANY insight would help this girl out a ton! Thank you!

To clarify, above, I tried to simplify by showing identical objects, but ultimately I'm looking to use this function with items that are not exactly the same. For instance... same size "placed" images while creating a pattern as shown below. I suppose I could produce a box with step and repeat, then just place my images over the box, but I'm hoping for a more efficient/direct solution. enter image description here

2 Answers 2


This thread covers it: https://forums.adobe.com/message/1104159

The consensus is to duplicate your item once then use CMD+D to duplicate over and over. I don't like this but if you are used to Step and Repeat in inDesign then this is the closest I've found to it. I really wish that we could get utility items like this across the board in Adobe products.

Alternatively this "Transform Each" function can work in illustrator: http://www.ehow.com/how_4430827_step-repeat-illustrator.html

  • Thank you for this! I'm ultimately looking to use it for an item that is NOT the same... Unfortunately, "Transform Each" wasn't what I was looking for, but I still gave you an up vote since I learned something! And added more clarification to my question. I also agree that it would be nice to add these utilities across the board. Thanks :)
    – acook712
    Jan 7, 2016 at 21:01
  • You can also try this graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/5989/47112
    – ddrt
    Jan 7, 2016 at 21:48

As both softwares are vector based you could take advantage of those InDesign features and then export/copy the shapes to Illustrator.

There's nothing similar in Illustrator to the feature you described. If it was me I would use Indesign to somehow create the base design and then copy the shape to Illustrator and proceed from there.


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