Grouping objects in Adobe Captivate

Posted by Greten on 19 Oct 2019 under Tools

Adobe Captivate allows you to group several side objects: text captions, shapes, and images. You can also put more complicated objects such as videos and advanced interactions in groups. Grouping can be useful in organizing your slide objects, especially those that have too many objects on one slide.

Note that throughout this post, "object" refers to the slide objects: anything that you can put on a slide in Captivate, and not just those under the Objects menu.

Grouping and ungrouping objects

There are many possible reasons why you might want to group slide objects. It can be temporary groups such as when you want to resize objects of different sizes such that the proportion of their sizes remain the same. You can group them, resize, and then ungroup again. You might also want to group objects permanently, such as an image and a caption describing it needing to stick together.

How to group objects?

First, select the objects that you want to put together in a group. There are two ways you can do it.

  • Hold the CTRL (Control) key and click the objects one-by-one. Notice that the first object's bounding box becomes visible with eight white handles, while the succeeding objects' bounded boxes have black handles instead. If the object is rectangle or square and has a clear solid stroke, the bounding box might not be noticeable, but you can still see the handlebars.
  • Click the mouse on a part of the slide and hold the mouse button to drag the mouse. Notice that a dashed rectangle form between the spot where you first clicked and the current position of the mouse pointer. All objects caught by the dashed rectangle will be selected, as indicated by having visible bounding boxes and handles. One of the objects will have white handles, while the others will have black handles. The colors of handles don't matter in grouping objects.
  • Click the mouse and drag it to select several objects. If you notice an object that you do not intend to become part of the group, hold the Control key and click on it to unselect it.

Second, press Ctrl + G or right-click on one of the objects selected and click Group on the menu that appeared on the right of the mouse pointer. Four shapes selected: a rectangle, a triangle, an oval. They are marked by dashed rectangle and handles. The same objects are grouped on the right, with one larger dashed rectangle and handles for the whole group.

If several objects are enclosed with one large bounding box, and the bounding boxes of the individual objects become dimmer, it indicates that you now have a group. The large bounding box comes with handles that allow you to resize and rotate the group as a whole, while the individual objects within the group will no longer have handles.

How to ungroup objects?

To ungroup a group of objects:

  1. Select the group. Notice the bounding box enclosing  the entire group and the dimmer bounding boxes for each object in the group.
  2. Press Shift + Ctrl + G, or right-click on the group and select Ungroup in the menu that appeared.

How to put an object to a group?

Suppose you have a group of objects, and later decided to add another object in it. You can put it in a group with the following steps:

  1. Select the object and then select the group as if it's just another object; you may also select the group before the object. You can hold the Ctrl key and click the new object and the group, or drag the mouse so that you can select both the object and the group.
  2. Press Ctrl + G. Alternatively, right-click on either the new object or the group, and on the menu that appeared, select Group.

If you put an object to an existing group, the original grouping disappears. Meaning, if you ungroup them, they are going to split into individual objects, and not between the new object and the original group.

How to remove an object from a group?

You can remove an object from a group without dismantling the rest of the group.

  1. Click on the group. It becomes surrounded with a dashed rectangle with handles.
  2. While the group is selected, click the object you want to remove from the group. The handles of the group will become green, while the bounding box surrounding the object becomes darker and with white handles.
  3. Right-click on the object. The menu that appears on right-click has a new option, Remove From Group. Select this option. You can then drag the object away from its former groupmates if needed.

Group of objects in the timeline

Working on groups in the timeline can be different from working on individual objects. The default color of a group's timeline bar is gray. It has an icon that looks like a square with three smaller squares inside. A small black triangle is on the left of the icon; you can use it to expand the group's timeline and show the timeline bars of the individual objects.

Duration of a group in the timeline

You can drag the group timeline bar across the timeline, but you cannot drag its end to increase or decrease its duration.

When you move the mouse pointer on a timeline bar, it becomes a hand, indicating that you can drag it across the timeline or the layers. When you move the mouse pointer to the start or the end of the timeline bar, it becomes a double-sided arrow indicating that you can stretch or compress the timeline bar. The double-sided arrow does not appear at the end of a group's timeline bar.

Expand the group's timeline to see the objects within it by clicking the black triangle. The objects in the group have indented icons, indicating that they are under the group.

The duration of a group's timeline bar depends on the duration of the objects within the group. The objects within the group may appear or disappear at the same time or at different times. The start of a group's timeline bar is the start of the first object to appear, and its end is the end of the last object to disappear; these start and end are marked by red circles in the illustration above.

Group transition and effects

Each object in a group can have its own Transition. One object can have fade-in and fade-out, another object can have 0.5 second fade-in, another object can have 1.0 second face-in, and the last object can have no transition.

If objects already have transitions before you grouped them, they retain their own transitions.

However, if you assigned different transitions to objects, and then later selected the whole group and set up a transition for the group, the transitions of individual objects are overridden by that of the group.

Animation Effects can be configured only in a group or in an individual object that is not part of a group. You cannot configure a group such that its individual objects have their own animation effects. If the group has more than one animation effects, these effects always apply to the group as a whole.

Animation effects show in the timeline as pink timeline bars. In a group, they also appear when the black triangle is clicked, and they are always above the blue timeline bars of the individual objects.

Grouping objects allows you to organize objects into diagrams or figures. It also allows you to manipulate them in the same manner as if they are a single object. You can also apply animation effects to the entire group, making them behave as one object.

Last updated on 25 Oct 2020.

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