The timeline is a very important feature in Articulate Storyline. It’s what controls the timing and display of all the items on your slide, from text to images, shapes, and buttons. Every object that appears on your slide appears on the timeline. The timeline panel is located along the bottom of the Storyline application.

There are so many incredible things you can do right from the timeline panel. Here’s a rundown of my 11 favorites:

1. Undock the Timeline

Articulate Storyline 2 comes with the awesome new ability to undock the timeline panel. What does that mean? Well, we all know that once we get a dozen or more items on our timeline, they can become unwieldy and difficult to navigate because it’s hard to scroll up and down to find the items we need. To fix that problem, you can simply click the Undock Panel icon (located on the far right top of the timeline) and resize your timeline to be any size you need. This works especially well if you have dual monitors and can drag the timeline over to a second monitor.

2. Preview a Slide

You don’t need to use the preview button on the ribbon to check out how a single slide is looking. If you want to have a peek at timing and animations, simply use the preview functions available right in the bottom left-hand corner of the timeline.

3. Use the Playhead

The playhead is the blue line with the upside-down triangle that appears at the very start of the timeline. You can drag the playhead along the timeline and use it to align different objects. Or you can use it to select a certain part of the timeline you want to preview, and use the preview functions in the player to have a look at how your slide is coming along.

4. Create Groups for Objects

As previously mentioned, sometimes things can get cluttered and confusing when you have 10+ objects in the timeline. To help you manage that, you can group items on your slide by holding the CTRL key while you select all the items you want to include in the group. Then, with all the items selected, right-click on one of the items and from the menu choose Group. Those shapes will then appear in the timeline under one single group, which you can then rename to make things even clearer. To expand a group on the timeline, simply click the arrow on the far left of the timeline row.

This is how the group looks when it’s not expanded:

And once you’ve expanded it, all the items are displayed beneath it, like so:

5. Select Multiple Objects at Once

You can easily manipulate multiple objects on the timeline at once by holding the CTRL key while you select the various objects in the timeline. The selected items become highlighted in blue. If you want to deselect an item, just click on it again, still while holding the CTRL key.

6. Hide Objects

Click the eyeball icon on the far left of each row in the timeline to keep an object from appearing on the screen. This can be particularly helpful if you are making edits to a slide that has multiple layered objects.

7. Lock and Unlock Objects

Right next to the hide button is the lock button. When you lock an item, you can no longer grab it and move it around on the slide—it’s locked in place and can’t be edited until you unlock it. This is a great way to make sure a large shape or a big element like the background photo doesn’t move around as you make edits to a slide.

8. Add Cue Points

As of Storyline 2, cue points can be used to trigger animations or interactivity to occur on a slide. To add cue points to the timeline, simply right-click on the timeline and click Create Cue Point at Playhead. Storyline will insert the cue point wherever the playhead is, but you can easily drag it anywhere on the timeline.

9. Use Arrows to Move the Playhead

If you want to move your playhead across the timeline, you can do this by first clicking inside the playhead, and then using the Back and Next keys on the keyboard to move the playhead along. If you hold the CTRL key while you press the Back or Next keys, the playhead jumps in small sections; and if you hold the SHIFT key while you do it, the playhead advances in tiny increments. So, you have a lot of control over exactly where you place the playhead.

10. Show Until End vs. Show Always

If you right-click on an object on the timeline, you’ll notice you have several options. Show Always will make the object on the timeline appear from the the very start of the Timeline until the finish, so the object appears for the entire duration of the Timeline. Show Until End will make the object show until the end of the Timeline, but won’t change where the object starts on the timeline.

11. Adjust Amount of Time Displayed

One last trick … you can adjust the amount of time displayed on the timeline by clicking inside the timeline and pressing the CTRL key and the + or - key at the same time. This will allow you to redefine the amount of time that is displayed, to either more or less, depending on how long you need your timeline to be.

There you have it—11 things you need to know about working with the Storyline timeline. It’s a basic feature that’s easy to work with, extremely powerful, and infinitely versatile. What are your tricks for using the timeline? Share them in the comments below!

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate software? Download a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

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