What Is the Adobe Flash CS5 Library? - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Each Adobe Flash Creative Suite 5 document contains a library, a repository of reusable graphics, animations, buttons, sounds, video, and even fonts. As you build your Flash CS5 movie, you can add to your library any piece of artwork you’ve created on the stage.

Your library is managed from the Library panel, which is visible in the default workspace. If you don’t see your Library panel, choose Window→Library to open it.

Individual items in the library are stored as symbols. What makes symbols powerful is that you can reuse them as many times as necessary. Simply drag and drop a copy (an instance) from the Library panel onto the stage anywhere in your movie. Most importantly, each instance remains linked to the original in your library. Any changes made to the original (or master) symbol automatically update any instances of the same symbol used throughout the movie.


Symbols are broken down into three main categories: graphics, buttons, and movie clips.

The Library panel is the main storage location for all your symbols, and much like any library, it has essential organizational tools that make managing your symbols easy.

The most basic and common functions are made easy by using several icons found along the bottom of the panel, as shown in the sidebar figure:

  • Panel menu: All panels have panel menus, which offer additional options or modify the view of the panel itself. The Library panel’s panel menu carries out additional symbol and library-related tasks.

  • Pin Library: Clicking this icon ensures that the current library stays active even when you switch between other open documents. Normal behavior (unpinned) is for library views to switch automatically when moving between open documents.

  • New Library Panel: Click this icon to create a duplicate Library panel in case you want multiple, distinctive views of your current library. You can also open a new Library panel to view libraries from other documents that are open in your workspace.

  • Search: The text box and magnifying glass under the preview panel can help you search for symbols by name in the Library, which is especially helpful for large libraries. Simply type a full or partial name, and the panel displays matches, if any exist.

  • New Symbol: Create a new symbol, identical to the command found by choosing Insert→New Symbol.

  • New Folder: Create folders you can sort your symbols into for easy categorization. You can create folders within folders for even finer sorting capabilities.

  • Properties: If a symbol is highlighted in your library, clicking the Properties icon opens the Symbol Properties window. From there, you can redefine the symbol’s name, type, or registration point.

  • Trash Can: Yes, you guessed it — this symbol deletes (trashes) the highlighted symbol in the library. Be careful: No warning is given before the deed is done. However, you can choose Edit→Undo to reverse this action, if necessary.