the Library
       by kirupa | 31 May 2005

When working in Flash, you may find yourself having a large collection of symbols such as movie clips, buttons, and graphics. Having so many symbols can be difficult to keep track off, but Flash provides you with a feature that makes it easier - the Library. The Library is a centralized location where you can view, browse, add, delete, and organize symbols in much the same way as you would move and edit files on your computer.

So, let's start. First, download my FLA that contains some movie clips, graphics, and buttons:

Download Partial FLA

Once you have downloaded the above file and unzipped it, open the library.fla in Flash.

The Library
When you opened library.fla, you should see some text and nothing else. That's ok, for the real action is in the Library! Press Ctrl + L or navigate to Window | Library. You should see the Library panel appear.

The following graphic outlines what each icon and section of the Library represents. It will be useful for you to refer to this for I will be using these labels when talking about the Library throughout this and the next page:

The Library can be viewed in a separate window or docked on the right. To dock or separate the Library, simply click on the left side of blue title bar and either drag it towards a dockable area or towards an empty area of your Flash window.

Adding an Item to the Library
Your library automatically adds items to it when a symbol is created. Select the text '' on your drawing area by clicking on the text. Once you have selected the text, press F8 or go to Modify | Convert to Symbol.

The Convert to Symbol dialog box will appear. Select the option for Graphic, and in the field for Name, enter the word "text":

[ convert your text to Graphic ]

Press OK. The Convert to Symbol dialog box will have disappeared, and your text object is now a Graphic. But, take a gander at your Library. Notice that you now see a graphic symbol with the the name text displayed in the Items list:

[ notice the Text graphic displayed in the Library ]

There is another way that you can add items to your Library. You can click the New Symbol icon, fill out the information in the Create New Symbol dialog box, and add the symbol directly to your Library without having it display on your stage first.

Either way, though, any symbol you create or convert is automatically added to your library. When an item is in the Library, it does not necessarily mean that the item is used. In fact, in our example, there were three items in our Library, yet none of the were displayed on the stage. Rest assured though. Displaying items from your Library is fairly straightforward.

Displaying Items from your Library
Displaying an item from your Library on your stage is as easy as dragging and dropping. Simply select an item, the circle movie clip, from your Library and drag it to your stage. You will now see the circle displayed on your stage:

[ drag and drop the circle movie clip to your drawing area ]

You can drag multiple instances of the same item. Click and drag your circle movie clip again from the Library to the stage. Notice that you now have two copies of your circle movie clip on your stage now.

If you decide that you don't like having two circles or any circles on your stage, simply select your circle/circles and press your Delete key. Deleting an item from your stage does not delete the item from your Library, but the opposite - deleting an item from the Library - is not the same.

Deleting Items from your Library
In order to delete an item from the Library, select the item in the Library first. Once the item has been selected, press the Delete button in the Library:

[ select an item in your library and press the Delete button to remove the item ]

An item deleted from the Library cannot be brought back. If you have any instances of your deleted item on your stage, they will disappear once you delete that item from your Library. You do have the ability to Undo a delete, so that's good if you catch the deletion early on.

In the next page, I will explain some more useful features in the Library.


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