What a Pain these Panes can be!

One cool thing about Pro is that everything pops open in its own pane, and you can put those panes anywhere you want. The trick, though, is getting them to open up where YOU want them and manage their locations and access while you are working. Otherwise the panes are a pain.

Panes have two states … the first is Un-Docked, or sometimes called Floating. They just sit out there on their own and you can slide them all over the place. This is useful if you are working on dual screens and you want to take one of the panes for a ride to the next screen. I often do this with attribute tables so that I can open a big table and still see all of my map. Or sometimes a small tool opens a pane and when you’re done it goes away. Those are easy to deal with – just drag them somewhere else.

The other state is docked. This means the pane is attached to another pane and has a more permanent position. You can dock one pane to the top, bottom, right, left, or on top of another pane. As you drag the pane over to another pane you’ll see this control display.

You can figure out what the top, bottom, and both side attachments do … just drag the pane onto one of those and it docks to the existing pane. The middle one will dock one pane on top of another, then put a tab at the bottom showing all the panes docked in this location. In the example I show here I have three panes docked on top of each other … shown by three tabs at the bottom of the pane.

The entire stack of panes can be moved if you grab the pane by the title line and pull it loose. All the docked panes go with it. But if you want to pull one pane out of the collection, click the tab at the bottom and pull the pane loose. In this example I could grab the Attributes tab and pull it loose to make it an undocked pane – and the other two panes would remain docked as tabs.

Now it gets complex. There’s a type of pane behavior called Auto Hide. This will dock your pane to the edge of the main map display and only show the tabs for the panes vertically down the side of your display. You do this by docking the pane, then either selecting the option Auto Hide or clicking the Push Pin icon (called “pulling the pin”).

Then when you click the tab the pane will slide open and let you work with it. Be careful, though, because as soon as you click somewhere outside the pane it’ll go back into hiding.

You might find this useful for a pane that you only need one thing from, but for something like the Create Features or Attributes panes you might find it annoying to have to keep reopening the pane to get work done. To put them back just click Dock in the options or click the Push Pin again (“pin it in place”).

Oh wait … there’s more! The main Display Pane in the project is what displays the maps and layouts. And oddly enough other panes like Domains and Attribute Rules also open as display panes rather than tool panes. These panes can’t dock with the tool panes that you normally deal with … they can only dock with themselves. They by default dock on top of each other making a set of tabs across the top of the display. But you can also dock them adjacent to each other to create a dual display map. You will often see this when someone is working on 2D and 3D maps of the same data, or you might want to do this so that you can see the map and the layout for a dataset at the same time. They take up a lot of space on the screen so make sure that’s what you want (or get a giant screen).

Now the painful part of panes. Sometimes you get so many of these open that they either cover your display or they bunch up on top of each other and you can’t tell what is what. Here’s a pane with so many panes stacked in it that the tabs can only show a letter or two of the pane’s name.

There’s a couple of things you can try. One is to dock a pane above another pane, then use one to stack up some of the panes and one to stack up the others. In this instance I have two panes to work from, each with several other panes stacked in them. Six panes displayed elegantly.

The other fix is to do a Pane Reset. On the View tab, click Reset Panes and select one of the preset pane configurations.

If you have a really cool pane setup this will put it back to a standard (bland) configuration so try not to ruin your panes so much that you have to resort to a reset.

Here’s an insider’s tip, though. They are working on adding a “Save Custom Pane Configuration” option to this button so that when you get a good pane configuration you can save it (or maybe even share it with others).

How cool would that be?? In the meantime, experiment with the panes and work on getting a good layout that functions for you. Once you get control of the panes your job will be less pane-ful.


In Pro 2.6 they have added an option to control the location of panes when they open. Go to the Options tab in the “backstage area” and select User Interface. There you will see the controls for setting pane locations. That’ll help keep the confusion to a minimum when you click something that opens a new pane.

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