When you export an InDesign document to PDF with downsampling enabled, large images can require large amounts of memory. If the memory needs exceed the amount of system and virtual memory available, the export might fail with the message, "PDF Export Failed."


This is typically caused by placing images, or graphics that contain images, and scaling them down significantly. This causes their effective resolution to increase. For example, a 600 dpi image scaled to 50% has an effective resolution of 1200dpi. But placing a large, high resolution image without scaling could also require more than the available memory, depending on your system configuration and state, and the downsampling settings.


Solution 1: Downsample the images after export using Acrobat.

  1. Choose File > Export and select PDF as your format, choose a location and click Save.
  2. In the Export PDF dialog box, disable the image downsampling options.
  3. Open the resulting PDF in Acrobat.
  4. Choose Advanced > PDF Optimizer.
  5. Set the downsampling options you desire in the Image Settings pane.
  6. Disable any other options that are not needed.
  7. Click OK and choose the name and location to save the file.

Solution 2: Downsample the images prior to export using Photoshop (or another photo editing tool).

  1. Context-click on the image in the layout, or the links panel, and choose Edit Original.
  2. Once the image has opened in Photoshop, choose Image > Image size.
  3. Ensure that Resample Image, and Constrain Proportions are enable.
  4. Adjust the document size values to the needs of your layout.
  5. If the image resolution is larger than what is required by your final output, adjust the value here.
  6. Save and close the image.
  7. Return to InDesign.
  8. Update the link, if necessary. 

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