An InDesign document could be damaged if an error or other unexpected behavior occurs only while you work in that document. InDesign has an automatic document recovery feature that can prevent damage that system crashes or power outages can cause. However, it can't prevent damage that other system-level problems such as software conflicts, low disk space, or viruses cause. This troubleshooting guide can help you isolate and resolve damage in InDesign documents. It can also help you isolate and resolve system-level problems that appear to be document damage but are related to other causes.
System-level problems can cause errors and other unexpected behavior. Before assuming that a document is damaged, make sure that your system is relatively free from problems. For example, consider running a disk repair utility, then reopening your document to see if it's fixed, before walking through the document damage troubleshooting tasks below.
Windows: See Check your hard disk for errors.
Mac OS: See Resolve startup issues and perform disk maintenance.
After each troubleshooting task you complete, relaunch InDesign and open your document to see if the problem has been fixed. Open the document this way:
Choose File > Open, choose your document, then choose Copy. Resave your document as a new name and see if it's fixed.
Before you begin troubleshooting, create a backup copy of your damaged document. Some of the following tasks require that you change or delete information in the document. A backup copy of the document lets you easily restore information. If the document is on a network volume or removable media (e.g., a CD or jump drive), move the backup to a local drive.
InDesign stores information about plug-ins, features, and the app itself in its preference files: the InDesign SavedData and InDesign Defaults files. A damaged InDesign preference file can cause unexpected behavior with an InDesign document. You can easily determine if the problem is related to the preference files by re-creating them.
Re-creating the InDesign preference files restores settings to their defaults, so you lose custom settings associated with the old preference files. To keep these custom settings, rename the old preference files.
When prompted to delete InDesign preference files, click Yes. InDesign launches with defaults and regenerated preference files.
Open the document and see if it's been fixed. If the problem persists, move on to task 4 below.
Alternatively, or additionally, you can:
- Manually delete your preference files (e.g., if you aren't automatically prompted to delete preferences while launching InDesign, as in the previous procedure)
- Manually rename your preference files (e.g., if you have custom settings associated with the old preference files that you don't want to lose)
Find your OS in the following table to see where these files are located.
OS Locations of Preference Files
Mac OS X
Users/[user]/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/Version [version]/[language]/InDesign Defaults
Users/[user]/Library/Caches/Adobe InDesign/Version [version]/InDesign SavedData
C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Adobe\InDesign\Version [version]\InDesign Defaults
Hidden by default. Learn how to show hidden files.
C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\InDesign\Version[version]\Caches\InDesign SavedData
Hidden by default. Learn how to show hidden files.
If the document was converted from Adobe PageMaker, QuarkXPress, or a previous version of InDesign, try reconverting the document. If the problem recurs, troubleshoot the original document for damage in its source app before you convert it again. A damaged PageMaker or QuarkXPress document likely remains damaged after you convert it.
Styles that you created in InDesign or imported with files created in other apps could be damaged. To find out if this is the case, delete the styles and then resave your document.
To determine if the problem is related to a damaged font, replace all fonts used in the document with a standard font, such as Arial or Times New Roman.
If the problem recurs after you change fonts, it is not font-related. If the problem doesn't recur, the original font or fonts could be damaged or outdated. Try reinstalling the original fonts or obtaining updated versions from the font manufacturer.
Try to determine if a specific element on a master page or a document page causes the problem. To isolate elements, first delete empty pages and unnecessary elements, such as those on a pasteboard or hidden layer.
To delete pages:
If the problem recurs after you delete some pages, delete half of the remaining pages and save the document as a new name. Then try to re-create the problem.
- If the problem recurs, one of the remaining pages could contain a damaged element. Continue to delete pages until you find the page that causes the problem.
- If the problem doesn't recur, one of the deleted pages could contain a damaged element. Replace the deleted pages until you find the page that causes the problem.
After you determine the page that causes the problem, remove and replace elements on it, including imported graphics, InDesign-drawn objects, and text frames on the page.
Copying page elements into a new document leaves structural (internal) damage behind. If the problem recurs after you copy page elements into a new document, delete elements one by one to see if one of the elements is the issue.
To copy page elements into a new document:
If you received the document via email, FTP, or removable media (such as a CD), obtain a copy a different way. Or, have the document resent. Damaged media or a faulty email transmission can damage a document. If the document is sent via email, have the sender compress it first (e.g., using WinZip or Smith Micro's StuffIt) to protect the data.
Consider uninstalling third-party plug-ins from InDesign. Plug-ins can sometimes cause file corruption. See Troubleshoot InDesign third-party plug-ins.
You're not alone! Other users may have experienced similar problems with a document and posted a solution. See the InDesign forums.