Identify and troubleshoot file issues

Are you facing issues while opening or saving InDesign files? Read on to learn about the possible reasons and resolutions.

System-level issues can cause errors and other unexpected behavior. Before assuming that a document is damaged, follow these steps:

  1. Run the disk repair utility tool for Windows or macOS.

  2. Ensure that your system meets the minimum system requirements to run the latest version of InDesign.

  3. Ensure that your InDesign is up to date.

    Update InDesign

InDesign system messages help you determine the cause of the crash by providing a list of problem-causing scenarios. Here are some of the scenarios and their solutions:

  Facing a different issue? Need more help?

Insufficient system memory

InDesign cannot open the file when your system does not have enough memory (RAM) to read the file. One of the reasons for less memory can be too many applications open on your computer. 

Solution

  • Perform disk clean-up to reduce the number of unnecessary files on your drive and ensure that your Windows temporary folder is empty.
  • Quit some applications to free up your system's memory.
  • Expand your system's RAM, if possible.

Access denied

InDesign cannot open a file and displays an error message if you face any of the following access-related issues with the file:

Issue

Resolution

Not authorized to open this file or required access permissions are not available.

Obtain access permissions from the owner of the file and try signing in again.

Tip: Before you work on a shared file, create a local copy if possible.

The file is already open or locked (in use) by another user.

Close the file from other applications or user profiles.

The file is password protected or invalid login or password for the file.

Ensure that correct login credentials are provided.

The file is placed on a network and the network location is not reachable.

Check the network connectivity and try accessing the file again.

File already open

InDesign cannot open or save the file when it is already open in another version of InDesign.

Solution

  • Close the file that is open in another version of InDesign.
  • If you are unable to close the file, force close all versions of InDesign or restart your computer. 
  • If you're facing this issue with file save, try changing the file name and location.

Input/output device issues

InDesign cannot open or save a file when the read or write process is interrupted or if the file cannot be accessed or found.

Following are some scenarios that can cause interruptions to the file read or write process:

File location

Reason

Resolution

Removable devices (USB stick, external drive, pen drive, and so on)

Device is not removed or ejected safely from the computer

Ensure that you safely remove the device after every read or write operation.

Network location

Network connectivity is lost

Ensure your network connection is available.

Shared location

Shared file is no longer available

Ensure that the shared location is accessible.

Damaged file

InDesign displays an error message when the file is found to be damaged, corrupt, or when it tries to auto-recover the file. Select a tab based on your scenario and follow the troubleshooting steps to try and recover the contents of the document. 

Quick check on external factors

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Use a different computer to open the document by changing to a different system environment. You can remove variables that cause the problem. 
  • 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 restoring or re-creating them. For more information, see Restoring all preferences
  • Increase the amount of space available on the startup disk. InDesign uses temporary files to store and retrieve data; it writes these temporary files to the startup disk. As a guideline, free space on the startup disk should equal three to five times the size of the document (including linked images) or ten percent of the disk capacity, whichever is greater. You can free space on the startup disk by deleting unnecessary files or by storing files on separate partitions or disks. To check the amount of free space on the startup disk: 
    • Select the startup disk icon on the desktop. 
    • Choose File > Get Info > General Information.
    • Note the Capacity and the Available Space for the disk.

Solution: Open a copy of the document rather than the original.

When you open a document as a copy, InDesign reads from the original file and opens an untitled copy. If you can open a copy of the document, choose File > Save As, save the copy with a different name than the original document, and use the copy instead of the original document.

Follow these steps to open a document as a copy:

  1. Start InDesign and choose File > Open.

  2. Select Copy in the Open A File dialog and browse to the document.

  3. Select the document and click Open.

 Before you begin troubleshooting, create a backup copy of your damaged document. Some of the following tasks require you to change or delete the document's information.

A backup copy of the document lets you quickly restore information. Move the backup to a local drive if the document is on a network volume or removable media like a CD or jump drive.

Complete the following tasks in order.

  1. Open the file in InDesign. 

  2. Choose File > Export.

  3. From the Save As Type, choose InDesign Markup (CS4 and later) or InDesign Interchange (CS3 and earlier).

  4. Give the file a name and location, and then click Save.

  5. In InDesign, open the exported .idml or .inx file.

If the problem is resolved, continue to use the .idml or .inx file as a replacement of your original document. If the problem persists, move on to the next step.

Force Recomposition of all the stories using the shortcut Cmd-Opt-/ on macOS and Ctrl-Alt-/ on Windows.

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.

Follow these steps to copy page elements into a new document:

  1. Choose File > New and click OK in the New Document dialog.

  2. Choose Window > Tile to display both documents.

  3. Click the original document to activate it.

  4. Choose Window > Pages to activate the Pages panel.

  5. Drag a page or spread into the new document window. InDesign copies the page or spread into the new document, adding pages as necessary.

  6. Save the new document to a new name (different from the name of your original document) and try to re-create the problem.

    • If the problem recurs, the damage isn't structural (e.g., on master pages or document pages). Delete elements one by one to see if one of the elements is causing the issue.
    • If the problem doesn't recur, the damage is probably structural. Repeat steps 4 through 7 for each remaining page or spread.

Styles that you created in InDesign or imported with files created in other apps could be damaged. Also, there could be some empty pages and unnecessary elements. To find out if this is the case, delete the styles, pages, and then resave your document.

Follow these steps to delete Character Styles:

  1. Open the document and choose Type > Character Styles.

  2. Select all styles except [No character style] in the Character Styles panel. Hold Ctrl (Windows) or Command (macOS) while you select styles to select multiple styles.

  3. From the Character Styles menu, choose Delete Styles.

  4. Save your document and see if it's fixed. If the problem persists, try deleting paragraph styles.

Follow these steps to delete Paragraph Styles:

  1. Open the document and choose Type > Paragraph Styles.

  2. Select all styles except [No paragraph style] in the Paragraph Styles panel. Hold Ctrl (Windows) or Command (macOS) while you select styles to select multiple styles.

  3. From the Paragraph Styles menu, choose Delete Styles.

  4. Save your document and see if it's fixed.

Follow these steps to delete Pages:

  1. In InDesign, open the document and choose Window > Pages.

  2. In the Pages panel, use the Selection tool to select the pages you want to delete. Hold Ctrl (Windows) or Command (macOS) to select multiple pages, or hold Shift to select a contiguous range of pages.

  3. In the Pages panel, click the Delete icon.

  4. Click OK to confirm the deletion.

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.

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.

If all else fails, re-create the document. Make frequent backup copies, and periodically test the document to ensure that imported elements aren't causing the problem.

Unexpected issues

In addition to the above scenarios, InDesign cannot open a file and recover a file in the following cases:

  • Unexpected or unknown errors
  • The file is damaged and beyond repair
  • The extension of the file you are trying to open is not supported by InDesign

Solution

We suggest you send your files and help us investigate the issue.

We're here to help!

If no resolution works, share the affected file with us at idfile@adobe.com. We'll investigate the issue and let you know if the recovery is possible. 

When you share your file(s) with us, you not only enable the Adobe team to find a solution to your problem, but also help us improve the overall user experience by identifying and resolving other similar issues.

We assure that your file will strictly remain confidential and will be used only for investigation purposes. Ensure that the file you share does not include any sensitive personal information.

We'll try our best to assist you, but as recovery depends on various factors, we cannot promise a permanent solution.


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