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  2. Problem Solving

Quick Tip: How to Open Corrupted Adobe InDesign Files


So you’ve received an InDesign file from a colleague or client; or even navigated to an old ID file on your own computer—only to find that the document is apparently ‘damaged’ and won’t open. The file has somehow become corrupted, and the software just doesn’t like it. Argh! Nightmare, right?

No need to panic! Check out these nifty solutions for opening corrupted InDesign files...

Solution #1: Track Down What’s Causing the Problem

dodgy image

Do your detective work. It’s likely that there’s something lurking in your document that’s triggered InDesign to flag up the file as damaged. This could be a damaged image or a dodgy font file.

If the document was opening without a problem not so long ago, try to think what else has been added to the document since that point in time. Recently introduced a new font into the document? It’s probably the culprit.

Unfortunately, this won’t help you open up the corrupted version of the file, but if you have back-ups on your computer, or have Time Machine set up if you have a Mac system, you can rewind and open up an older version of the file.

Your problem might also lie with corrupt InDesign Preferences. To sort this out, relaunch InDesign and straight away hold down Control-Alt-Shift (Windows) or Command-Control-Opt-Shift (Mac OS) and click Yes when prompted with the message Delete InDesign Preference files? Often, this will transform your file, and allow you to open it without a problem!

Solution #2: Resave Your File to a Different Format

INDD (the normal InDesign format) files are more susceptible to corruption than IDML (InDesign CS4 and later) or INX (InDesign CS3 and earlier) versions. 

Try to open your corrupted file on a different computer (e.g. try opening the file on a PC if you normally use a Mac, and vice versa; or try opening on a different version of Windows). If you are able to open it, go to File > Save and resave the file as an IDML or INX file. More often than not, you’ll have no problems with opening the file in this format.

The file will open up as a new Untitled document, and from here you can File > Save your now uncorrupted document to your preferred folder.

Solution #3: Open Your Corrupted File as a Copy

Sometimes simply copying the file can get rid of minor errors that are otherwise preventing you from opening your original file.

To do this, open InDesign and go to File > Open. Navigate to your InDesign file and click to select it. From the bottom of the Open window, choose Open Copy. InDesign will open the file as an Untitled copy. 

open copy file

Solution #4: Seek Outside Help!

If you're still unable to open your InDesign file you might need to turn to the internet for help. There are a number of companies who will take your damaged InDesign files gladly and return them to you all lovely and bug-free. 

Try out Markzware's service for fixing corrupt files.

There are also some software downloads which are aimed at helping you to clear your files of damage. Try out this InDesign Repair software if you have a Mac system.

Have Any More Solutions for Opening Corrupt Files?

Have you tackled this frustrating problem head-on and come out a winner? We want to hear about it! Share your tips for opening corrupt files in the comments below.

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