Clients sometimes call me with tales of woe of misbehaving InDesign files. Sometimes the bad file will open, but crashes every time they turn to page 3. Or the file crashes when they save. Or the text is all scattered willy-nilly across the page. Sometimes a corrupted file won't even open. When a file goes bad, and you don't have a recent backup copy, what do you do? Here are two things to try.
Export to inx/idml
This method will only work if the bad InDesign file will open. With the bad file open, choose File > Export. Select InDesign Interchange (INX) for the Format. Specify a filename and a location to save the file to, then click the Save button. This will produce a file with an .inx extension, which is sort of like a list of instructions on how to put the file together. Next, close the corrupted file, and open the .inx file you just created. InDesign will read through the instructions in the .inx file and rebuild a new, untitled InDesign file. The new file should look just like the original file, but hopefully without whatever is causing the file corruption. I've seen this work wonders many times! If you have InDesign CS4, and this doesn't fix the file, try the steps above again, but choose InDesign Markup (IDML) for the file format.
The Markzware solution
Q2ID is a great program from Markzware that converts QuarkXPress files to InDesign format. (I previously wrote about this here). Markzware also makes a product called ID2Q that converts InDesign files to Quark. Why am I telling you this? It just so happens that people have discovered that sometimes ID2Q will open and convert InDesign files that InDesign itself can no longer open. So if you use ID2Q to convert the corrupt file to Quark, and then use Q2ID to convert the file back to InDesign, you might be in business.
If you don't want to purchase both products, you can hire Markzware to try the fix for you. See the offer from the Markzware Blog below:
Fix your Bad Adobe InDesign Files! Markzware, well know for it’s QuarkXPress fixing XTension MarkzTools and conversion tools, such as the ever-still popular Q2ID (Quark to InDesign) Plugin is working on a tool that hopefully one day will make fixing bad or not opening InDesign files a cinch. Till then, we have a nice service (no cure-no pay. $99) where will will attempt to fix your flaky InDesign CS documents. Just email email@example.com with the document (if less than 15MB) or email us for our FTP details if larger. Even if you do not want to pay, we would still love to see your strange InDesign files for our R&D.