Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How to fix a corrupt InDesign file

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 sales@markzware.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.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

This worked beautifully! I exported a damaged (but openable) InDesign file using the InDesign Interchange format, and reopened it without any problems.

Thanks a million for posting this!

--- J.Lenius

Anonymous said...

Thank you sooo much! I thought my assignment was doomed! This is one happy uni student! :) :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thanks for sharing such a great tip!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. I was ready to create my hi-res pdf for the printer and the file kept closing out on me. I went into panic mode. I thankfully found your post and was so thankful. The tip worked great and I was able to move forward with the file without any issues.

MichaelB said...

Thank you! I've spent hours trying to figure out why InDesign now crashes if I so much as look at it wrong, and nothing I'd tried had worked. Your solution was so simple, elegant, and EFFECTIVE! Thanks a million!

shaun said...

DUDE! You are the MAN!

debbieso said...

Oh my goodness, you have saved me HOURS of work! I even installed a new hard drive because I thought that was the problem (I needed one anyway.) Thank you, thank you!!!!!

John Klima said...

LOL I am just like everyone else. 2:00am and you have made it that I can go to bed! Thank goodness for the INX file!!

Hapsoro said...

Praise be to Allah. Thank you, brother. Your tips saves my several hour's works. Thanks!! :)

Anonymous said...

inx option worked a treat! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

what about an unopenable file, i have a magazine type document due in a few weeks and im screwed if I cant fix it. I cant even open in design once I tried opening the file the first time...

Keith Gilbert said...

Regarding an "unopenable file". Carefully read the solution under the heading "The Markzware solution". This workflow often repairs unopenable files.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! :oD

Fida said...

Thank you Soooo much!! it opend!

but question, does this mean that i need to fix some things int he file so that it will not get damaged again??

for example i thought it might be the type that i used has an issue...so shd i change the type now?

Thanks Again!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot!
I was desperate and there were you with that great solution. I owe you one, thankyou!

Keith Gilbert said...

@Fida: Once you've exported to inx/idml and reopened the file, usually whatever caused the file to be damaged will be repaired, in my experience. But it's always a good idea to save archive versions of complex files that are a work in progress, so that you can return to a known good copy if something goes wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thanx MAN! I tried to beat this fcuking problem for TWO years(!).

--- L.Kupka

Anonymous said...

That works great - thanks. I've spent months trying to sorth this out, and it turned out that the template I was basing everything on was corrupt.

Your advice solved the problem permamently.

Thanks

mom said...

WHY might a file be corrupt? The inx worked GREAT but how can I avoid a corrupt file in the future? Thanks. Laura

akki said...

This worked beautifully.
I was so frustrated by these damaged files.

Thanks a tonnes!

Kathryn said...

What if my design type is now listed as 'ERR file' and has 0 mb or changed to 'text document' with 1 mb? Is it totally lost? It didn't even save a .Bak file. :(

Keith Gilbert said...

@Kathryn: Doesn't sound good :(

Anonymous said...

I was working on an indesign file and saveed it several times. During the last save, indesign crashed. When I went to the folder the file was saved in, it was gone. Only the lock file was there. And when I open indesign it says it can't locate the damaged file, and offers options to postpone recovery. Is there anything I can do if the file is missing? I looked in the recovery folder and there are recovery files in there.

Keith Gilbert said...

@anonymous: I don't know of anything you can do at this point, sorry.

Anonymous said...

I figured out how to open a damaged, UNOPENABLE InDesign CS4 file that crashed every time I tried to open it. Clue was in the crash report... 'color picker panel'... I CLOSED ALL MY PANELS. File opened. The problem turned out to be a placed PSD that was flipped, rotated and scaled non-proportionally. What does this have to do with panels? Who cares! It worked! So try CLOSING YOUR PANELS before opening a problem INDD file. -GrayMatter

Kat Godard said...

Mr. Gilbert, you are an Adobe God! Before doing a general internet search about my crashing file, I called Abode themselves and they could not give me the help I needed even when I provided them information from my crash report. I am a professional graphic designer (have been for many years) and I am sending you the highest praise for posting this amazing solution to a problem that could have cost me a job and put my client in a bad position. I can not thank you enough. With your knowledge I am sure you are a huge success and I wish you continued good fortune.

Anonymous said...

Oh my dear Jesus. Thank you so much for posting this and saving my a$$. Live long and prosper!

Liam said...

YOU WIN!

Josh (musarter) said...

Thank you for this post. I have always given-up my corrupted InD files as lost. This advice gave me hope in humanity and averted a major catastrophy. I don't think my co-workers appreciate the gravity of this fix. Now we don't have to rebuild and re-edit a 110 page document.

Much obliged sir.

Anonymous said...

Another happy customer. Could not find .inx in CS5 but tried IDML and it worked too! Great!!!!!

Anonymous said...

thank you sooooo much. you're a genius! worked well on CS4
thanks!!!!

Wilma J said...

Hooray! This 2-year-old tip still works in CS5. I rarely have a file crash, so did not recall what to do. Thanks to a search, your solution popped up and worked for me. THANK YOU!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you sir for solution...

montronix said...

i have an inflated size problem. everything has been fine as i've been doing the layout for a novel. up until a few days ago. it's always remained under 5mb. but after a save recently, the file size inflated to over 45mb! i have saved as so many times. no help. i have tried your solutions here and it's still the same size. i have no idea what is going on and no one seems to know. just thought i'd see if you have a solution. i am in cs5. thanks.

Anonymous said...

International 92 page brochure due at the printer in the morning, corrupted at 11pm... Literally the eleventh hour. This solution worked a treat. It took a while for the file to rebuild but it got there and I am more relieved than drunkard's bladder! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! This saved my butt on a work newsletter (deadline tomorrow). Our IT department didn't have a clue how to fix this. Bookmarked this page in case it happens again!