InDesign: Unable to delete unused color swatches

Community Beginner ,
Mar 21, 2018

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This happens a lot. I attempt to remove unused swatches, and some can't be deleted, the trash icon grayed out in the Swatches panel. This has happened from CS6 through the current CC 2018 build of InDesign and includes jobs with no linked assets. I know I'm not alone because this issue is shared by many in my workplace. Help?

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1 Correct Answer

Mentor , Mar 21, 2018
winterm Mentor , Mar 21, 2018
Is it a spot color used in a placed graphic? Link removed, but color is still undeletable? Worth to try then:1. Create an AI file with the offending swatch used. 2. Place that file in InDesign. 3. Delete it from InDesign. 4. Now check if the swatch is still undeletable.If it is, check this post for other possible solutions (read comments, too). You may find the one which will work for you.

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Mentor ,
Mar 21, 2018

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Is it a spot color used in a placed graphic? Link removed, but color is still undeletable? Worth to try then:

1. Create an AI file with the offending swatch used. 2. Place that file in InDesign. 3. Delete it from InDesign. 4. Now check if the swatch is still undeletable.

If it is, check this post for other possible solutions (read comments, too). You may find the one which will work for you.

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New Here ,
Apr 17, 2018

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I search almost a half year for this solution, thank you

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 18, 2018

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In my case, it is a process swatch. creating an Illustrator file containing the swatch and then deleting it does not resolve the problem.

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Mentor ,
Apr 18, 2018

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Sure, that's why I talked about spot color, specifically. It's quite critical info, pity you've found time to tell it only now.

Almost a month passed, what did you try in a meantime?

1. Save as idml?

2. Trash your prefs?

Troubleshooting 101: Replace, or "trash" your InDesign preferences

3. Clear Cashes folder?

CC 2018 InDesign—Don't Import previous settings and preferences

4. If nothing above helps, on a copy of a file:

a) using Pages panel fly-out menu, move your pages to fresh new document. Does the offending swatch(es) moves, too?

b) delete all pages except one, delete everything on that last page, including pasteboard and Masters. Is the trash icon still grayed out?

c) delete all styles (text, table, cell, object...). Still undeletable?

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 19, 2018

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I've moved the issue to Adobe UserVoice to work with them on it, also working directly with an Adobe rep to my company.

Save as IDML didn't remove the swatch or make it deletable.

Trashing prefs and clearing caches changes nothing. Opening the file on a freshly installed Mac changes nothing. The issue is in the files themselves, not the application or local installation.

Copy/pasting all objects into a new document works sometimes. I'll try the Move Pages option later today.

The sample file I sent to Adobe containing the undeletable swatch had all objects and styles removed.

This problem exists in several thousands of files generated over years and shared by lots of collaborating designers in different areas of a large creative studio. The measures you suggest won't be deployable in our environment and the problem isn't critical enough to warrant mass re-deployment and scrubbing of all those old files. Our work pace and volume is very high so it's not feasible to use a complex kludge. Prepress department wants to be able to simply delete the swatch as they go. Since they can't resolve quickly without re-creating every offending file and since the files print fine even with the Swatch present, it's been ignored and propagated for a long time.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 19, 2018

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I should also mention that the problem exists with more than one swatch and that some are spot colors. The Illustrator trick didn't work on those either.

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New Here ,
Jan 04, 2019

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I think I had done this before... this definitely works! Woohoo! I can keep the rest of my hair!

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Adobe Employee ,
Mar 21, 2018

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Hi Pixeltech

Please log this issue at Adobe InDesign: Bugs: Hot (800 ideas) – Adobe InDesign Feedback and share your files, we will investigate this issue further.

Thanks

Monica Singh

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 18, 2018

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Thank you Monica! I posted the issue with a sample file.

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New Here ,
Apr 17, 2018

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1. Maak een AI-bestand met de gebruikte overtredende staal. 2. Plaats dat bestand in InDesign. 3. Verwijder het uit InDesign. 4. Controleer nu of het staal nog steeds niet verwijderbaar is.

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Explorer ,
Sep 21, 2018

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I'm saddened to see that the "Correct answer" for this post is 'submit your file to Adobe for evaluation.'

A correct answer would be a solution that can be implemented by users experiencing the problem, ideally without a complex workaround.

I get it that InDesign is wanting to protect color swatches that exist in placed graphics from not be deleted and leading to other issues -- that is a good thing. It's the inability to force a delete that is problematic, especially when the color isn't included in a linked graphic.

Like others on this thread, I'm having the same issue, and it is propagated to hundreds/thousands of documents. Purging this has been a difficult issue for quite some time.

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 23, 2018

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This issue is not resolved. Sending files to Adobe has so far yielded no resolution. I moved the issue to uservoice but it isn't getting any traction there either.

The issue doesn't prevent files from printing correctly and the persistent swatches don't generate ink plates, so I wouldn't consider this functionally critical, even though it has propagated to thousands of layouts. It's just a glaring bug that I see every time I clean up a file for release.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 23, 2018

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Like others on this thread, I'm having the same issue, and it is propagated to hundreds/thousands of documents. Purging this has been a difficult issue for quite some time.

Can someone share a sample via Dropbox?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 23, 2018

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None of the responses in this thread have been tagged as Correct Answer, bretts21640563. This question is still considered Unanswered.

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Explorer ,
Sep 23, 2018

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The May 21, 2018 post by Monica Singh of Adobe had been marked as the correct answer, now it is not which helps to keep this thread open until a solution is identified.

I'll post an example file when I come across one that doesn't cause a problem with divulging client confidential info (ie: I really do want to find a solution.)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 23, 2018

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especially when the color isn't included in a linked graphic.

I'll post an example file when I come across one that doesn't cause a problem with divulging client confidential info (ie: I really do want to find a solution.)

I doubt you will get a solution without providing a sample.

I can make a doc without links that replicates the problem, but in this case it's not caused by an application bug because there's a pasted PDF buried in a group that could be hard to find. A pasted object could be anywhere, pasteboard, 0% transparency etc. I'm not saying you're not experiencing a bug, but someone has to share a problem file:

Screen Shot 13.png

Screen Shot 14.png

Deleting the pasted PDF makes the trash active

Screen Shot 15.png

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Participant ,
Oct 23, 2018

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I've had this problem off and on for years and just ran into it again in CC2019. The easy fix that worked this time: Create a new, blank page at the end of the document, use the pages panel to select all the other pages and delete them, leaving just that one blank page. The swatch became deletable since there was nothing else in the document, and undo to brought all the pages back. The swatch came back too, but it was still deletable!

If you're really desperate and if none of these other tricks work, the surefire way to get rid of those swatches is to export to IDML and edit the XML to remove the swatches or tag them as editable. I don't remember the exact chunk of code you're looking for, but an app like BBEdit makes it easy to search for and fine the swatch lines by name.

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New Here ,
Aug 30, 2020

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Thank you - this worked for me!

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New Here ,
Oct 25, 2018

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  1. Save you Indesign document as IDML.
  2. Rename IDML to ZIP.
  3. Open ZIP
  4. Go to "Resources"
  5. Open "Graphics.xml"
  6. Search for your color swap
  7. Change "ColorEditable" and "ColorRemovable" to "true"
  8. Save XML and ZIP
  9. Rename ZIP to IDML
  10. Open IDML and save as INDD

Only solution that worked for me

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Explorer ,
Oct 26, 2018

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This is encouraging - at least there is a pathway.

I'll test soon on one of my trouble files, and Im hopeful this will do the trick.

Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 29, 2018

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bretts21640563  wrote

This is encouraging - at least there is a pathway.

I'll test soon on one of my trouble files, and Im hopeful this will do the trick.

Thanks!

Hi bretts21640563 ,

when on Windows it's straight forward to change contents of XML files inside a packaged IDML file.

You will not need to unpackage the file, you could edit and save XML files inside the package.

Not so on Mac OS X.

There you'll need a special app for editing inside like Springy or perhaps BetterZip.

Or packaging again after unzipping the IDML package.

Be careful what you do with your IDML file.

Best do a backup before editing.

Here a weird example where I set a false for a true with attribute ColorEditable in Graphic.xml for one of InDesign's default swatches:

ColorEditable-False.PNG

And here the same where I changed ColorRemovable to "false" to the same swatch.

As you can see now the trash bin is grayed out when selecting the swatch:

ColorEditable-False-ColorRemovable-False.PNG

Regards,
Uwe

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New Here ,
Jun 09, 2020

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Same problem, the option to delete swatches not avaiable.  Finally discovered (by process of page elimination) that all the undelete-able swatches were linked to "PDF" files within the document. Not sure why/how only few of the PDF's brought the swatch listing ( maybe spots colors in the PDFs?) . Deleted the offending PDFs then able to delete all un-needed swatches 🙂

swatches.jpg

 

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