When InDesign starts to behave strangely, the number one suggestion for troubleshooting is to replace (or trash, reset or restore) the application preferences. This will remove corrupt preferences and replace them with a new set of default preferences, and often end bad behavior.
There is a quick and easy method for doing this using the keyboard: close and relaunch InDesign, and IMMEDIATELY hold down Ctrl + Alt + Shift (Windows) or Cmd + Ctrl + Opt + Shift (Mac), and respond in the affirmative to the dialog asking if you really want to replace the preferences. There are two downsides to this method, however. First, you must be extremely fast on the keyboard (if you don’t see the confirmation prompt, you were too slow), and second, anytime you replace the preferences you will lose most program customizations, and using the keyboard method leaves you with no backup to restore them when the problem turns out to be something else.
My preferred method is to CLOSE INDESIGN and do a “manual” prefs replacement, which consists of finding and renaming the two files which make up the preference set: InDesign Defaults and InDesign SavedData. BOTH of these files should be replaced at the same time. You can delete them, but renaming or moving them will give you the opportunity to copy them back in the event that new prefs doesn’t cure your issue. When you restart ID, the program will look for these two files, and when they are not found, a new default set will be written.
[Defunct link removed by Peter Spier on 11/6/15]
These are normally hidden files, so you will need to set your system to show them. They will be found in various places depending on the OS, and the version of InDesign. (Edit: For Mac users running OSX 10.7 or newer, you can learn how to show hidden files here: Access hidden user library files | Mac OS 10.7 Lion)
PLEASE LOOK AT THESE PATHS CAREFULLY. They look similar, but are two different folders for the two files.
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<USER>\Application Data\Adobe\InDesign\<Version #>\<language>\ (Note: Prior to version 6 [CS4] the language folder is not used).
Windows Vista or Windows 7 and newer: C:\Users\<USER>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\InDesign\<Version #>\<Language>\ (Note: Prior to version 6 [CS4] the language folder is not used).
Macintosh: Hard Drive/Users/<USER>/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/<Version #>/<Language>/(Note: Prior to version 6 [CS4] the language folder is not used).
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<USER>\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\InDesign\<Version #>\<Language>\Caches\ (Note: Prior to version 6 [CS4] the language folder is not used).
Windows Vista or Windows 7 and newer: C:\Users\<USER>\AppData\Local\Adobe\InDesign\<Version #>\<Language>\Caches\ (Note: Prior to version 6 [CS4] the language folder is not used).
Macintosh: Hard Drive/Users/<USER>/Library/Caches/Adobe InDesign/<Version #>/<Language>/ (Note: Prior to version 6 [CS4] the language folder is not used).
In some earlier versions of ID, InDesign SavedData may also be found in the first directory.
As mentioned above, when you replace your preferences you will lose customizations beyond those things that are set in the preferences dialogs. These include Document and Print Presets you might have created. If you haven't made backups already, you should go, prior to replacing the preferences, to the "Define" dialogs for printer and document presets and custom stroke styles, and select all of your custom entries, the click the save button and put the file someplace safe. After resetting preferences using the keyboard or by renaming/deleting the old files and restarting InDesign, these customized settings can be re-loaded with a single click once again in the Define dialogs.
PDF presets can be backed up in the same way, but they are stored in a different location and will not be destroyed by a simple preference reset. Other customizations that you should not lose are workspaces, keyboard shortcut sets, and find/change queries.
As a further step I strongly recommend that you make a copy of these two files when you have a working customized set. Store them in a safe place and you can use them to overwrite a corrupt set so no further editing or reloading will be required. Users of InDesign CS4 can use a free script from InTools.com to backup and store multiple sets of preferences: In-Tools Scripts » Preference Manager Script
Edit: Corrected Mac Path per Jongware's post below.
UPDATE: I just ran across a situation in which overwriting the InDesign Defaults and InDesign SavedData files failed to restore functionality to the tools on a single user account on a multiple user system (the other account was fine). This is an absolute first and I've been using the technique for years, including replacing these two files on this system which is used by the student newspaper where I was a professor, in order to customize or restore preferences every semester. What did work was to use the keyboard method first, then close InDesign and manually replace the two files to restore the prefs to the proper settings. -- Peter
Further update: We have had several reports now in the CC versions of InDesign where using the manual method has failed to solve problems that are normally fixed by replacing preferences. to the best of my knowledge, using the keyboard method has solved the problem for each of those users. -- Peter
Message was edited by: Peter Spier
Message was edited by: Peter Spier
Message was edited by: amxyz
Message was edited by: Peter Spier to add path warnings.
Message was edited by: Peter Spier to add update re: failure of one method and success of other in CC.
I'll give it a try when I'm not working on this project. Nothing except "Help" is misbehaving.
Thanks. I just quilt the program and uplaoded the new patch. when I opened it again it was fine.
The correct path for "InDesign Defaults" is
Macintosh: Hard Drive/Users/<USER>/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/<Version #>/<Language>/
Thanks, Jongware. I seem to have copieds the path badly. Would you check the other one, too?
Yup -- that's okay.
Today, this solved the problem of a phenomenally slow ID (which didn't really bother the operator) that on top of that started to crash at random (which did started to annoy him, after the third or fourth time). So far, it seems both are fixed.
when I get to <USER> I do not see Library under here.
Library is under the HD, but I clicked on the Applications folder and then /InDesign/Presets/applicationpreferences
Deleting this didn't do anything for me, but I am not sure if this is the right place. I am on El Capitan using a MacBook Pro.
Are you able to Direct or Make the preference files be saved somewhere else?
We have roaming profiles in our business and these preference files get to big and it dosnt let the user log of (With the GP we have in place only 20MB is allowed on the desktop)
So we were hoping that there is some way we can get the progam to save the files maybe somwhere else on the PC or of our choosing?
Actually there is one thing you can move, and that's the recovery folder. That's in the File Handling section of the preferences dialog. Maybe that will save you some space (probably quite a bit -- ID saves a LOT of information for file recovery).
I am having this problem here at our newspaper on our lead advertising compositors computer. We are relatively new to ID. We've only used it for one year. She had reported to me that her ID was "crashing" often and she was losing her preferences. I started running Disk Warrior every week and thought that was fixing it because I assumed it was a font problem. She just told me last week that the problem was still occuring. I read this information on our forum and also referred to other information and deleted the preferences files and was elated to find the problem seemed to be cured. She went an entire issue of the paper with no problem.. which is a big deal... until tonight... and the software closed on her as we went to press. So she was cured for less than 3 days.
My question is... how long should it be between crashes? Absolutely no one else in the office has had a single issue since we installed over 1 year ago and at least one other person does as much as she does on their computer. Should I uninstall and reinstall the software or is this preference problem a fact of life and we should just learn the recovery technique and just "do it." I might mention that there are no physical or file problems on her computer as reported by Disk Warrior.
I would appreciate any advice you might give me as how to proceed with this problem.
Some people never need to replace prefs, others quite often. I usuallygo months, sometimes years, without a problem.
All this means is that there is something causing the prefs files to become corrupt. I don't know anyone who can tell you exactly what that might be, whether it's particular to a specific file or caused by some other conflict on your system. If your prefs go south a lot it's probably some system conflict.
All of that aside, is this happening to your user with all files or just some files? New ones only, or old and new? Does this particualr file that jsut crashed work on another machine, or does it crash there as well? In my roundabout way I'm trying to determine if this is really a prefs problem, or a file corruption problem, which may actually be more common, though it's pretty rare in ID. Take a look at Remove minor corruption by exporting
Struggling along here... Still working on our lead compositor's computer who has the problem with the continuous crashing of InDesign.
After deleting her folders of preferences she had no problems for several days. Thought she was cured. Then she had a return to problems. She used the the boot method of deleting proferences and did okay for a while. Then she had a very busy day for us where her software misbehaved (crashed) continuously all day.
We kept a log of what she was working on when it would close and it was always different graphics and files.
I ran DiskWarrior and did find that there is a corrution in a system header file that cannot be fixed. So I have created a new user for her.
This has created a motley of problems for her and today she is ready to kill me.
Tell me WHY of her 790 fonts that I copied from her old user to her new user her Bodoni Bold will not work? I have copied it into Local/library/Fonts AND User/Library/Fonts (although I know that isn't necessary since I know she is the only user on the machine) I have repaired disk permissions three times.
When I test it, it works for about two seconds and disappears.
AND, using her new user id, so many of her files on the NAS are Read/Write by administrator only from her old user.... I have no idea how that happened. None of our other designers files have been locked by their user id!
So, even though she knows her software is going to crash, she has logged in using her old id until I can overcome her font issue and find a way to universally unlock all of her files...
Any words of widom for me??
Try grabbing that font from another machine. It might be corrupt and the source of all your probelms to begin with.
I had this issue - Win 10 pro (in place upgrade from Win 8.1 pro), InDesign CC, crashing on moving pages, dragging images, text, etc.. I did the prefs reset which did not help - but the export to IDML seems to have corrected the issue. The interesting part was that a part of my layout was removed on opening the IDML file - 4 boxes with effects applied and overlapping each other to achieve an effect not immediately achievable in InDesign (sometimes I get lazy in InDesign). Anyway - that piece removed seems to have corrected my issues, I have since flatted the effects into a PNG file and imported as an image. Interesting - corrupted file? or still a conflict with something else - fonts? video drivers on processing the effects?, memory leak? who knows - we'll see how it goes. Thanks for your help.
Mac OS X 10.5.8 - ID CS4 6.0.4
I have tried a few times now trashing both InDesign Defaults and InDesign SavedData.
ID crashes every time I re-open the same document (which I was hoping to finish today, after ten day's work!) so I beginning to think it may be something in that document, because it crashes every time I try to go to a particular spread (either scrolling or by 'Cmnd J').
Can you advise a course of action - delete the suspected spread and insert a new one?
No, I haven't.
Do you recommend the INX or the IDML route?
Sorry - forgot to ask - would you recommend doing either of these before I try deleting what seems to be the
offending spread? Or delete the spread first and see if I still have the problem?
Start with IDML, then try .inx if that doesn't work (and post a note in the other thread if IDML doesn't work and .inx does). I'd do that before removing the offending spread or objects on it, but htat may be the final solution if there's a bad image.
If you continue to have trouble, please start a new topic.
Regrettably neither INX or IDML worked so I've deleted the offending spread.
Thanks for your help.
Thanks Peter, worked like a dream.
I am running InDesign CS3 Version 5.0 on a MacBook Pro. I followed your instructions and renamed InDesign Defaults and InDesign SavedData. This has not improved the super-long time it's taking to open an InDesign file. I'm seeing some updates that I haven't been prompted to install - 5.01, 5.02, 5.03 and 5.04 - should I do this? NOTE: I am pretty much a novice at troubleshooting and fixing, but I CAN follow directions. Thanks for any help you can offer.
Absolutely install the 5.0.4 update!