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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
David Blatner: Sometimes things go wrong with your document. You know, weird things. Suddenly you can't delete a color swatch or maybe Find Change can't find stuff that you know is there, or may be your file keeps crashing unexpectedly. If you really believe that it's your file and not InDesign that's the problem, you probably want to clean out the gunk by using an export feature called IDML or INX. Here is what you do. You go to the File menu and choose Export and then here in the Save as type pop-up menu, or what's called the Format menu on the Mac, you'd choose InDesign Markup (IDML).
Now if you are using an older version of InDesign, InDesign let's say CS2 or CS3, you'll be using the INX files. It's called the InDesign Interchange Format INX. But here in the new versions of InDesign, it's InDesign Markup IDML. Once you save that, you click the Save button and I am just saving this out to my Desktop. So I'll switch back to my Desktop and you'll see that there is my InDesign file. It's my InDesign file with a new extension, IDML, and the IDML format or INX if you chose that that is the entire InDesign file kind of encapsulated into this little tiny package.
And when I say tiny, I mean tiny. The original InDesign file was almost 5 MB and this IDML file, if I hover over this, will tell me that it's only 189K. That's much smaller. So we took everything that was inside the InDesign document, the storied, the layout, all of that stuff and not the images, it just remembers the links to the images but not the images of the thumbnails themselves. It remembers all of that. It exports all of that into this tiny IDML file. Now one of the things that's cool about this IDML file or INX, whatever you are using, is that you can actually send this to somebody else.
I could e-mail this to a colleague, they could open that file, and they would get exactly the same stories, exactly the same layout. If they're having images, it would re- link properly and they would actually get exact the same file, but it was a much smaller file that I had to send them. So that's kind of a cool feature, kind of as a side note about IDML or INX. And actually, since I am off on this tangent already, I might as well go even further and tell you another cool thing about IDML and INX files and that is you can open them in a text editor.
INX, you can just open in any text editor. You know, Windows Notepad or Text Wrangler on the Mac or whatever. IDML files are actually zipped archives that you need to unzip in order to get inside. So I am going to go ahead and do that here on this one. I'll just select it and rename this instead of .idml, I'll call it .zip. That's all. And it warns me are you sure you want to do that, yes I am sure I want to do it and I'll double-click on it. In Windows it's really easy because you just double-click on the file and it opens and you can see inside of it. On the Mac, you would have to open that zip file using a program like BetterZIP or Springy or something like that.
The built in unzip feature on the Mac does not work. You need a utility even one of those little free utilities or something, low-cost utilities. Anyway, here we have a zip file and we can look inside of it and we can see here are all the spreads, here is all the stories. These are all just XML files. In fact I can scroll down here and grab this big one 13K and drag it out to my Desktop and that unzips it. Now I can open it in some program. I'll just open this in WordPad and you can see that this is what's inside. Now don't get freaked out here.
I know it's geeky, but it's kind of interesting that you can see that this is the InDesign file. Here is all the text that was inside that InDesign file and granted you will probably never need to do this, but if you're a propeller head or you know, an InDesign geek, you are going to love this because it allows you to do all kinds of amazing stuff to your InDesign files that you never thought you could do. Anyway, I am going to put this away and move on to what we are supposed to be talking about here. Let's go ahead and close that and I'm going to change this zip file back to IDML, because what we're really trying to do here, yes I can change that, is clean out that InDesign file, right? There was some kind of corruption in the InDesign file. We exported as IDML and now we're going to reopen that IDML in InDesign.
You simply double-click on it, or choose File > Open from within InDesign either way and InDesign opens the IDML file and it reconstitutes it so that you get exactly the same file as the original, but it's now this new untitled document. In most cases this untitled document has cleared out all of those weird document corruption problems that you were noticing. You know, most people don't know that technically InDesign's native files are databases and exporting and then opening that INX or IDML file is like a deep clean of that database, clearing out all the nooks and crannies that sometimes get gunked up as you work.
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