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InDesign users might at some point encounter misbehaving files that stop production dead in its tracks. In InDesign CS4: 10 Tips for Troubleshooting Files, Adobe Certified Instructor Anne-Marie Concepción passes on her knowledge of diagnosing and repairing these problems, drawing on her experience from helping hundreds of users. Anne-Marie shows how to rebuild preferences quickly and safely, systematically test for corrupt images and fonts, and even clean out corruption errors by hand-editing INX files. Exercise files accompany the course.
Okay, in my experience, about 80% of the weirdnesses that could occur with an InDesign document or with InDesign itself can be solved with a simple rebuilding of the Preferences files. And so this is an essential skill that all InDesign users should know about. Now, by random kind of glitches, I mean really strange things like, for example, you might open up a panel and it's blank or maybe when you try to select text in one place, text in another place gets selected, or you drag down guidelines and the guidelines won't appear, and you are positive that you are in Normal mode and then you have View Guides on.
And especially like if it's not every single document, but it's more than just one document, and it's something that seems to be growing a bit by bit every day, probably the Preferences have become corrupted or damaged. And it's so easy to rebuild the preferences to see if that will fix it. As I said, about 85% of the time in my experience that it's fixed my problems and the people who email me about their problems. So what are Preferences and what is the Preference file? Well, it is a file that's stored on your hard drive and in your user account that tracks how InDesign works by default, meaning for example what is the measurement unit, what is the workspace selected, and it's not just the default preferences, but also if you ever went to Preferences which on a Mac is under the InDesign menu and on a PC is under the Edit menu and you made some changes, like you said that you want the Ruler Units set to Inches instead of Picas. So your Custom Preferences as well are stored in your Preferences file.
It's a file that gets written to a lot and that's why it's kind of prone to get damaged. Like InDesign has a glitch and it unexpectedly quits or maybe you lose your power and InDesign automatically quits because of course it has no power. That kind of stuff can affect the Preference files. Now before I go ahead and rebuild Preference files, I'm going to show you two simple ways to do that. I want to warn you that before you do that, check out your presets, because presets are also stored in the Preference files. Not every single preset, but a preset for example, like if you created any Print Presets, as there are two here, these are stored in the Preference file.
And when I rebuild the Preference file these are going to be deleted. So it's kind of a pain to rebuild that. If you have presets setup for printing or for new documents, stroke styles and transparency flattener, those are all stored in the InDesign Default file, the one that's going to be rebuilt when we rebuild the Preferences. If you want to save those, what you should do is open up those dialog boxes, select the name of your preset and choose Save. And then just save them to any place on your Desktop. So this one that I just selected was Color tabloid with crops, so name it according to how you saved it. So there is one and then I'll save this one, grayscale proofs for Joe. You might want to save them into a Print Preset folder because you might not recall that PRST files are Print Presets.
And then after we rebuild the Preferences you can come back to this dialog box, which will just say Default and you can choose Load. So again, it's Print Presets, Document Presets, Transparency Flattener Presets, and any Custom Stroke Styles that you may have created. All right, so if you have any Custom Strokes Styles here, you want to also save those. So to rebuild Preferences first of all quit out of InDesign. So I'm going to go ahead and choose InDesign > Quit InDesign or exit out of it in Windows.
Now you can actually delete the file manually by digging into your hard drive and locating it or you can use an easy keyboard shortcut. But I do want you to know where the file is stored, because sometimes you might want to actually grab it and delete it manually. I am going to show you two ways to rebuild preferences. One is using an easy keyboard shortcut and the other one is actually going into your hard drive, locating the Preferences files and deleting them. Once the Preference files are deleted then InDesign will automatically rebuild them or recreate them from scratch, the Default set of Preferences.
So on a Mac, select your home directory and then in your home directory there is a folder called Library that contains a whole lot of settings. There are two folders that contain the files that we need to delete. First of all, in the Caches folder, there is a folder for InDesign, here it is Adobe InDesign Version 6.0 is CS4, and then the name of your language, and it's this file right here, InDesign SavedData. So this file you can just delete or move to your Desktop if you want, just get rid off that. And then the other file, if you are doing this manually, is back here.
Again, in your Library folder, scroll down to Preferences. There is Adobe InDesign again. You'll have a folder for Preferences for every version of InDesign you've installed, so this is for CS3. Version 6.0 is CS4. Now the name of your language and then inside here you'll find a whole bunch of cool stuff. But it's the InDesign Defaults file. All right, so it's the SavedData file, which is in Caches, and the InDesign Defaults file, which is inside Preferences for InDesign for your version. Got that? All you need to do is delete both of those files and then restart InDesign.
Now if you don't feel like digging around in your Library folder, and gee I wonder why you wouldn't, you can do it the easy way with just keyboard shortcuts. So on the Macintosh what you do is you hold down all four modifier keys. That's the Command+Option+Ctrl+Shift key while you start the program. On Windows, whether it's XP or Vista, you just need to hold down Alt+Shift+Ctrl, those three keys. So you hold down those four keys on the Mac or the three keys on Windows and then you start the program and keep those keys held down while you start it.
You can start it from the Applications folder or from the dock, from a shortcut on the Desktop, however you would like. And because here on the Mac, holding down the Ctrl key also is the same as the contextual menu, then like I get little pop-up menu and I just choose Open. Keep the keys held down until you see this dialog box appear and then you can release the keys, all right? So it says, Delete InDesign Preference files? Yes please, and it delete those files and then it recreates them from scratch and InDesign proceeds to continue reloading.
So as you can see it's using the Default Preferences. Like for example, I would like to have the Application Frame showing. That's not the default for a Macintosh, so I'll have to turn that back on and also it got rid off the Recent Items and then as we'll see here, under File > Print Presets, our Print Presets are gone, and all you need to do is go to Define, click Load and then load the presets that you had from before. I'm just going to select one and choose Open, and so on.
Now a good idea at this point, after you've rebuilt your Preferences, is to load back all your presets if you took the trouble to save them out. To go to your Preferences dialog box and reset any application preferences that you had set before, for example Units of measurement, whether you want leading to be applied to the entire paragraph or not. Those kind of things, your application preferences. Then quit out of the program. That will save your Custom Preferences and go back to where those preferences are stored in your Preferences folder here.
So Preferences > Adobe InDesign > Version 6.0, and back this up. Back up the Version 6.0 folder. So all I do is just right-click and choose Duplicate. That way the next time that you rebuild your preferences or you think that you need to rebuild the preferences because they might be corrupt, you don't have to actually get rid off all of your hard work. You can just replace the file from your backup. So I'll call this backup. So InDesign is going to ignore that folder, it's going to use this folder. But when I want to rebuild my preferences, I go to my backup folder, grab my good InDesign Defaults, copy them, go over to the one that I don't want that's giving me problems and then delete that and then replace it with the one in my Clipboard or just replace this.
Let's start up InDesign again. Rebuilding your preferences will most likely solve most of the random kind of glitches that you'll find with InDesign and with your flaky documents. But if not, go onto another one of the tips in this title.
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