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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.
One of the most frustrating problems I think to have going on with an InDesign document is when you suspect that an image is corrupt or an image is at fault for the document misbehaving. Because there's really no obvious way to tell which image is the problem. But I'll show you what I have learned as far as having to troubleshoot a document and get it down to the one particular image or class of images, because this definitely has happened to me and to a lot of my clients in the past. I think that probably you might want to start out by assuming it's an image problem if the problem occurs when you are trying to get some output. When you are printing or exporting to PDF, if it seems to go along fine and then suddenly halfway through the document it will unexpectedly quit, then probably it's that the document has gotten up to page 4 or 5, encountered an issue with one of the original images and just can't go on. So it pays to pay attention to the Print dialog box or the Export to PDF dialog box, because you can see the progress of which pages are being sent and get an idea of if the problem occurs after page 20 or before page 20, for example. A way to confirm that it's definitely an image problem is obviously to remove all the images, or at least remove them from the output stream. Now if you are printing, this is how you do that. You go up to the File menu and choose Print.
Choose the name of your printer and then in the Graphics pane, instead of send all the image data, have it send none of the image data. When you say send no image data, that means that instead of sending this image, for example where my mouse is, it would send just the frame with a large X in it, indicating that there normally is an image here. It does send any type that you created in InDesign and it does send any like colored background, simple shapes or frames that you fill in with color, but it does not send any linked images. Now if that prints correctly, then it's probably a corrupt image that is causing your crashing or your inability to print the actual document. If you are exporting to PDF, if I choose Adobe PDF Presets, I'll just choose High Quality Print and save the PDF on the Desktop. You don't have the Graphics pane where you can say just print no images or just a proxy image. Instead, you are going to have to rely on these commands down here, such as under Export Layers, Visible & Printable Layers, or Include Non- Printing Objects, which is turned off by default. So you can set that up for your images, layers and non-printing objects. Let me show you. In this spread for example, if we have all of our images on their own layer, as we do here, we could just hide the images layer and then when we go to Export, by default it will not export hidden layers. So we could make a PDF without any images and if the PDF does successfully export, then we know probably there is a corrupt image at some place. The other thing you can do would be to select an image. This is especially useful if you know of a problem image, or if you suspect a certain image to be causing a problem.
Select it, go to the Window menu and open up the Attributes panel and turn on Nonprinting. Now notice that if I switch to Preview mode, the image disappears. So this is a quick way to tell which images are going to print and which ones won't, and if this spread now prints successfully, but with this image showing it does not print successfully, then there is something wrong with the image. In that case, if you do narrow it down to a certain image, then you can request a new copy from the clients or you can, in the worst case, you will have to rescan it or re-photograph the image. But obviously there is something corrupt with this image itself. Sometimes you can't narrow it down to a specific image and in that case, the way that I worked with these kinds of files is to use an old tried and true method of troubleshooting computers, which is called the binary method. In other words, of this seven page document, I print pages 1-3, and if pages 1-3 printed fine, then I would know the problem is somewhere between pages 4 and 7. So then I try printing 4 and 7, and if printing pages 4-7 crash, InDesign or refuse to print, then I can confirm it's somewhere in here. And then I would split these four pages up into two. So then I'll try printing pages 4 and 5. If that prints fine, then I know the problem is here under 6 and 7. If it doesn't print pages 4 and 5, then I would confirm by printing 6 and 7. If they are printed fine, then I know the problem is on pages 4 and 5. Now with a very small document that's obviously not a big deal, but with a long document this helps tremendously. So if you have a 90 page document that is just refusing to print, you can try printing pages 1-40. And if that prints fine and then you print pages 41-90 and that crashes, well, then you know it's one of the images on pages 41 through 90. Using the binary method of printing is a method that is a little bit tedious, but it is sure to help you locate the exact image that's causing the problem.
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