InDesign: 10 Tips for Troubleshooting Files
Illustration by John Hersey

InDesign: 10 Tips for Troubleshooting Files

with Anne-Marie Concepción

Video: 9. Testing in a new user account

Now, sometimes problems that are occurring with your InDesign files or problems that are occurring with InDesign itself, they have nothing to do with the files or with the installed application of InDesign but have something to do with the conflict in your user accounts. Now as you probably know both Windows and the Macintosh are multiuser operating systems. If you are the only user on your computer you are probably not aware of that, but your user name will appear on the left and that is the account that you are logged in under. When you restart your computer, you often have to enter your username and password in order to get access to your files.

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign: 10 Tips for Troubleshooting Files
1h 1m Intermediate Jun 04, 2009

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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.

Topics include:
  • Using a document's history to work through problems
  • Creating a test user account to check for conflicts with other user settings
  • Round-tripping a file to work out specific issues
  • Locating and disabling third-party plug-ins to reset InDesign
Subject:
Design
Software:
InDesign
Author:
Anne-Marie Concepción

9. Testing in a new user account

Now, sometimes problems that are occurring with your InDesign files or problems that are occurring with InDesign itself, they have nothing to do with the files or with the installed application of InDesign but have something to do with the conflict in your user accounts. Now as you probably know both Windows and the Macintosh are multiuser operating systems. If you are the only user on your computer you are probably not aware of that, but your user name will appear on the left and that is the account that you are logged in under. When you restart your computer, you often have to enter your username and password in order to get access to your files.

So, the idea is that maybe there is something in your Preferences settings. In the Macintosh it would be in your Users Library folder. Something here that is conflicting with something else on your computer that is causing the problems in InDesign or with your InDesign documents. Now I know it sounds out of left field but I have seen this happen more than twice, where for example, in InDesign every time I opened up a panel, InDesign would immediately quit. And after doing all these troubleshooting steps, I discovered that it was something in my Library folder that was conflicting with InDesign because when I tested it in a new user account, the problem went away.

So, the question is how do you create a new user account. Let me show you both on the Macintosh and Windows. So on Macintosh, you would go to the Apple and go down to System Preferences and then click Accounts in the System area. Now, you have to be an Admin account on the Mac in order to do this, because in order to make changes, in order to create a test account you have to click the security lock and that's going to ask you for an Admin password. So, if you are not an Admin level user, you have to ask your IT person to do this for you.

So, I'm typing in my password and then to create a new user account and this is in case you haven't created one yet, all you do is click the plus symbol right down here where my cursor is. So, click plus. You want to create a new account that has full privileges so create a new Administrator account. And give it a name of something really simple, like test account, and the same Short Name. I give it the same exact password. So, I'm typing in test here and this is probably not necessary because I'm not going to forget. But at this point I'm so freaked out over problems on my Macintosh that I'm testing a test account, I might actually forget what is the password. So this will be reassuring to me if in case I do. Then click Create Account.

Now, let's go over to Windows and I'll show you how to create a test account there. So, on Windows, go to your control panel from your Start menu and look for the icon or the link that says Add or remove user accounts, click that. And in Vista it's saying, this could be dangerous, are you sure? Yes, yes, continue. You can see that there is only one account, my account and a Guest account. Now, I want to create a new account so I click that and I'll call this test.

I want it to be at Admin level account, click Create Account and that's it. Now, at this point what you need to do is log out of your current account and log in as the test account because the test account is a completely generic untouched account with just your basic system software on that plus all of your applications. So, on Windows you would go to the Start menu and then come out here and choose Log Off or if you choose Restart, the same thing will happen is that you will get a window that asks you for your username and password to log back in. So, I'll switch back to the Macintosh and then the Macintosh to log out you go under the Apple menu and choose Log Out here. I'll go ahead and do that and log in as my test account.

Okay, I have logged into my test user account on the Macintosh side. You can see it's got the default background, the default doc on the bottom. Now, I need to do is open up InDesign to see if it's going to have the same problems or not. So, I just go to my Applications folder and then you can see that the applications are shared among all accounts on the computer. So, then I just find InDesign CS4 and double click it to start it up. Now, if I want to just test InDesign itself, if it was crashing at start up or some panels weren't working correctly, then that's all I would need to do.

If I want to actually test a document that was giving me problems then realize that if it's still sitting in your old user account, you are not going to be able to access it from this user account. So, you needed to have either copied it onto a Zip drive and then so you can copy it back which I have done here. You can see I have an AMC zip drive that's already been inserted into my USB port where I have the magazine that was given me an issue. Or before you log out of your old account, you can copy the file to a folder to every user can access on your computer. And this is available for both Windows and the Mac.

So, on a Macintosh that folder is actually in the Users folder, it's called Shared. So, I have already copied BlissMag.zip on to the shared drive. So, you can do this from the old user account before you log out. And then when you log into the new user account, you just go right to that shared folder and then open it up. Now, of course I don't have the fonts loaded on this test user account so I'm getting the error about missing fonts. Only the ones that are by default installed with InDesign appear here.

But here I can see if I can replicate the problem that was occurring in my normal user account, and if I was having problem printing, I try printing from here or exporting from PDF it was just scrolling or whatever. So, I'll go ahead and run my tests and then decide if I was having the problem or not having a problem which I'll discuss as soon as I log out of here and log back into my normal user account. All right, I have logged back into my original account and now what I do next depends on what I discovered in my test account. If I discovered in the test account that the problems are gone, that InDesign works fine, that the documents are printing fine or whatever. Then I know that the issue has to do with my original user account and most likely you are going to find those issues right here in the user Library folder. Now, on Windows it would be also in the users own Documents and Settings folder, or whatever Windows calls that.

On the other hand if the problems in the test account still occurred. If InDesign is still crashing when I opened up a panel or the documents were still having issues then I know the problem is more likely either the computer, like the computer's own System folder which is higher up in the hierarchy like here. Or in the application itself, in InDesign. And so I might either test the document on another computer or uninstall and reinstall InDesign on this computer.

In the next video, I show how to uninstall and reinstall InDesign. And the very last, last, last resort would be to reinstall the system. But very likely you are going to find that in the test account, the problem is gone. And if so, there are a couple of things you can do. First of all, in your Library folder you can remove some of the likely culprits. There might be some items in here that are conflicting with InDesign. For example, there is a User Fonts folder here and all you need to do is to drag it out to the Desktop and drag out anything else that you think maybe causing some sort of problems, like PreferencePanes, Recent Servers, whatever you would like, Screen Savers, Snapz Pro, and so on. Then you log out just like how we logged out before and then log back in again as yourself.

And if there were any required files in the Library folder, the Mac will automatically create them. I don't like how InDesign automatically creates the preferences when you delete the preferences. Then you would start InDesign to see if the problem is gone. Now, you can either use the likely suspects method like I did of dragging just some folders out and testing it that way. Or you can use the binary method of the dragging out half of the contents of this folder on to the Desktop and restarting, sort of how I explained with fonts and the images how to troubleshoot those files. Or if you are short on time and you just want to confirm that it is your user account that's causing the problem, you can create an entirely new folder on the Desktop. Call it something like Old library and move everything into there.

The entire contents of the Library folder, because none of this is required for your computer to work. Then you would log out, log back in again, OS X will create or Windows will create the required files here and then you start up InDesign. There is nothing in here that InDesign requires in order to work. InDesign will just rebuild its default preferences again. If InDesign is working fine there and your documents are working fine there, then you know it's something from your Old library folder. And you can just drag and drop the things that you really want back over here and for everything else just start again with a fresh file. I know it sounds kind of drastic to do this kind of surgery to your Library file but it's actually a lot easier then having to reinstall the system and it's really not that big of a deal.

I have seen it actually solve some really tough InDesign problems in the past and I recommend you give it a shot. The worst that can happen is that you don't like having your new library files here. In that case, you can just delete them and move the contents of your old library back over. That's all, and then log out and log back in again.

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