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6 Tips to Speed Up InDesign

Sometimes, things just don’t run as smoothly or as quickly as we’d like. Even our ever-faithful companion, InDesign, is not free from frustrating slowdowns and inexplicable quirks. Some people are quick to jump on the “trash your preferences” bandwagon, but I almost never have to resort to that. If you’ve done some troubleshooting and are quite certain it’s not a particular file—or an asset within that file—causing you grief, there are a few things you can try to speed up InDesign. If you know your computer is normally up to handling your intense workflow, then maybe one—or three—of these issues and settings within InDesign is what’s bringing it to its knees.

Set InDesign’s Display Performance to Typical

Viewing images at high resolution forces InDesign to constantly re-draw elements as you move around the document, eating up processor oomph. Setting the default to Typical (InDesign/Edit > Preferences > Display Performance) renders the images at a screen-friendly resolution. This has been InDesign’s default setting for viewing images onscreen for ages. However, with the latest release (or maybe even earlier and I just didn’t notice it), the default seems to be High Quality. Even with the default set to high, you can right-click or control-click on a document page to set the display performance for the current document, or right-/control-click on an image to change the setting for just that image.

changing display performance settings to speed up indesign performance

Turn off Live Drawing

Turn off InDesign’s Live Screen Drawing—or at least set it to Delayed—in the Interface pane of your Preferences to speed things up a notch. The delayed option means that when you click on an item, such as an image, then wait a split second to move or transform it, you’ll get a live preview of the transformation as you perform it. If this option is set to immediate, InDesign has to display every step of the process for every transformation. That’s a lot of processing.

Minimize Live Preflight

Live Preflight works in the background to make sure your document falls within the parameters you’ve set for the specific output. If you’re not working, it probably is. You can limit which pages it’s checking by opening the Preflight panel. To do that, either click the Preflight menu to the right of the red or green dot at the bottom of the document frame, or choose Window > Output > Preflight. At the bottom of the panel, select the radio button to the right of All and choose a page (or alternate layout). Now the preflighting is only being conducted on that particular page. Better yet, turn it off altogether by deselecting the On checkbox until you’re ready to preflight.

LivePreflight

Turn Off Page Thumbnails

If you have a lot of pages in your document, and those pages have a lot of items on them, your Pages panel thumbnails are working really hard to keep up with you. One place I notice a lag in redraw is those pesky little page thumbnails. Most of the time, the page icons are so small that the thumbnails—even if they ARE redrawing—aren’t very helpful. Go to the Pages panel menu, choose Panel Options, then deselect Show Thumbnails on both Pages and Masters.

Turn Off Hyperlink Verification

A tip I learned at PePcon 2016 from a newly-informed Anne-Marie Concepción was that InDesign is very fastidious about checking hyperlinks. One might even say it’s “hyper” about it (if one were into such easily uttered puns). InDesign constantly checks the validity of URLs in hyperlinks, which can really slow down a file containing a lot of hyperlinks. Turn off the obsessive checking by deselecting “Auto Update URL Status” in the Hyperlinks panel menu.

turn off auto update URL status to speed up indesign performance

Turn Off Save Preview Images

InDesign gives you the option of including a preview image when saving your documents, which happens to be the default behavior. This is another item that constantly updates as you work. To make changes to this option, head to Preferences and go to the File Handling pane. You can deselect “Always Save Preview Images” to turn the option off completely. At the very least, you could limit the preview pages to just the first one or two pages in the document or reduce the dimensions of the preview itself.

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet is a speaker, writer, and trainer, focusing on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author, and other production-related topics. With over 25 years experience in the graphics industry, she is a regular contributor to CreativePro.com. After living as a nomad, she recently put down roots in El Paso, Texas, where she hikes and bikes every chance she gets.
Erica Gamet

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7 Comments on “6 Tips to Speed Up InDesign

  1. Another speed-up tip from Anne-Marie ‘her geekness’:

    If you’re using a lot of GREP styles in a large document, it can slow down InDesign significantly. So the best idea is to turn it off temporarily by adding an asterisk (*) at the beginning of every GREP style expression, and when you want to export the document remove the asterisk.

  2. Thanks for that! I’m hoping it fixes our Hyperlink problem. We have been getting killed with Hyperlinks coming from InCopy. Thousands of them, which I imagine if InDesign needs to verify them all would be quite a task. So I unchecked the verify on all the computers. Thanks!

    • I’ve noticed a difference on documents with as few as 25 or so hyperlinks. Hope that helps a bunch!

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