Thanks for coming to, the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign!

A New Workaround for that Pesky Background Export Issue

One of the new features Adobe added to InDesign CS5 was backround exporting to PDF. On the surface this was a great idea because it allows users to get right back to work instead of sitting and watching a progress bar while the PDF was being exported.

In practice, however, this feature has proved troublesome to many users and while recent patches to InDesign have helped clear up some of the issues, there are still some people experiencing problems including crashing and freezing. Among the workarounds has been to create an InDesign book file and add the document to the book. Because the book panel was never wired into the background export, this forces the export to the foreground. To call this inconvenient would be a bit of an understatement.

Yesterday, Adobe’s Matthew Laun posted a new, very simple workaround in the Adobe User to User forum. This procedure turns off all background exporting:

Mac OS:

1) Create an empty text file and save it with the name ?DisableAsyncExports.txt?
2) Control+Click on the Adobe InDesign file in your Applications folder and choose Show Package Contents
3) Move the text file from step 1 into Contents/MacOS/ so the full path to the file is now:
/Applications/Adobe InDesign CS5/Adobe InDesign


1) Create an empty text file and save it with the name ?DisableAsyncExports.txt?
2) Move the text file from step 1 into the application folder, for example: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe InDesign CS5\DisableAsyncExports.txt

CS5.5 users can follow the same procedure.

While most users will be satisfied to just turn it off, there may be some who prefer to be able to choose when to use it. Our good friend Marijan Tompa has written a startup script that will give you that ability by adding a command to toggle it on and off under InDesign’s file menu. It can be downloaded directly from here. After downloading, unzip the file and copy controlBackgroundExport.jsx to your startup scripts folder and restart InDesign.

Clicking the command will toggle the background export on and off.

Note: to Windows 7 and Vista users: This startup script will not work if you have UAC enabled. While UAC in Vista was rather intrusive and many users wound up turning it off, I don’t recommend doing so in Window 7. Because most users are going to want to have this export either on or off, the script isn’t really critical anyway.

Bob Levine

Bob Levine

Bob Levine is a graphic designer and a consultant focused on providing InDesign training and guidance in developing efficient, collaborative workflows to those moving from QuarkXPress or PageMaker. An Adobe Certified Expert in both InDesign and InCopy, Bob has written articles for InDesign Magazine and is an Adobe User to User forums host. He has more than 15 years of industry experience and has been using InDesign since version 1.0. For more background, visit his website, or his blog,
Bob Levine

Latest posts by Bob Levine (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
Related Articles

59 Comments on “A New Workaround for that Pesky Background Export Issue

  1. I have been printing to PDF for years from InDesign and recently started to use the export to PDF feature, however, when I print to PDF then the InDesign document name is embedded into the PDF

    However, when I export, that information is lost.

    Is there a way to fix this?

    • On export to PDF the title and other metadata of the document shown in Acrobat’s Document Properties is drawn from InDesign’s File Information panel. The file name often reflects the name last used when exporting the document to PDF; sometimes it appears to be drawn from ID’s deep memory of the file’s history.

      Does this help? I wasn’t sure what you meant by ‘document name is embedded into the PDF’.

  2. Okay going to try this because I am loosing my mind that I suddenly can’t make PDFs- just stopped working and tells me error with background task. Step 1 question! Create a text file in Indesign?! How do I create a text file?

  3. Hi there, I’ve been a DTP designer for many years now…always used inDesign to export my large format prints and 100+ page catalogue to PDFx1a…recently after upgrading to Sierra OSX 10.12.6 Adobe CS6 Master Suite (Apple iMac 21″), I’ve had endless issue exporting my work to PDF. Keeps bringing up this error message : “1 Problem (1 failure)was found with a background task: > Failed to Export the PDF file”

    Please help…

    • Did you try the method explained?
      If you take up the background task panel you should be able to see where it fails, make sure that it is not one specific page with a corrupted file or link.
      Also you can try to place the file in a book and export from the book panel, does it work from there?

      That the things I can think of to try first.

      • Hi Lukas, I have tried everything from all the above mentioned replies, none have helped. Even after “cmd>alt>ctlt>shift” to removed preferences…it still gave me the issue. Disk first aid on my HDD and my Eternal HDD, both seemed ok and first aid ran smoothly.
        I just gave up and thought that about export 10 pages a time out of the 84 pages. that seemed to work…just took very long..approx 1 hour and 30 minutes to export all pages…much longer than usual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *