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Double Down(save)

I’m sitting here in Denver, digesting airport pizza, en route to the InDesign conference in Seattle. Hmm, what should I do with a 2-hour layover? I could do laundry. Note to self: never put a light-colored jacket in the X-Ray machine again. I could check out the gigantic Croc kiosk… Nah. When in doubt, blog.

The other day I was in on a discussion about whether it was still true that you can’t downsave an InDesign document more than one version at a time. Previously we’ve all heard and repeated the truism that you had go CS3 to CS2, then CS2 to CS. But that was then, this is now. Had things changed now with CS4? Is it possible to go directly from CS4 to CS2? Inquiring minds want to know. I want to know!

I think the answer is no and yes.

First the no part. If you export an INX from CS4, the dialog box makes it clear that you’re saving in CS3 format, not CS2. If you open the DOM documentation and compare CS4 to CS3, there are a lot of differences. But in theory, most of them shouldn’t matter. When processing the INX, CS2 should just ignore what it doesn’t understand and move on. However, if you drop INX from CS4 on top of CS2, you get an error: “Can’t open the document … The version of InDesign Interchange format used in this document cannot be opened by this product.”

Fair enough. But no one said we had to tell ID the truth about where that INX came from. It is just a text file, after all. Shall we tempt fate and edit the INX so CS2 thinks it came from CS3? Hopefully I won’t have my serial numbers revoked for even suggesting such underhanded dealings.

So I peeked over my should to make sure no one was looking, and I opened the INX and changed the XML declaration from:

<?aid style=”33″ type=”document” DOMVersion=”6.0″ readerVersion=”5.0″ featureSet=”257″ product=”6.0(352)” ?>


<?aid style=”33″ type=”document” DOMVersion=”5.0″ readerVersion=”4.0″ featureSet=”257″ product=”5.0(662)” ?>

That is, I told CS2 my file was from version 5 (aka CS3), and could be read by version 4 (CS2). I changed the “product” attribute to boot, just in case CS2 was looking at that also.

Inside my head, the dialog went something like this:

Me: “Knock, knock.”

CS2: “Who’s theeeere?”

Me: “INX delivery, I got a document downsaved from CS3 for ya.”

CS2: “Oh thank you. The door’s open. Leave in in the front window.”

Me: “Muhwahahahahah. CS2, you just got Punk’d!”

So yes, the document opened in CS2. The deception worked, but I feel a little guilty lying to my favorite app. Plus even though the document looks OK, who knows how stable or unstable it is. I feel like it’s kind of a Frankenstein experiment. The thing’s alive, but it might be evil. Bob Levine offered some sage advice to immediately re-INX the file in CS2. Done.

My feeling is that if you have CS3, it still might be better to go the long route, and downsave twice. Since I had to trick InDesign, we can be sure this is not supported behavior. But if you’re in a tight spot and have no access to CS3, this is the way to get your CS4 document into CS2. Further testing will reveal how well this trick holds up.

And now I think I hear my flight being called. See you in Seattle!

Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of LinkedIn Learning courses on InDesign, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Affinity Publisher.
Mike Rankin

Latest posts by Mike Rankin (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
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129 Comments on “Double Down(save)

  1. Isaac: In principle: sure, why not? It’s only a matter of removing all data related to the features added with the new version (stuff like grep styles, conditional text).

    The problem is, after removing this stuff, you have to shuffle around and re-write vast amounts of data. Indd files are stored in a binary format, other than .inx (which is, essentially, plain text), so you have to have exquisite knowledge of the storage format.

    I know just enough of that to say, from the bottom of my heart, “Let’s leave that to Adobe shall we.”

  2. I recently downloaded the trial for CS5.. I was wondering how I can go about changing the file down to CS4 as my trial has expired and I need to change a recent instruction leaflet I have created. Any ideas??

  3. Woife: No. CS5 can only down-save to IDML format, not to INX, which is required by CS3. You need a working CS4 to do so.

    Down-saving is in general not a good idea, and should only be done when there are no alternatives. All new features of CS5 will be stripped silently when the file is opened into CS4; and all of CS4‘s new features will be stripped from that when saved as INX and opened into CS3. Apart from that, the Paragraph Composer has been improved for CS4, so all text will re-flow when opened into CS3.

  4. OMG can’t believe that worked! BUT I have to do that to EVERY document I work on in :-( In order to use a plug in I have for CS2 that I don’t have for CS4. That sucks. It is easy enough but I need something quicker. That works with the export. Is there any plugins that do this?

  5. Hello

    Thank you so much for posting this tip! Unfortunately it did not work for me. I am curious what I am doing wrong. I change the line in the INX file, but Indesign will not let me open the INX file, so I try to open the regular Indd file and I get the error that I need plug-ins. Just so you know I am trying to go from CS4 to Cs2. If anyone knows what I am doing wrong, I would greatly appreciate your help

  6. Olive: it’s a trick, not really supported by Adobe. If it works, great, but there are absolutely no guarantees.

    Still: you could check if you used CS4- or even CS3-specific features in your file. If so, remove them and you could try again.

  7. olive,

    If Indesign is simply not recognizing the file when you try to open it, this might help…

    After changing in the TextEdit, I had to manually change the extension to .inx. Although I was able to open in InDesign after that, I must warn you it crashed completely on me shortly afterwards.

    It crashed immediately when I tried to reopen a couple of times and eventually it wanted my registration number. It would not accept it. I have reloaded the software (after carefully following all directions for uninstalling) and it is still refusing my registration number as invalid.

    Obviously I now have to contact Adobe. In the past, I did need a new registration number (because uninstall was not able to be done on previous computer) and I was able to obtain one from Adobe but only during bus hours. So it may have something to do with an already overused registration number (even though I uninstalled).

    On other side notes, shortly before discovering this fix, I updated the software. Also, the CS4 was on windows and CS2 in on Mac.

    Not sure if my crash problem is at all related to the save back, but if I get Indesign back up, I’m scared to try again.

    I was able to open the .inx file I created and save as a cs2 .indd file, but I don’t know if I even want to open that again either (if I get indesign working again).

  8. …I’m still suspicious Adobe is less about trying to be consistent here (there are too many options available to just close the door on officially created down saving methods entirely), and more about just becoming like Microsoft with the covertly forced updates.

  9. Sweet. This was a great tip! One client has not upgraded and I accidentally save their file in CS4. D’Oh!
    Your little tip got me back to CS2.

  10. Thank you so much! It did work just changing the one line: readerVersion=?5.0? > 4.0. It even saved my style sheets. Wonderful tip. Saved me hours of work.

  11. Thanks a lot, Mike.

    It works, but I’ve found some losses after conversion:
    ? Some boxes got fill, some lost;
    ? All links became broken & filenames in list were changed to some fail name (a couple different names was changed to one single fake name);
    ? Corner effect was cleared;

    I’am happy to see that all texts are still in proper place, styles (tehre weren’t any GREPs) were moved properly.

    Original layout in InDesign CS4 (6 or 6.0.2) was made on Windows XP and conversion made in InDesign 4.0.5 on Windows XP too. I’ve changed a “readerVersion” only in AkelPad (changes in some other XML-editors were unsuccessful, as single readerVersion as all positions following Mike’s list in initial post).

  12. Not only do I get great vibes from your page, but my wife’s job has just been saved too and you’ve never even met us. If you’re ever in Marseille, look us up and come for dinner.

  13. It is mentioned above that this also works moving to CS1 from CS4. What will the header need to read like? I don’t have CS2 to generate one for review. Only CS4.

    thank you

  14. 10 years old article but I happen to come across this process and still struggling with it. When you say ‘opened the INX and changed the XML declaration from’ – how/where do you do this? I am trying to open an Indesign INX file that was exported from CS4 in CS2 as couldnt get hold of Indesign CS3 anywhere.

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