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Exporting JPG Pictures from InDesign

One of the most amusing aspects of writing (whether it be books or articles or blog posts) is that I can research something, write about it, and then a year later completely forget that the feature existed at all. This happened to me this morning, as I was working on the update to Real World InDesign (due out RSN). New in CS3 is the ability to specify an image resolution when exporting JPEG images (or JPG, or whatever you want to call them). But when I jumped to that section in the book to update it, something caught my eye: Selection.

Here’s what we wrote in the last (CS2) edition regarding exporting JPG images after choosing File > Export and clicking Save: “To export one or more objects from a page or spread, select them before choosing Export and then turn on the Selection option in the dialog box.”

Here’s what I said out loud: “What?!”

I must have known that you can choose to export only individual page objects at some point, but that info had fallen out of my brain. This is great! If you only want one or two objects in the final JPEG, just select them first, then choose the Selection radio button. Cool.

(I use exported JPEG images in a number of ways, including making thumbnails that can be imported into other documents, creating web banners and web graphics, and making simple proofs for people that are small and easy to see without requiring Acrobat.)

Now, why don’t we have this “Selection” feature in the Export PDF Options dialog box? Or even the Save As dialog box? I’d love to be able to save one or more objects off to their own InDesign document that would automatically be saved at a page size that perfectly encompasses those objects.

I know you’re going to say, “That’s what Snippets are for.” But this is different. For example, I might be working on a layout, and I want to share a piece of it with someone else. It’d be cool to simply select the pertinent frames and export just those as a separate INDD file. After they edit it, I could import their INDD file in place of my original frames. (It wouldn’t be editable anymore, because imported INDD files act like placed graphics, but that might be okay for now. In CS4, I also want to be able to convert placed INDD files into editable objects.)

Anyway, all of this is just to say: Go back and revisit what you think you know. There’s all kinds of goodies hiding in there!

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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26 Comments on “Exporting JPG Pictures from InDesign

  1. Re exporting selected items for other people to share and then updating those in your document, I believe you’re describing one of QuarkXPress’s Composition Zones features, no? (An external composition zone.) I’m pretty sure you can turn the shared items in a composition zone back into regular content, editable in the original layout, but I can’t figure out how.

  2. There was an Xpert Tool Xtension for Quark that I used to use a lot that would export a selection as an EPS. This was great because I could export a portion of a page with a rough outline on various objects, rasterize it in PS then built the compost object. I can still do it in InDesign and get the HR files but as far as I know I need to do it as a whole page, and PDF seems to work better than EPS, which sometime various “flattened” items are distorted by a pixel from the “stitching”. (By the way, I hate that term, it is a binding term not a page layout term)

  3. Good tip, wasn’t aware of the ‘selection’ option for Jpeg export. There is a free script somewhere for doing the same with PDfs – search for “Export selection to PDF”.

    A related tip is that to export all images from an InDesign document you can either export from the Links panel menu: “Copy all links to?” and select a folder (though this will export InCopy files too if you have any). Any cropping made in InDesign will be lost.

    Or, to keep the image cropping done in InDesign, export the document as a high res PDF, open in Acrobat Pro and go Advanced > Document Processing > Export all images. Select the compression (or Tiff for none) and destination folder. Images are exported with crop as they were in the InDesign file.

  4. So I bounced over here because my creative director wanted to export all (placed) images on all pages — a great number of them cropped in their frames — so that the modifications in InDesign could be exported as individual images again.

    “Hey, Guru,” he said, “how can we automate this process?” I’d already known about the technique in this posting — but if I wanted to, say select more-than-one image on a page/spread and then export them to, say, a JPG, then the selected, farthest-extended images would become the edges for one, large-super image, and not just a batch of images.

    Well, first I thought it might be listed as a sample script, pre-packaged with InDesign — but instead, it hit me:

    Export all pages in the InDesign document as a PDF. Then, open the PDF in Acrobat Pro and select: Advanced>Document Processing>Export All Images…
    Choosing a target folder will dump ALL images used in the document, cropped — just like he wanted them! Hurrah!

    • Does anyone know of a script for doing this from InDesign? It would be great if we could maintain the image filenames. If you export from a PDF, they are all renamed “page 1, image 001, page 2, image 001, etc.”

  5. I need to make a logo for my web page. I started with a box and entered the text. I made the text two colors. When finished with the layout, I exported it as a jpeg.

    However, when it is placed over black, there is a white box around the letters. How can I make it so there is no fill around the letters so the background will be whatever color is behind the image?


  6. @Robert: You can’t. At least, not with JPEG — it simply does not support transparency.

    Try exporting as PNG. Even better, try not to use a desktop publishing program, but use Photoshop (or similar), as that has a special “Export to Web” function that shows a preview of the result, including any transparency.

  7. I am exporting a load of pages from ID to jpg, Make up page in ID then select the objects on said page and export to jpg, sweet mostly. But sometimes the resulting jpg is bigger by some 10 pixels then the selected objects. I cannot see why, anyone had this?

  8. I had the same problem but no Acrobat installed, only acrobat reader.

    I found a plugin that exports images out of Indesign format like Acrobat does out of Acrobat format!

    You can fiend it at

    The owner of the site sent me a fully functional beta version after i placed an email to his paypal adress.

    You can see the adress when you click on the paypal buy button!

  9. Thanks!!! This is exactly what I was looking for.

    1. Highlight the objects/text you would like turned into a jpg
    2. Export
    3. Make sure the Selections box is checked

  10. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! i was having such problems figuring out how to export pictures from indesign until i read this! thank you so much!!!!!!

  11. I found extracting images from a PDF using Adobe Pro’s “Advance>document Processing” method, only exports from the PDF recognizable image formats, ignoring images that were imported to InDesign as PDFs. In the workflow I use, we convert many of our tables, charts, and other graphic elements of a layout page to PDFs from source files such as excel docs. Also tables created directly into in design that would otherwise be considered “as images” on the page layout, do not export from the PDF.
    Does anybody has a solution to be able to export all visual graphics from a layout page in PDF?
    Thanks for any leads…

  12. Pingback: InDesignSecrets Podcast 189 | InDesignSecrets

  13. Is there any way to merge down all pictures (at the same level) on a Spread to a single picture, or crop/cut out parts that are underlaying other pictures? So that only the displayed area is saved in the PDF file, not the whole/self-cropped part of the picture?

      • Thanks Peter! I already considered this, yet the printer bars pdf/x-1a format (it is a ebook/print hybrid). Any idea how to exclude hidden parts / cut out them with the other setting?

  14. He’re a script i found somewhere, i sadly cant remember where. it export alls image from image frames as what you set it to. I would be nice if would export according to the frame. I havent figured out that part though.

    Note that is according to OSX. You also need to have the folder ready/made where it needs to save the files

    var myDoc = app.activeDocument,
    apis = myDoc.links.everyItem().getElements(),
    items, fileName;
    var i = 0;
    var MyPath = “~/desktop/promo/export/”; // change your path here

    alert(“Script is running. Press OK and wait until done…”);

    while (items = apis.pop()) {
    items = items.parent.parent;
    if (!(items.hasOwnProperty(“graphics”))) {
    try {
    fileName = File([0].itemLink.filePath).name;
    fileName = i + “_” + fileName.replace(/\.[a-z]{2,4}$/i, ‘.jpg’);
    } catch (e) {};

    // app.jpegExportPreferences.exportResolution = 2400;
    // app.jpegExportPreferences.jpegQuality = JPEGOptionsQuality.MAXIMUM;
    app.jpegExportPreferences.exportResolution = 300;
    app.jpegExportPreferences.jpegQuality = JPEGOptionsQuality.HIGH;
    //give it a unique name
    var myFile = new File(MyPath + fileName);[0].exportFile(ExportFormat.JPG, myFile);


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