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InDesign CC 9.2 Brings Hyperlink Relief

Hyperlinks have never been as important in InDesign publishing as they are right now. With a larger proportion of our content being exported to interactive PDF, EPUB, Digital Publishing Suite apps, and SWF, we expect that we can click a link in a digital publication to take us to another page, to a website, or to send an email. Yet the tools in InDesign for creating hyperlinks had become creaky and troublesome…until now! The InDesign CC 9.2 update in January 2014 brought a much easier workflow which eliminated a lot of old bottlenecks.

If you’ve used the Hyperlink feature in earlier versions of InDesign (including InDesign CC before the January update), I’m sure you have you own pet peeves about the way it worked. In the earlier version, Hyperlinks was crammed into the same panel as Cross References, totally confusing newcomers to InDesign. If you created a URL hyperlink, it was not obvious how to tell that it correctly linked to the destination. The default for creating a hyperlink was to create a Shared Hyperlink Destination which caused much confusion later on when you accumulated many destinations (how do you get rid of them, for example?).

Hyperlink Improvements in 9.2

To start with, the couple has now separated: Hyperlinks has its own panel (Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks) and so does Cross References (Window > Type & Tables > Cross-References). The new Hyperlinks panel is shown below. Note the different appearance of the different kind of hyperlinks. URL hyperlinks are immediately tested, and if the syntax is correct, they show a green dot, meaning OK. If they are not, they appear as red. After fixing them, you can click the Refresh URL Status button to update them.

Hyperlinks Display

Hyperlinks Display

If you have multiple hyperlinks pointing to the same destination, they are grouped as shown above. And if you have selected a frame as a hyperlink, it how has a dashed line appearance by default, to make it easier to tell this. This shows in Normal screen mode, but not in Preview mode. (And if you don’t want to see it, choose View > Extras > Hide Hyperlinks.)

Creating a hyperlink is a lot easier for beginners. For example, when you select some text you want to turn into a URL hyperlink, choose New Hyperlink from URL. The hyperlink is immediately created and tested.

Creating a URL Hyperlink

Creating a URL Hyperlink

In addition, a character style called Hyperlink is created which by default creates a blue underline appearance and applies it to a new hyperlink. Of course, you can pick another character style, or you can edit the Hyperlink style to appear the way you want.

Automatic Character Style

Automatic Character Style

The choices for creating a hyperlink haven’t changed: When you choose New Hyperlink you can link to a URL, File, Email, Page, Text Anchor, or Shared Destination.

New Hyperlink

New Hyperlink

While Shared Hyperlink Destination is checked by default, it doesn’t seem to the problems it used to. For example, if you want to get rid of unused hyperlink destinations, you can now choose Delete Unused Destinations from the Hyperlink panel menu.

Hyperlinks Menu

Hyperlinks Menu

All in all, this is a nice set of enhancements to making hyperlinks, should make it easier for for newcomers and to experienced InDesign users.

Steve Werner

Steve Werner

Steve Werner is a trainer, consultant, and co-author (with David Blatner and Christopher Smith) of InDesign for QuarkXPress Users and Moving to InDesign. He has worked in the graphic arts industry for more than 20 years and was the training manager for ten years at Rapid Lasergraphics. He has taught computer graphics classes since 1988.
Steve Werner

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59 Comments on “InDesign CC 9.2 Brings Hyperlink Relief

  1. I am in agreement that the improvements are positive, but hyperlinks and cross-references particularly are infuriatingly crash-prone still. I work on large technical documents with many cross-references, and often get in situations where the simply opening the cross-reference panel will crash InDesign. The solution typically involves taking the document in question through the IDML round trip.

    • Hello Sonburn,

      We are aware of one issue wherein InDesign is crashing on simply opening the hyperlink/cross references panel and are trying to fix it. Just to be sure if it is the same issue, could you please share your file

      InDesign Engineering

  2. Still some work to do, but getting there. For conditional text links, you still need to repeat the whole url, not just the variable bit.

    Also the grouped urls don’t show their destination, instead showing http://. You have to open the group, then select a link to see where it’s linked to.

  3. The new hyperlink feature that I like most is that you can now edit hyperlinks really easily. It used to be a hassle, especially with shared hyperlink destination links; but now, you can just open double-click the link in the Hyperlinks panel and edit the URL. The new features are mostly “that’s the way it should have worked all along,” but it’s great to see that Adobe is working on these kinds of things.

    The biggest problem with hyperlinks now (and it’s been this way for years) is the cross-document links. These are still kind of buggy, I think. Much better to keep links inside your own document if you can.

  4. I’m trying to create a hyperlink from a note reference in an InDesign CC document. The footnote is as follows; 1. Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 2.1.1. But when I highlight the line of text I don’t have the option to create a new hyperlink in the hyperlink panel. But if I select just a single word from the reference I have the option of creating a new hyperlink. Is it possible to make a long line of text like the one mentioned into a hyperlink in InDesign CC?

  5. Hyperlinks will become a lot more useful when you can target your link page. I need the feature target=”_blank” for creating Interactive Documents

  6. The updated hyperlinks (and cross reference) functionality is working great for me. Just finished a book project with 11 chapter files and large number of hyperlinks and cross references — usually to different chapters — and the client is thrilled with the results.

    But I do miss having the icons at the bottom of the panel to “Go to Source” and “Go to Destination.” It’s a drag to have to select them from the menu. Don’t know why this feature was removed.

    I also get a lot of false errors — panel shows a red circle for invalid link, but in fact the link works perfectly, both when checked with “Go to Destination” and in the pdf. Has anybody else seen this?

    • Hello George,

      Glad that you are liking the hyperlink functionality.

      For the Go to Source and Go to Destination icons, now instead of going to the flyout menu, you can click on the page number to go to Source and click on the light icon ( Green/Red) to Go to Destination. That is the reason we have removed the buttons at the bottom.

      About the false errors you are getting, we are aware about this issue and are currently working on resolving it.

      InDesign Engineering.

      • Thank you so much for clarifying this!! I missed the little icons at the bottom but this is much easier and I LOVE that you can edit the hyperlink name with one click instead of going to the flyout menu!

  7. InDesign CC’s new hyperlink functionality has been nothing but a nightmare for us. It can take minutes to create even one hyperlink and the program constantly crashes when the hyperlink panel is even open!!

    I have had to go back to CS6 if I need hyperlinks–which is most of the time–making the upgrade to the CC version a complete waste of time and money.

    Thanks for nothing, Adobe!

  8. I’m sorry to hear the hyperlinks function isn’t working for DN. But (as mentioned above) I have created a number of complex documents in InDesign CC with dozens of hyperlinks. I find it to be working great, much better than CS6 – especially since the upgrade to 9.2.1 fixed some minor bugs. Nowadays I even use shared destinations, which I avoided like the plague in earlier versions, for hyperlinks that are repeated in the document.
    So DN might want to try some troubleshooting of her/his configuration before concluding that CC is inherently defective.

  9. George, I am working on a new project for creating an interactive manual with numerous chapters and pages, looking at using hyperlinks and or cross references, out of curiosity how many pages was your project?

  10. While it’s great that Adobe has improved the way that hyperlinks can be applied, the one thing that makes this “feature” a disaster for me is the automatic application of the “Hyperlink” character style. Firstly, it will replace any other character style that I’ve already applied to the text (e.g. we often hyperlink the title of a book, which is for us italicised). All these character styles are painstakingly applied in Word before importing to InDesign, for maximum efficiency. And because not everything that we hyperlink is italicised, I can’t just change the formatting of the Hyperlink character style, I have to manually re-apply the correct character style or remove the Hyperlink style. This is truly painful and Adobe should have given us the opportunity to turn this “feature” off!

    Not happy!

    • Lan: You make a great point, but there is a solution: The first time you make a hyperlink use the New Hyperlink dialog box and set the character style to None (or another style). That setting is “sticky” so it will stay that way until you change it — I think even across multiple documents.

  11. HI, I’m trying to hyperlink in indesign to pdf page placed inside same indesign file. Problem is when export and open hyperlink works but when select ‘fit view’ for displaying page screen comes up blank in full screen mode. When change option to Fit Width it opens at the bottom of the page not the top? I want to open page at full width view for easy viewing onscreen, and can scroll down. Is there a quick way of changing to multiple links? thanks.

  12. I am struggling withe the new automatic hyperlink character style in my TOC. I have created paragraph styles that include nested character styles in my TOC definition, but now all of my chapter names are set with the hyperlink style in addition to the nested character styles. Since I didn’t manually create the hyperlink, I can’t follow the instructions above (setting the style for a new hyperlink to “None”). I currently work around this by selecting the offending text and choosing “Clear Overrides” from the paragraph style menu, but is there a way to keep the program from applying the hyperlink style when I create a table of contents?

    • magerber: What you are describing is not InDesign’s normal behavior, so I’m not sure what is going wrong. My guess is that you have certain local overrides applied inside the text frame when you make the TOC, and that formatting is getting applied to the whole TOC? Try clicking Clear Overrides before you make the TOC.

      • Hmmm…just tried that and it didn’t seem to make a difference. I last used the TOC feature in late July, and InDesign didn’t create the auto-hyperlinks.

        Between now and then, I have started using InD to create forms–is it possible that I adjusted some setting when I started creating forms that might be causing this behavior? If not, any suggestions about further troubleshooting? It’s difficult to post the documents as an example, because I am using the book feature, and creating the TOC from 12 individual documents.

  13. Simply opening the hyperlinks panel is crashing my machine nearly all the time. And if it’s not crashing, it’s literally taking several minutes to process a single hyperlink. I’m wondering if it’s because I’m updating an old file, and something in the code (from CS5) is causing a comflict with the current version (CC 2014).

  14. I’m doing everything suggested here but links are not working. They turn blue…they underline, but no link. It does say they’er linked in the panel and they do open up an email to the right address…but the PDF is a no go. What am i doing wrong?

  15. David, could you please help me with the following:
    I can’t seem to find a way to make a hyperlink open in a new window when the interactive pdf is uploaded. So if someone views the pdf file online (http://…./…pdf) and clicks on a link that refers to a URL it will open this link in the window and exact tab that the pdf is opened in. I believe that indesign CS5 had a dropdown menu wich offered the choice ‘open in new window’. Is this option available in indesign cc2014 and even better, is the option ‘open in new tab’ available? It is really cirital for me and my customers.

    If so, please tell me how.

    If not, when can I expect an update with this improvement?

    Thank you!

    • Jeremy: I don’t recall seeing an “open in new window” feature in earlier versions of InDesign. I’m not sure it’s even possible to do from InDesign. Maybe if the link is created in Acrobat instead?

      • Hi there,

        I’ve been trying to figure this same issue out. Below is my troubleshooting notes and testing results in an effort to get this to work. I am unable to make it happen. The only way I found that it can be done is through browser user settings that are out of our control as designers.

        1 – Interactive Export Settings in InDesign – issue not addressed here
        2 – Hyperlink Properties & Actions – I’ve heard of a javascript that can be added for this fix but I can’t find where adding this script can be done in InDesign
        3 – I Tested Exporting with Adobe DC – No change
        4 – I tried adding links in Adobe DC – Same problem, no additional settings to fix this are in Adobe DC
        5 – Using buttons instead of hyperlinks – No good
        6 – I thought about also saving the PDF from Adobe DC or InDesign with settings that force the PDF to download and open with the users PDF Viewing software – I can’t find that option anywhere in either program
        7 – I’ve check my website CMS to see if I can force a download rather than having it open in the browser as well. My CMS doen’t have that option. Maybe your CMS will or your development team can create something. If it opens on the user device rather than in the browser than the links all open in separate tabs and the user is never directed away from the PDF since it is open in another program outside of the browser experience.

  16. I am trying to create a hyperlink to be used in a pdf that will be output for print, but will also be online. I highlight the copy I want to make a link, copy the destination into the url location in the hyperlink panel. When I output the pdf, it’s adding a path to the location of the pdf in front of my url, so it will not open.

  17. I’m completely bamboozled by hyperlink TOC using the Book feature. When I Save As…. for a Book file, to make a new copy of the book and its files, it appears as though the hyperlinks all go to the _old_ content files.

    I am doing a Save As because the printed book has settings different from the interactive PDF book, and I want to save the print print version separately, for archiving. And because the Hyperlink dialog box only shows the file name, and the file names don’t change when you Save As… to a new book, I can’t tell what document the hyperlink actually goes to unless I go to Source file and then check the path of the source file to see what Book it is in.

    This has messed me up tremendously and I have a 300+ technical reference book with an 8 page TOC including Table lists and Figure lists. I really can’t do this manually.

    The Hyperlink Panel doesn’t have a “Show options” like the Links panel, to see where the Hyperlinks actually go. You can hover your mouse over a hyperlink name in the panel, to see the resulting file and page, but the file name doesn’t have the full path and, even worse, the page number is inaccurate (it’s simply the page position in the file, not the assigned page number).

    The Book feature, combined with this crazy hyperlink TOC feature, has failed me entirely. What am I missing?

    • I would try creating a new book file (rather than doing a “Save As” on the book file you already have), add the individual content files into the new book manually, and then regenerate the Table of Contents and update all Cross-References. After that is done, then try exporting to PDF from that new book file with the settings that you need for your archive/print version.

  18. Is there a known bug with cross-references hyperlinking to the wrong page in a PDF generated from the Book panel? The cross-refs are tracking correctly in terms of their page #, but when opened in Acrobat and clicked on, some are way off, going to a different chapter entirely.

  19. I am trying to use the New Hyperlink option on entries within an auto-generated Table of Contents so that I can link them to text anchors within the InDesign file. Then when I export to Interactive PDF the TOC entries will link directly to the relevant paragraph headings. But New Hyperlink is grayed out and I am not sure if the TOC has to be reconstructed somehow? Does New Hyperlink work for auto-generated TOCs?

      • I would guess that Chris is wanting to create hyperlinks in the TOC in addition to the ones that are generated automatically based on paragraph styles.

        Chris, I don’t know what the answer is to the question about whether hyperlinks are allowed in an auto-generated TOC, but I have solved this problem for myself by creating a new, non-printing layer in my document, and placing the additional text that needs to be included in the TOC on that non-printing layer. That way it shows in the TOC, but not in my document.

  20. I would like to change the name in the label yellow that appears when the cursor hovers over the object containing a hyperlink. I can’t image that something as simple as giving an alias name for a hyperlink isn’t an option in InDesign!

    • Jolanda: Are you talking about the way it appears in Acrobat (in the PDF)? There are many (!) PDF features that are not controllable in InDesign. I’m not sure what you mean by “giving an alias name”

  21. I have a client that wants Interactive PDFs that contain hyperlinked URLs, working bookmarks, and hyperlinked TOCs. I save a PDF from an ID book and when opened in Acrobat, all is working fine. Since they want to add DRM to the files, they need to work in Adobe Digital Editions on the iPad and computer. In ADE, some of the bookmarks and some of the TOC links are now dead. I have rebuilt the ID files and tried to save the PDF a few different ways. Is this a bug in ID that is doesn’t play well with ADE? When I run a test of a few files in the book, it works better than the entire book. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  22. I have added hyperlinks to my InDesign doc…and all work well. However, if I embed a video into the same doc…I can’t find a way to export the PDF such that both the hyperlinks and the video work. Getting the video to work requires me to export the doc in “Interactive” mode…and doing this nullifies the fx of the hyperlinks. How do I get both to export out into a PDF? Thanks for any help.

  23. I’ve had no trouble adding hyperlinks, but when I export the file to a reflowable EPUB, the hyperlink tags I add with customized names (easier for me to search later) are changed to “_idTextAnchor…” This seems like a recent change. How do I export w/ the original tags again? Thanks!

  24. Love the new feature when it works, but when I open CS6 files with lots of hyperlinks and try to turn on the Auto Update URL sources… ID crashes every time so I cant use that part of the new hyperlink set up.
    Anyone know why this happens?
    I have tried saving as an idml file, opening a copy of the file, re-editing the urls in the hyperlinks panel.. nothing works – the green and red lights come on for less than a second and ID crashes.

  25. Is there any way to avoid InDesign pasting “http://” at the beginning of each URL hyperlink? I am sorry if this answer is above, it’s a long thread and I see a lot of issues as I read it. I’m finding all of my links are working except the ones that don’t begin with www or http (the links themselves online, not the way I’m typing them). For instance: and … what do I do with these?
    Thanks much,

    • @marisa: I’m not an expert on this but I’m guessing you may need to add each of these manually using the Hyperlinks panel. (Select the URL then choose ‘new Hyperlink’, then make sure the URL shown is correct.)

      Anyone else, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  26. I am hoping this is still active.

    I’ve stumbled across a problem and can’t find a way around it. Here it is:

    I have the exact same question as the guy who posted in
    I have an InDesign CS5 document with many hyperlinks in it. Actually they have been formatted as buttons with a “go to URL’ action.
    When converting to a PDF file, some browsers open the file in Acrobat Reader, but others open directly in the browser via a plugin. In the latter case, I want the links to open in a new window (or tab) rather than overtaking the window containing the PDF.
    I can’t believe there isn’t an option in InDesign to specify a target on URLs. I don’t mind converting all of the buttons to hyperlinks, but neither panel has this option.
    I know it can be done via Acrobat, (see…/…/opening-pdfs-new-browser-windows) but obviously this means redoing every one of them after having to make any change to the InDesign file.

    For added reference, please see this pdf…/0B000VUsZOyYlQ29sdG12eEZfNWc/view
    and open using web browser. When you click the link to their website at the bottom of the page, it opens a new tab. I want to know how to do this via InDesign.

  27. I want a feature in options that lets me set whether shared hyperlink destination is on or off by default.

    I NEVER USE shared, and with it on, it’s just a big pain because I have to TURN IT OFF on every single hyperlink I create. Let me choose my own default setting for this checkbox, PLEASE.

  28. I have 1 page with lots of names and their email underneath. Do I need to select ‘shared hyperlink destination’? I don’t really understand how this option works. Thank you.

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