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Deep Clean with InDesign Interchange Format (.inx)

New InDesign users may know that exporting an ID CS2 layout to the InDesign Interchange format is how CS2 files are “saved back” to CS1 (the CS1 user can open the .inx file and it’ll be converted to an InDesign CS1 .indd file, sans CS2-only features of course).

They may not know what grizzled InDesign vets already know, that the .inx format is great for repairing the occasional flaky, bizarre-acting InDesign document, even if it’s never opened by anyone else but the same user who exported it.

It’s easy to do. With the CS1 or CS2 layout file open (this troubleshooting method works with either version), choose File > Export. In the Format drop-down menu at the bottom of the Export dialog box, choose InDesign Interchange, which changes the filename extension to .inx. Save the file, then open the .inx file right up again in the same version of InDesign you used to export it.

It opens as an Untitled .indd document; looking exactly the same as before, all colors, links, page items intact, but (usually) free of any random internal cruftiness that may have prevented you from deleting an “I’m positive it’s not used” spot color or other such oddities. To continue, just save the document as a regular .indd layout file with a new name (or the same name as the old one, replacing it) and go on your way.

If the export-to-inx routine didn’t solve your problem, there are other things to try, but do this routine first.

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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11 Comments on “Deep Clean with InDesign Interchange Format (.inx)

  1. I love the INX file format; Branislav Milic is writing an article about some cool stuff you can do with it for a future InDesign Magazine article. For example, you can open INX files in a text editor (TextWrangler on the Mac for example, or Notepad in Windows), and do clever Find/Change stuff to replace fonts, colors, and so on.

  2. I also love the INX format. It’s a good solution for what I call the “phantom font” problem, where a font is listed in an InDesign file in Find Font, but you know it doesn’t really exist. Saving as INX gets rid of any reference to the ghostly font.

    INX is also the basis for Snippets, another useful new feature in IDCS2.

  3. Also when you are absolutely sure that the imported graphic file that contained the spot color has been deleted from the InDesign document but the spot color can’t be deleted, exporting using this INX trick also solves the problem.

  4. This is useful when you open a PageMaker file in InDesign and then have unexpected problems problems. Like a perfectly good script won’t run for no apparent reason. Exporting the file to .inx and opening again in InDesign cleans up whatever corruption there was in the file. A lifesaver!

  5. The one thing I’ve found .inx to fail miserably at is precisely what it was coded to do – translate to earlier version of ID. I’ve repeatedly had to remove all placed graphics from CS2 docs, which my associate has to replace in CS – even after installing the patch.

  6. A solution to Comment number 5 is to do a collect for output first then inx the collected ind file – a pain but it works.

  7. This also worked for the annoying missing plug-in messege I was recieving from the Cacidi Extreme BarCodes plug-in I no longer use. The .inx file seemed to remove the code added to the files created while the plug-in was installed even if I didn’t use it in the file. Thanks

  8. I’m trying to fix an inx problem. The original inx is successfully opened with ID CS3, but after translated into JA through trados 2007 sp2, the cleaned inx can’t be opened with ID CS3. ID CS3 stopped when referring a eps file.

    The other languages are correct and successfully opened in ID CS3, so I think it’s error in inx. But I can’t find the reason and solution till now, anybody can help me?

    Thanks very much!

  9. Pingback: Batch Change Hyperlinks Across a Whole InDesign Document | InDesignSecrets

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