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Can’t Save or Save As or Save a Copy or Undo… Help!

Oh yesterday was such fun… after working on a document for a while, pressing Cmd/Ctrl-S every so often (thinking I was saving it), I tried to Undo a mistake I made. Nothing. I headed over to the Edit menu and Undo and Redo were both grayed out. And then the other shoe dropped: I looked at the File menu and saw that all my save options were grayed out, too:


Now, I’ve been using InDesign for a long time, and I’m relatively cool as a cuke about these things, but I will admit that I did use an expletive or two. I mean, was my document saved or not?

The answer, it quickly became clear, was Not.

Look, I have no idea why this happened. I’m not sure I want to know. But I will tell you what I did about it, in case it happens to you.

First, I thought through the various reasons why a feature might be grayed out in InDesign. Then I considered just closing the document, or force-quitting (“end task”), and losing all my work. And then I remembered my friend IDML.

I reached for File > Export, and chose InDesign Markup (IDML) from the Format pop-up menu. IDML is usually used for saving backward to earlier versions or cleaning up file corruption, but in this case it saved my bacon (or bacon-flavored kosher tempeh, for who prefer). When I opened the IDML file back in InDesign, all my work was there, and the file could be saved.

Then I could close the original, messed-up file, and go on with my work.

Before I proceeded, however, I did take one additional step: I quit InDesign and relaunched it, rebuilding the preferences files. Just in case.

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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  • - November 30, -0001
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127 Comments on “Can’t Save or Save As or Save a Copy or Undo… Help!

  1. I’ve seen a few of these reports on the U2U forum and the IDML route is certainly the safest but I would have also force-quit InDesign. As long as everything else was okay you would not have lost all of your work as the file would have (hmmmm, okay, make that should have) been recovered.

  2. I’m kinda glad someone else had this, I also expelled a couple of expletives!

    I contacted adobe as a bug and received a reply for the first time, after further conversations they sent me an extension to install which to date (a couple of weeks) has solved the problem.

    • Yes, this happened in Mac InDesign CC. But I didn’t specify that mostly because weird things can happen in all versions… the IDML trick is just a generic helpful troubleshooting technique.

  3. Colin / Markus

    Apologies but adobe have asked me not to share the extension as they’re still testing it.

    All I can say is that they do read our emails and they are working to fix this issue. However tiny the issue always submit a bug report, it is work the effort.

  4. One thing to note is I ran this test…

    When stuck in this scenario if you go to close the window with the unsaveable indd file in it finder will naturally ask if you want to save cancel or close. If you hit save it comes back with an error. During that time I ran FSEventer and found it touches the ~/Library/Saved Application State/com.adobe.InDesign.savedState folder.

    If you close without saving then reopen the same indd file, make a change, you are back in the same unsaveable state.

    If you delete ~/Library/Saved Application State/com.adobe.InDesign.savedState then reopen the document you are all of a sudden able to save new changes again in that document. And I have seen this with indd files in the users folder and on network shares. Does not seem like a permissions issue.

  5. We had the same problem on a windows 7 64b system. Only one machine out of 11 had the problem. We killed the process and after restart and recovery, not all the corrections were recovered but still most of them. Scary though, since our deadlines are very, very short.

  6. I had same problem. Also rescued by .idml export. I suspected NAS drive. Only happened once (to date). Was running 10.8.5.

  7. This sounds suspiciously like a network drive or other resource being used disappeared at the moment some thread in the program needed it. I have run into issues when using a mapped drive in the cloud. Only ID has the problem, no other Adobe product seems to mind. Somewhere the service running stops (for unknown reasons), and the “drive” is unavailable at least for a period of time. ID barfs on the interruption and, in my case, crashes. In other cases, I just can’t save but have to save as. Never had all options disappear without a full crash, though.

    • Hm, I’m all too familiar with ID crapping out as soon as a network drive becomes unavailable. However it usually quits, albeit in a polite manner, telling me beforehand that my work will be lost. Which in fact it is not, because the file recovers correctly upon restarting ID.

      Therefore I suspect this is something else. And I don’t like it.

  8. I don’t suspect a network or a disk error to be the cause. If it would be a network error all the other colleagues would have had the same error at the same time. We’re not working “in the cloud” though.

    • I too had these same issues with In-Design CC. I tried to update to the latest version but it crashed in the middle of the update and I was left with having to uninstall and re-install the program. The “save” issue “seemed” to be solved, but when I reinstalled my suitcase extension, I was back to square one, wouldn’t save or save as. So I turned the suitcase extension off in In-Design and that worked. So bottom line, the issue for me was Suitcase Fusion v5. Not sure who to send this info to, Adobe or Extensis, each will probably blame the other.

  9. I’m running into the same problem. I can save blank documents, but the second anything goes into it, I’m essentially in an unsaveable mode. I was able to keep my work by exporting to IDML as suggested above though.

    The problem went away when I quit and relaunched. The curious thing I’ve noticed is that my Creative Cloud app is hanging. I wonder if CC is interpreting my copy as being pirated since the Creative Cloud link is borked.

    I’m having big problems in Dream Weaver too. Everything runs slow and shortcut commands randomly disappear on me in both programs.

  10. Just experienced the same issue, running OS 10.8.5 and InDesign CS6, working on a previously-saved file in a local subfolder of my Dropbox folder (so it is “in the cloud” in a way, but not only in the cloud – it’s just automatically synced). I was so relieved to find this post! Not sure how long before I would have thought to try export to .idml, in my slightly panicked state!

    BTW, another InD file open at the same time did not lose all the save functions or undo immediately, but when I made a change in it after experiencing the glitch in the first file, the same problems appeared.

    Another data point… after exporting my .idml file, I closed each file and was able to save via the file closing dialog box. I reopened the file, and my changes had, indeed, been saved. But I quit InD and restarted it anyway, to be safe.

  11. I just found this site AFTER I lost 3 hours, then 4 hours, then 36 hours work….Expletives are simply not enough.
    Ended up make PDFs of the pages (a 12 page tabloid newspaper) as went, holding my breath (for days!) and just getting to the deadline when I decided to copy and paste a whole page on to a new inserted page, hit copy then instead of hitting paste, hit copy again$#@ which sent the wheel spinning forever, had to shut down and lost the next 36 hours worth.
    I will probably NOT be using inDesign again but going to my old favourite Freehand. I think InDesign is over-engineered anyway.
    I don’t want all that palaver and text spinning and text frame tricks.

  12. WTF is happening to Adobe, u pay a fortune to have the latest software upgrade and need to deal with this sh*t, unable to save a file?? of all the things that could be a bug, incompetent a*holes.

  13. I also have the same problem lately!
    First i cannot copy with my ‘cmd c’ key. No – when I work a few hours – I cannot save of save as my files in Indesign cc.
    It happens over and over again!!!

  14. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This happened to me just now, and fortunately I was able to save all my work via the IDML save.

  15. We can understand how frustrating such issues could be. We (at InDesign, Adobe) have recently rolled out a release (9.2) that fixes a lot of bugs including this one. Please upgrade to latest version (use the Creative Cloud Application) to get all the fixes.

    -Anil Ahuja
    Adobe InDesign Engineering Team

    • Guess what? The 9.2 release didn´t help a bit. Got this mayor bug last night. This is the worst bug I´ve ever experienced with Adobe. Seriously…

      And yes, everything is updated.

      • And guess what; I didn´t release that I haven´t installed the Adobe Extension Manager CC!
        After installing it, it suddenly worked again – was able to save the problem-document and undo. Just hope it stays this way *pray*

    • Hi Adobe engineering team. I have had exactly the same issue and I am working on a series of brief for my design course. Unfortunately many hours of work cannot be saved. could you please provide a link for the upgrade? I am using CS 5 and would like to upgrade the whole lot of programmes not only indesign. thanks

    • hi I am experiencing exactly the same issues in Indesign CS5 and have wasted hours on two documents which I cannot save. As I am not really confident with changing settings etc. can you please post an idiot proof guide to fix this really really annoying issue? thanks, Marcella

  16. Happy to know we can save our files.
    I work on CC and all my Adobe programms are uptodate. But unfortunately I had the problem yesterday again!

    • The update was only released a few days ago—so you might not have yet updated the patch. Please check in Creative Cloud Application that no updates are due and then try again.

      • Just had it again!
        All updates are done. CC does not say to have any updates. I checked Indesign itself – also: it is up-to date.

  17. Is there any chance there’s a release that fixes CS5, CS5.5, CS6? According to Adobe’s own Community Help, this has been an issue for some time. Would be very helpful for all of us. Thank you.

  18. Hello Liesbeth,

    Could you please confirm if the InDesign version you are using is Please check by going to InDesign-> about InDesign with command key pressed.

    InDesign Engineering

      • Can you please try doing these things :

        – Uninstall InDesign CC
        – Delete all the preferences and InDesign App folders from your computer
        – Install InDesign from creative cloud again.

        I know it will take some time but I think this should help.

        Also, which platform are you using?


    • I re-installed the Indesign CC. Last week. And it seemed that it worked ok. I was happy, although it took me a lot of time!
      But …. This morning it happened again! !!!!
      Could save it as idml.

      • Hello Liesbeth,

        Could you please tell us what steps you were performing when you encounter this Save disabled issue. If you encounter this while working with a particular file, please share that.

        May be it is not to do with any particular file or some specific steps, but if you could share your workflow that you generally perform when you end up with this situation, it would be of great help.

        Kindly share all the information and we will work with you and try to reproduce the same at our end.


  19. FYI, I just visited a client whose ID CC has been having the same problem. I did check his version: 9.2, so he’s up-to-date. I let him know about the IDML backsave, and he was sort of happy, but I’m not. >:(

    I did not re-install his ID, as he’s a busy guy right now, but I will have him attempt this later.

  20. A follow-up on my November comment… When I first experienced this problem I had recently started using a Wacom Bamboo Pad. I had other problems with that graphics tablet and replaced it with a Wacom Intuos pen & touch small. I have not had the InD can’t-save problem during the two months since I stopped using the Wacom Bamboo Pad, after having it several times during the week or two before I stopped. I’m using both InD CS6 and CC (sharing files with people using different versions).

  21. I have previously had the issue I have seen talked about where the Save and Save As greyed out, but this seems to have resolved itself since I last updated.

    Now the Save and Save As are in black, but when using Save the asterisk does not disappear from beside the file name at the top of the window, and the file does not update. When using the Save As, the dialogue box appears and you can type a new file name and press save, but the new file is never created. I do seem to be able to save .idml but this isn’t going to be a permanent solution.

    I also seem to be sporadically losing the undo function, either it is suddenly becoming greyed out and does nothing, or it will undo and rather than going back one step it will go back several. It seems when this happens, whatever I do to the document or however many actions I have done whether it is 2 or 10, when I press undo it will always return to the same point in the documents history.

    So far this issue has only occurred when I have been working on the same document. The original occurrence was while working on this file, but the problem seemed to resolve itself after installing Maverick and I worked on other files successfully in-between. Then on returning to the first document, the problem has reoccured. I have this morning tried copying the elements of the document into a new file, but the same problems occurred very early in this new file before I had finished copying. I’m pretty desperate to resolve this as the thought of redoing the whole document, or that it could happen to other documents is pretty grim.

    • Hello Gemma,

      We are hearing this issue from other users as well and are trying to reproduce it. So far,the problem is not happening on our machines but yes this is a serious issue and we are trying hard to narrow it down.

      Could you please provide the test file in which you are able to reproduce this quite consistently. It would be of great help to us. You can share the file

      InDesign Engineering

  22. I’ve just opened the .idml of the file I mentioned from our server on a separate computer running the same OS and latest updates to InDesign as mine and it save as a .indd fine.

    We have 7 macs running here, 5 (including mine and the one I just used) updated to Maverick, 2 haven’t updated, but mine is the only one experiencing these problems.

  23. Thanks for sharing the file Gemma.

    The issue does not look to be file specific but it could be because of the state that your machine is in and we are not able to replicate that state.

    Could you also share InDesign preferences with us at the same email ID :

    you can find the preferences @ /Users//Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/Version “version number”

    Thanks a lot.


  24. Hello I experience the same problems for a while now. Can not save, save as or undo.
    But it happened in Indesign 5.5. Still it was a problem in Indesign 6.0.
    I found out that it occure in combination with my wacom tablet when the function ‘touching’ is on. When I changed that in ‘off’ the problem was gone. We tried all the possibilities with adobe. It took me a very long time to find it out my self finally.

  25. We have the same problem on Mac OS 10.9.1, ID CS5, on at least two of our late 2013 iMacs. “Cannot save [file name] under a new name. The file [file name]is damaged.” Can’t even IDML it. The only solution is to shut down, lose your recent work, reopen the last saved version and then IDML it then save with a new name. The problem seems to have appeared with the 10.9.1 update, but not sure about that. We updated in August straight from Mac OS 10.6.8 to 10.9.0 to 10.9.1 and the problem seems to have started after 10.9.1. (Also, we have CS6, but haven’t implemented it yet due to other groups we interface with on CS5 or 5.5. I mention this in case the solution — when it comes — only applies to CS6.)

    I am hoping that whatever fix comes out it will be applicable and available to ID CS5.

  26. Hi all and thanks for posting in this thread. Adobe (if you see this), there will be no fix/update for CS6, clients have to upgrade to Adobe CC? This issue emerged in a studio of 10 Macs this week after the Macs were upgraded to OS X 10.9.1… Initially it only happened on a couple of the Macs, but over the next 24 hours it spread to all of them (except of one Mac which still has 10.8.5 on it (touch wood!).

    The Macs use our third party software (QuickPrint ) which has an InDesign plugin – the ID file opens normally, then the artist exports the file using the QuickPrint software, and at this point ID displays the ‘beach ball’ and then it finishes exporting the file through QuickPrint, then when I go back to the ID file and all the ‘Save’ options are greyed as mentioned above. If I close the document and then click on Save, it says ‘cannot save <filename', so I don't save it and at this point ID crashes with a 'Adobe InDesign is shutting down. A serious error was detected. Please restart InDesign to recover work in any unsaved InDesign documents' error.

    What is this extension above that you refer too? Any advice would be appreciated… Thanks all.

  27. Because this issue has existed since 2010, in CS5 through CS6, and within different operating systems, it seems this should be remedied, regardless of whether someone has upgraded to CC. No disrespect intended, but all of the tech support comments here are addressed to those who are using CC — there’s nothing addressed those of us who are using CS6/CS5.5/CS.
    Also, IDML exports should be checked carefully. Master page items may behave differently, and text may have reflowed.

  28. Dang, I was so hoping I’d left this problem behind when I replaced my Wacom Bamboo Pad with a Wacom Intuos pen & touch small, since it didn’t happen for at least three months immediately following that replacement. But today again I experienced the tell-tale accidental rotation of an item I was trying to select, followed by no un-do and all my save options grayed out. Working in InD CC on Mac 10.8.5.

    I have not been able to disable touch on the Intuos, which would be completely worth giving up in order to never again encounter this issue with InD. Anyone have advice on that?

    • Hi, I have all these problems and I don’t use, nor have I ever used, any kind of tablet/pad. Are you sure the problems you’re having are being caused by the pad?

      • I know only that I have never had this issue when I was not using a tablet, as when working on my laptop away from my usual setup with external monitor and keyboard, or when I’ve disconnected the tablet because of other unwanted touch-related behavior. I never had the can’t-save problem while using my previous tablets (Wacom Graphire and Wacom Bamboo Fun), but those had no touch capability. Wish I could just ditch that tablet “feature,” since it seems occasionally to start sending input signals beyond my control. Maybe this is another manifestation of that bug with the tablet, though most posters above mentioned nothing about using a tablet. Then again, one or two others did.

  29. I’ve been having this issue for a long time.. a while ago I tried contacting Adobe, but they don’t seem to understand or fix it. it’s starting to become REALLY annoying

  30. I first had these problems back in February, in an attempt to carry on working I created a new account on my mac and reinstalled the cloud and software on this account. I’ve managed to work problem free for about 20 days and today the same problem has returned. Save and Save as are not greyed out, but the file cannot save and new files cannot be created with Save as.

    When this problem originally occurred 3 weeks ago I gave up quite a bit of my time talking to Adobe and participating in a screen share while they tried to figure out the problem. I’ve since heard nothing further from them, and can only assume in this time the problem has become no clearer.

    One of my colleagues is now also suffering the same problems with her mac. This is proving incredibly frustrating and impacting on my work schedule.

    • Hello Gemma,

      We do understand that this issue is bad and like you there are others facing similar issue. But even after contacting so many users, we have not been able to reproduce this on our test environment.

      There are few users whose problem gets resolved after they disabled Extensis plugin( version 16.2.0), but I am not sure if this would work for you.

      We would contact you as soon as we have any solution around this.

      InDesign Engineering.

  31. We recently updated to Mac OS 10.9.2, Adobe CC and Universal Type Client 4.0.2. We immediately started having issues with both the ‘Save/Save As’ and Undo/Redo operations in InDesign CC. Neither worked. After doing some trouble shooting we discovered that the ‘Save’operation was restored once we unchecked the Extensis Universal Type Client Auto Activate plug-in preference for ‘fonts in embedded objects’. Would prefer to have that plug-in option checked, but for now living without it is better than not being able to save files.
    As for the Undo/Redo operation, it seems to be restored (at least temporarily) by restarting InDesign CC. It’s quit on us a few times, but always seems to come back once the app is restarted. This last time it’s lasted for a week and hasn’t quit yet.

    • Steve G, where should I look for the Extensis Universal Type Client Auto Activate plug-in? I’ve been suffering with this problem for about 3 days.

      • Cindy B,
        The Auto Activation plug-in settings for InDesign can be accessed thru the pulldown menu: InDesign/Preferences/Universal Type Auto Activation Preferences…

        However, we’ve since been in contact with Extensis and they now have an updated version of Universal Type Client (4.1.0) which fixes the ‘Save’ problem. Here is the link for Extensis product support where you can download the update:

        Ever since we updated the UTC version to 4.1.0 (and its accompanying plug-in) we haven’t had the ‘Save’ issue or the ‘Undo/Redo’ issue. Hope that helps.

  32. I don’t know if this is relevant, but yesterday this issue seemed to be affecting one file in particular. This file going wrong seem to make the whole of InDesign go wrong and consequently affect the other open files.

    I narrowed it down to one box out of text, and could copy everything into a new file and save fine until copying this box. I tried recreating the box from scratch, even retyping the text, still went wrong. I tried recreating it from complete scratch, and the same problem occurred.

    I then began narrowing it down to individual steps, saving after each one. The step that seemed to make everything spontaneously combust was changing a single line of text to Helvetica Neue Medium Italic. I switched this for Helvetica Neue Bold Italic (after restarting post-crash) and the problem seems to have resolved.

    I wondered if this same font was responsible for the last bout of chaos I experienced a few weeks ago, as I remembered the main file I was working on being set in Helvetica, however I checked and it was just in Helvetica, not Helvetica Neue. Though I’ve not had any problems with this file since I switched to a different account on my mac (see post above), I am now wondering if these problems are linked to fonts.

    On a separate note, four macs here are now experiencing the undo problem, not coupled with the save problem (apart from when they tried to open and fix the file mentioned above), and none of them are working with the same fonts, though are all using Extensis Suitcase Fusion 5.

    • Thanks Gemma for the details. We will try out with ‘Helvetica Neue” fonts and see if we can reproduce the issue.

      Is it possible for you or any one in your team to check if disabling Extensis plugin resolves the issue on the machines in which the undo problem is consistently reproducible.

      InDesign Team

  33. I started having this problem yesterday. Specifically, undo/redo stopped working properly in a document I’d been editing for a while. Although, Save and Save As were enabled, I couldn’t save the document.

    I’m running on an iMac with Mavericks 10.9.2, Extensis Suitcase Fusion 5 – Version 16.2.0 (591675), and InDesign (CC

    I tried the IDML route but that resulted in sporadic incomplete font definitions. For example, in a few places in the document, instead of the font being “Adobe Garamond Pro Regular” it was “Adobe Garamond Pro Nothing”; i.e. the font family was known, but the variation was not known.

    I then tried running InDesign with the problem document on my MacBook Pro, also with Mavericks 10.9.2 and Extensis Suitcase Fusion 5 – Version 16.2.0 (591675). However the InDesign version is, not
    I was able to save the problem document to a new file and successfully work on it, and save those changes.

    This morning after reading this thread, I disabled the Extensis plug-in for InDesign on the iMac and tried the problem document again. It worked!. I was able to save the document, make changes and save it again.

    So, at least for me the problem appears to be some interaction between InDesign and the Extensis plug-in.

  34. Here, here, David! I have ALWAYS used Suitcase for font management, and have always heeded that advice you gave about avoiding auto activation and keeping the software updated. It has worked for me for many years, with my fonts and those that clients have loaned to me for working on their projects, which are then archived with their projects and removed from my system.

    I also use a Wacom Intuos 5 tablet with touch features enabled. I don’t think this is the problem either.

    I experienced the “can’t save or undo” problem on a couple of files in ID CS6. The thing that distinguished these files was that they had been shared/worked on across a Dropbox account (not my idea). They are the only ones that have exhibited the bad behavior, and I found that when I exported them to .idml, it was necessary to check EVERYTHING very carefully, because the IDML export was not as reliable as it has been in other situations.

    • Shawn: Yeah, the problem is clearly not only due to font activation plug-ins… after all, I don’t have any auto-activation plug-ins installed and I experienced it (which is why I wrote this article originally).

      That is scary and odd about the dropbox connection. Gah, I use dropbox for many of my INDD files! Sigh. Fortunately, I haven’t had this problem since I first wrote about it.

  35. Sharing a similar experience. Working with a client to make some changes to the system. Using Indesign CS6, but just installed CC today. File that she was working on would crap out on saving.

    Had the user:
    Try opening from the server, had problems
    Try opening from the desktop, had problems
    Try opening from a different computer, without CC installed yet.

    Logged in remotely and witnessed the problem.

    In the end it was also a font related problem.
    Specifically, changing the font Corbel – Regular to Corbel Bold, however there was no Bold cut on the font server…
    May play with this again to test further, but curious that the Bold cut was even an option, since it didn’t exist. Switched to a different font, no further issues with file.

  36. I had this problem with Mac inDesign CC and I think i found an alternative solution. Instead of saving , export document as inDesign Markup (IMDL) , open it and save as indesign file. I hope that helps.

  37. I’m having this problem as well, I can’t keep a file open without having to save to IDML. The inability to Undo is intensely aggravating. Help, anyone? Dinkar?

    • Hello John,

      If you have extensis installed on your system, then there is a resolution. Extensis team have just released an update which fixes the issue caused by their plug-in. Kindly give it a try.

      But yes, there are users facing this issue even without the plug-in and I am afraid, i do not have a solution right now for that other than exporting it to .idml.

      We would update as soon as we find out the solution.

      InDesign Engineering.

      To anyone who’s using Suitcase Fusion 5 and is affected by this issue, we just released version 16.2.1 which addresses the it. You’ll find links to the Mac and Windows installers here:

      Thank you for your patience!

      Romeo Fahl

      Extensis Technical Support

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