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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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131 Comments on “Can’t Save or Save As or Save a Copy or Undo… Help!

  1. I was experiencing this problem a while ago and my colleagues have since. After painstakingly copying and pasting each element of one particular document into a new document and saving after each individual element was pasted, we narrowed the fault down to one single weight of a font.

    The document was set in different weights of Helvetica, and one single line was in Medium, which when copied over to the new document developed the save issue. On turning this to Bold, the issue disappeared.

    The weight Helvetica Medium didn’t actually exist in this particular set of Helvetica, I think it was originally set in a different font and was changed to Helvetica but tried to keep the weights of the previous font and created this phantom font, which I’ve seen happen before but it usually just says the font is missing. We’ve since found on other documents with this issue that it can usually be traced back to one weight of a font family.

    Also, on a side note, I had jokingly suggested months ago that Adobe had sabotaged Suitcase Fusion in order to pedal Typekit when it eventually launched. My boss called Adobe support just after Typekit launched to try and get help with the Save problem (before we discovered the font weight issue) and they effectively said that all our 18 years worth of fonts – including around 100 bought in an ‘Adobe Type Collection’ package – were useless and we should switch to Typekit… Coincidence?

  2. Hi,

    This problem just started happening to me today :( Specifically when I tried to paste or drag from one of my InDesign Libraries.

    When I tried to access anything from that library, it would cause the problems mentioned in this string. The menu items, saving/undoing etc. were all working just fine until I tried to use that library.

    So…I trashed the library, trashed the InDesign preferences file, did a full restart and crossed my fingers. At first, I thought it worked: I created a brand new library and managed to drag over 2 items before the issue arose again. When I tested it again, the issue began when I dragged the very first item over from the library. After trashing/restarting etc. I created yet another new library, and opened other libraries, and started testing each one – it happens with ALL my libraries now, whether I create them from scratch or they are libraries I have been using without issue for years.

    Has anyone else noticed their problems began when using Libraries?

    I tried to read through all the comments here but I may have missed any comments pertaining to this so I do apologize if this has been brought up previously.

    Some basic info: I am a remote worker (part of a larger design team) and the department within the company we work for doesn’t use any font management system/application. So far no-one else on the team is experiencing this issue (those I’ve received a response from) so it might just be isolated to me and my machine – for now. The team as a whole accesses hundreds of files across a network of 12 servers every day. A couple of workers like myself, are remote and we access the network/servers via a VPN.

    I’m operating a Mac running Mavericks 10.9.3. I’m using Adobe CC (although we can’t as a team use CC(2014) until Autoprice catches up and releases a compatible version, I do have all the CC(2014) apps loaded on my machine for my personal work – and have had them loaded since the release date) I have a Wacom Bamboo tablet installed for day-today working since my poor Wacom Intuos conked out ages ago. I also use a Cintiq 24HD for my heavy lifting. I use that as my second monitor most of the day as well.

    I understand saving files as IDML files really is only a temporary fix. When you have multiple people trying to access the same files, make revisions, save to servers and all that good stuff, an issue like this can seriously disrupt workflow, set back schedules and cost money. To that end, I sure hope Adobe finds a proper fix REALLY soon!


    – Diane

  3. When I had this saving problem, I was in the middle of a long deadline with 30 hours to go. I could not save for that entire time, and didn’t have the time to investigate the problem until after the deadline. It was mind-numbingly tense just getting it to the point of being able to PDF each page as it was finished, no going back… I swore then that I’d begoing back to Freehand which I did – the trouble is Adobe doesn’t want to upgrade this fabulous program because it may compete (MAY! you bet it does) with Illustrator. Consequently I have had to stay at 10.6.8 on my MacBookPro to be able to operate it. But it’s too good to give up. I may have to die before I change back to InDesign

  4. We have a Mac with multiple user accounts. One user experiences this issue, and the other does not. Working on same documents, same shares, same installs. Everything up-to-date (10.9.4, INDD CC2014, Suitcase 16.2.1) This has persisted since CS6, and noted especially when INDD docs contain placed INDD files.

  5. We have just updated from OSX 10.9.3 to 10.9.4, updated Extensis Suitcase Fusion to 16.2.1.

    You guessed it, we now have the Save/Save As/Undo problem in InDesign CC and CC 2014.
    IDML does not preserve some advanced features and formatting, so it can be useful, but not relied up as a fix.

    We have found it usually starts (but not always) after exporting to PDF etc. Rebooting the macs seems to clear the problem for a while. Just making sure we save before outputting.

    We have been using InDesign CC since its release last year, this is the first time we’ve had this problem.

  6. I’ve been struggling with this for two days, tried all the suggestions, trashed prefs, etc. What finally seems to have solved it, for today, was updating Suitcase Fusion 5 to version 16.2.3.

  7. I started having this problem when I bought my Babmoo Capture tablet and started using it with InDesign. As it turns out it triggers the problem sometimes when I use the touch functionality to rotate things (usually by accident, since I don’t often intentionally rotate things in InDesign). As long as I keep the touch functionality turned off while I’m in InDesign, I don’t have any problems, but every now and then I accidentally bump the button to turn it back on and …

  8. You rock.
    This just happened to me and you spared me hours of reworking a file, lots of sweat and possibly some tears.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  9. I just ran into this save glitch while working on a file in InDesign CC.

    I’m not sure if someone already said this above, but a solution I just found was to export to an IDML file.

    Didn’t lose any of the progress I had made since the save glitch occurred.

    • Im having this same problem and I tried saving it as a IDML, but now that file won’t work either… it’s giving me a box that says “cannot open the file…InDesign may not support the file format, a plug-in that supports the file format may be missing, the file may be open in another application.” what would you do?

      • leah: If InDesign can’t open the IDML file (and if it’s CS4 or later), then something else is seriously wrong. Restart the program, restart the computer… may have to reinstall? That is a pretty strange situation.

  10. Hi guys,
    I was having this problem too. I use a Wacom tablet that has a ‘touch’ function. By turning this function off, the problem has not happened again. Frustrating that I can’t use one of my tablet’s functions, but less frustrating than losing hours of work!

    • Thanks, Natalie. When I unplugged Wacom bamboo touched tablet, it’s all back to normal, even though I couldn’t save anything on just opened file. ;)

  11. THIS IS WHAT WORKED FOR ME – (MACOS Mavericks InDesign CS6) I went to the “Library” folder on the main drive (You might have to right click “Show View Options” then select “Show Library Folder” like I did). Then locate the “Caches” folder, then locate and delete the entire “Adobe InDesign” folder.

  12. Just had this happen in ID CC 2015… Thought you’d saved my life with the IDML idea, but turns out that in this version, the Export dialog bombs out too, so painstaking rebuild of my file for me!

  13. I had this problem throughout the office. There was only one cure: uninstall InDesign and reinstall it from scratch. And repair permissions.

  14. I’m very thankful for your advise on exporting as an IDML and reopening. I had used Ctrl Save for several hours then closed my InDesign file without realizing that nothing had saved until I opened it the next day. The only problem I see so far after reopening the IDML file is that several of my fonts are missing that weren’t before the export.

    Thank you. At least I can use CTRL Save and not lose my work.

  15. I love you so much for this. Was already panicking to copy my whole work of today, decided to google first and found this. THANK YOU. <3

  16. Thanks for sharing this. I too have a wacom as some of the people above so interesting if that is somewhat a part of the problem, anyway fixed now so that is good.

  17. This problem has started over the last several weeks, and while the work-around is a good rescue, it does not solve the fundamental problem, which, from what i can see, has existed since 2013. I’ve narrowed the problem down to my Wacom tablet, and now don’t know what to do, short of getting a new one. If anyone has solved this problem I’d love to hear how.

  18. I disabled the touch function on my Wacom (a small mechanical switch on my small Intuos Pen and Touch). I have not had this no-save problem in InDesign (nor some other problems I had had with uncontrolled input) since then. Not ideal, but the trade-offs were clearly better this way for me. BTW, I tried different tablets first, so I don’t think it’s a problem with your particular tablet that replacing it would necessarily solve.

  19. This worked for me. It also resolved an issue where the text disappeared from the text box but was still visible in Story Editor – and an issue where the images in some graphic boxes were flipped and reduced to an infinitely small size.

  20. I don’t see any solution from Adobe even with this new CC version.
    Seams that the tablet and inDesign are not compatible.

    such a mistake ADOBE

  21. It’s not that the tablet and InDesign CC whatever are incompatible–it’s the touch function that continues to be unusable.

    I doubt that this is entirely Adobe’s fault. Wacom updates the drivers quite often, and if you have turned off notifications or just aren’t paying attention to the signs when your stylus starts to behave strangely–the low-tech explanation–it’s easy for things to get out of sync pretty quickly.

    One thing that helps is uninstalling the tablet driver BEFORE you install an updated driver. It’s been helpful to me. But yeah, I wish both Adobe and Wacom would find some common ground on the touch function. I’d love to be able to have just my tablet in front of me, with no trackpad out to the side. It was great in that brief time when it did work.

  22. For Windows 10 users suffering from this same problem, my genius husband found the cause and solution:

    “There is a brand-new security feature in Windows 10 called Controlled Folder Access — it was explicitly preventing the Adobe software from creating any files in Documents!! So I turned that off and all is working now.”

    Hope this helps someone!

  23. I have a document that I added Bookmarks. However, the save is grayed out. I can only do a file “save as”. If I save as a different name; still have the same problem (grayed out save).

    If I delete the bookmarks, I can save file. What am I doing wrong?

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