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Open InDesign documents

In general, you open document and template files the same way you do in other programs. When you open an InDesign template, it opens as a new, untitled document by default. Document files use the extension .indd, template files use the extension .indt, snippet files use the extension .idms, library files use the extension .indl, interchange files use the extension .inx, markup files use the extension .idml, and book files use the extension .indb.

You can also use the File > Open command to open files from earlier versions of InDesign, InDesign Interchange (.inx) files, InDesign Markup (.idml) files, Adobe PageMaker 6.0 and later, QuarkXPress 3.3 and 4.1, and QuarkXPress Passport 4.1 files. In addition, other software vendors may make plug‑in software that lets you open other file formats.


To view additional information about an InDesign document, hold down Ctrl and choose Help > About InDesign (Windows) or hold down Command and choose InDesign > About InDesign (Mac OS).

Use the Open command

Choose File > Open and select one or more documents.

Do one of the following, and then click Open:

  • Select Normal (Windows) or Open Normal (Mac OS) to open the original document or a copy of a template.
  • Select Original (Windows) or Open Original (Mac OS) to open an original document or template.
  • Select Copy (Windows) or Open Copy (Mac OS) to open a copy of a document or template.

When you open an InDesign document, you may encounter any of the following messages:

Message indicating newer version of InDesign

In InDesign CS6 and CC, you can send documents to anyone using older versions of InDesign without extra steps like manually exporting to IDML. Compatibility is built right in, ensuring that your documents always open just as you would expect.

If you open a document created in a newer version of InDesign, a message is displayed indicating the different version. To convert the document to the current version of InDesign, do the following:

To convert the document to the current version of InDesign, click Convert.

The document is uploaded to the Adobe Creative Cloud and then converted to the current version of InDesign.

  • Note:

    You need to be connected to the Internet to perform the conversion.

  • After the document is successfully converted to the current version, the Save As dialog box prompts you to save the document.

Message indicating document color settings different from application

If a warning message appears telling you that the color settings in the document are different from the color settings in the application, select an option, and click OK.


Color warning messages are off by default, but you can show warnings if you change the default settings in theColor Settings dialog box (Edit >Color Settings.)

If a warning message appears telling you that the document contains missing or modified links, use the Links panel to fix the links. See Update, restore, and replace links.

Message indicating missing fonts

If a warning message appears telling you that the document contains missing fonts, do one of the following:

  • Click OK. InDesign will automatically format the text with a substitute.
  • Click Find Font to search for and list fonts used throughout your document.For more information on finding missing fonts, see Find and change fonts.

Open recent document

  • Choose File > Open Recent, and select one of the documents you saved recently.

To specify how many recent documents are displayed, choose Edit > Preferences > File Handling (Windows), or InDesign > Preferences > File Handling, and then specify a number for Number Of Recent Items To Display. The maximum number is 30.

Choosing word lists when opening documents

When opening a document, you may see an alert message asking if you want to use the word list in the document or an exception word list in the user dictionary. An exception word list includes words that were added to the User Dictionary while the document was worked on. If you know which exception word list you use, click its button. If you’re not sure, click either button, choose Edit > Spelling > Dictionary to inspect the word lists, and then, if necessary, choose Edit > Preferences > Dictionary (Windows) or InDesign > Preferences > Dictionary (Mac OS) to reset the word list used for composition. See Hyphenation and spelling dictionaries.

Convert earlier versions of InDesign documents

  • To convert previous versions of InDesign documents to the current version, choose File > Open and open the file.

    Keep in mind the following points:

  • If you used third-party plug-ins to create an earlier version of a document, check with the manufacturer to make sure that they are installed correctly for and are compatible with InDesign CS5 before you convert the document.
  • When you convert a document, you may see an alert message asking if you want to use the exception word list in the user dictionary or the one in the document. For information about this alert message, see Choosing word lists when opening documents.
  • Library files created in earlier versions of InDesign will open and convert in InDesign CS5, even if the library is locked. You have to specify a name and location for the converted library files; the default naming convention is filename‑X.indl.
  • Previous versions of InDesign can’t open latest InDesign documents directly. For example, to open an InDesign CS5 document in InDesign CS4, you must do two things. First, choose File > Export in InDesign CS5 to save the document in IDML format. Second, update InDesign CS4 with special plug‑ins that let you open the IDML file. (See Save backwards to the previous InDesign version.)


If you’re experiencing problems with a document that was created in a previous version of InDesign, use the Export dialog box in InDesign CS5 to save the document in InDesign Markup (IDML) format. Then open the IDML file and save it as an InDesign document.