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Adobe InDesign: Opening a Document in an Older Version of InDesign

by Barb Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor on InDesign

From a recent Rocky Mountain Training student:

I am not able to open a document that I created in InDesign yesterday. When I took your [Introduction to Adobe InDesign CS6] class, I was using a free trial of the CS6, then after your class my company decided to install CS4 on my computer. I opened CS4 yesterday and began working, then saved the document. This morning when I tried opening my doc, I wasn’t “authorized” because the document was trying to be opened in CS6, which I no longer have.

I’m confused as to why my document would try to open in CS6 when I created and worked in the InDesign CS4? Any advice would be appreciated!

Knowing how those free 30-day trials work, I’m surmising that while my student thought she was opening up CS4 yesterday, it was actually CS6. Lately, I’ve noticed that the trials will allow you to open one additional time after they expire, but never again.

There are two possibilities to move forward in this situation:

  1. Use this as an excuse to upgrade to the latest version, or
  2. Find someone (perhaps a friend or co-worker) with a copy of CS6 installed on their computer. Ask them to open the file in InDesign CS6, and then export the file to a format that CS4 can open. The CS6 command to save a file into a format that can be opened in CS4, CS5 or CS5.5 is File > Save as > Format: InDesign CS4 or later (IDML).

My student went with option #2, and was able to locate someone to save her file as an .idml document. (That’s InDesign Markup Language—an XML-based format that can be opened by CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6, CC and, in theory, future versions of InDesign. Her response?

Thank you! That worked great!

NOTE: If you are on an earlier version of InDesign, say CS3, this process gets a more complicated. Adobe made the decision to update their interchange format from .inx (used by InDesign CS3 and earlier) to the newer .idml format at version CS4. If you are trying to open a CS5, CS5.5, CS6 or CC file in CS3, you will have to a.) save the file as an .idml file in CS5, CS5.5,  CS6 or CC and then b.) open it in CS4 and export it to an CS3-compatible .inx file. Chances are, you will be hard-pressed to find the all the versions on a single computer, so this is almost certain to be an exercise in frustration. If this is your situation, I highly recommend updating to the current version of InDesign!

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