How to Recover Unsaved or Deleted InDesign File – Adobe InDesign Recovery

Last Updated on December 8, 2020 by Ian McEwan

recover indesign fileInDesign is a publishing application used to create flyers, brochures, newspapers, books, and magazines. Sometimes, the application may crash or shuts down due to power loss while you are still using it. In this case, any unsaved progress made to your InDesign document may be lost. Also, chance are your INDD file may got deleted or overwritten by mistake. So, you may have to restart your work all over, and this can waste so much of your valuable time. Luckily, here are some ways you can use to recover InDesign file.


Method 1. Recover Unsaved InDesign File with Adobe InDesign Automatic Recovery After Crash

The InDesign application has an Automatic Recovery feature, which can help you to retrieve your work (INDD file with .INDD or .IND extension) in case you close the app without saving.

How Adobe InDesign Automatic Recovery work

When you are editing your InDesign file, the application will automatically save your changes every minute. All your work progress/changes will be stored in a temporary file (begin with “dbt”) which can be found in the Adobe InDesign recovery folder. When you save your work (“File” > “Save” or “Save As”) or exit from InDesign normally, the temporary file will be deleted. However, if the program closes abnormally and then you run the program again, InDesign will attempt to use those temporary files to open whatever was open at the time of the last crash and recover unsaved changes to your InDesign file.

Steps to Recover INDD File with InDesign Temporary file

Step 1. You need to restart the InDesign application immediately after the crash. If the application is still running, close it, and then open it again.

When the application opens, it checks the InDesign recovery folder. Any document that was open when InDesign crashed will be retrieved from the temporary files. If the auto-recovery feature locates your file, it will open it.

Step 2. Save the recovered InDesign file.

When InDesign opens your file, it will have an auto-recovery name assigned to it. It may appear as “[original name] recovered” and if the document was unnamed it will appear as “Untitled Project 1 recovered”. You will need to save the file with a new name, go to “File” > “save as” enter the name and choose the location you desire to save the file.

Note:If InDesign fails to use the temporary file to recover unsaved INDD file for you after the restart, many posts will tell you to locate the InDesign Recovery folder manually and force the program to recover data. BUT. It won’t work. Just because the information contained in the InDesign Recovery folder is in encrypted format.


Method 2. Recover Deleted, Lost or Formatted InDesign File on Windows/macOS

If your INDD file got deleted or formatted, you should use a data recovery tool rather than counting on automatic recovery. Some of these useful tools like Aiseesoft PC Data RecoveryAiseesoft PC Data Recovery can help you restore your lost InDesign file from your computer in just a few simple steps. Whatsmore, it can also recover various file formats from documents, pictures to videos.

Here are the steps you can follow to retrieve your lost InDesign file.

Step 1. Download Aiseesoft and install it on your computer. 

Aiseesoft needs to be installed on your PC to recover your files.
Win Download Mac Download Win Download Mac Download
Step 2. Once the installation process is complete, launch the application.

The program home window will open. It will ask you to select the location on your hard drive on where to run the scan.

Step 3. Select the disk location and file types, then click on “scan.”

The application will scan the drive and present the results.

Step 4. Recover your InDesign file.

Look for your InDesign file from the list of the scan results. Once you located your file, click on it and then click on the “Recover Now” button. Your InDesign file will be restored.


FAQ about Adobe InDesign Recovery

Q1. Can I manually force InDesign to open its recovery file?
A1: No. The files contained in the recovery folder are in encrypted format. Although you can locate it manually, you still can’t open it or force InDesign to recover the data for you. And don’t mess with those files and take the document elsewhere, or else InDesign won’t be able to search the Recovery data and you will miss the chance to recover your unsaved INDD file.

Q2. Can I recover an overwritten InDesign file?
A2: No. You can recover Unsaved INDD file with Automatic Recovery. You can undo your changes while editing. You can recover deleted InDesign file with data recovery. But if your file got overwritten, your original InDesign file is as good as gone, unrecoverable. Do yourself a favor, stop trying to recover an overwritten InDesign file and start all over again, unless you got a backup.

Q3. Where is the location of the InDesign Recovery?

A3: Your InDesign Recovery folders location can be found here:
Run InDesign and go to Edit> Preferences> File Handling. Then you can see the InDesign Data Recovery Folder path.


Tips for Keeping Your InDesign File Safe

1. Track Down the Reason of your Problem.

Check out the ProtectiveShutdownLog file from the InDesign Recovery folder, which can help you identify a specific plugin that caused the problem. A damaged image or a dodgy font file that makes your file crash? An antivirus software delete your file by mistake? Or you are just so foolish to delete it yourself. Find out the reason and make sure it won’t happen again.

2. Different Format

Resave InDesign File to a Different Format like IDML (InDesign CS4 and later) or INX (InDesign CS3 and earlier), instead of INDD, which is more susceptible to corruption.

3. Save often and Keep Backups of Your Files.

The golden rule to keep your InDesign file safe is to save with every move to limit the chances of having to rework too much if the INDD file does corrupt without saving. Aside from saving often, someone would even back up copies to external drive or Cloud regularly, especially for a huge project. Not uncommon to have 3 to 5 copies in different storage devices before a project ends.

4. Naming and organizing your file wisely.

It’s not rocket science to name and sort your file. Here is what a professional would do:

“If you are doing initial comps for an invitation, you might have file names such as: clientinv_v1_12_12.indd, clientinv_v2_12_12.indd, etc. Once client has approved version, then the file name would be clientinv 12_14.indd or whenever the next date you worked on it. I have a job folder (2856 CofC xmas inv) and within that I have a folder with comps, PSD files, flattened files (if any), vector and client supplied files (word files, pdfs, jpgs,etc.). The live file is the only file not in a folder of its own….”