Paul Diamond Blow's Huggy Talk
Tips, tricks, and advice for graphic designers.


How to Open an Indesign CS5 Document with Indesign CS3
Need to Convert an Indesign CS5 Document to Something Indesign CS3 Can Open? Here's How.

by Paul Ace Diamond "Huggy" Blow





At my graphic arts job (where I do graphic arts and page layout work for a book publisher) we have been using Indesign CS3 for the past few years and I personally love the program. We use Indesign for page layouts on all our books we publish. Recently the company bought the Adobe upgrade to CS5 and the art directors who do all their work on laptop computers installed it on their rigs. Unfortunately for myself, the desktop computer I use at the office is an older Macintosh Power PC G5. The problem is that Adobe CS5 can only run on Macs running OS 10.5 and up, and my G5 -- being a Power PC machine -- cannot run OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) which was the OSX upgrade we had, and therefore I could not upgrade my Mac to Adobe CS5. No big deal, I figured... Adobe CS3 works well enough and suits my needs and the only problem I could foresee was opening up the other art directors' Indesign CS5 layouts with Indesign CS3, but this turned out to be a bigger problem than I thought...

With previous versions of Indesign (CS2-CS4) you could export a document as an "interchange" file (.INX) which could be opened up with lesser versions of Indesign. However, with the new Indesign CS5 there is no option to export a document as an interchange file, instead you can export it as an IDML file (Indesign Markup Language) which can be opened up with Indesign CS4. Unfortunately, Indesign CS3 and previous versions will not be able to open an IDML file, so you will need to open the IDML file in Indesign CS4 and from there export it again as an interchange file which can be opened by Indesign CS3.

So, in a nutshell, here are the steps to down save an Indesign CS5 document to Indesign CS3:

1) In Indesign CS5, export your document as an IDML file.
2) Open the IDML file with Indesign CS4, then export again as an interchange (.INX) file
3) Open the .INX file with Indesign CS3 or lesser versions of Indesign.


(NOTE: with the new Indesign CS6 you can also export an IDML file that can be opened with Indesign CS4)

Bear in mind that Indesign CS5 has many new plug-ins and effects not available in Indesign 3 and lesser versions, so if those effects and plug-ins are used in the CS5 file they may be lost when opened up in CS3.

If you do NOT have Indesign CS4 you will NOT be able to open any Indesign CS5 files with Indesign CS3 or lesser versions, and that is a major problem... in my own case we skipped the CS4 upgrade and it is impossible for me to open any of the other art directors' new Indesign files. So the question is this... is Indesign CS5 such a radical improvement over CS3 that it is worth the upgrade (not to mention upgrading the computer so it can actually run CS5)? This remains to be seen. Another problem is that we routinely send our files to foreign publishers and it is a major problem if they cannot open the CS5 Indesign files.

If you are considering upgrading to Indesign CS5 this is something to think about before upgrading, as Adobe says they are aware of the problem but have no plans to create a better work around at this time. Why not? Because they want everybody to buy the upgrade to CS5, of course!

Author Paul Diamond Blow works as a production artist for a major book publisher with over ten years experience in the field. He is a Photoshop wizard, an Indesign samuri, and a sweetheart of a guy..