How to Recover Unsaved/Deleted InDesign Files on Mac

recover indesign files

Adobe boasts some of the most powerful graphic design programs on the market. Programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are used by both professionals and hobbyists alike.

But like all other data on your Mac, your InDesign files are not immune to disaster. Accidental deletion or replacement can strike at the worst times. Unless you know how to restore your files, you may find yourself losing hours (or even weeks) of hard work.

This guide shows you how to recover InDesign files, whether they’ve been altered, deleted, or overwritten entirely.

Does InDesign Have an Autosave Feature?

Does InDesign autosave? Thankfully, the answer here is yes.

Similar to other Adobe programs like Photoshop, InDesign automatically saves your document once every minute. This allows the InDesign autosave feature to recover changes you made to a file if the program quit unexpectedly before saving. These saves are located in an InDesign recovery folder, similar to Photoshop’s recovery folder.

To recover an unsaved file using the InDesign autosave feature:

  1. Open InDesign after the program unexpectedly closed. If InDesign saved a version of your file, you’ll see an automatic recovery screen like this one.InDesign automatic recovery screen
  2. Choose Yes to begin recovery of the file.Choose yes on recovery screen
  3. InDesign will then open your recovered file. Be sure to save the file to replace it as the current version.View your recovered file

How to Recover Deleted InDesign Files

InDesign’s autosave feature is great for recovering unsaved changes. But what about when you’ve accidentally deleted your file entirely?

Luckily, there are a few strategies you can use to recover an InDesign file after deletion.

Solution #1: Trash Bin

The simplest method for recovering deleted InDesign files is by restoring them from your Trash Bin. As long as you haven’t actively emptied your Trash Bin, you can find any manually deleted files here.

NOTE: If you can’t find your file because you did manually empty your Trash Bin, move on to the next solution.

To recover an InDesign file from the trash bin:

  1. Open the Trash Bin in your dock or use Spotlight (Command + Space).Open the Trash Bin
  2. Find your file.Find your file in trash bin
  3. Right-click the file and select Put Back. You can also drag and drop the file out of the Trash Bin and into a new destination.Select the Put Back option
  4. You can then interact with your restored file like normal.Find your restored file

Solution #2: Data Recovery Software

If you can’t find your file in the Trash Bin, don’t worry—you still have options.

When you delete a file, your Mac doesn’t fully remove the file from your hard drive. Instead, it just marks it as okay to be overwritten. Data recovery software lets you find such files on your hard drive and restore them, even if you’ve already emptied your Trash Bin.

Disk Drill is a solid data recovery software option. It’s powerful, user-friendly, and intuitively designed.

IMPORTANT: Stop using your hard drive immediately if you plan to use data recovery software. Every time you use the drive, you’re increasing the chances of overwriting or corrupting your InDesign file.

To recover an InDesign file using Disk Drill:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.Download and install Disk Drill
  2. Grant Disk Drill the appropriate permissions (required for Disk Drill to recover your files).Grant Disk Drill permissions
  3. Select the drive that held your InDesign file before it was deleted. Then click Search for lost data.Select your drive
  4. Wait for the scan to finish and click Review found items.Wait for scan to finish
  5. Once the scan is completed, you can search through the recoverable files manually, or you can use the search box to look for “indd” and zero in on InDesign files only (suggested).Search for INDD files
  6. Find your file and select Recover.Find your file and recover
  7. Choose your desired recovery location and click Ok.Choose where to restore file

Solution #3: Time Machine Backup

Apple’s Time Machine is another great solution for InDesign recovery. This built-in backup feature automatically backs up your data regularly. It’s also a reliable way to restore previous versions of files (especially helpful with a corrupt InDesign file).

NOTE: Regularly backing up your data is the foundation of any comprehensive data recovery plan. We recommend backing up your data once every 24 hours for the best recovery options.

To recover an InDesign file using Time Machine:

  1. Make sure to connect your backup drive. Then open Time Machine from the icon in the menu bar at the top of the screen. Then click Enter Time Machine.Open Time Machine
  2. Navigate through your available backups using the arrows, the timeline, or the background windows. Be sure you’re in the system location where your InDesign file used to be.Navigate your backups
  3. Locate the backup with the version of your InDesign file that you’d like to restore.Find your desired backup
  4. Find your file and click Restore.Restore your file from Time machine

How to Recover a Previous Version of an InDesign File

If you haven’t deleted your work but instead want to recover a previous version of an InDesign file, you have options here too.

These options don’t necessarily repair InDesign files. Instead, they let you restore a corrupt InDesign file to a former working state.

There are two main methods here.

To recover a previous version of an InDesign file within InDesign:

  1. Open your file. Then select Revert from File in the menu bar.Select the revert option
  2. InDesign will ask if you are sure you want to revert to the most previous version of the file. Select Revert to continue.Confirm your choice to revert
  3. InDesign will then revert your file to the previous version, and you can continue to work on it through the app.Use your file like normal

To recover a previous version of an InDesign file using Time Machine:

  1. Be sure your backup drive is connected. Then open and enter Time Machine from the icon in the menu bar.Open Time Machine
  2. Navigate through your backups using the arrows, timeline, or background windows.Navigate your backups
  3. Locate the backup you’d like to restore from.Locate your desired backup version
  4. Find your desired version and click Restore.Restore your file version

Frequently Asked Questions

The .indd file extension is the file type for Adobe’s InDesign software. It includes a wide variety of information like formatting, content, styles, swatches, and linked files.

You need Adobe’s InDesign to open an INDD file on Mac as it’s the file type used by this graphic design software. You can also convert an INDD file to a PDF file. But doing so will limit your editing capabilities.

If InDesign keeps crashing on your Mac, it may be happening for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Corrupted preferences
  • Corrupted software download
  • Problematic third-party plug-ins
  • Corrupted recovery files

To fix InDesign crashing problems, try:

  • Reinstalling the application
  • Resetting all your InDesign preferences
  • Removing new plug-ins
  • Deleting InDesign recovery files

For more information, browse through the Adobe Support Community or contact Adobe Customer Care.

To force quit InDesign on Mac, just:

  1. Select the Apple Logo from the upper left corner of your menu bar.
  2. Click Force Quit…
  3. Select InDesign.
  4. Click Force Quit.

Alternatively, you can use the Command + Option + Esc shortcut to bring up the Force Quit window.

Conclusion

InDesign’s powerful editing capabilities make this Adobe software a go-to for professionals and hobbyists alike. However, accidentally deleting or overwriting an InDesign file can have devastating consequences if you don’t have a recovery plan.

Thankfully, the methods in this guide will help you recover your InDesign files in most situations. And that means you can get back to creating beautiful designs worry-free.

Alex Thompson is a writer who's made a career out of making complex topics easy to understand for readers. His expertise spans technical subjects like cryptocurrency and cybersecurity, where he crafts content tailored to his audience. A dedicated Mac user, Alex shares insights on Macgasm, focusing on Macbook apps and built-in features. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Outside of writing, Alex is an avid runner and a proud owner of the loudest beagle ever born.