1 Background Problem was found with a Background Task – Fix it Now!

You’re finished your job and started the export to PDF and you get the background task error message. In this article, we’ll discuss why and how to fix it.

InDesign needs an update, there’s an error in your file or a font is corrupt when there’s a background error.

No one has time for error messages, least of all when you’re about to send to print or to a client to proof. There’s always a solution to every problem. Let’s look at how we solve this one.

Updates Needed for InDesign

The most common reason for InDesign to start glitching is that the App needs to be updated. This is an easy solve. Do a quick Save of your file and quit InDesign. If it’s trying to complete the PDf export it may be frozen or not allow you to cancel.

If this is the case you will have to Force Quit the App

Ctrl + Alt + Del (Win)

Cmd + Opt + Esc (MAC)

Open your Creative Cloud

Check for Updates

If one is needed, click Update to activate it.

It’s not necessary to do a restart of your computer but I always do.

Reopen your InDesign and try the export again. Hopefully, this has fixed the problem. If not, read on.

Locating the Problem

If the update hasn’t sorted the issue, it could be that your file is the problem.

As a graphic designer for over 25+ years, I know that I receive a lot of external files, and even with a virus checker, some files can be a nightmare.

This is how to get around it.

Export your file from Page 1 to about halfway. (Make a note of the second-page number) If it exports without any errors, export again adding another five pages. Continue this until it won’t export.

If page 1 to halfway won’t export, do the opposite and reduce by five pages.

You’re basically trying to locate your problem page. 

You could of course start at page 1 and export each page individually, but I find if you bulk up it saves some time.

When you get to the error page, make an export of all pages before this page, and another for all pages after. This is to ensure you don’t have more than 1 problem page. It’s often the case that the same pic or font is causing the issue and maybe located on several pages throughout your document.

Now that you have located the rogue page you need to see what’s actually wrong with it. This is where it can be a little tedious. You basically have to delete each item one by one and export after each time.

The pic that you discover is corrupt or causing the problem may still be salvageable. Right-click on it and scroll to Edit with Photoshop.

It may be that the file is in the incorrect format. Switch it to another format. .JPG or .PNG is best. Save As (a different file name). Go back to InDesign, delete the pic and select Place, and Place your new file.

Try exporting this page and hopefully your problem is solved. If not read on.

Corrupt Font

When you are exporting and getting the Background Task error you may be able to determine if it’s a pic or a font that is causing the error.

Sometimes the Background Task Dialogue Box will actually tell you what the problem is.

This may be a font issue. Fonts that come from external sources are always to be avoided.

Corrupt fonts can cause all kinds of issues. As before locate the error page involved. If all your pics have been checked and are fine, it may be a font causing the issue.

Identify which Fonts are in use on the page and then go to your Finder / Search Bar and type


Locate the font in your list and check if there is 0KB beside it. If there is then this is a corrupt font. Delete this font, and reload the font. Preferably from a reputable source, such as Creative Cloud Fonts.

Turn Background Task Off

The last alternative is to turn the Background Task Off. Background Tasks were introduced way back in CS5 to free up people’s time. Before we had to export to PDF, and sit and wait for it to spool through each page. This took forever!

To be honest, I used to send to export last thing at night and hope that all went to plan, and the next morning you had your PDF.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case. Adobe decided to get on top of this problem and created Background Task. This meant that designers could begin an export and continue to work on other stuff.

How can you tell the Background Task is happening? Depending on what version of InDesign you’re working on, it’s either a stacked bar at the top of your page or a blue rotating circle. Sometimes the error will show and sometimes you have to click on it to see if it has hung.

Turning Background Task off results in your export happening on screen. (As in the past). However, InDesign has come on in leaps and bounds, and exports (depending on RAM) happen almost instantly.

Turning it off is done through a script. It’s not something I would recommend unless you are an Advanced User. Before you do anything, be sure you want to change your InDesign. If you are part of a larger organization, you may need to check with your IT department. It is a workaround, and not always necessary, the previous options are nearly always the answer that is required.

You’re not alone if you feel that Background Task is something you’d like to ditch. There is a script available that adds a Menu item to the File Dropdown. It allows you to turn Background Task On and Off.

The script was created by Marijan Tompa 

Restart InDesign.


This now gives you the ability to manage your Background Task. As I say I don’t recommend people altering or adding to programs but sometimes needs must.

Here are some other posts that you might find useful:

How to find a corrupt font?

How much RAM do I need for Creative Cloud?

Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on PurpleHotKeys.com

Recent Posts