How Do I Reduce My InDesign File Size?

Working on a project can be quick or can turn into a monster. When you’re done it’s usually only then that you realise your file is enormous. This is not ideal, so read on to find out how to reduce the size.

To reduce your InDesign file size, resize your placed images, remove any Pasteboard Items, remove all unused colors and Resave the File with a new name.

We never really notice the size of a file until we are finished the job and either have to export it or share it with someone. If it turns out that the file is way too big this then becomes a headache. Not to worry! Here’s how to reduce it without losing any quality.

Resize Images

Placed Images are usually the largest use of memory in a document. It’s understandable, they originate in a separate programme and then are manipulated further within InDesign.

Image resolution is the main reason for file size being large. The difference between Actual ppi (in Photoshop) and Effective ppi in InDesign can sometimes be enormous.

Effective ppi in InDesign
Actual ppi in Photoshop

We want all our images to be as sharp as possible but if your images are 200-300 ppi in Photoshop and you place them in InDesign and then scale them to 50%, the Effective ppi is now 600. There is no benefit to your images having a ppi of more than 300. This is sufficient for hi res printing.
So how do we solve this?

The best way is to change the ‘Image Size’ in Photoshop, to match the placed image size in InDesign. This means no scaling down and so your Actual ppi and Effective ppi are the same value. Don’t adjust the resolution, just the Image dimensions.

However, I can hear the groans. I have so many pics placed within my document! To go back and resize them will take forever!

Yes, agreed, this is a chore and for many not practical.
There is another solution, but firstly I would advise to check for any vastly oversized images and resize these. If you then File – Save As your file may be reduced enough for you.

However if you are exporting your file as a PDF there is a size saving trick available.
File – Export – PDF (Print)

In the Compression Option you can select to Downsize your Color Images to 320 ppi.

If you input 320ppi in the ‘Images Above’ tab.
This will reduce all your images to the correct output size and vastly reduce your output file.
This only works if you are exporting your file. If you are sharing your original InDesign file (which I strongly advise against) you will have to continue with the resizing in Photoshop route.

Remove Pasteboard Items

As a graphic designer for 25+ years I often utilise the pasteboard space around my page layout in InDesign. I design magazines predominantly and ads within the magazine interchange from month to month. We might use the same ads every second or third issue. Instead of deleting them I just move them to the pasteboard. But in reality when you save your finished file, InDesign saves all the images, text boxes and placed files that are in your document, including all the items on your Pasteboard.

So when you are completely finished working on your file, go through the whole document and delete all items on your pasteboard. Some items may be on the very edge so be sure that you are in Normal View so everything will show.

Normal View Shows all on Screen

You can also check the Links Panel. Anything that has PB beside it is on the Pasteboard. You can’t delete items from the Links Panel but if there are any that you have missed you can click on the PB and it will bring you to that item.

Go to File – Save As and rename your file. Hopefully this will have reduced your file size. If not read on and we try a few other options.

Unused Colors

This is something that people don’t automatically think of but again it is part of your file and InDesign won’t delete the colors just because they’re not in use.
Again, because I work on magazines, I work from issue to issue replacing pages but using the same page layouts. Color schemes for Double Page Spreads can change but the unused colors remain in the Swatch Panel.
This is an easy fix, as InDesign has a pretty cool trick.
Open the Swatch Panel and Click on the top right corner.

Scroll down to Select All Unused. This will highlight all the colors that are not in use throughout your document. Click on the Bin to Delete them

My only advice on this is, if there are colors listed that you use regularly but are currently not in use, draw a small box on the pasteboard and fill it with your preferred color. Then delete all unused colors.
Go to File – Save As and your file should be reduced further.


The benefits of a File – Save As will remove any cached items that InDesign is keeping. If you simply Save the presets, preferences and cached items all remain within the file.

Hopefully your file is now small enough to upload, share or export.

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Too much white space in InDesign

InDesign hyperlinks not working

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

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