Why are my Photoshop Images Blurry in InDesign? This is why!

Placing images in InDesign is one of the best parts of the application. (IMO). It makes preparing layouts so much easier. But sometimes our pics look blurry when we place them. Let’s take a look at why that happens.

Photoshop Images are blurry in InDesign because they are
Low Resolution
Images are not linked or are missing
View Setting is incorrect

It’s difficult to try and get everything correct when finishing your project. You want your end result to look the best it can be. Let’s look at how we can make our images the best they can be.

Low Resolution

Low resolution can lead to two issues. Low Actual ppi in Photoshop and low Effective ppi in InDesign.
Actual ppi within Photoshop that has a resolution of 72ppi or lower will result in a low resolution image when imported to InDesign.

This can somewhat be adjusted in InDesign through Effective ppi by scaling the image down. This will then increase the ppi of the output image. But it still may appear blurry in InDesign but when printed it may print clear enough.

Photoshop Actual ppi
InDesign Effective ppi

However, you can’t make a poor picture into a good picture. If a picture is out of focus to begin with, this is very difficult if not impossible to correct.

You can increase the size of the image in Photoshop and then bring your increased image back into InDesign and scale it further. This will then further increase the amount of your Effective ppi. If you think of it like a Poster becoming a stamp. The image becomes more condensed and so the resolution becomes sharper.

Blurry images are also dependent on what media you are using. If your files are to be printed then your images can’t be blurry. Print shops are reluctant to take these types of files. However if your document is going to be web based then the Effective or even the Actual ppi doesn’t need to be as high.

Images Not Linked or Missing

Placed images in InDesign can appear blurry on screen if the image is missing or needs to be relinked. You will know that the image is missing by the small icon in the top right hand corner of the image. If the image has either a ! in a Yellow Triangle or a ? in a Red Circle then it needs to be clicked and updated or relinked.

Missing Images or Broken Links

Sometimes the images appear blurry, sometimes ok, but they will definitely output blurry.

The only way to correct this is to update or relink them. If sent to a print shop with missing or unlinked images they will not print at all. They are only appearing within your file as your document has a memory of them being there. Your print shop may or may not contact you to tell you the error. Be sure that there are no output Errors on the bottom of your workspace.

View Settings

The last possibility as to why your Photoshop Images are blurry within InDesign is that you have the incorrect View Setting selected.

This is nothing to do with the resolution of your image, but with the screen resolution.

By going to

View Menu – Display Performance – Typical Display – High Quality

This will change the resolution on screen for your placed images.

Images placed in InDesign are lo resolution by default.

By changing the View Settings the image should then appear sharper.

As I previously said it depends on the final output of the file. High quality print files need high quality images. If your images are not hi res to begin with there is only a limited amount of scope to improve this.

If your final output is going to remain screen based your resolution doesn’t need to be as high.

It’s good to get in the habit of having the best quality images you can. You document is always going to look better with sharp images.

Hopefully one of the three above options solves your issue. I have other articles on Actual ppi vs Effective ppi and also how to correctly relink and find missing images.

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Illustrator files blurry in Photoshop

Why are my PNG files blurry in Illustrator

Why is my InDesign export blurry?

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

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