Creative Tip

Open InDesign docs in the correct InDesign.


The cursing has already started. You’ve installed CS4, but most of your studio’s active projects are still in InDesign CS3. Now each time you double-click on an InDesign CS3 document in the Mac Finder, it opens up in InDesign CS4.

InDesignProxy is a free utility that fixes this annoyance by working as a ’stand-in’ for InDesign. Drag any INDD file onto the InDesignProxy application, and it automatically opens your file in the correct version of InDesign.

[Update: Kris Coppieters has provided us a link to InDesignProxy 1.0.5 which allows you to set the Finder to open all INDD files this way automatically. We’ll be updating our tip later today to reflect the new version.]

Some Background: Which Version of InDesign?

InDesignCS3vsCS4.pngOn the Mac, every INDD file shows the same icon in the Finder. The two icons at right show a CS3 file and a CS4 file on a Mac. Both default to the last installed version of InDesign.

This will be a frustratingly familiar problem for many designers. We fielded a lot of calls and questions about this behavior back when InDesign CS3 first shipped, and now those calls are returning for InDesign CS4.

Solution A: Put InDesignProxy in your Dock.


The most straightforward way to address this InDesignCS3/CS4 annoyance is to simply add InDesignProxy to your Dock, and get into the habit of dragging your InDesign documents onto that icon. This isn’t as easy or natural as double-clicking on files in the Finder, but it is a solution many designers will appreciate.

Solution B: Keep InDesign CS3 running all the time.

Here is an interesting twist. If InDesign CS3 is already running, your CS3 documents will open up into the correct version of InDesign. So, if you still want to be able to double-click on INDD files in the Finder, one work-around is to make sure InDesign CS3 is always running.

I’m not a particular fan of this approach. But many designers found this solution handy back when we were dealing with the same frustrations when CS3 was released.

Solution C: Use Adobe Bridge; Open INDD files with InDesignProxy


A third approach is to skip the Mac Finder altogether, and start working in Bridge. In the Bridge preferences, under File Type Associations, set .indd files to open in InDesignProxy. You can happily go on double-clicking InDesign files in Bridge and know they’ll open in the correct version of InDesign.

Reward Offered: Change Finder “Open With” to InDesignProxy.

InDesignProxy-FinderInfo.pngAstute readers are probably asking themselves at this point, “Why not just set the Finder to always open INDD files in InDesignProxy?”

It seems you should be able to “get info” on an InDesign file, change the “Open with” default to InDesignProxy, and click the “Change All” button.

The problem is, it doesn’t work. Try it yourself. After clicking “Change All” the default snaps back to InDesign CS4. (Note: RCDefaultApp doesn’t appear to solve this problem either.)

Update: InDesignProxy 1.0.5 fixes this problem.

So we’re trying an experiment: I’m offering a reward for the first person who comes up with an easy, repeatable, way to change how INDD documents open when you double-click on them in the Mac Finder. We’ll send an Apple iPod touch 8GB to the first person who posts a workable solution to this challenge in our blog comments.

I’ll be the sole judge of what constitutes a workable solution. I’m hoping someone comes up with an answer. It would be well worth the cost of an iPod to solve this annoyance for our clients.

Talk to you in the comments below!

Source: We discovered InDesignProxy through a post on James Dempsey’s The Graphic Mac. This was followed by an excellent write-up by Bob Levine at InDesign Secrets.

23 thoughts on “Open InDesign docs in the correct InDesign.

  1. Hi,

    With regards to the ‘Change All…’ problem – I think I am close to fixing the issue in InDesignProxy – the latest tests are promising.

    Once I have a version that works properly, I’ll release version 1.0.5 – might be a few days before that happens.


    (author of InDesignProxy)

    Thanks for the nice write-up… Would this qualify for the iPod 😉 ?

  2. Thanks for the link guys! This is truly a handy little utility for those who must keep multiple versions of InDesign on their Mac.

  3. oops – just read the post more carefully and realize you already ruled out RCDefaultApp…. must have been blinded by the prize on offer! 😉

  4. Kris, it is great to hear that you may have this problem solved with InDesignProxy 1.0.5. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    If your solution to the “change all” problem is a technique we can apply to other applications (Illustrator for example) it would definitely qualify for the iPod bounty!

    Thanks for your work so far!

  5. Gordan, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to solve this problem with RCDefaultApp. While writing this tip I tried about a dozen different techniques in that tool alone. I’d be delighted if someone found the right combination of settings to make it work. ~Craig

  6. Control click on document you wish to open in InDesign 2 or 3
    Scroll down to “Open With”

    Then scroll down to “Other…”, select “Other…” and let go

    In “Choose Application” dialog box find Indesign application you wish to use and select it

    This is the trick: Click the “Always Open With” check box

    Finally hit “Open”

    Notice that the Icon of the InDesign Document you have changed is now an CS3 or CS 2 icon. It will now open in the appropriate program from now on.

  7. The reason I didn’t mention setting INDD files to open using InDesignProxy in my InDesign Secrets post was because in my testing they kept reverting to InCopy CS3.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Kris comes up with.

  8. Ruth,

    I wish that worked. Your technique using the “Always Open With” only changes the setting for the one document you have selected. It does not change the default for the remaining INDD documents on your Mac.


  9. Hi Bob, I’m looking forward to what Kris comes up with too! Thanks for your excellent write-up on InDesign Secrets. You did a good job comparing what Windows users see compared to Mac users.

  10. Ok, try this one – it’s not ‘linked’ to the blog post yet, but I think it’s ready to be tried out. This version seems to fix the ‘Always open With’ issue.

    Any feedback, good or bad, to

    P.S. I am designing ‘Son of InDesignProxy’ which will work for the whole Creative Suite and a whole host of other Mac apps as well.

    So, marizmendi, Illustrator, eh? Well, it’ll take a while, but it’ll happen!



  11. Kris,

    I just downloaded and tested InDesignProxy 1.0.5 — and it appears to solve the problem. I can now “Get Info” on an INDD file, change it to InDesignProxy, and the “Change All” button now works. (What did it take to solve the challenge?)

    I’m calling this one solved! How about giving our tips readers an exclusive on the 1.0.5 update for a bit? Either way I’ll get the iPod touch ordered for you today!

    You’ve made life easier for many InDesign users!


  12. Hi Craig,

    The issue was a flaw in the InDesignProxy bundle construction. Like nearly all Mac applications, the InDesignProxy application icon is not really a single file. It is actually a folder (a.k.a. ‘package’) in disguise, and such ‘packages’ need to be constructed to Apple’s exacting rules.

    There was a tiny detail that was ‘off’ in the previous version’s package structure. As far as I can tell, this made the Finder decide “Nah, I am not going to ‘Always Open With’ this abomination”, and it threw out InDesignProxy and picked ‘something else’.

  13. Kris
    Someone is asking me if there is or there will be a version for PC users…
    so, it’s up to you, think about it.

  14. Marizmendi – The InDesignSecrets write-up about this topic shows some details about what PC users see. At least in Windows, you can tell by the icon which version of InDesign a document was created in (although double-clicking still opens that document in the newest copy of InDesign).

  15. We’ve just released an update to InDesignProxy. Version 1.0.6 now applies the proper icon to various InDesign-related files (e.g. CS files get an InDesign CS document icon, CS2 files get an InDesign CS2 document icon, etc…) so you can tell what version a file is by merely looking at the Finder icon.

    It also adds support for a few other file name extensions (e.g. .indt) and fixes issues that occurred when there were non-ASCII characters in file or folder names.

    More info at



  16. Hi all!

    We’ve been hard at work on Son of InDesignProxy, now nicknamed Soxy – a more powerful, commercial version of InDesignProxy.

    In addition to InDesign files, Soxy also supports Illustrator .ai files, QuarkXPress files, PDF files.

    You can also use ‘Edit Original’ in InDesign and have it open a placed .ai file in the proper version of Illustrator.

    We have a time limited beta version available for download – check



  17. Here is a script that will work on the Mac side. Of course it is beta (I just wrote it). You will have to adapt it for CS4 (I no have CS4–pay lousy). You must open in this in Script Editor, compile, then save as an application.

    on open theseDocs

    global fileKinds
    set fileKinds to {“InDesign® CS2 Document”, “InDesign® CS3 Document”, “InDesign® CS4 Document”}

    if (count of theseDocs) > 1 then
    display dialog “Only drop one document at a time on this droplet!” buttons {Cancel} default button 1 with icon 0
    end if
    repeat with aDoc in theseDocs
    set aDocInfo to info for aDoc
    if kind of aDocInfo is not in fileKinds then
    display alert “Please drop only InDesign documents on this droplet!”
    else if kind of aDocInfo is equal to item 1 of fileKinds then
    tell application “Adobe InDesign CS2” to open aDoc
    exit repeat
    else if kind of aDocInfo is equal to item 2 of fileKinds then
    tell application “Adobe InDesign CS3” to open aDoc
    exit repeat
    tell application “Adobe InDesign CS3” to open aDoc
    exit repeat
    end if
    end repeat
    end open

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