Has anyone else out there ever needed to get a preview image out of InDesign and into the world-at-large when the original linked files were not available? Maybe it’s just me, because it doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do.
Because I edit books on graphical subjects, many of my authors actually like to write and submit InDesign files (rather than go “old school” and turn in Word docs and a folder full of TIFFs.) Until the ready-for-production draft goes off to my brilliant composition team, I really don’t need (or want) to have them send along the linked files. InDesign’s preview images are certainly good enough for me to evaluate a manuscript— and, frankly, passing around hundreds of megabytes of photos during the draft stage would eat up time and bandwidth unnecessarily.
I have, however, found myself on occasion wishing I could create an independent file from an InDesign preview in an emergency. Once upon a time, my answer was to take a screenshot of the preview image in situ and then paste it into Photoshop. But now I have a better solution: Create a PDF and use Acrobat’s ability to extract images.
The process is relatively simple. For my example, I’ll use a spread from Tim Grey‘s new book, Take Your Best Shot, due out this week. Why? 1) The book is good enough to deserve a shameless plug, and b) Tim is sitting next to me at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit right this minute and he’s the one who got me the invitation to attend the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit. (By the way, tell Deke that Tim is working on Channels and Masks One-on-One as I type this. It’s due out this Fall.)
Start by creating a PDF. As you know, you’ll have a choice to make about the quality of your file. Even though I know I can’t make those previews any higher res than they already are, I still go for the highest quality setting out of superstition (and I invite alpha geeks to explain whether it might actually make a difference).
- Once the PDF version opens in Acrobat, choose Advanced > Document Processing > Export All Images.
- In the ensuing dialog box, enter your desired filename in the Save As field. Note that you are actually extracting all the images in your PDF, so this “filename” is really going to serve as prefix for every file you’re extracting. If you have multiples (as I would since this is a chapter in a book), Acrobat will go on to add more to the file name that will leave (almost) no doubt in your mind from whence in your document it was extracted (with one caveat explained below).
- Choose your Format from the drop-down menu which offers JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and JPEG2. I’m usually using these as placeholders (imagining that when Tim gets off his a… bike, he’ll send the hi res files, so I choose JPEG).
- It is worth it to click the Settings button and choose the JPEG (Quality: Maximum) setting from the File Settings > Color pop-up. (I’ve actually tested and see a difference there, it’s not just superstition.)
- Click OK, and then Save, and watch as Acrobat creates your images. Then go look at them and see the wacky name and order Acrobat creates for your images.
Magically, I now have reasonably useful versions of the files that live outside of InDesign, complete with Acrobat’s fancy made-up names.
Note: if you have more than one image on a page, Acrobat will name the files sequentially, based on chronological order. Weird, but one of thos those things any InDesign user will find familiar. (For some reason, InDesign likes tointerpret your images in the order in which they were added to the page instead of something that, oh . . . makes more sense.)