Here's how to speed up Adobe InDesign on Mac

As soon as you’re using InDesign to create anything larger than a small flyer, like a brochure or full magazine, there’s a very real risk that the application will more or less grind to a halt unless you have a decent setup with plenty of memory and disk space available.

But when you’re using Adobe InDesign, slow performance isn’t just something you have to live with — there are all kinds of tweaks you can make to the app (and how you use it), as well as your hardware and operating system, to speed up InDesign.

Plus, there’s nothing too demanding involved in this optimization: all the tips presented below are simple enough that you can give most of them a try whether or not you consider yourself a techie.

Speed up Adobe InDesign with these tips

If you’re looking to accelerate InDesign, carefully inspecting how you actually use the app is a sensible first step. For example, seeing everything at the highest resolution possible might be nice on a retina screen but also taxing for older machines, as they have to redraw images with every view. 

Changing your display performance from High Quality to Typical, which always used to be the default until just a couple of years ago, can make a big difference. Likewise, minimizing Live Preflight and disabling (or delaying) Live Screen Drawing can help to speed things up because InDesign wouldn’t need to create previews of every change you’re making in real time.

Thumbnails and other previews become a source of slow Adobe InDesign performance as well, so it’s worth taking a look at these too. The more pages you have, the more thumbnails you’ll be generating in the Pages panel. To disable these, just deselect Show Thumbnails on Pages and/or Master in the Panel Options menu.

When saving documents, InDesign includes a preview image by default. Because the app never “knows” when it’s going to be saving a document, it’s constantly updating this preview image while you work on it. Deselect “Always Save Preview Images” under Preferences > File Handling and you might just be surprised at how much difference a tiny preview file can make to your performance.

Speaking of surprising tweaks that can help to ease Adobe InDesign CC slow performance, some users have found that disabling the app’s overzealous Hyperlink Verification feature can have a positive impact on performance if you’re working on a document containing lots of web links.

1. Tweak your software and macOS

We’re all used to hearing this question from support staff, “Are you using the latest versions of macOS and our software?” Well, there’s a reason that the question is so common: using outdated versions of macOS and/or InDesign can easily result in bugs and slow performance. Upgrading with the hopes you’ll speed up InDesign might seem like wishful thinking, but it really is just that simple sometimes.

In addition, some users have highlighted issues that arise with InDesign CC if you also have previous versions of InDesign on your Mac. The recommended fix for this is commonly known as “trashing your preferences,” which can be done by closing and relaunching, and then immediately holding down Cmd + Ctrl + Opt + Shift and responding to the ensuing dialogue box that you really want to replace your preferences.

2. Optimize processes and hardware automatically

Whether we’re talking about a physical CS copy or Adobe InDesign CC slow performance is pretty likely if you’re using a machine that simply doesn’t have enough RAM or free disk space to keep up with the demands of the app. That’s why a quick restart, which (by default) closes all running apps and stops background processes, often improves the performance of InDesign.

Unfortunately, this process is typically short-lived and you’ll likely experience further slowness unless you make additional changes. An app like CleanMyMac X can be useful for this, as it frees up space and optimizes performances automatically without the need to go digging through your hard disk and hidden files manually.

To optimize your Mac with CleanMyMac X:

  1. Download the CleanMyMac X app (free trial)
  2. Launch and choose Smart Scan > Scan
  3. Review Details to see what kind of problems your computer might be facing overall
  4. Choose the files / folders you no longer need and click Run
  5. Repeat the process with other CleanMyMac X scans as needed, such as Optimization or Maintenance
CleanMyMac X - Smart Scan complete

While getting all the settings just right, as described above, will speed up your Mac, the effect would be temporary. For a true long-term solution, use CleanMyMac X repeatedly, every month or so, and your Mac will stay brand new forever. 

Thing about the improved efficiency reached by cutting the amount of time you spend waiting in frustration. Even if your productivity increases by a mere 10% that would mean four additional hours every week (given you work 40-hour weeks) for years to come.

3. Make clean-ups quick and efficient

There’s no denying that InDesign is, or at least can be, a demanding app to run. Even so, upgrading the equipment that you use it on really should be considered a last resort; the above tips should help you to speed up Adobe InDesign in no time, but the most consistent way to avoid slow performance is freeing up as much disk space and memory as you’re able to through cleaning up all the clutter in the corners of your hard drive.

Although everything mentioned is definitely something you can do manually, if you have the time, it’s also something you can automate with a tool like CleanMyMac X. With the push of a button it’s possible to identify, and delete tons of duplicate, outdated, and unnecessary files, whether they’re visible or hidden.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.