My indesign file is 13 MB; too big to send by email. Images that are making it so big. Here is my idea: I send my colleague all the necessary images in a library, that we will both have access to. I remove the images from the indesign file, but leave the links. What I mean, is that the links will still be in the indesign file, and the links will be looking for the files, but it won't find the files. When my colleague gets the indesign file, the indesign file will be able to find all the images in the libarary, which he has. Hence, we can send back and forth a file that should be far less than a MB.

Is this possible?

  • If it's too big to send by email then don't send it by email. Upload it to a file sharing site instead, and send the link by email. You can use file sharing services such as the Adobe Cloud, Drop Box, Google Drive, etc.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 27, 2022 at 8:18
  • Or use a version control like git. Then host it in a version control sharing service like github, bitbucket etc.
    – joojaa
    Jul 27, 2022 at 9:34
  • linked images are not stored in the file, so not sure what "removing images but leaving the links" even means. If you are "pasting" images in, don't do that
    – Yorik
    Jul 27, 2022 at 14:03
  • @Yorik I mean that the file is very large, so I'm assuming that it is storing the information in the images. If my file contained only text and formatting instructions, then it would be less than a half MB.
    – Chris
    Jul 27, 2022 at 16:48
  • @Scott Thanks, the IDML file is what I'm looking for. If I send this file to my colleague, then he will see the "skeleton" of the document. That is, he will see the text and where the images go, ect. The IDML is only a half MB, which makes sense. If I send him all the images at a later point in time, then they will load automatically. I believe this is a solution.
    – Chris
    Jul 27, 2022 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


InDesign only links to external images, unless as @Yorik points out in comments, you are pasting images into the InDesign file. Which is a bad idea.

13mb is really not large at all. Even with only reference links, it's fairly easy to hit 13mb for an INDD file in roughly 20pgs.

Saving as an IDML file (InDesign Markup Language) might reduce the file size. An IDML file is merely a markup data file that InDesign can read and then regenerate the layout based upon the markup. Unlike an actual .indd layout, the .idml data is typically much smaller in terms of file size. One simply must have InDesign to utilize an .idml file.

If an IDML file works, images won't typically "automatically" relink.
But it's easy enough to relink images to a folder....

Or you can archive the .indd file in something like a .zip archive. Which should reduce the file size. But there's no telling what any size reduction may be without actually archiving the file. (One should be "zipping" InDesign files when emailing them anyway. Sending raw InDesign files through email will often result in file corruption due to common email server virus scanning.)

There are also file transfer services such as DropBox, Hightail, GoogleDrive... which would allow for larger file transfers and circumvent the 10mb limit found on many email servers.

  • If I were your editor, I would ask you to focus you answer on the IDML file. Your coments about DropBox, Google drive, ect. answer a question that I didn't ask. The question was not, 'how can I send a bunch of files to somebody'. The question was, how can reduce the file size to something I can send in an email.
    – Chris
    Jul 27, 2022 at 20:01
  • 1
    @Chris the goal is to help anyone who may come across this question. The actual question was... "how can I reduce the file size in order to send an InDesign file to a friend." -- I answered that with several options. You may choose to use the IDML format.. others may prefer a zip, or DropBox. :)
    – Scott
    Jul 27, 2022 at 20:12

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