If you use Adobe Indesign in a production environment there is probably a better than good chance you will open a file and get an error about a missing plugin.

I encountered this a lot with Indesign CS3 when opening files created in previous versions on previous systems. I ignored it as I can still open and use the file just fine. Did not stop my workflow so was not important to resolve the issue. Now that we upgraded to Indesign CS5 this issue is still  there, only more prominent due to additional plugins we used in Indesign CS3. These plugins are not needed now as we do not use them as we used to.

Missing Indesign Plugins

Missing Indesign Plugins Alert

Normally I would just ignore the error and keep on working. However, I am also working on publishing for the iPad and in doing so I encountered an error when trying to package my files. Indesign CS5 would not allow me to properly package my files due to missing plugins. Now it is interupting my workflow and causing me issues.

Cannot Package Indesign file

Cannot Package Indesign file due to missing plugins.

I did some Adobe Forum search and Google searching but could only find answers for Indesign CS3 & CS4. Which was to export as an INX file then open the INX file and save as INDD from Indesign CS5. Well Indesign CS5 does not have the INX option. So I had to do some testing to find the right solution. The solution is to Export as IDML (Indesign Markup Language).

I am not sure if this is the new version of INX files, but this does what I needed it to do, which was clean out old plugin info from Indesign CS5 files.

You need to go to File > Export and choose Indesign Markup (IDML) from the dropdown menu.

Indesign Markup (IDML)

Indesign Markup (IDML)

Give it a file name and save it anywhere. Once the export is complete (pretty quickly even with 100 page magazines) you can then close your open file with the missing plugins. Then go to File > Open and navigate to where you saved the IDML file and select that file to open. Once opened you will see your file is complete and just like the original except it has no missing plugins attached to it. You can now save this file as an Indesign CS5 file and package away with no more pesky plugin errors.

Works fast. works well. Most importantly it is only a slight delay in my workflow. And only needs doing when you have a missing plugin error.

Hope it helps you as I know it helped me.


  1. Richard Clarke

    Help! im panicing so much, my graphics work has this problem and i cant open the file at home or at college, it was made on CS5 indesign and i get this exact problem but it wont let me open the file to export it or anything

    Do you know what i can do??

    any help is much appriciated

  2. The only time you would get this in CS5 is if someone else created/worked on the file and had a plugin that you do not have.
    Whoever else worked on the file will need to export to IDML to remove the plugin info and send you that file.

  3. Simon

    Thanks for this, really helpful you shared this info. Saved me so much time messing around trying to clear the plugins.

  4. Jon


    Genius. I was having nightmares with this problem. Now, problem solved.

  5. Thanks, that is really useful.

    I’m trying to share an InDesign file on a cloud. I have CS5 & my colleague has CS 5.5. If they export to IDML I understand that I’ll be able to view & alter it. What do I need to do when I’m finished, so that they (on CS5.5) can view, alter, save it?

    Thank you

  6. Hi Dene

    The user with a higher versions can always open the files saved in older versions (CS5.5 can always open CS5 files). It is only the older application that cannot open versions saved in newer applications (CS5 cannot open CS5.5).
    If they export to IDML you will be able to open it in CS5, make your changes and save it as .indd. Then send it back to them as is and they will be able to open that file just fine in CS5.5.

    Just remember to include all fonts/images with the files to prevent any errors.


  7. What a star. This will save me a huge headache as my business grows. Thank you!

  8. WrshpMzshn

    Yes! Thank you! I’m the prepress guy for an in-house print shop. I get files from artists with plug-ins from earlier versions of InDesign. I’ve been getting the missing plug-in error since I upgraded to 5.5. I can open and use the files, but each time I re-open them I have to save-as again and overwrite the previous document. It isn’t a production stopper, but it is annoying. Thanks for this simple solution.

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This was an enormous headache and I am so grateful I found your post for the workaround!

  10. Manan

    I have created a plugin to strip missing plugin info from the documents, you can try it out at the following location

    Currently its available only for CC2017 MAC, let me know your thoughts on the product. You will have to Save As only once, the first time you save the document after ignoring the missing plugins using my inexutils plugin and then you are all set to go.

    Suggestions for improvements are always welcome


  11. Bram

    Need help. i cannot open th e file because missing plugins, how can i Export it without opening it first?

  12. Annie

    Hi, Thanks for the info. I am running CS3, however, I cannot open the document at all so I can’t export it. Any suggestions?

  13. Very old post and a very long time since this comment was made. Sorry I missed it. You need to be able to open the file in order to export it, no other way to do it.

  14. Very old post and a very long time since this comment was made. Sorry I missed it. You need to be able to open the file in order to export it, no other way to do it.

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