How to downsave Illustrator and InDesign files

Rebecca Creger

If you’ve ever seen a message like this when trying to open an Adobe file it’s probably because the file wasn’t downsaved. In the design industry, designers are using different versions of different Adobe programs to create designs.

This can cause compatibility issues when you’re sharing files with a client or fellow designer. Most newer versions of Adobe programs can open and read older versions of Adobe programs, however older versions of Adobe Programs often have trouble reading files created by newer versions of Adobe Programs.

To avoid compatibility issues with your files, it’s a simple matter of downsaving the file before you hand over them the design. Here, we’ll discuss how to do this in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.

Adobe Illustrator


To downsave a newer version of Adobe Illustrator to an older one, simply click File > Save a Copy > Save > Select the CS Version of your choice > OK.

In the example above, I’ve chosen to “Save a Copy” in order to create an entirely new file for opening in older versions of Adobe Illustrator. Next, I’ve labeled it as “Logo_cs5” so that I know which version this new file has been saved in. And that’s it 🙂



In this example, we’re downsaving from InDesign CC to a file that can be opened in InDesign CS4 or later. To do this, click File > Save a Copy > Select IDML (InDesign Markup) > Save.

When downsaving and exporting in older versions of InDesign, you should also select IDML as your format.

Note: We haven’t included Photoshop, because different versions of Photoshop have always been more compatible with each other than Illustrator or InDesign.

As long as you keep your Photoshop files layered, you shouldn’t have any major issues. Potential differences will be in the behavior of things like Smart Objects. For more information on Photoshop compatibility please review this article.

Got any other tricks for downsaving and version compatibility? Share in the comments!

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