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Chapter 4. Graphically Speaking > Previews that Don't

Previews that Don't

Fixing Preview-less Illustrator Images

What's all the hoo-hah about InDesign being able to place native Illustrator files? It seems half-baked to me. Some Illustrator files come in just fine, but others show an error message (something about “missing PDF compatibility”) in the frame instead of a preview of the image. I'm back to using EPS's, which import and preview just fine, every time. But I'm still scratching my head about the whole .ai thing.

Those preview-less images are probably native Illustrator files from a much older version of the program. (Perhaps from an old clip art collection?) Open one of these in a more recent version of Illustrator and choose File > Save As. From the Format popup menu, make sure it's set to Adobe Illustrator Document (.ai) — it should be chosen by default — and click the Save button. You'll get one more dialog box called Illustrator Options. Turn on “Create Compatible PDF” and click OK. Now try placing it again, and see if the “hoo-hah” makes sense to you.

Highest-Quality Previews, Automatically

The screen previews of images that I place into InDesign are sometimes so pixelated they're almost worthless. (Especially vector EPS's. They're the worst!) Scaling them down in InDesign doesn't help, and zooming in just makes it worse. When I'm trying to create a tight text wrap to the image's contour, I have to make printouts to see how I'm doing.

You can fix this on an image-by-image basis, or if you have a fast computer, you can fix it for all images.

InDesign's default settings for image previews are controlled by the options in Preferences > Display Performance, which assume your computer isn't fast enough to create high-quality previews for every image. And this may well be true, especially if you're working on an image-intensive document.

To override the default preview setting (“Typical”) for a particular image, and force InDesign to create a High Quality preview for it, select the image and choose Object > Display Performance > High Quality Display. (Or choose the command from the context menu.)

To make it so that all images get a high-quality preview from the get-go, change the Preferences defaults themselves. In Preferences > Display Performance > Default View, change the setting from Typical to High Quality.

Alternatively, you can leave the Default View at Typical, and change what “Typical” means by moving the sliders in the lower part of the dialog box. A good suggestion would be to leave Raster Images at the “Proxy” setting (so it doesn't slow down InDesign too much), but slide Vector Images and Transparency all the way to their highest settings (no more chunky EPS's).

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