How to Open an INDD File With Photoshop

by John Ruiz ; Updated September 28, 2017

Although the InDesign and Photoshop applications are both part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription service, Photoshop does not have an option to open or import InDesign's INDD files. However, Adobe InDesign can export the project to PDF format, which Adobe Photoshop supports. This is useful if you need to add Photoshop elements to an InDesign project or use Photoshop features with a finalized InDesign project.

Exporting the PDF Using InDesign

Launch Adobe InDesign and open the INDD file.

Click "File" on the InDesign menu bar and go to "Export" In the Export dialog. Change the "Save as type" option to "Adobe PDF (Print)" and pick a folder for the file. Click the "Save" button to bring up the Export Adobe PDF dialog.

Set the Adobe PDF Preset to "High Quality Print" to keep the quality of the resources as high as possible without altering the color space. Click the "Export" button to save the PDF file.

Importing the PDF Using Photoshop

Launch Photoshop. Click the "File" menu on the menu bar and click "Open." Locate the PDF file you saved earlier and double-click it to see the "Import PDF" dialog.

Select a page in the PDF. To import all the pages of the PDF file, hold the "Ctrl" key and select each page.

Click the OK" button to complete the import process. Each page has its own workspace in its original size.

Placing the PDF Pages as Smart Objects Using Photoshop

Launch Photoshop and create a new file or open an existing image. Go to the "File" menu and click "Place Embedded" or "Place Linked." Browse to the PDF file you saved earlier and double-click it to see the "Open As Smart Object" dialog.

Placing the PDF file as a Smart Object is recommended to transform, skew or distort the object without affecting the original file. Opening the PDF file instead is necessary if you want to apply edits that directly affect the pixels such as cloning, dodging and burning.

If you use the "Place Linked" option, any edits made to the PDF are updated on the linked Photoshop file. Renaming the PDF file or moving it to a different location breaks the link, and you will have to relink the file the next time you open the Photoshop file.

Double-click the first page of the PDF to import it.

Drag the page to the desired location of the workspace and use the handles around the border to resize the page. Press the "Enter" key to place the page as a separate layer. Repeat these steps on other pages of the PDF if you wish to import them as well.


  • Do not delete the original INDD file, as all the InDesign layers are flattened and become uneditable when you export the project as a PDF. Keep the original file so you can change elements in InDesign that aren't editable in a PDF.

    Information in this article applies to the 2014 builds of Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe InDesign CC. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

About the Author

John Ruiz began his writing career in 2008 as a freelancer writing for eHow and various technology, software and hardware blogs. He has been designing websites since 2002. Ruiz earned a Bachelor of Science in information technology and web design from AMA Computer University.

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