Around the time of writing this, I upgraded from Adobe CS4 Design Premium and purchased Adobe CS5.5 Master Collection. It was an exciting time! However, when I started working on a print job, I noticed a particular “minor” change to the way Adobe InDesign worked. It left me stumped and frustrated…

Apparently as of the release of CS5, Adobe decided to add (or at least make us more aware of) a feature called InDesign Background Tasks.

What’s this “InDesign Background Tasks” all about?

Basically what the InDesign Background Tasks does, is it allows you to export a PDF file in the background while still being able to work on your InDesign file in the “foreground”. Pretty cool huh?

BTW – If you don’t have a copy of Adobe InDesign yet, you can sign up to an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription* and get access to all the Adobe products, but if you just want InDesign, click here to get it for cheaper*

“But why won’t my InDesign file export to PDF?” Well if you’re not using Adobe InDesign CS5 or a newer version, here’s a screenshot of what it looks like when you have a PDF exporting in the background.

InDesign Background Tasks Progress Bar

This new feature is a great addition for when you’re working on a small file, like a business card design or a 5 page brochure. However, I found that “trouble strikes” when you try to export large PDF documents. Like the 100+ page document that I was trying to export!

What happens is, the progress bar keeps moving, but it just hangs there and doesn’t seem to do anything! I even waited for about half an hour one time! The InDesign background task won’t cancel! Ridiculous!

This issue may not happen to everyone, but after doing some Google’ing, I found I wasn’t alone. I tried a couple of the solutions that I found which did the trick and disabled the background tasks. But I wanted the option of being able to turn it back on.

So what was the best solution?

Well I was in luck! Apparently the new InDesign Background Tasks feature had annoyed a few too many people. So one smart guy, Marijan Tompa, created a startup script which adds a menu item to the File menu in InDesign. The menu item gives you the option switch InDesign Background Tasks on and off.

InDesign Background Tasks - File, Enable Background Export

What the script does is when toggled on, it creates an empty “DisableAsyncExports.txt” file in the same directory as the Adobe InDesign executable file:

  • PC/Win: C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe InDesign CS5
  • Mac: /Applications/Adobe InDesign CS5.5/Adobe InDesign CS5.5.app/Contents/MacOS/

For some auto-magical reason, that’s all that’s required to disabled the background exporting of any file in InDesign. Then when you toggle off the Background Export from the File menu, it removes the DisableAsyncExports.txt file which then enables the Background Tasks feature again.

To download this handy little startup script, click on the following link:

(FYI: This was initially accessible via Marijan’s website, but it appears the file isn’t available from there anymore. Luckily I had a copy of the original ZIP file that he had for download! You’re welcome!)

Once you’ve downloaded the ZIP file, you’ll need to unzip and move the controlBackgroundExport.jsx file into your startup scripts folder and then restart InDesign:

  • PC/Win: C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe InDesign CS5ScriptsStartup Scripts
  • Mac: /Applications/Adobe InDesign CS5.5/Scripts/startup scripts/

*These links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. What this means is, if you click on them and then purchase the product, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission. So thank you in advance! 🙂

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