How to Disable Adobe InDesign Background Tasks

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

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! πŸ™‚

63 Responses

  1. Really appreciate this extremely helpful tip. Couldn’t figure out how to stop the background task. The script works beautifully. Thanks again.

  2. It has been very helpful, bcoz while my client was waiting for last Booklet i was designing we waited like a half hour for a pdf render task to show up and i got ashamed, but after few minutes of googling the main problem, i found you guys really helpful.

    keep it up. good work done for sure.

    1. Fantastic! Luckily you stumbled across this blog post then hey! And great to hear the script helped to get you out of that tight spot, and many more that probably would’ve come along! πŸ™‚

  3. Thank you so very much for this explanation. I saw this workaround on several other forums and blogs, but you are the first to explain it in plain english (or at least basic enough for me to follow)! Thank you!!

  4. hello, i have the CC version of indesign and i installed it but i can’t see it anywhere in my indesign while i placed it in the right folder, in startup scripts… what do i do? πŸ™

    1. Hi Eva, hmmm, that’s weird that it’s not working for you. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t work because it’s basically just an “on/off” script. I’m afraid I don’t have the CC version either, so I can’t help you exactly. Have you checked under every drop down menu to see if you can find the option? It should be under “File” though πŸ™

  5. I have CC as well, and when I use this diabling script, it causes indesign to NOT export anything to pdf but just spin endlessly. So, before I installed the diabling script I couldn’t get my file to export, it gave me a “background task” error, and now with the script I can’t get it to export at all – I threw the script away, restarted, and now I can’t export anything at all – it just keeps spinning and spinning or looks like it’s done and then there is no pdf in my folder that I assigned it to. Basically I am stuck and worse off than before – help!

  6. I tried and it won’t work on mine either. I see the option under the ‘file’ dropdown, but it’s not ‘clickable’… and upon export, get the same issue as before.

  7. I was pulling my hair out until my cubie found your script fix. I’m using CS6 and it appears to be working fine! Thanks for your efforts

    1. Good stuff Steve! Hope you hadn’t pulled out too much hair before finding the script! Haha! πŸ˜› So you’re using InDesign CS6 – are you on a PC or Mac? It seems as though a few people are experiencing different outcomes from the same script.

    1. Hmmm, the script seems to be working for some people with CS6, like myself. I’m on a Mac and I’m using Adobe InDesign CS6 still and it works for me. What operating system are you using Sharon?

  8. Funny thing is, I can see under “File” where it says “Disable background export” but it does nothing. I am trying to save a 64 page magazine and I’ve given it at least 5 hours of waiting time and nothing, although the bar keeps going a little triangle yellow warning sign pops up next to it with a exclamation point in the middle of the yellow triangle sign. Bottom Line HELP!

  9. Thank you so much for this post and script! I never had this problem before with CS6.0 until yesterday. Worked perfectly. A big help so I can get my document off to the printer today.

    1. Sorry to hear Juan. There’s not a lot I can do I’m afraid. What version of Windows are you using? Are you getting an error message or something or it’s just not working after you’ve put the script into the according directory?

  10. I got the disable background output script to work in InDesign CC by saving it instead to Mac: /Applications/Adobe InDesign CS5.5/Scripts/Startup Scripts.
    I then exported the doc I was working on as .idml, opened it back up and found the script working as described under “File>disable background export”.
    Running OS10.10.2, iMac 27″ 16gb ram. Hope this helps (also hope it keeps on working for me!)

    1. Nicely done, Elizabeth! Interesting way to go about it, but hey, it worked for you, so thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚ Hopefully this helps a few other people out there who use InDesign CC on a Mac and/or if they can’t get the script to work the way I’ve stated in the article.

  11. Just a note re: exporting as .idml. When I first opened the document.indd, InDesign CC hung then just as I was about to force quit it opened. That’s why I decided to .idml it.

  12. Hi Geoff, talking about background tasks: I’m working with an average of 180 cross references between several documents part of a book file. These are making the computer to go so slow that I literally could go to get a coffe between every command.
    I figured InDesign is constantly updating each cross reference. Are you aware by chance of how to disable this task?

    1. Hi Drako, sadly I haven’t come across this issue myself with InDesign updating each cross reference so slowly, so I can’t help you with this one I’m afraid. Have you managed to find a solution elsewhere yet or figured one out yourself? Please share if you have πŸ™‚

  13. Hi, I wonder if you can help, I have CS6 and I have downloaded and put the control background export file in the relevant startup scripts folder, the disable background export is listed but doesn’t seem to change or do anything? Please can you help?

    1. Hi Steve, sorry to hear you’re having some issues getting the Background Export tasks script to work. Everyone’s working environment on their computers is different, so sometimes the script will work fine, meanwhile it won’t work at all for others – like yourself. There’s no guarantees that this script works all the time for everyone, especially since there’s constantly updates being released for CS6, so really there’s many “different versions” of CS6 so to speak, and I guess you don’t know if the script is going to work from one installation to another. So have you been successful with getting it going yet?

  14. Just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this up. I’m using CS5 InDesign on a 21″ iMac and never had problems exporting to .pdf before. Read a lot of articles on how to sort the problem but yours is by far the clearest and simplest and worked perfectly for me. I see you originally posted this in 2011, well five years later it’s still helping people! Good karma. Thank you.

  15. Thanks for the solution.
    Note for users of windows 10 and InDesign CC: It is necessary to change the write permissions of the folder C: / Program Files / Adobe / Adobe InDesign CS5, otherwise, the script can not create or delete the file DisableAsyncExports.txt.

      1. Are you still able to help!?? Suddenly none of my PDF’s will export. I am going crazy and biz stopped while trying to figure this out!!! Using Indesign Cloud Package so not sure if the script would work with that?

        1. Hi Kelly, so are you saying that you’ve installed the script and now your PDFs won’t export? I’m not sure if the issue is with the cloud package. In theory the script should just work so long as it’s in the relevant scripts directory.

  16. Thank you SO SO much for this! Saw this script on another forum, but you’re the first to actually explain it clearly! Thank you!

  17. It doesn’t seem to work anymore in the current InDesign version (2019). Or did someone get it to function? It adds “Disable Background Export to the “File” menu but it doesn’t do anything, I think before it would add a checkmark in front of it when selected…

    1. Hi Serge, thanks for sharing your findings. I’m actually not sure if the script works with InDesign (2019) anymore as I’m not really using the program anymore. Have you managed to work out a solution yet or are you still looking? And what kind of artwork file are you working on, a business card perhaps or a large file with many pages? It’s you’re just working on something small like a business card, then perhaps it’s not so critical to get the script working, but if you’re working on a large file, then I can understand you wanting to get the script to work.

      1. Hi Geoff,
        It’s not too critical. I’m not working with InDesign that much anymore either, but always loved that script as I was never a fan of these background tasks.
        Thanks for your response though!
        Cheers Serge

  18. Thank you! You just saved my butt. πŸ™‚ I’m running CS6, and I have a 300 page image heavy document that’s been hanging up for the last hour. It’s been hit-or-miss exporting this file, but for the last hour, it’s been all miss. I was a little intimidated because I’ve never used scripts in InDesign, but it was incredibly simple, and my file is finally exporting.

  19. Hi All,

    Thanks, Geoff for taking the time to share this. Unfortunately, the link did not appear in my “File” after I restarted the ID…could I be doing something wrong?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. You’re welcome Phabb! It’s possible that the script has stopped working from a certain version of InDesign onwards. What version of ID are you running? I’ve had no need for a while to upgrade my Adobe Suite, so I’m still using CS6. So it’s possible the script doesn’t work for CC versions of the software.

  20. hallelujah! Thank you — this was driving me NUTS! I’m on CS6 (yes, I’m a hold-out to the CC, Big Adobe Brother, control your content) — this just started on my machine, and I’m so glad you have this posting… saved my sanity!

    1. Sorry to hear it’s not working for you in CC 2020! I’m afraid I’m still using CS6 and don’t have a solution yet for CC 2020 πŸ™ Hope you can find a solution!

      1. I jumped up and down with glee when I started reading this, only to have my hopes dashed when I realized it doesn’t work on CC…Just in case anyone smarter than me makes a new script, I’ll check back…

      2. You can do it manually by creating a blank text file with the proper name and placing it in the Mac app location as you listed in the article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *