Paul Diamond Blow's Huggy Talk
Tips, tricks, and advice for graphic designers.

Indesign CS5 Slow and Buggy? Here's How to Speed it Up
How to Change Indesign CS5 "Live Redraw" Settings to Increase Speed and Performance

by Paul Ace Diamond "Huggy" Blow

At my graphic arts job we recently upgraded from Indesign CS3 to CS5. We had been using Indesign CS3 for a few years and I was very happy with the program, it did what I needed it to do and it was the best version of Indesign yet. When we got Indesign CS5 I was hoping the CS5 version would be even better, but was dismayed to find that the CS5 version had lost one of my favorite Indesign features (which is a whole 'nother article) and had added a bunch of new bells and whistles which mostly just annoyed me and seemed to slow down the program and my productivity. I tried updating Indesign CS5 with the latest updates but that did not help with the clunky performance. Finally, after a few weeks of frustration and after cursing the Indesign gods for the slow, buggy program and cursing the higher-ups who had decided to upgrade to Indesign CS5, I found how to change some settings and drastically improve the speed of Indesign CS5.

Live Screen Redraw settings
The worst new feature in Indesign CS5 is the "live redraw" feature which on our computer (a brand new Mac Mini with plenty of RAM) made Indesign painfully slow and buggy, especially when trying to work with images, and even more so when there are many images in the Indesign CS5 layout.

The "live redraw" feature in Indesign CS5 lets you see the image as you move it, scale it, or manipulate the picture box which crops the image. In old versions of Indesign you just saw an empty box when manipulating images. While it may be helpful to see the image as you manipulate it in Indesign CS5, this "live redraw" just plain makes working with images a pain in the butt: slow, buggy, and clunky. Turning off the "live redraw" is the single most effective way to drastically improve the speed and performance of Indesign CS5.

To change the live redraw settings and improve the speed of Indesign CS5, go to:
Preferences / Interface / Options / Live Screen Drawing

By default, Live Screen Drawing is set to "immediate." To turn off Live Screen Drawing, change the setting to either "delayed" or "never." With the "delayed" setting you will still be able to see the live redraw as you manipulate images if you click and hold on the image before moving, scaling, or re-cropping it. With "never" it will be just the same as Indesign CS3 or CS4, neither of which had the redraw feature. You will just see an empty box when manipulating the images.

Change the "Live Screen Drawing" settings to "delayed" or "never" to speed up Indesign CS5.

Pages pallette "Thumbnail" view
One more thing you can do to speed up Indesign CS5 is to make sure you turn off the "thumbnails" view in your Pages pallete. I have found that with the "thumbnails" view on, Indesign slows down when clicking through pages, as it must redraw the thumbnails in the pallette for each page. To turn off the thumbnails, from the Pages pallette click on "Panel options" and make sure the "Show Thumbnails" boxes for both Master and Pages are unchecked.