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Cannot Delete InDesign Swatch?

If you are using InDesign, you might have encountered a problem which is actually all too common: No matter what you do, you cannot delete that darn colour from your Swatches Palette. Here are a couple of tips on how to handle this problem.

  1. Export your document to an InDesign Interchange format, using File>Export. This will save with an .inx extention. Close your original document and open the .inx version from InDesign. If your unused colors haven’t already disappeared already, you should be able to remove them and save your document in .indd format over the original.
  2. If the above fix doesn’t remove the ghost colors, try this: create a new blank 1 page document. Set up your margins and columns to match your original document. In the original document, select all the page icons on your page pallet. Drag the pages onto the new blank document page (not the Pages Palette). Delete the 1st page (this is the blank page). Your document should have copied over minus the colors. Save your new document under a new name so you can refer to the original for any tweaking.

This tip is actually from one of the About forum members, Jael B.

Desktop Publishing & Prepress, InDesign

  • M. Bonnet

    Thank you, Number 1 worked perfectly. It was causing me to recreate a two colour section of a four colour job, and no end of grief! Thanks worked brilliantly.

  • Simon van Gend

    fantastic – had tried everything and was in despair and then number 2 did the trick. Thanks.

  • T. Buenerkemper

    Also, instead of waiting for the file to export completely, simply cancel and the trash can should now be ungrayed and you should be able to delete the ghost color. Then just save and close your file….

    Worked for me! :-)

  • Jelmar

    Actually, the cause of undeletable swatches is that the swatch is being used in a placed graphic. Like an .eps or something like that.
    Deleting it would not be a smart thing. Just open the graphic, and change the color, and then try to delete the swatch again.

  • Elisabetta Bruno

    I am not talking about a swatch that is in a placed graphic. You just cannot and shouldn’t delete those.

    It has happened that, despite the fact that there is no spot colour in any graphics, the swatch just wouldn’t delete.

    This is a remedy for this kind of situation, call it bug if you will, where trying to delete it the normal way fails and the graphics don’t actually have any spot colour in them.

  • S. Hetzel

    Thank you so much. This tip helped me tremendously. I was going crazy. Number 2 is the tip that ended up working for me.

  • emi

    Thank you so much!
    The second solution worked for me!

  • Steve Walker

    Thanks. I found another way to do it that is even easier. Import an eps or similar containing the swatch name you cannot delete. Now delete that graphic from InDesign. You should now be able to delete the unwanted swatch. Don’t know how it works but it does!

  • Mary

    OOOOH I LOOOOOOOVE THE ONLINE CREATIVE COMMUNITY!!! THANKS SO SO SO SOS OS OSOSOSOSOSOS MUCH for all the suggestions. I’d tried both ways on day one with nothing working. shut down. went home frustrated. Prayed about it! Next morn i got to try No. 1 nothing working. No. 2 worked and it felt like a real miracle! MWAH!

  • NomadNadia

    I finally was able to delete a swatch by deleting the Pargraph/character style sheet [though it wasnt used], was in the file and had that swatch applied as part of the style sheet (character color)…

  • Elisabetta Bruno

    So the style sheet wasn’t used anywhere, not even on a blank space (it can happen if you delete things)? Were you asked to replace the colour with something else when you deleted the paragraph/style sheet?

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