I've exported a pdf file with some content framed from InDesign. The content is a linked/embeded file (most of the times other pdfs). If I resize the frame of the content I placed to the portion I desire, the "out of frame" content will still be "present" in the resulting exported pdf file.

If I open the exported pdf file in Acrobat Pro or Illustrator, I can easely find that the content is clipped and not cropped as I want, this way I can completely remove the clipping path that correspond to the frame I've set in InDesign, recovering the entire content of the files I placed.

This is quite a problematic situation for 2 facts primarly:

  • File size. If I can't tell InDesign to export to pdf cropping the content I've placed to the frame size I've set, the remaining portion is still there along with it's file weight.

  • Sensitive information. The whole issue came to my attention because I've placed another pdf file inside my InDesign document. I was interested in a portion of the placed pdf page, the rest was to be cut out. To my surprise, trying to copy the text of the placed file from the resulting exported pdf, I noticed that also other "invisible text" was selected and possible to copy, and it resulted exactly with the portion of text I wished to cut out from the InDesign frame, still the whole information was there. Notice that this also happens with pdf files containing only scanned images, so even if the "crop image data to frame" checkbox is checked in the pdf export panel, it won't affect the content of the image placed as pdf files.

Please check the images below I've attached for better details. On the left side you can see the document layout in InDesign (transparent content is there just to show you what is the entire content placed), on the right side is what can be seen in Acrobat Pro opening the resulting exported pdf file. Notice that this happens placing pdfs and Illustrator files.

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What can I do to be sure that "out of frame" content is not present once I export the pdf file? I want "out of frame" content cropped/trimmed/deleted, not clipped.


If you place a pdf file in InDesign, it will export the full contents of that pdf file whether you crop or clip in InDesign or change settings in the export to Acrobat screens. The best way round this in my opinion is to decide which part of the original pdf file you need and use the PDF snapshot tool. You can then place the snapshot in InDesign. It will now only export what is included within the frame.

  • The snapshot tool is a workaround for images, but really a big hassle and time consuming to first open the pdf page, snap and paste in inDesign. Also it will totally rasterize text wich is not exactly always an acceptable option.
    – Gruber
    Mar 6 '15 at 16:29

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