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How to Get Text Drop Shadows to Update in InDesign

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InDesign suffers from an assortment of visual glitches like disappearing text, objects not appearing where they really are on the page, etc. Most of these are limited to specific combinations of hardware and operating system. But one visual bug that affects users on all platforms is how a drop shadow applied to text will not update when the text is edited.

So, if you have something like this:

InDesign text drop shadow problem before editing

And delete the second line of text, the shadow remains.

InDesign text drop shadow problem after editing

Forcing the screen to redraw, moving or resizing the text frame, etc will not reliably update the shadow. Fortunately, this glitch is just a screen artifact; if you export a PDF the shadow will be correct. Still, it’s very aggravating, especially since this bug has been described on the InDesign UserVoice site for years, but there’s no indication that an official fix is in the works. So, for now (and, apparently, later), here are some things that you can do to force the shadow to update.

Cut and Paste in Place

Select the text frame with the Selection tool, the cut the frame and choose Edit > Paste in Place. This is not ideal, since it can change the stacking order of objects in your layout, and it’s a pain when the text frame is grouped with other stuff. But it seems to always work.

Toggle Proof Colors

Turn View > Proof Colors on and off. This is my preferred method. It doesn’t affect anything in your layout and you can assign it a custom keyboard shortcut so you can do it instantly.

assigning a custom keyboard shortcut to View Proof Colors in InDesign

The fact that the problem doesn’t appear in output made me think of this one. I also thought that turning Overprint Preview on and off would do the same thing. Alas, it doesn’t.

If you have found any other ways to make text drop shadows update 100% of the time, please share them in the comments and I’ll add them to this post.

Shout out to Michael Brady, who inspired this post by sharing the problem in the InDesign Secrets Facebook Group.

Editor in Chief of CreativePro and InDesign Magazine. Instructor at LinkedIn Learning with courses on InDesign, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Affinity Publisher.
  • David Green says:

    Or just stop using drop shadows on text. Overused since the 90s. I made a poster which we displayed in our design area, one of those cautionary red circles with a line through it, inside of which were the words (and only as a drop shadow) “No Drop Shadows”.

  • Mara Zebest says:

    I have not seen this problem, so cannot test out this thought, but does Shift + F5 solve the problem (the keyboard shortcut to refresh the screen redraw)?

  • James Bell says:

    Thank you, Mike, and please pass along many thanks to Michael Brady for this great solution to an issue that’s been wasting a terrific amount of my time and causing huge frustrations for several years. And for those of us who didn’t/don’t know how to create a custom keyboard shortcut to invoke “Proof Colors” (there was no default in my version of ID), here’s a link worth checking: I ended up using Ctrl + 9 as most other combos were already assigned. Someone should pass along this work-around to the folks at Adobe. :)

  • Gopa Campbell says:

    You can just toggle the shadows off and on. That works for me 100% of the time! In the Object–Effects–DropShadow dialog box, uncheck “drop shadow” and then recheck it right way. It redraws correctly and with the same specs as you had before you uncheckedit.

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