Convert FreeHand to InDesign?

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

Our company works with a lot of designers whose layout and design tool of choice has always been FreeHand. When Adobe ended the life of FreeHand, we encouraged them to learn Adobe Illustrator but many of them either don't like Illustrator, or want to make multi-page documents (which Illustrator won't do). The obvious solution is for them to learn and use Adobe InDesign, but getting their existing FreeHand content into InDesign seems impossible. Do you have any suggestions?

A little-known feature of FreeHand, even before it was acquired by Adobe, is that it's as compatible with InDesign as Illustrator is. In other words, you can drag and drop, or copy and paste, items from a FreeHand page directly onto an InDesign page. InDesign will convert all the shapes to native InDesign objects. Unfortunately, it also converts all the text to outlines -- which kills your ability to edit it as text.

The clever folks at point out another approach: export your FreeHand documents in PDF format, then use Recosoft's PDF2ID (a plug-in for InDesign) to convert the PDF to a native InDesign document. PDF2ID costs $250, and it doesn't always convert everything perfectly, but their trial version lets you test it on 30 documents before buying it. The advantage to this approach is that the text remains editable. You can explore PDF2ID at

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