Can’t Move Objects With Mouse in InDesign? [Here’s Why]

There’s not much design software out there that can compare to InDesign. With it, you can create picture-perfect brochures, pamphlets, newspapers, and more. Still, that doesn’t mean the software can’t sometimes have its problems. One of the most common is when users can’t move objects with their mouse anymore. Why exactly does that happen and how do you fix it?

The most common reasons users can’t move objects with their mouse in InDesign is that too much memory has been taken up or the user is trying to drag an empty polygon. Depending on the cause, you will likely either have to restart the software or use techniques to move empty polygons.  

If you’re having trouble getting Adobe InDesign to respond to your mouse clicks and you can no longer move objects around, then this is for you. In our guide below we will discuss what causes this issue as well as what exactly you can do about it. In fact, we will even provide a list of options to help you overcome this issue. So come along and let’s dive right in!

Why Can’t I Move Objects in InDesign?

As we alluded to above, there are a couple of different reasons that might explain why you can’t move objects in InDesign. 

Below we break down the three biggest causes of this issue and how they manifest so you can know which problem you’re having: 

  1. Memory issues: Sometimes when the working memory of your computer is choked up with too many programs and windows open, it can cause InDesign to freeze up on some of its features like the ability to drag objects. This is more likely to be your problem if you can’t drag anything–not just empty polygons.
  2. Empty polygons: In older versions of InDesign, you were unable to move empty polygons simply by clicking on them anywhere and dragging them. Instead, you would have to click either on their edge or direct center to be able to move them. This is almost certainly your problem if it’s only empty polygons you can’t move. 
  3. Preferences need reset: Sometimes errors can happen in the preference files that cause you not to be able to move objects the way you normally would. This is likely the issue if you’ve already made sure it wasn’t the memory issue or the empty polygon issue. 

Fortunately for you, all three of these issues are relatively painless and straightforward to deal with. In our next section, we will break down the solution to each issue so you can know exactly what to do. 

How Do You Move an Object Freely in InDesign? 

So onto the main event. How exactly are we to solve this problem and make it so that you can once again move objects freely in InDesign? 

Below we’ve laid out four solutions–starting with the simplest first–that should allow you to once again freely move objects in InDesign: 

  1. Reset the software and close all other programs: Often those of us who enjoy design like to run multiple programs at once. In one window you might have InDesign while in another you may have the excellent Placeit for further tools. Still, this can choke up your memory and cause this issue. Simply reset the software and close other programs. 
  2. Click the edge or center to move empty polygons: This is a solution if your problem is just with empty polygons. In some versions of InDesign you would have to click either the edge or centermost point to move it.  
  3. Update the software: You can also solve the empty polygon problem by making sure that everything is updated. 
  4. Reset your preferences: If none of the other solutions worked this is almost certainly the problem. As the program boots up you simply need to hold down Shift, Alt, Command, and Ctrl simultaneously, then click yes when prompted to delete preference files. The program should restart and the problem should be resolved. 

Most of the time, simply restarting the program will solve the issue. Still, now you’ve got a few extra tools in your toolbelt in case the problem happens to be a less common one. 

So Really, Why Can’t I Move Objects in InDesign?

At the end of the day, there really isn’t just one reason why you might have trouble moving objects in InDesign. It could be anything from your memory getting choked to your preference files being on the fritz. 

Whichever your problem happens to be the solution is probably pretty straightforward. Whether you simply have to reset the program or go as far as resetting your preference files, it should be a quick and easy process. Best of luck!