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Manage linked and embedded files

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  7. Import, export, and save
    1. Import
      1. Place multiple files
      2. Manage linked and embedded files
      3. Links information
      4. Unembed images
      5. Import artwork from Photoshop
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    2. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator 
      1. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator
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      10. White Overprint
  9. Automate tasks
    1. Data merge using the Variables panel
    2. Automation with scripts
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  10. Troubleshooting 
    1. Known issues
    2. Crash issues
    3. Recover files after crash
    4. File issues
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    6. GPU device driver issues
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    8. DLL file issues
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    10. Preferences file issues
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    12. Printer issues
    13. Share crash report with Adobe
    14. Improve Illustrator performance

Learn more about the Links panel to manage all your linked and embedded files.

How do you find the difference between linked and embedded files? The updates you incorporate in the file available in your Illustrator document are reflected automatically in the source file for a linked file. However, it does not happen for an embedded file.

Use the Links panel to access various options to monitor, modify, or update the files available in your Illustrator document.

Work with Links panel

Use the Links panel to determine if files are linked or embedded, and to manage them. To display the Links panel, go to Windows > Links.

File status in the Links panel
Check the status of files in the Links panel.

A. Update Available B. Missing Link C. Linked D. Cloud 

Various options available in the Links panel
Explore the options available in the Links panel.

A. Show Link Info B. Relink from CC Libraries C. Relink D. Go To Link E. Update Link F. Edit Original G. Delete 

Update, relink, and replace files

In the Links panel, if your file shows Update Available   , it indicates that the source file has been modified. Select Update Link   to update your file.

If your file shows Missing Link  , it indicates that the source file is missing from its original location. Link it back using Relink   if it is on your computer or using Relink from CC Libraries   if it is in Creative Cloud Libraries. You can also replace the file with a different source file.

Relink missing files automatically

When you relink a missing file to your Illustrator document, Illustrator automatically searches for other missing files in the same folder and relinks them:

  1. Select a file in the Links panel that shows Missing Link   , and then select Relink   .

  2. Navigate to the folder containing the missing file and select the file.

  3. In the dialog box, select Search for Missing Links in This Folder, and then select Place.

    The dialog box shows the list of missing files with the option Search for Missing Links in This Folder highlighted.
    Select Search for Missing Links in This Folder to relink all the missing links in your document automatically.

Move Illustrator files between systems seamlessly

When you move an Illustrator document and its linked files from one folder or system to another keeping their relative location intact, the links won't break. For example, suppose you have your Illustrator document inside folder A, its linked files inside folder B, and both these folders inside parent folder C on your computer's local drive. If you move folder C as is to another computer, the links won't break.

Links panel menu

Use the Links panel menu to access various options available. 

The Links panel with the panel menu open that shows various options to manage linked and embedded files.
Explore the Links panel menu

  • To modify your original file in Photoshop, select Edit in Photoshop. The changes reflect in the file placed in the Illustrator document.
  • To align your file in the document, select Placement Options.
  • To locate your original file on your computer, select Show in Finder (macOS) or Show in Explorer (Windows).
  • To sort the files in the Links panel, select Sort by Name, Sort by Kind, Sort by Status, or Sort by Size. Sort by Size allows you to arrange files in the ascending or descending order of their size.
  • To hide or resize the files’ thumbnails, select Panel Options.

Embed a linked file

There is no link between the file and the source file when you embed a file in an Illustrator document. The Links panel does not notify you about any changes made in the original. It becomes a part of your document.

Follow these steps to embed a file:

  1. Select a file in the Links panel.

  2. Go to Links panel menu.

  3. Select Embed Images.

When you hover the cursor on the embedded file, Illustrator displays the file status as Embedded Link.

If you've embedded your file in the Illustrator document and later you want to link it with the source file so that the changes reflect automatically, you can unembed it.

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