Import artwork files

You don’t have to create artwork from scratch in Adobe Illustrator—you can import both vector drawings and bitmap images from files created in other applications. Illustrator recognizes all common graphic file formats. Tight integration between Adobe products and support for a wide variety of file formats, makes it easy to move art from one application to another by importing, exporting, or copying and pasting.

About linked and embedded artwork

When you place a graphic, you will see a screen-resolution version of the file in the layout, so that you can view and position it, but the actual graphic file may be either linked or embedded.

  • Linked artwork is connected to, but remains independent of, the document, resulting in a smaller document. You can modify linked artwork using transformation tools and effects; however, you cannot select and edit individual components in the artwork. You can use the linked graphic many times without significantly increasing the size of the document; you can also update all links at once. When you export or print, the original graphic is retrieved, creating the final output from the full resolution of the originals.

  • Embedded artwork is copied into the document at full resolution, resulting in a larger document. You can update the document whenever you like; as long as the artwork is embedded, your document is self-sufficient.

To determine if artwork is linked or embedded, or change its status from one to the other, use the Links panel.

If the embedded artwork contains multiple components, you can edit them discretely. For example, if the artwork contains vector data, Illustrator converts it to paths, which you can then modify using Illustrator tools and commands. Illustrator also preserves the object hierarchy (such as groups and layers) in artwork embedded from certain file formats.

Place (import) artwork files

The Place command is the primary method of importing, because it provides the highest level of support for file formats, placement options, and color. After you place a file, use the Links panel to identify, select, monitor, and update it.

  1. Open the Illustrator document into which you want to place the artwork.

  2. Choose File > Place, and select the text file you want to place.

  3. Select Linked to create a link to the file, or deselect Linked to embed the artwork in the Illustrator document.

  4. Click Place.

  5. If applicable, do one of the following:

    • If you place a PDF file with multiple pages, you can choose which page you want to place and how to crop the artwork.

    • If you embed an Adobe® Photoshop® file, you can choose how to convert layers. If the file contains layer comps, you can also choose which version of the image to import.

Place linked Photoshop documents

To place your artwork created in Photoshop directly into Illustrator artboard, do the following:

  1. Click File > Place. A dialog appears to choose the file from your computer or cloud documents.

  2. Click Open Cloud document

    cloud documents
    Select a cloud document from your files to open

  3. Select your PSD cloud document and click Place. 

  4. You can view the linked file information by clicking Linked File in the Properties panel. 

Import text into a path/shape

Introduced in Illustrator CC 2017 release

Place text from a supported file right inside an object, such as a shape. You can place text from files in the .txt or .rtf formats, or files from word processing applications. For example, you can place text from a .rtf file into a polygonal shape.

  1. Create a path/shape using any drawing tool, such as the Rectangle tool, Shaper tool, or the Pen tool. You'll place the text file within this shape.

  2. Choose File > Place and select the file you want to place.

  3. Click Place.

  4. After the text file is loaded in the place gun, click the path of the shape.

    The text is placed inside the shape. You can now apply the desired styles and effects to it.

    Place the text from a text file into a polygonal path/ container.

Embedded and linked artwork in the Links panel

You use the Links panel to see and manage all linked or embedded artwork. The panel displays a small thumbnail of the artwork and uses icons to indicate artwork’s status.

Links panel
Links panel

A. Transparency interaction B. Missing artwork C. Embedded artwork D. Modified artwork E. Linked artwork 

A linked file can appear in the Links panel in any of the following ways:


An up-to-date file displays only the file’s name and (in Adobe® InDesign®) its page in the document.


A modified file is one for which the version of the file on disk is more recent than the version in your document. This would occur, for example, when someone modifies a Photoshop graphic that you have already placed into Illustrator.


A missing file is one for which the graphic is no longer in the location from which it was imported, although it may still exist somewhere. This can happen if someone moves the original file to a different folder or server after it’s been imported into a document. You can’t know whether a missing file is up to date until its original is located. If you print or export a document when this icon is displayed, the file may not print or export at full resolution.


Embedding the contents of a linked file suspends management operations for that link.

  • To display the panel, choose Window > Links. Each linked file and embedded file is identified by name.

  • To select and view a linked graphic, select a link and then click the Go To Link button , or choose Go To Link in the Links panel menu. The display is centered around the selected graphic.

  • To change the size of the thumbnails, select panel Options from the Links panel menu, and select an option for displaying thumbnails.

  • To sort links in a different order, choose the desired Sort command in the panel menu.

  • To hide thumbnails, select panel Options from the Links panel menu, and choose None.

  • To view DCS Transparency information, select panel Options from the Links panel menu, and choose Show DCS Transparency Interactions.

If a linked or embedded file contains metadata, you can view the metadata using the Links panel. You cannot edit or replace metadata associated with a linked file; however, you can save a copy of the metadata in a template and apply it to other files.

  1. Select a file in the Links panel and choose Link File Info from the panel menu.

  2. To save the metadata as a template, choose Save Metadata Template in the pop‑up menu at the top of the dialog box showing the metadata.

View file information about linked or embedded artwork

  1. Do any of the following:

    • Double-click the link in the Links panel. Alternatively, select the link and select Link Information from the panel menu.

      note: Don’t confuse “Link information” with “Link File Info” in the Links panel menu; “File Info” refers to metadata.

    • Select the linked artwork in the illustration window. In the Control panel, click the file name and choose Link Information.


To locate linked or embedded artwork in the document window, select a link and click the Go To Link button. Alternatively, select Go To Link from the panel menu.

  • To update specific links, in the Links panel select one or more modified links , and then click the Update Link button  or choose Update Link from the Links panel menu.

  • To update specific links, select the linked artwork in the illustration window. In the Control panel, click the filename, and then choose Update Link.


By default, Illustrator prompts you to update a link if the source file changes. To specify that you want to update links automatically or manually, choose Edit > Preferences > File Handling & Clipboard (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > File Handling & Clipboard (Mac OS), and set the Update Links option.

You can restore or replace a missing link—one that shows the missing-link icon  in the Links panel—or any linked file with a different source file.

  1. Select the linked artwork on the page, or select a link name in the Links panel.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • In the Links panel, click the Relink button , or choose Relink from the panel menu.

    • Click the linked filename in the Control panel, and then choose Relink. (To access this option, you must select the image in the artwork.)

  3. In the dialog box that appears, do one of the following:

    • Locate and select a replacement file.

    • Type the first, or first few, letters of the name of the desired replacement file to locate the file.

  4. Click Place.


If all of a document’s missing links are located in the same folder, you can restore all of them at once. In the Links panel, select all of the missing links, and then restore one of them; the Place dialog box stays open for you to reselect each one.

Set placement options for linked artwork

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select the linked artwork in the illustration window. In the Control panel, click the filename and choose Placement Options.

    • In the Links panel, select the link and choose Placement Options from the panel menu.

  2. Select an option for Preserve.

    If you select an option other than Transforms or Bounds, you can select a point on the Alignment icon from which you want to align the artwork, relative to the bounding box. If you want to keep the artwork from overlapping the bounding box, select Clip To Bounding Box.

Embed a linked file

Rather than linking to a file that you’ve placed in a document, you can embed (or store) the file within the document. When you embed a file, you break the link to the original. Without the link, the Links panel doesn’t alert you when the original has changed, and you cannot update the file automatically.

Keep in mind that embedding a file, rather than linking to the original, increases the document file size.

  1. Select a file in the Links panel, and choose Embed Image from the panel menu.

  2. Select the linked artwork in the illustration window. In the Control panel, click the Embed button.

The file remains in the Links panel marked with the embedded-link icon .

  1. Select one or more embedded files in the Links panel.

  2. Click the Relink button  or select Relink in the Links panel menu, locate and select the original file, and click Place.

Edit original artwork

The Edit Original command lets you open most graphics in the application in which you created them so that you can modify them as necessary. Once you save the original file, the document in which you linked it is updated with the new version.

  1. Do any of the following:

    • In the Links panel, select the link and click the Edit Original button . Alternatively, choose Edit Original from the panel menu.

    • Select the linked artwork on the page, and choose Edit > Edit Original.

    • Select the linked artwork on the page, and click the Edit Original button in the Control panel.

  2. After making changes in the original application, save the file.

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