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Updating Multiple Linked Images at Once

Wayne wrote:

Where can I get more information on updating links quickly?

When people want to update links quickly, they’re usually talking about one of two scenarios: Either they have the same image placed multiple times in a document, or they have a bunch of different images that have been modified. Here are two solutions (taken from our book Adobe InDesign CS/CS2 Breakthroughs).

Let’s say you have more than one instance of an image, and then the image gets modified. If you select one instance in the Links palette and click Update, InDesign only updates that one instance. Why? It’s a feature-not-a-bug, because you may want to inspect each of those instances to see if you really do want to update the artwork. Seems kind of lame, though; InDesign should at least give you the option with a dialog box or preference setting or something.

Meanwhile, here’s what you do: Open the Links palette menu and change the sort to “Sort by Name” so all the instances of the image appear together. Click on the first one in the palette and Shift-click on the last one so they’re all selected. Now when you choose Update Link, all the entries will be updated at once.

Or, if you have a lot of modified images to update, make sure no images are selected in the Links palette by clicking in the blank area at the bottom of the list of links. Now when you click the Update button, InDesign updates them all. (Selecting none is sort of like selecting all of them.)

Branislav Milic wrote a nice piece in InDesign Magazine about using the INX format to replace one image that is used a hundred times in a single document with a different image. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it’s pretty powerful.

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35 Comments on “Updating Multiple Linked Images at Once

  1. David
    We are updating links from a network server. When all are highlighted and we attempt to update it asks for a file location for every file. Is there a way to update all at once?

  2. Wayne, does it work if you select all of them (click in the blank area at the bottom) and then click Update? Are you talking about Relinking (when a file is missing)?

  3. What I find irritating is opening my old PageMaker files with imbedded graphics. Because InDesign doesn’t recognize these imbeds, I have to re-link (and sometimes I discarded the original because I thought it was safely imbedded in the PM file!). Even when I have the original graphics, InDesign doesn’t recogize them because they’re in a new location (on my new Power Mac — the only good part of this!!!).

  4. I can’t resist noting that there was really no such thing as “safely embedded” graphics in Pagemaker. It was a recipe for file corruption with anything but very small graphics.

    If it never bit you in the behind be very thankful.

  5. Hi – I’ve been searching to a solution similar to this problem, but haven’t been able to find a solution. I have multiple instances of multiple files that I had to rename and relink (files with the color name of each icon which will change and need to be updated each issue). So basically I have say, 10 instances of a file with one name and need to make all 10 of them link to a different file. Is there any way to update them all at once without it asking you if it’s ok that you’re linking to a file with a different name than the original with each and every instance?

  6. Sometimes on appears a Google Ad for a plug-in that updates and relinks with a single click all broken or outdated links. We just need to wait this ad to appear after a few refreshings of the page…

  7. In the past, i have use a script that relink all missing link in one simple go… without any warning. Save a lot of time!

    I also used a script that relink all link with another files base on a name pattern (like relink all images ending with “.smp” with images ending with “.psd” with the same name.). I don’t use them much, but I’m sure I still have them somewhere. If you are interested I can email them to you. just send me a mail at with a description of what is your problems and what you which the script can do. I will see if them can be of any help to you.

  8. Hi:

    Linking is extremely stupid in ID. I blame the Adobe engineers.

    What I want is for an image with the same name to be used if I swap it in the folder in the operating system.

    I don’t want to be prompted, I don’t want to be asked to update, I don’t want my hand held, I don’t want any interaction or show-stopping dialog boxes AT ALL — I just want ID to use the new image with the same name in the old path without any stupid questions.

    I don’t understand why this is not an OPTION. I had this in QX years ago, and it allows me to, for example, update my “page01ad01.eps” file every month by simply moving the old file out of the folder, and moving the new file into the folder. I open the layout document and everything is updated automatically based on the file path and good to go.

    Simple but effective.

    Does anyone know of a plug-in that will do this for IDCS2?



  9. So I’m working with IDCS2, and I’ve got many link file that I’ve taken pages of, and copied parts of it into another document. Then both the original document, and the new one are move to a different computer for touch ups. Preflighted the original document, so it came with a nice ‘links’ folder. I want to update all the links from the secondary document with the same name version in the ‘links’ folder… without having to search for each one (hundereds of them) individually, is there a way that it’ll do it automatically?

  10. i’m in agreement with AB. in PageMaker, i could easily sway out images in the folder and it would auto update. i have a document with 3,100+ images! and doing each one is becoming a REAL pain. the graphic is STILL in the folder with the document. but InDesign says it can’t find the graphic so it needs to relink. any ideas? this file was upgraded from PM6.5 to ID/CS2

  11. Depending on the location of your images there can be a quick solution to updating images in an ID document. If the document is saved in the same directory as all of the images ID will find and update all of the broken links automatically.

    If your images are saved onto a server with logical folder structure, than a simple Applescript can update these images for you almost instantly. The beauty of using this method is that Applescripts can be completely customized, with prompts (low-res vs hi-res, or replace “.tiff” with “.psd”) and almost anything to suit your needs.
    I have several such examples on my site or you can email me at

  12. Hmm…it seems that you don’t have any links on your site luis? (That’s sort of ironic i think considering this blog :0)

  13. I am having a similar problem. We are moving our image archive and I need to relink multiple links at once when I open an Indesign document. I found a script that would solve my problem if I were using a Mac, but we have Indesign CS3 on a PC. Is there anyone who has a script that would solve my problem?

  14. I’ve got a slightly different problem. I’m designing a book which has about 1,600 photos in it. I was doing everything in greyscale (smaller images) with the intention in the end to simply convert them all to duotones using ‘batch.’

    The problem is that I saved all of the files as .tif files and you cannot save a duotone in Photoshop to a .tif file. I have to change them to a new file type which will disconnect them from the book file.

    Any ideas how I can do this without having to connect them all one at a time?

  15. Ray, I alluded to the article that Branislav wrote above. The basic gist of it is: Export your document as INX, open the INX in a text editor (such as the free Text Wrangler on the Mac), search for “.tif” and replace with “.psd”, save the INX (or, better, save as, so you keep the original intact), then open that INX. When you open the INX, all your images will appear missing (because it’s looking for psds), so use the Links panel to link to your new folder full of psds (for the duotones).

    Crazy, but it should work!

  16. Oh, my God. Thank you thank you thank you David Blatner. That worked so well. I’m a designer that uses InDesign and there is no way I would ever get down into that stuff. It worked like a charm. I couldn’t figure out how I could possibly go through 1,600 files and relink them.

    That was a seriously wonderful suggestion.

  17. Woo-hoo! Blatner shoots, he scores! That’s great, Ray, I can feel your relief through the internet electrons … 1600 images! yikes. (And thanks to Branislav too of course.)

  18. We are attempting to populate a single page with 100 identical images without having to step and repeat. We have created a template with 100 separate windows and would like to change the images, not update, using the links function. However when I choose the 100 windows to place the new image in it only allows me to place one at a time. Does anyone know of a method or plug in which will allow me to populate?

  19. Great solution on the images, meddling with the .inx file is great. Had to do some of that stuff yesterday for pesky fonts that wouldn’t map.

    But my point here is that the links panel should be flexible, should it not? Say if I do decide to change the .tif to .psd and I move the .tifs out to another folder, would it or would it not be a good idea if Indesign said, “Hey, those .tifs aren’t available, there’s a similar name with a .psd extension, would you like to use these instead?” Then you just press, yes use my .psd files.

    I find the links panel clunky and not intuitive. I wish it was more like an assets manager, dragging and dropping instances for example.

  20. @Eugene, you’re showing your age! ;) You need to upgrade to CS4!

    @Wayne: I think the Relink feature should work for you, no? Just specify Relink All Instances of one image for another.

  21. David, I’ll happily upgrade to CS4 if you buy it for me, or Adobe lower their prices. I don’t see either of those happening any day soon.

    So the links panel is all grown up is it – which part of the comment is true? It can relink from .tif to .psd? It is intuitive? You can drag and drop from the links panel to the layout?

  22. @Eugene: I know what you mean about the prices. But it’s all about the value of time… and how much time you can save by upgrading.

    In the meantime, something to whet your appetite.

    (No, you can’t drag from the Links panel to the layout. Interesting idea, though!)

  23. What I originally wanted the drag and drop from the links panel was to place a bunch of logos and images on a master page, then when needed just drag them out onto the layout from the links panel. I’m aware of the Library, but it’s too slow and clunky to set up and use. And I’m aware of Bridge but I find it’s a memory hog in some ways. So I was thinking an obscure master page, and then drag the images out on the page from the links panel. Or an Assets Panel, which would be more apt. Then images would be added automatically when placed, then you could just of course drag and drop them, or select a folder to be your assets.

    Yes David, indeed a pity about the prices. I don’t know how much time CS4 would save me. With any system you get into a workflow and timeframes for tasks are nearly automatically generated in my head to let someone know how long something will take. It’s not that CS4 won’t be a timesaver, it’s just that I’m doing ok without it, there’s really no major thing to upgrade for? Like CS3 had running heads, GREP and other additions that made my life easier than ever. And Auto Numbering and other things. I don’t see anything extra in CS4 and buying it would have been a definite if they had improved the footnote feature, but as we all know it hasn’t been done, and you still can’t span columns with footnotes.

    And alas there’s still no magic button to export for web either :)

    In case anyone else is wondering what the prices are

    In Ireland CS4 is 910.00 EUR = 1,160.76 USD

    In the US CS4 is 699.00 USD = 547.896 EUR

    I think that’s a 40% or something difference in price. And it’s still that price to download, i.e., with no shipping costs or packaging.

    So, you can see the reluctance, then Adobe wonders why sales are down.

    Good on Harbs and the ME edition, that I read on another comment, lowering the prices and that.

  24. I rapidly glanced through the above posts, I didn’t find my exact problem at first glance, so if someone already wrote a solution please advise me to there. Thank you.

    So this is my problem:
    Simple, I had to, for some reason, change the name of the original PDF that is linked in InDesign after updating it.
    Now, when I want InDesign to change it’s viewpoint (link) from the old PDF name to the new one, and I select all pages I want to change and choose “Relink…”, ID just keep nagging me with the same boring “Location:” question for each page of the PDF (some 20 to 30 pages)! And I have to give every page its individual attention by handpicking (or pasting) the PDF location at every instance!

    Is there, by any chance, a script that can help me with this hand-aching and time consuming task?

    With great thanks in advance!

  25. Hi, i’ve 5 files, and 100 folders. Now these 5 files have the same name across all these 100 folders. I used indesign as a tool for laying out these 5 files. So the layout format is fixed. But i’d like to quickly relink these 5 files in InDesignCS5, so that i can export a 5-image collage for each of the 100 folders quickly.
    Is there a way to do this quickly?
    (i’ve tried selecting all 5 links and re-linking them, it works, but still too slow, takes about 5 seconds and 2 clicks for each relink process)

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  29. I had a situation where I had multiple instances of the same image in a layout and I wanted to change them all to another image file.

    In this case I was not updating the file but changing it. After a bit of experimentation what worked for me is I first renamed the current file (I just appended DISABLED to it) then ID couldn’t find it and prompted me to relink one or all. I selected all, relinked to the new file and viola, everything is changed. Then I went back to the original file and named it back to what it was.

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