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Chapter 4. Graphically Speaking > The Links That Bind

The Links That Bind

Tracking Down Picture Usage

After all these years using XPress, I miss a “Picture Usage” dialog box in InDesign. Where is it?

Welcome to InDesign, freshie. The information you're looking for is in the oddly named “Links” palette: Window > Links. It's not called the “Picture Links” palette because it also tracks any linked text files. (Fortunately, InDesign doesn't link placed text files by default, like it did in version 2. You haveto turn on that option in Preferences > General.)

You may have assumed the Links palette was for embedded hyperlinks, a common assumption with new users. That palette is found in Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks.

Point “Edit Original” to the Right Program

Something is screwy with InDesign's innards, I think. I selected a placed Photoshop image that I wanted to modify and clicked on the Links palette's Edit Original button. Instead of it opening in Photoshop, though, it opened in Adobe Reader! It doesn't happen all the time, but enough so that I've resorted to using Windows Explorer to open images I've placed, right-clicking on them to get the “Open With” option so I can select Adobe Photoshop. I wish I could right-click in InDesign and get an “Open With” menu.

Yeah, that would be great! It's a commonly-requested feature for both platforms, you can be sure.

In the meantime, though, InDesign is subject to the file associations set up by your computer's operating system. Normally these work fine. However, in the case you mention, you probably saved your Photoshop file as a Photoshop PDF with a .pdf file extension. When you went to Open Original, InDesign queried your Windows operating system: “Hey, the kid wants to open a PDF file. Which program goes with that?” The OS replied, “Let me look this up … okay, here you go, PDF files open in Adobe Reader. Want me to open it up?” “Yes, please.”

You can modify which files are associated with which applications. See the step-by-step instructions for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems in the sidebar, “Roll Your Own Edit Original Settings” on the next page.


Photoshop PDFs are a special case. On the Macintosh, Photoshop PDFs are always associated with Adobe Photoshop, even if all other “normal” PDF files are associated with Reader, Acrobat or Preview.

On Windows, you should use the optional .PDP extension when saving an image as a Photoshop PDF. That tells the OS (and, in turn, InDesign), that 'forest_scene.pdp' is a Photoshop PDF file and thus should be opened in Photoshop, not Reader or Acrobat or whatever.

Update Multiple Entries at Once

The same image (logo.tiff) appears ten times in my InDesign document, and so it appears ten times in the Links palette. If I make a change to the artwork, save the file and return to InDesign, each of the ten entries in Links shows the yellow triangle icon, meaning the art has been modified. If I update one of the entries, the other ones still show the yellow triangle. I don't understand why I have to update each entry individually. Shouldn't InDesign update all of them as soon as I update one of them?

Roll Your Own Edit Original Settings

As explained in the “Edit Original” solution, InDesign uses your computer system's internal file extension mappings to decide which program should open a given placed image. If InDesign is opening images in the “wrong” program, you need to modify your system's settings manually. Luckily, it's pretty easy.

As an example, let's say that you want to change which program InDesign uses for JPEG images when you choose Edit Original.

Windows (XP)

Select a JPEG file in Windows Explorer. Make sure the filename ends with .jpg.

Right-click on the file and choose Properties. The first panel, General, shows which program will open that JPEG image by default. Let's say it currently says “Paint” and you want JPEGs to open in Adobe Photoshop CS2. Click the “Change” button to the right to open the Open With dialog.

In Open With, select Adobe Photoshop CS2 from the scrolling list of installed programs. Make sure that the checkbox underneath the list, “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” is checked on (it is, by default).

Click OK in both dialog boxes to close them and apply your new setting.

Macintosh (OS X)

Select a JPEG file in a Finder Window. Make sure the filename ends with .jpeg.

Choose File > Get Info, and click on the triangle next to the “Open With” panel to twirl open its contents. You'll see the name of the program the Mac currently associates with that file extension. Let's say it currently says, “Preview” and you want JPEGs to open in Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Press and hold on the application popup menu (which currently shows Preview) and choose Adobe Photoshop CS2 from the list of suggested alternates.

In this same section of the Get Info window, click the “Change All” button. Click “OK” in the resulting “Are you sure?” warning dialog box to apply your new setting. Close the Get Info dialog box.

On either platform, you may want to repeat these steps for filename variations such as .jpg and .jpeg or .tif and .tiff. Open With settings are quite literal!

It's a feature-not-a-bug, because you may want to inspect each of those instances (Go to Link) to see if you really do want to update the artwork—perhaps you'd prefer to replace it (re-link it) with something else. Seems kind of lame, though. InDesign should at least give you the option of updating all the instances at once 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 logo.tiff entries appear together. Click on the first one in the palette and Shift-click on the last one so all ten are selected. Now when you choose Update Link, all the entries will be updated at once. Change the sort back to “Status” (if that's how you had it) when you're done.

Or, if you have a lot of modified images to update all at once, 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. Much faster.


Selecting multiple entries in the Links palette (by Shift-clicking or Command/Ctrl-clicking) works with the Relink command too. As you relink each image, InDesign keeps the Relink dialog box open, updating the “current path” field with the next image in the selection.

Force a “Scroll to Top” in the Links Palette

Most of the projects my co-workers and I produce are dense, image-laden parts catalogs for our company. The Links palette for one of these catalogs, which we update quarterly, typically contains hundreds of entries for all the parts artwork. It's sorted by Status (the default sorting) so that “problem” links appear at the top of the palette. No problem. But as soon as I fix one of the links—re-link or update it—InDesign scrolls the palette all the way down to the last entry, which is the link I just fixed. I have to scroll and scroll to get to the top of the palette to fix the next link. It's not a big deal until you're doing it for the 35th time that morning.

Close the Links palette and then open it again with its keyboard shortcut, Command-Shift-D/Ctrl-Shift-D (press the combo twice, once to close it, once to open it). When it's freshly opened, the Links palette is scrolled to the top by default.

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