Photoshop: How do I re-link a linked image copy without relinking the first image?

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I placed a linked image in my document, did some transformations and then copied it (CTRL+J). Now I'm trying to replace that copy (relink only this copy) without changing the original image in my document. "Relink to file" and "Replace content" both change the copy and my original image. "New Smart Object via Copy" was my way to un-parent smart-object-copies, but this option is not available for linked images. So what do I do? I could place a new linked image, but there is no way to copy the transforms that I can't recreate. And there seams to be no way to relink only the copy.
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Fabian Sebastian

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  • frustrated

Posted 4 years ago

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eartho, Champion

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currently, there's no simple way to do this without embedding the linked, then converting it back to a linked with a new name, and then re-linking to the file you want to link to.

I do love the linked object workflow, but it definitely needs to be refined.
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Mahatva Sheta

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make duplicate psd and relink image in duplicate file then drag and drop layer back to original file EZ...    
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Tigre Pickett

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you've got to fix this, Adobe. Make an option for linking to a library element that is a new link for that element only, not all copies of that element. basically a version of new element copy or something.
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Jennifer Barry

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agreed - this is a pain that i can't duplicate a layer then replace the contents of just the new layer without replacing contents of the original. laying out product photography, for example many lamps of the same size with different colors, takes way longer trying to resize each newly placed item than if I were able to just duplicate the first placement then replace with the new color file.
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eartho, Champion

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to get around this, i make a master psd which holds all the lamps, then create layer comps within that psd, place in a new doc as linked, them use the properties panel to swap layer comp states. You can duplicate the placed linked layer as many times as you want and apply a different layer comp to each layer.
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Nicole Courtney

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Yes I am having the same problem. I have created a layer with a photo and added a clipping mask then duplicated the layer to another artboard and just wanted to replace the photo with another image while keeping my clipping mask and keeping the original photo in the original layer. Is there a way to do this?

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Christine Uren

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I'm having the same issue. I have a Photoshop file that contains different groups of layers--it's for an event poster that has seasonal color changes, and it's handy to keep all the elements in one file. I link to Illustrator files that are similar but have corresponding colors. But if I try to update, say, the "spring" image to the "winter" image, and do a relink, ALL the linked images change to the "winter" file, even though they're separate files with different names. This is an automated thing that should not be happening--what on earth makes Photoshop think that, if I relink one file, I must want to relink every file, even if they have different names? It's stupid.

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eartho, Champion

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are you sure you're using Linked SO's? I have many similar workflows to yours and never have this problem.
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Christine Uren

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Yes, I'm linking Illustrator files using "File<Place Linked" (I don't want to use the Embedded version, because I sometimes make adjustments to the files after placing). If you know of anything I'm doing wrong, I'd appreciate hearing about it! : )
(Edited)
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eartho, Champion

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Weird. I've used thousands and thousands of linked SO's over the years and this has never happened. Which version of Ps are you using? Are you sure that you're linking to different .ai files and not just changing the layer names in Ps?
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Christine Uren

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Yes. I duplicated the layer. Then I changed the colors in the Illustrator file, resaved under a different name, and then relinked from the Photoshop layer to the new file. The linked file in the original layer also changed, although I didn't touch it. This has happened to me multiple times, not just with this one Photoshop file. I'm using Photoshop CC, version 20.0.4
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eartho, Champion

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Ah, that explains it then. When using linked SO's, you can't duplicate the layer and re-link to a different file because you're essentially telling Ps to re-link to all instances of the original SO. In your case, you'll need to File>Place each different .ai file you want in your document. Usually what i do is first save all the.ai files which i need, then use Bridge to opt/alt drag them into Ps at once so that they place in the same position. 
This is very much working as intended. 
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Christine Uren

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Strange--to me, it makes no sense to default to changing links on multiple layers at once. I was trying to do what Jennifer Barry said, avoid having to place and then re-size. No other program treats links this way--I've been using links in InDesign and Illustrator for years before Photoshop even added the capability, so why didn't they follow that system? Thanks for the tip about Bridge anyway, though. It wouldn't have worked for me in this instance, because I didn't know in advance that I was going to need to create different versions of the image, but it may be useful in future.

I actually landed on this page looking for the Features Request page; sounds like I need to keep hunting for it.
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eartho, Champion

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The way it works relative to InDesign makes perfect sense. Imagine you have a header on each of 100 pages and you want to change all of them at once... that's essentially what you've done by duplicating the linked SO in Ps.
I totally agree that the whole linked SO workflow could use about 1000 improvements, including the issue you're having, but this appears to be a Ps feature which has largely been abandoned and forgotten.
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Christine Uren

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Imagine you have a header on each of 100 pages and you want to change all of them at once... that's essentially what you've done by duplicating the linked SO in Ps.

But InDesign has a different system for that: Master Pages. That must be the problem: I wasn't expecting a regular layer in Photoshop to work like a Master Page in InDesign. You wouldn't ever do 100 headers in one Photoshop doc, that I know of, so why did they set it up that way? 

this appears to be a Ps feature which has largely been abandoned and forgotten.

Hmmmm...odd!
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eartho, Champion

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I don't see linked SOs as master page items, necessarily. This is more like placing a file in ID and then changing the top level link in the links panel. 
If we're using embedded SOs in Ps, you can use the New Smart Object via Copy function, but this is a Linked SO, so doing that would require the new duplicate to be saved out as a new file. It's a slightly strange logic, but makes perfect sense when you understand how Ps treats SO's.
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Christine Uren

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"This is more like placing a file in ID and then changing the top level link in the links panel."
I can see that parallel, but why did Photoshop default to that, and not allow the user to have a choice?

"If we're using embedded SOs in Ps..."
I don't want to use embedded in this case, because I need to go back to Illustrator and make adjustments.

"you can use the New Smart Object via Copy function..."
Do you mean just copying and pasting the smart object instead of duplicating the layer? I didn't know about that, but it seems to perform the exact same task, so I wouldn't have guessed that it functioned differently.

"...but this is a Linked SO, so doing that would require the new duplicate to be saved out as a new file"
I don't understand this--I did save the different SO's as new files. Are you saying that if I just copy and paste the SO, and then try to relink to a new file, it won't change the first one? I just tested that, and it didn't work, but maybe I don't understand.


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eartho, Champion

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>Do you mean just copying and pasting the smart object...
No, when using Embedded, there's a contextual option to make a new embedded SO which is independent of the original.

And again, please think about how this works... a linked SO refers to a specific file on your HD, when you duplicate that layer in Ps, it's still referring to the same file on your HD. If you were to somehow detach the connection between the layer and what it links to, you would need to save a new file somewhere... you're working in reverse at the moment, so you need to change your workflow if you want to keep using linked SOs.
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Christine Uren

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"If you were to somehow detach the connection between the layer and what it links to, you would need to save a new file somewhere..."
I don't see why Photoshop made their system so different. You don't need to save a new file every time you change a link in an InD or Ill document.

"again, please think about how this works"
You write that as if the way Ps's linking system works should be obvious, but I had no way (initially) of knowing that Ps had created a system so different from InD's and Ill's. Since Ps's "links" feature uses the same terminology as "links" features already in place in other Adobe programs, they should have made it work the same way. Otherwise, they should have named it something else, so that I would know that I needed to research it more thoroughly.

"you need to change your workflow if you want to keep using linked SOs"
Yeah, this is why I posted on this thread, to find out if I could use a different workflow to do what I want. And what I found out is that I can't use the "relink" feature in a convenient way. (The Adobe Bridge method you mentioned wouldn't have worked for me in this case, because I would have had to have advance knowledge about this project that there was no way for me to get.)