I have just noticed that if you place a RAW image in a PSD(CS6), then tweak the RAW image using Camera RAW, the changes are not picked up by the PSD.

I always try and keep my PSDs as open to change as possible and placing is a big part of this. Usually I place an image in a PSD, then if I edit the image outside the PSD, the changes are picked up in the PSD.

With RAW this doesn't seem to happen. I have the following file-structure:

 -- someFolder
    -- somePSD
    -- someRAWFile
    -- someRAWFIleXMP

What I'm doing:

  1. I drag the RAW File into the PSD.
  2. I open the RAW File and tweak it.
  3. Photoshop does not reflect the changes
  4. I drag the RAWFile into the PSD
  5. I then have the same placed RAW File with the changes reflected as well as the old placed RAWFile without them.

So even though both placed images are the same image, they reflect the RAW File at the time it was placed, not at its current state which is surely the whole point of placing a file. It seems that the image is encoded with the RAW settings at the time it is imported, but these are never updated.

What am I missing? Is this a bug or is there no point placing a RAW file?

[Note: Please could someone with enough rep add 'RAW' as a tag as it's inexplicably missing]

4 Answers 4


It is my understanding that "live" updating of the the original placed file is not supported in Photoshop. You can double click and edit a file as if it were a separate file, but it is not a live link to the original file.

I have placed logos in this manner in photoshop and updated the original logo file, but it does not update the placed version.

Note my info is from pre-CS6. I believe that Illustrator and InDesign DO support this.

  • You're correct. Somewhat unbelievably this is supported by Illustrator (where I spend most of my time), but not by PS. Sep 28, 2012 at 18:00
  • In fact I built up several logos (referenced in my answer) in Illustrator by "placing" simpler versions. And then when I placed them in PS I was surprised they weren't updated. It took a while for me to realize because you can edit the placed item as if it is a separate linked file. It was only when I went back to the AI file itself after I thought I edited it that I noticed it was not reflected. Obviously, I did not RTFM. :)
    – horatio
    Sep 28, 2012 at 18:21
  • The nice thing about using a suite of software is you shouldn't have to R(All)TFM(s) as they should share a common functionality. I'm sure this will be added to PS sooner or later. Sep 28, 2012 at 18:44

It sounds like what you are expecting is a Publish<>Subscribe system. That is not supported in Photoshop.

When you open or place an image into Photoshop you embed the entire image and its data and there is no longer any reference to the original file.

If you alter the original, you'll need to place it into Photoshop after the changes.

There is no way to make Photoshop internally reference any other file.


Well it appears that placing a file in PS means something very different from placing a file in Illustrator.

A good workaround is:

  1. Drag the RAW file into PS, whilst holding down |Shift|.
  2. This will import the file as a Smart Object.
  3. To tweak the RAW settings, double-click on the Smart Object's thumbnail in the layers palette.

    Note that this does not edit the original RAW file, only the smart object.


A Smart Object has no link to its original file, unlike an image that is placed in InDesign or Illustrator as a link. The embedded image or vector file in a Smart Object is a copy of the original. Updating the original file will have no effect on the Photoshop copy.

As 1ndivisible pointed out, the way to edit a Raw file you have placed in Photoshop is to double-click the thumbnail in the Layers Panel, edit the copy and save it.

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