I have a data merge file I created in Excel that I export as a comma-delimited text file to import into an InDesign template.

Traditionally, I have imported images from a networked drive by setting up my spreadsheet in this way:

last_name, @image

Smith, Users:user:networked_drive:associates:headshot:smith-john.jpg

This works great, but I now want to be able to pull an image from a web link and I have no idea how to format the @image field to properly insert an image from a web link into an image frame in the InDesign template. My Google searching and StackExchange searches are coming up dry so far.

Thanks in advance for your help.

  • Have you looked at Compound Object Formatting? Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:48
  • A quick Google search seems to show that that applies to Microsoft OCLC. And I'm not exactly sure what that is, but it doesn't seem to apply to InDesign.
    – nollaf126
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


One of these tools is MyDataMerge- easy data merging and it can pull images from Web URLs automatically. Its a paid but rather cheap solution with hell a lot of features. If you are regular data merge user and on a Mac I recommend giving it a try


This seems to be the only reference that I can find to a way of linking "networked" assets. The capabilities are baked into InDesign's underlying URI linking architecture but can't be leveraged by simple scripts.

...linking architecture had been fundamentally rewritten underneath, to support URI-based linking, two-way linking, and generally what looked like anything one would want to do with linking. I asked, immediately, "can this be scripted?" and was quite disappointed to find out that it not only required a plug-in to leverage any of this power, but there was quite a bit left to developers to create what one would imagine as a basic use of URI-based linking.

There are maybe a dozen plugin products that I found that offer such capabilities.


Consider altering your workflow to pull the images into a hot folder and then continue to link the same.

Alternatively, you can purchase a plugin if you need dynamic linking of assets but I would advise against this for a single job or non-recurring work.

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