I have multiple files that are different pages in a booklet. I have some global colors that I want to be consistent across all files. For example, there is the color of a woman's shirt, which I have named "shirt". I saved this global color to a user-defined library, which I'll call "my master colors".

Suppose at a later time, I want to slightly change the color of the shirt. In concept, I should be able to change "shirt" in "my master colors" library, add then add this color library to the swatches in my current file, and I would expect that "shirt" in my current file will be updated to match the value "my master colors".

But Nooooo! It works in the opposite direction. When I add "my master colors" library to the swatch panel of a current file, AI detects a conflict between the two definitions of "shirt", and it asks me if I want to merge colors. If I say 'yes, then it merges the shirt from my master colors to match the color in the current file.

I would argue - and I could spell out the argument if someone likes - that this direction of merging will never be useful in any circumstance. The only direction that is useful is where "shirt" in the current file is updated to match "shirt" in "my master colors".

Anyway, my comment is that this is essentially a bug in AI. My question is, does anyone have a workaround that they can suggest? I saw someone online suggesting writing a script, but I really don't want to study AI programming.

I look forward to your suggestions. Sincerely, Chris

  • I used to work as techsupport/development in a small company our number one complaint was use of global references like this. Its not that its a bad idea, but rather that normal users do not expect and can not manage global effects. The amount of damage you can succeed with this kind of automatic scheme is astounding and hard to undo. In fact wherever i look people reject using systems with this kind of feature even if they are superior designs, because thinking is hard. But i believe the assets panel does something closer to your liking. But i would script this its pretty simple to do.
    – joojaa
    Nov 28, 2021 at 8:40
  • @joojaa OK, as you suggest, I'm working on understanding scripts. Perhaps you can help me with the first step. I see that Adobe comes with some sample scripts. Now, how do you edit them?
    – Chris
    Nov 28, 2021 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


I simply create a series of small rectangles filled with global colors off the artboard(s). Then copy/paste these rectangles to new documents in the series.

If one color changes, I need to change the color manually in all files in the series. There's no reliable, automated, way to get multiple files to update correctly. At least not that I'm aware of.. I know Adobe wants their CC libraries to do this in some respect, but, well ... it's fallen short for me.

This is one handy thing with multiple artboards. If you can use multiple artboard for different pieces of art, then all the colors (and artwork) are in one file. You can easily target a specific artboard when placing art in InDesign, if you're using InDesign.

(FYI, you can also copy/paste these small color rectangles to InDesign to get colors there.)

  • "I simply create a series of small rectangles filled with global colors off the artboard(s). Then copy/paste these rectangles to new documents in the series." I don't follow your logic. I guess it makes sense if you are starting a new document. But suppose you have an old document, and your trying to change the color of an old global swatch, like "shirt", to match the new color "shirt". Then how would your method work?
    – Chris
    Nov 28, 2021 at 3:23
  • Copy rectangles.. paste into old document.. then use select > Same to find objects you wish to assign the new colors to. Delete old swatches. -- tip... you can have no artwork selected.. highlight a swatch in the panel and use Select > Same to find everything filled with that swatch.
    – Scott
    Nov 28, 2021 at 4:38
  • OK, I get it. But it seems like a tedius process. If the merge I described in my question would work in the "correct" direction, it would be four clicks of the mouse to do every color in the document.
    – Chris
    Nov 28, 2021 at 5:18
  • Yes, but you also need to understand that there are workflows where replacing new colors with old colors would be unacceptable. Your particular workflow may be the opposite of functionality, but that's your workflow, probably not everyones.
    – Scott
    Nov 28, 2021 at 7:52

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