I have been using Photoshop/Illustrator for about 6 years or so now. I never really learned from official resources, nor did I attend a course which would have taught me how to use the Creative Suite appropriately. But it bugs me more often than not, so I finally want to learn how to achieve the following:

I am an Interface designer and sometimes in interfaces it happens that views repeat throughout the application (like the cells of a custom table for example). I would like to learn how to "link" layers either in the same document, or externally. I know it is possible because I have often seen it in other people's psd files, like product mockups where you can change the content's layer and as soon as you save it, it will update all interface elements that use this 'linked' layer.

I would be grateful if somebody could shed some light on this topic.

  • 4
    Symbols in Illustrator and the new Linked Smart Object only available in Photoshop CC.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 23:27
  • There is an Adobe video about it, from Photoshop Product Manager Stephen Nielson: youtube.com/watch?v=H6AIgoFDwlk
    – BananaAcid
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


To expand on Scott's comment, you can link a whole artboard to a PSD file as a linked smart object layer. To do this

  1. Open the PSD file
  2. Select File->Place linked
  3. Select the AI file that contains the artboard you want to link
  4. Select the artboard you want to link. You cannot select a single object, it has to be a whole artboard.

After they are linked, if you change the AI file and saved it and want to update the PSD:

  1. Open the PSD. You will notice an alert badge on the linked smart object layer
  2. Select layer->smart objects->update all modified content. The new content will be pulled from the AI file

Alternatively, if you are working on the PSD and notice you need to edit the linked object

  1. Double click on the thumbnail of the linked smart object layer the AI file for the label will be opened on Illustrator.
  2. Make the changes and save. Both the AI and the PSD will reflect the changes.
  • I be lazy. Good explanation :)
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 0:54

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