If one was designing a website where they laid out each page mock as a separate photoshop file but each one had the common elements of the site such as the header and footer, but also could have common elements like buttons—is it possible to design the button in one photoshop file in its own and then include it inside a page mock file. Then if the content of the button psd file change it would automatically change in the page mock file.

Is this possible? Am I making sense?

6 Answers 6


You can look into using Adobe's 'Smart Objects'. Alternatively, consider FireWorks which has object templating abilities.

Even better, stop mocking up individual web pages in PhotoShop. It's a workflow nightmare and only causes headaches for the timeline. ;)

  • I've added a link to your own answer as an alternative to Photoshop. I wasn't quite sure what you were suggesting, so I did a search and found it.
    – Nicole
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 23:25
  • 1
    I guess I should have been even more clear that I'm asking this question on behalf of the creative team I work with at work. I'm a programmer and thought that there simply had to be a better way. @DA01, what do you recommend instead of individual web pages in PS? Your nightmare is exactly what they are having issues with. When the product team wants a change, they want to see it in all the page mocks.
    – Kyle Hayes
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 16:24
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    ah! Yes, I'm quite familiar with that painful process. The problem is either a) your organization has designers/UX people that can't actually code the presentation layer or b) a business process/management team that insists that web site projects should be handled via copious amounts of paperwork--including printed mockups. (Or both, in some cases.). The solution is to have a UX/Design team that can actually write HTML/CSS/JS and work with your dev team directly. The project management process should adopt Agile methodologies and dump the bloated cumbersome documentation format that is .PSD
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 18:19
  • ...alas, that's usually much more of a political problem--especially in larger corporations who still cling for dear life to their antiquated waterfall/SixSigma mentalities.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 18:20
  • I would be interested to learn more of this type of flow if there is an offline channel we can use.
    – Kyle Hayes
    Commented Sep 12, 2011 at 21:03

In Photoshop CC it is possible to link PSDs inside other PSDs.

See here for reference: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/how-to/photoshop-linked-smart-objects.html

  • Hi there and welcome! Please include a description of the steps from the link. We try not to rely on links only, as links die.
    – benteh
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 7:09
  • This should be the accepted answer. Since the OP has been created the Photoshop has evolved. Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 17:26
  • This is the correct answer as Adobe has finally added this functionality. The menu item is called 'Place Linked... ' and it's found under the File menu.
    – Corgalore
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 21:41

Unfortunately, Photoshop does not provide the workflow you're looking for.

You can place a Photoshop file as a Smart Object in another Photoshop document, but unlike one placed in Illustrator or InDesign it becomes an independent object within that document. Changing the original won't affect any other documents in which it is placed.


file-----> place

then choose your .psd file.

now your Photoshop file is place in your document then if you want to edit right on layer and choose Edit Content and save the file.

Now your reference file is changed...


  • Hi Tarun, thanks for the answer. Could you explain what makes your answer different from Horatio's?
    – Hanna
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 17:08

You can also right-click on the layer that you want to include in the new psd and click duplicate layer. This will open the duplicate layer dialog. Under the destination option select the new psd file as the destination. Make sure that the new psd is open at the same time as the psd you are duplicating from. Repeat as needed. I realize this is an old thread but I found this to be a good work around if you don't want to use smart objects.


Yes, this is possible and advisable for "fixed matter" such as logos. It may depend on which version you are using, but in the one I am currently using (cs3 windows) the action is called Place... and can be found in the File menu.

You will decide on scale etc, and then commit it. It will appear as a layer with an unusual icon. To edit it, you would double click it, which opens the child document in the appropriate program. Changes to the placed file take effect in the parent document when you save that placed file.

You can also place other files such as .AI files.

  • Ok that is what I thought, however, I'm not seeing the change take place in two documents where I've placed a common asset. As a test, I have 3 documents total. One is a basic document with a graphic that says button. The other two are empty docs which I've "placed" the aforementioned button psd into. When I do the edit—based on your instructions above—it does update in the current file, but does not update the other file that placed the asset.
    – Kyle Hayes
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 19:02
  • This isn't quite correct. When you Place a PSD into another PSD, it gets converted to a "Smart Object". When you edit the Smart Object layer, it effects only that particular Smart Object. It does not make changes to the original PSD that was placed.
    – Farray
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 19:35
  • @Kyle More information in another question's answer. It's talking about placed PSBs but same issue. graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/1956/…
    – Farray
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 19:44
  • Odd, I have done exactly this. Perhaps it was in Illustrator which maintains links to the orignal files and photoshop does not (??) (added: forums.adobe.com/thread/780098?tstart=-1 )
    – horatio
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 20:19
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    Linked files are possible in Illustrator and InDesign, not Photoshop. (For good reasons -- engineering Smart Filters so they would work on a linked object that was no longer available would be a nightmare. That's also why you can't use filters that reference something else that could change, such as an alpha channel, on a Smart Object. Lens Blur is an example.) Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 23:15

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