I'm working on an InDesign document that makes extensive use of linked Illustrator graphics. Many of these Illustrator graphics themselves make use of placed png images.

The problem I've run into is that if I update a png for one of the Illustrator graphics, InDesign doesn't pick up the associated change (because the .ai file doesn't think it has changed either). The only way to get the updates to cascade through is to open the .ai file, make and undo a trivial change, and then save.

Is there a way that I can tell InDesign to thoroughly update all links, regardless of whether the file stamp says a file has changed or not?

  • 1
    Have you tried changing one file then alt-clicking the "update links" button? That's supposed to update all links – user56reinstatemonica8 Jan 5 '15 at 21:41
  • Yes. As far as I can tell, that only updates links that it thinks are broken. No changes are made to the other images. – spencerrecneps Jan 5 '15 at 21:53
  • How is it that Illustrator doesn't tag a file as changed if you changed it? – Scott Jan 5 '15 at 22:19
  • @Scott the change occurs in the placed .png file so the Illustrator file itself hasn't changed, only the .png that is linked in the ai. – spencerrecneps Jan 5 '15 at 22:24
  • Ahh... I see what you mean. Ai auto-updates the link without recording a change. Looks more like an AI bug than anything. Ai should not be updating links until the file is opened, and at that time is should warn the user and record a file change. – Scott Jan 5 '15 at 23:02

Not very elegant, but could you physically move the folder containing the linked elements, open the ID file so it recognizes that everything is missing -- and then relink imports to the new location?

  • I tried that - it doesn't seem to work. It's like the .ai file keeps a cached image of itself that InDesign is pulling from. The only way to get it to update is to open the .ai and resave. – spencerrecneps Jan 15 '15 at 15:57

From what I understand, you are saying that your files aren't updating after you make changes to them in Illustrator.

Try this; Go to your links panel (if you don't see it then select it under your "Window" tab). There you should see all of your files in your InDesign document. You can look through all of them to find the file(s) in question, or you can sort through them with the little tabs.

When a file changes outside of InDesign, it won't always update, but the link file in the links panel should detect the change. It will have a little caution triangle by the file name if the file has changed. Double click on the triangle and your Illustrator file should update.

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So what you have is a linked file within a linked file. The Ai file is only ever updated when ai files are saved to disk. Anything outside ai is oblivious to changes until ai saves those changes. So indesign does not see the links inside the ai file.

Updating in indesign will do nothing untill as files are resaved because Ai needs to make the changes. Until it does its still containing old pictures. You could script opening and saving if you need to, but admittedly its a bit tricky.

Now newer, illustrators may in fact refuse to save changes on link updates because they incorrectly do not see it as a change, if so its a bug. You can overcome this by using save as.

  • I can see what you're saying about file changes. However, I'm confused as to what the purpose of a linked file is if both Illustrator and InDesign save a cached copy of the linked file. At the very least, there ought to be an option to wipe out cached images and force the program to reconstruct them from scratch. – spencerrecneps May 5 '15 at 16:19
  • @spencerrecneps There is a way to kill the cache, that is to have the illustrator file open in illustrator. The illustrator file is a PDF file only illustrator knows that the file has a link. Only illustrator can update the link, if it has the file in question open. Its not transparent to all files in chain. Its a bit like loading a image into browser after that i change the file on disk and shutdown the webserver. The browser can now nolonger update the image even tough the link points to a new image. The links work like you suppose its just that they can not work without the server. – joojaa May 5 '15 at 16:56
  • you just expect indesign to serve the fike chain for you but it can not. It only sees the thing illustrator saw at the tine it last updated the file. Same applies to illustrator it reads from disk and uodates when the disk is updated. They are linked but the servers dont operate how you think they do. For the placing side it is just a pdf file. Pdf files dont have links. – joojaa May 5 '15 at 17:05

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