In InDesign, when importing external images, the .indd file stays small, and the images are not embedded in it : the .indd file only contains links to images instead.

Is it possible to have the same with Photoshop : when adding a layer to a Photoshop document, coming from an outside JPG, is it possible that the .psd file only contains link to the external file and not embed the image itself?

  • 1
    Yes sure, use Smart Object.
    – hsawires
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 17:21
  • @hsawires is there a solution available in CS5?
    – Basj
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


Smart Objects, available since CS2, are very similar to linked files.

Smart Objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images, such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. Smart Objects preserve an image's source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer

In Photoshop CC and CS6, you can embed the contents of an image into a Photoshop document.

Since Photoshop CC you can now also use Linked Smart Objects, which essentially are linked files.

In Photoshop CC, you can also create Linked Smart Objects whose contents are referenced from external image files. The contents of a Linked Smart Object are updated when its source image file changes.

Linked Smart Objects are distinct from duplicated instances of a Smart Object within a Photoshop document. With Linked Smart Objects, you can use a shared source file across multiple Photoshop documents which is a familiar and welcome concept for web designers.

  • So it's impossible to do this with CS5?
    – Basj
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 18:53
  • Adobe help says you can't, Google says you can so I'm not sure. It's been a long time since I used CS5. I guess you just need to try :)
    – Cai
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 19:02
  • @Basj seems I was way off the mark.. apparently smart objects have been around since CS2. You can find the CS5 help as a PDF which talks about smart objects on page 281.
    – Cai
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 9:43
  • After some research : (embedded) smart objects are available in CS5, but then the asset is embedded in the file. That's not what I wanted. Linked smart objects are just links, that's what I wanted (by not available in CS5).
    – Basj
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 12:35

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