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This happens to me often. I take screenshots of free images on the internet and insert them into Illustrator files. But if I save, close, and reopen the files, the screenshots have to be present on my desktop in order for this error message not to occur, even though the screenshots are there in the Illustrator files when I save them. What am I missing? It wouldn't be reasonable for Adobe to expect us to keep all of the images that we want to use in our Illustrator files stored on our desktop forever.

Is there a way to tell Illustrator to search for the linked files within a specific folder? That way I could save all of the screenshots that I use in my Illustrator files within that folder.

Is there a setting in Illustrator that will automatically save the screenshots within the Illustrator files, causing them to no longer be "linked"?

Thank you.

EDIT: As Cai mentioned, the solution was simply to embed the files after importing / placing them.

  • 1
    There are, of course, copyright issues if you are just randomly using images from the web. – Scott Nov 11 '16 at 19:59
  • If I do insert an image from the internet, I make sure that it's free to use....but I also should have mentioned that I take screenshots of my desktop when I'm working a project. – HappyHands31 Nov 15 '16 at 0:54
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Manly is correct that the file is linked, as it should be, and you can simply uncheck "linked" in the dialog when placing an image.

If you drag and drop an image directly in to your document (which will create a linked image) or have an existing linked image (It will tell you if an image is linked at the very left of the control panel when the image is selected) you can hit the "embed" button in the control panel to embed the image.

enter image description here

You can read more in the help here:


Another tip (if you are using a Mac—there is probably something similar on Windows, but I wouldn't know) is to use the shortcut:

SHIFT + ctrl + cmd + [3/4]

Which will copy the screenshot directly to the clipboard.

So you can paste directly in to Illustrator (or Photoshop or wherever else) without having to worry about embedding linked files and moving files to the trash etc.

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It's not an oversight...

Linked images will always need to be left in the same place you originally linked them from or you can edit/update your links via the Window > Links menu. The program can't just magically know where the images have gone to, if you move them, unless you tell it where they are. If you delete them, then that's even less logical that Illustrator will know where they are.

Uncheck the box that says Link at the bottom of the Place dialogue box, to embed your images and avoid the linking issue (increases file size):

enter image description here

If you want to save your images in a separate folder, save them there first, then link them.

  • That makes sense. Thanks for your response, my confusion and frustration came from years of using Microsoft Office where the placed images seem to be automatically embedded into the file. I.e. if you place an image from your desktop into the file and then throw that image into the trash, the image still appears in the file when you save, close, and reopen it. I don't know how programs like Powerpoint and Word do this, but I was surprised that Illustrator requires you to embed the files or keep them in the same place as where they were linked from. Of course it doesn't matter now that I know! – HappyHands31 Nov 15 '16 at 0:48
  • @HappyHands31 They embed the images, not link them. Embed them like I said above and you'll be fine, just expect larger file sizes. – Manly Nov 15 '16 at 15:46

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