Adobe Reader shows pdf's with "linked files" correctly, but Illustrator CS5 asks to "replace missing links", which I do not have (and even if I did, I wouldn't enjoy dealing with each one).

It is obvious, that a .pdf contains the "links" (since I can print them perfectly), but Illustrator for some reason doesn`t use them.

How do I edit pdf`s like this in Illustrator?

  • Do you mean that Illustrator won't open the file? If so (and for other problems with Illustrator files becoming impossible to open or getting corrupted) this might help: daxxter.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/… You could maybe use this method to hack open the code of the file and remove the references to linked files, then save and reopen. Ugly but it works. Jul 3, 2012 at 14:13
  • Is there anything in the Links Panel once you open the PDF? Is the artwork actually missing images?
    – Scott
    Jul 3, 2012 at 20:31
  • No, tIllustrator does open the file. Yes, Scott, the artwork is actually missing images: there are missing links in Links panel. Jul 5, 2012 at 7:03
  • How is Illustrator supposed to find images that don't exist on your system? Of course they're missing. You don't have them on your computer, changed the path to their directory, etc.
    – o_O
    Aug 21, 2012 at 6:56
  • The images are obviously in the pdf file, because acrobat reader displays them. It`s illustrator, that finds treats them as "linked" and there fore "not found". Aug 23, 2012 at 20:21

4 Answers 4


Best Practice: Try and obtain the original layout(source file). There are always problems when trying to edit a PDF in Illustrator.

If you cannot obtain the source file:

Suggestion 1: Instead of opening the PDF with Adobe Illustrator: Step1: Create a new file in Adobe Illustrator with the same dimensions as the origial PDF Step 2: Go to: File > Place and select your PDF file, place page one. Stept 2.1: note: After you have place the PDF file you might need to Embed it;(Embed button is in the Tool Option pannel that is bellow the Main Menu). Step 3: Go to: Window > Artboards > Create New Artboard Step 4: On your new artboard repeat step 2 but place the 2nd page in the PDF Step 5: Repeat step 2 and 3 and 4 untill you have placed(and embeded) the whole PDF in Illustrator.

note: not recommended for file with more than 20 pages, it will work but Illustrator might crash, so save every 2 min :)

Suggestion 2: Try to edit the PDF with Adobe Acrobat, not with Illustrator. link: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat.html *note: not Acrobat Reader, Adobe Acrobat, the full software, its not the free version.

Suggestion 3: There is a great add on for Adobe InDesign that lets you import PDF's to InDesign: http://www.recosoft.com/products/pdf2id

So instead of using Illustrator to edit your PDF you would use InDesign, and also add the plugin above, you will then use the plugin to import the PDF to InDesign, it works like magic sometimes, I have used it myself after @Alan Gilberson told me about it.

Good Luck!


It's not Illustrator's fault. The original author did not embed their links when they converted to PDF. This too happens in Photoshop with both images and fonts. It happens mostly with place.

This is a user head-space issue and not a software fault. Mind your settings when saving as PDF and you will be fine. Anyone who must deal with printers often has to ensure they are are saving correctly or else the printer can't print.

As for editing, if you need the images then how do you expect to edit something that does not exist on your system? If you need to edit the vector objects then you can just ignore the prompts for the linked files, however, this is likely not the case as you will want to see how things mesh with one another. The best option is to ask the original author to save the file in the proper format. Depending on how you transfer the files between you, you may end up with a very large file size. If you're going to be responsible for the final product either printing or putting it on the web, there's no better way around having them also send you all the original files as that allows proper management of your Illustrator final.

  • I probably didnt explain well: the images ARE in the pdf, because they are displayed by acrobat reader on any computer. Still, the same pdf file, when opened with illustrator, didnt find these images and reported missing links Aug 23, 2012 at 20:24

Found this answer on another website, and it's exactly what I was looking for so I wanted to share here.

You see [the images] in Acrobat because they are embedded in the PDF file.

But when you open them in Illustrator you are not opening the PDF, you are opening the native part of the file, in which your associate has linked the pictures (as opposed to embedding)

> What you want to do is first choose to open the PDF in Photoshop and in the open dialog scroll from pages to images, and open the pictures that are missing and save them to your hard drive.

Then link to these new files when you open the file in [Illustrator].

Or you can tell your associate to embed all pictures before saving as PDF

Found here: http://www.mombu.com/computer_design/illustrator/t-missing-images-when-opening-pdf-files-4113374.html


My workaround is to select the image in Acrobat Professional and use the "edit In photoshop" function and then resave the image. Upon opening the file a second time I relink it to the extracted imaged and done. Enfocus Pistop should make an embed feature for these type of images in their preflight panel.

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