I have a series of INDD documents compiled into a book. When I opened the book today (for the first time since 2015), all of the icons embedded in the various documents are missing. This was expected since I have since reorganized the folder where all icons live. However, I am unable to relink the files. The “relink” button is greyed out, as well as any other menu option relating to relinking the folders, updating links, etc.

All missing links are all AI files, however, there are some other AI files which do link properly.

missing links

  • Did you try replacing your preferences? Close and relaunch InDesign, and IMMEDIATELY hold down Ctrl + Alt + Shift (Windows) or Cmd + Ctrl + Opt + Shift (Mac), and respond in the affirmative to the dialog asking if you really want to replace the preferences. You must be extremely fast on the keyboard (if you don’t see the confirmation prompt, you were too slow).
    – Vinny
    Mar 7 '17 at 15:00
  • Not at the computer right now, so I can't check, but doesn't this happen if the linked files are on a locked layer on the page? Have you checked that these aren't? May 8 '17 at 0:40

I figured it out. My text boxes were linked as .icml files and once I unlinked those, the images embedded within those text boxes were re-linkable.


Could your files be Embedded? You may need to unembed them first and then you may be able to re-link to the originals. Found the information below here:

Embedding the contents of a linked file suspends management operations for that link. If the selected link is currently in an “edit in place” operation, this option is not enabled. Unembedding the file restores management operations to the link. If a linked object does not appear on a specific document page, the following codes indicate where the object appears: PB (pasteboard), MP (master page), OV (overset text), and HT (hidden text).


By default InDesign looks for links in the 'Links' folder which should be where all your INDD sources are. If you used multiple folders before and with different names, one way to fix this is to drop ALL your linked AI files inside a single folder simply named Links. This way its very likely that InDesign will find them, unless you've also been renaming files between then and now.

Another thing you can check, click one of those missing links and look in the Links panel, where it shows the extended information (Link info). See what path it displays. At least this can tell you where InDesign is expecting to find the missing links.

Also, i never used CC Libraries, so not sure how they work, but make sure none of your links were supposed to be found in the CC Libraries.


One option here would be to look at the path the files are linked to. It would help you locate those files and update the links. Open the links dock and select the file marked as missing. Right click and select copy full path. If you are on Mac open finder and paste the file path into your location bar. In Windows copy paste the path in Explorer. If you get an error message relating to the file's missing location you can browse higher level directories and attempt to locate it. If you know where the files are, you can simply recreate the old folder that shows as missing and drop those files into it.

I have had Ai files go missing in the Indesign file before and exporting to pdf or finding the old pdf exports and then editing in Illustrator saved my bacon once or twice, you could do the same and if it works then well, problem solved huh....


Export to IDML, then open that to see of the problem persists.


I created a video with 5 different methods for fixing broken links. I actually found 3+ methods that actually work when the original document isn't available. The other 2 methods may work if you have the Windows version of Indesign:


  • 1
    Hi Aaron. Could you please add the gist of each method to this post? Links break and videos go down all the time, which will invalidate your answer. Thanks!
    – Vincent
    Dec 13 '19 at 7:24

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