I'me a beginner in Photoshop CC and I just discovered the powerful smart objects.

I try to organize my document with smart objects with this architecture :

target diagram

C is my main document, and A and B are smart objects.

But I can't place a A instance in B like the A instance in C. When I try to do this, Photoshop duplicates the A like this :

diagram i got

Why does Photoshop act like that ? How can I avoid this side effect ?

Thank you for your help !

2 Answers 2


You can make the Smart Objects Linked instead of embeded.

The smart object will be a separate file.

Select the smart object Layer, then go to Layer>>Smart Objects>>Convert to linked.

This will save your Smart Object in to a psb file linked to your document.

enter image description here

  • There is no way to do the same in a single psd file ?
    – Thaledric
    Aug 23, 2017 at 13:03
  • When you edit a SO "smart object" photoshop creates a temporary file in your hd. If you put a SO inside a SO this will create a file inside a file. And photoshop just creates this file when you edit it.
    – LeoNas
    Aug 23, 2017 at 23:49
  • If I duplicate the [A] reference in [C], it works well : A1 and A2 are two references of [A] in the right way. But if I move (with drag and drop) A2 in [B], A2 refers now to a copy of [A] (called [A']). There is no way to move A2 in [B] in the way that it refers to [A] instead of [A'] ?
    – Thaledric
    Aug 24, 2017 at 11:23
  • No. A SO inside an other SO is a copy.
    – LeoNas
    Aug 24, 2017 at 16:02

If you use regular embedded smart objects then the behaviour you're getting is expected.

But you can do what you want with linked smart objects.

So you need to create each smart object as it's own PSD file and go to File → Place Linked... to place them. You can then have as many instances in as many files as you like, all of which will update as expected and not create duplicates.

If you have existing embedded smart objects you can convert them to linked smart objects by right clicking the layer, choosing "Convert to Linked..." and saving it to an appropriate place. If you have duplicated instances of the original embedded smart object you can right click those layers and choose "Relink to File...", choosing the file you just saved. As long as all the instances are pointing to the same linked file they will update as expected.

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