What is Image Embedding in Illustrator?

Embedding images in Adobe Illustrator refers to the process of integrating an image file directly into your Illustrator document. This is different from linking, where the image remains a separate file on your computer and is merely referenced in the Illustrator document. Embedding ensures that the image becomes an integral part of the Illustrator file, making it more portable and reducing dependency on external files.

What is the Initial Process to Embed an Image?

To embed an image into your Illustrator document:

  1. Placing the Image: Navigate to File and select Place (shortcut: Shift + Command/Control + P). This will open a dialog box allowing you to choose the image you want to insert into your document.
  2. Linking Option: In the dialog box, you’ll notice a ‘Link’ checkbox. If you uncheck this box, the image will be embedded directly. If you leave it checked, the image will be linked.

What is the Difference Between Linked and Embedded Images?

  1. Linked Images: These are images that remain as separate files on your computer. The Illustrator document merely references or “links” to this file. If the linked image is moved, deleted, or renamed, Illustrator will not be able to display it.
  2. Embedded Images: These are integrated directly into the Illustrator file. This means that even if the original image file is deleted or moved, the image will still appear in the Illustrator document because it’s stored within the document itself.

How to Convert a Linked Image to an Embedded Image?

If you’ve already placed an image as a linked file:

  1. Accessing Image Properties: With the image selected, go to the Properties panel on the right. If you don’t see this panel, you can find it under the Window dropdown.
  2. Embedding Option: In the Properties panel, you’ll see a ‘Link’ icon indicating that the image is linked. Click on this icon, and from the dropdown, select the ‘Embed’ option. This will convert the linked image into an embedded one.

Reversing the Process: Unembedding an Image

If you wish to convert an embedded image back to a linked one:

  • Accessing Links Panel: Go to Window and select Links. This will open the Links panel.
  • Unembedding Option: In the Links panel, click on the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) and select ‘Unembed’. This will prompt you to save the image as a separate file, effectively converting it back to a linked image.

Considerations When Embedding Images

While embedding images can make your Illustrator document more self-contained, it’s essential to note that it can significantly increase the file size. This is because the image data is stored directly within the Illustrator file. If you’re working with large or numerous images, this can make the document bulky and potentially harder to share or store.


Embedding images in Adobe Illustrator offers a convenient way to ensure your designs remain intact, regardless of the availability of external image files. However, it’s crucial to be mindful of the increased file size that can result from embedding.