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How to embed images in Illustrator the easiest way

by Casey Schmidt  |  January 1, 2020

3 min. read
Designer at a computer desk.

A cornerstone feature of Adobe Illustrator is embedding images into your document file. Knowing this one simple thing allows you to create a lot of different things. Make sure you know how to efficiently embed images so that it doesn’t take a lot of your precious time. Furthermore, ensure you understand further issues concerning Illustrator, such as when to link rather than embed. This guide walks you through all the important details.

How to embed images in Illustrator

Within Illustrator, you’ll see a list of all the linked images in your links palette. From this location you’ll be able to take a linked image and embed it into your document. Make sure that you remove excess images you won’t be using in your final product (Illustrator increases in storage size quite a bit). Once you’ve checked this, it’s time to make sure the correct image is selected for embedding.

To see all of the images currently used by your Illustrator document, look at your links palette. Find the image you wish to embed into your file, click the dropdown menu and select ‘Embed’. A window will popup next to the image within your palette. This signifies your image is now embedded into the Illustrator document.

A person looking at designs on a tablet.
Make sure you have the steps down to embed images into Illustrator.

Edit your embedded image

Once an image is embedded into Illustrator, it cannot be edited without the original file. Though this is true, there are some ways to work around it. The first thing to note is that if we have the original image, it’s prudent to edit that instead. This is because the resolution will be less affected if we edit the original and embed it again.

If you’re unable to locate the original image, you can still edit the embedded image from Illustrator but it won’t look as clean. In order to edit an embedded image, you’ll need to open the file using a third-party software (not Illustrator). For example, you can open the file in Adobe Photoshop and change the image to your liking.

A woman designs using her laptop.
Remember that it’s possible to edit your embedded images.

When to link rather than embed an image in Illustrator

When you embed an image in Illustrator, you’ll notice that you also have the option to link instead. Why would you want to link the image rather than embed it? The most important thing to know is a linked image is separate from the Illustrator file and it remains that way. This allows you to use an outside editor program to touch up the image. For example, if you wanted to use Paintshop pro to edit your image, you’d be able to and the changes would apply to your photo inside the Illustrator file as well.

For users concerned with storage space, a linked image lets them avoid increases in file size when pasting the image numerous times. This keeps Illustrator files small, especially in comparison to files with images embedded into them rather than linked.

Embedding images in Illustrator is an important part of building successful projects. Make sure you understand the many nuances of this process.