5 Easy Ways to Embed Images in Adobe Illustrator

In this guide, you will learn how to embed images in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy ways.

How to embed images in Adobe illustrator

I know, the love-hate relationship with Adobe Illustrator is real. One day you can create stunning visuals with it, while another you can be greeted with an error message that says, “Could not find the linked file…”. Now, where is that file?? 🤷‍♀️

missing link error notification in how to embed images in adobe illustrator

It’s like the nightmare of missing fonts after adding text in Illustrator.

That’s when you wonder why Illustrator can’t be like Word Document or Google Docs where you don’t have to move image files together with the document files and risk losing them.

The solution is to embed your images.

Ways to Embed Images In Adobe Illustrator

You can embed images in Adobe Illustrator in the following ways:

  1. Embed Images Automatically
  2. Use the Control Panel
  3. Quick Actions In The Properties Panel
  4. Use the Links Panel
  5. Illustrator Options

Illustrator may be the mother of all vector applications, but sometimes you use it to create artwork with images and assets imported from somewhere else.

Related: How To Save Brushes In Illustrator

Although there are extra steps to embedding these images, the good thing is Illustrator is flexible enough to give you a choice of whether to embed them.

In this guide, you will learn in-depth on how to embed images in Illustrator.

What Does Embedded Image Mean?

An embedded image refers to an image that has been inserted or attached directly as part of the Adobe Illustrator file, project, or file, rather than being linked to an external source.

In the case of Illustrator, embedding images is fixing them to the file, or converting them into vector images, allowing them to be edited using the software’s various tools.

Linked image not embedded
Linked image that is not embedded has a cross when selected
embedded image
An embedded image does not show a cross when selected

Photo: CStock via Adobe Stock, Portrait of a cat outdoors

If you are a graphic designer, illustrator, or creative who works with digital images, you may find that embedded images allow you to manipulate and customize your visual elements more effectively.

By embedding images in your projects, you can ensure that the image will be included in the final file, without worrying about the image being lost or misplaced due to external factors.

Similar to Creating Outlines for fonts and text. When you send a file to the print shop, converting text to outlines or expand text in Illustrator and embedding images will allow you to just send the Ai file to print.

The printer can open the files as they should be and no need to link up images and fonts or find them missing.

Note that once you embed an image, there will be an increase in file size, do make sure your hard drive has enough storage space to save a large Illustrator file.

Why Embed Images in Adobe Illustrator?

You will want to embed images in Adobe Illustrator if you will be making changes or edits to the images inside Illustrator but don’t want to affect or alter the original image files outside of Illustrator.

For example, you can change image color in Illustrator and the color of the original file saved on the desktop still remains the same. This is because the embedded image is part of the Illustrator document.

Similarly, it also allows you to make changes to the original files without affecting the embedded images in Illustrator.

If you don’t embed images and delete or lose the original linked image file, you will still be able to see your image in the file.

However since Illustrator is not able to find the original version, you will see that your image quality or DPI resolution will be reduced significantly in the Ai file.

Related: 2 Easy Steps to Set DPI in Illustrator vs PPI

Certain image editing features can’t be used in Illustrator unless the images are embedded. Don’t worry about changing your mind, you can undo and redo an embedded image if you need to.

Related: How to Redo in Adobe Illustrator

Embedding images in Adobe Illustrator will eventually save you loads of headaches when you have to share files with clients, printers, and team members.

How to Embed Images in Adobe Illustrator (Step-by-Step)

First thing, get started by importing your image onto a new file in Illustrator.

You can do that by dragging the file onto your Illustrator artboard.

Or, select File in the top menu and select Place in the dropdown menu. Or go to File > Place.

select file from top menu bar and place to import image to adobe illustrator

You can also use keyboard shortcuts by pressing the Shift key + Command + P on a Mac.

Keyboard shift key
Keyboard command key
Keyboard letter P

Or, Shift + Ctrl + P on Windows.

Keyboard shift key
Keyboard control or ctrl key
Keyboard letter P

Next, a dialog box opens up. Go to the location of the image file, select it by clicking on it once, and select the Place button.

select image file and click place button

By default, you will see that the Link box will be checked. This will make sure your image in the Ai document is linked to the original image.

Click one time on your document for the image to be successfully placed.

Here are ways and simple steps you can use to embed your image:

1. Have Illustrator Embed Images Automatically

The first method is to embed your images automatically. When importing your image to Illustrator, instead of dragging your images to your artboard, use the Place function from the File menu. Or select File > Place.

In the dialog box that opens up, select the image you want to place. You can select multiple images. Then, instead of checking the link box as it is by default, uncheck the Link box and select the Place button.

Illustrator embed images automatically

Select any spot you like to place the images, and you will see that your images are automatically embedded in bulk.

If you prefer to only embed selective images later in your design process, read on.

2. Control Panel

Another method is to use the Control panel, which is usually found on the top or bottom of your Illustrator workspace.

If you were to select Window in the top menu and select Workspace in the dropdown menu, you will see a number of preset Workspaces available. Any of them will allow the Control panel to show up except for Essentials.

Select Windo and Workspace in Adobe Illustrator

Here’s what you do next:

Step 1: Open the Control Panel

If you don’t wish to change your Workspace, you can open the Control panel by going to Window in the top menu and selecting Control in the dropdown menu. Or select Window > Control.

open control panel

Step 2: Embed your image

You will now see a bar of functions appear on the top or bottom row of Illustrator. Select your image by clicking on it once. Then, go to the Control panel and select Embed.

select embed button in the control panel

3. Quick Actions in The Properties Panel

The Properties Panel in Illustrator is similar to the one in Adobe Photoshop where you get to see the information on the Document, Ruler & Guides, and Quick Actions of the Photoshop file in one glance.

There’s a high chance it is not opened up by default in any of the Illustrator workspaces.

Step 1: Open the Properties Panel

To open the Properties Panel, select Window in the top menu and select Properties in the dropdown menu. You will see the Properties Panel appear from the right-hand side.

Properties panel

Step 2: Embed your image

Click on your image once to select it.

Then go to the Properties Panel, and scroll down to the Quick Action section. Select the Embed button.

how to embed images with embed button in quick actions in Adobe illustrator

4. Links Panel

The Links Panel allows you to see all the images you’ve imported to your file in one place.

Step 1: Open the Links Panel

To open the Links Panel, select Window on the top menu and select Links in the dropdown menu. Or go to Window > Links.

open links panel

Step 2: Select Links Option Menu

Select your image by clicking on it once. Then go to the top-right corner of the Links Panel and click on the Links menu icon with the three lines.

select links menu

Step 3: Embed Your Image

embed image in links panel

Select Embed Image(s) in the dropdown menu.

You will now see that the black link icon has disappeared, and your image has been embedded.

embedded image in links panel

5. Illustrator Options

Are you wondering how to embed all images in Illustrator?

Sometimes, you prefer to embed all your images one time only after working on your design in Illustrator.

Or you may want a method where you can embed all images without missing out on any links. You can do this in the Illustrator Options when saving your file.

Step 1: Save Your File

Go to File in the top menu and select Save As….

select save as... from the file menu

Then, select the Save button in the Save As dialog box.

save as dialog box

Step 2: Select Include Linked Files

Next, the Illustrator Options dialog box opens up. Make sure to select the Include Linked Files option. Then hit the OK button.

Illustrator Options dialog box

Next, close your Illustrator file completely and open it again. Open the Links Panel to check your image. You will now see that your image has been embedded.


Is there a way to embed all images in Illustrator?

Yes, you can do that by selecting all images you want to place in your file, and unchecking the Link option in the Place dialog box when placing your images.

You can also select all images that are on your document, then select Embed Image(s) in the Links panel, or Embed in the Control and Properties panels.

Do I need to embed images in Illustrator for print?

It’s best to embed images in Illustrator for print so that there’s no need for the images to be relinked at the printer’s shop.

Relinking can risk having images replaced with the wrong ones.

However, if you wish not to embed your images, you can send the Illustrator file together with the image files. It’s best to package your file by going to File > Package.

This will pull together all images and fonts used in your Illustrator file into one folder. You only have to send this folder to the print shop.

how to embed image in illustrator shortcut?

There is no keyboard shortcut available to embed an image in Illustrator. But you can quickly embed your image in the Control panel above your document.

Final Thoughts on Embedding Images in Illustrator

Now that you are embedding your images in Illustrator, you will find there’s no stress to keep up with packaging the links. You are officially “traveling” light, with just one Illustrator file, and ready to go.

Say goodbye to missing images!

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