1 2 Previous Next 57 Replies Latest reply on Dec 16, 2013 1:32 AM by PSmits

    Relative Link Paths

    Level 1
      It would be great if you could set all links, or individual links, within a document to be either absolute or relative.

      Every time I change a drive letter or folder name where a linked file is stored, I have to re-link it within InDesign. If I could specify a relative path for these such links (e.g. "../../image.psd") then it would go a long way to avoiding this issue. Making the path type changeable per link would mean files which reside in a folder which never changes would mean you could confidently set them as absolute paths.
        • 1. Re: Relative Link Paths
          BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional
          > Every time I change a drive letter or folder name where a linked file is stored...

          You've got me curious...why are you doing that?

          • 2. Re: Relative Link Paths
            Level 1
            I have a huge image/vector library which I'm constantly adding to, rearranging etc. I like everything to be very structured, so from time to time it's necessary to rename a folder in order to encompass a description of its contents more accurately.

            Additionally, when upgrading program versions, some folder structures have become obsolete. For example, InDesign CS3 allows me to place INDD files within others, thus eliminating the need for a special PDF folder I used to keep PDF versions in. However, this folder also contained other PDFs, but overall it no longer logically fitted within its parent folder, so I had to distribute the files differently.

            I'm sure that makes no sense to you, but basically I'm forever streamlining my files and folders. :)
            • 3. Re: Relative Link Paths
              Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)
              so how does a relative path help you here? If you move or rename the folder, you destroy that path information the same as you would for absolute paths. Your example implies the linked file is located in the same folder as the document, I think.
              • 4. Re: Relative Link Paths
                Level 1
                Yes, the example is where a file is located within the current folder.

                Say your document is located here:


                You have placed files, located here:


                Later, you rename the root folder thusly:


                With an absolute path, all files that were within the "Clients" folder will now have broken links. With a relative path, the links remain intact. If you had other linked files not within the "Clients" folder, you could set them to absolute paths, so that those links also remained intact.
                • 5. Re: Relative Link Paths
                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)
                  Well, it appears to me that is exactly the way it works now on my system. I've just renamed root folders for several clients with various link patterns. One has links in the same folder as the doc, one in a sub-folder directly below the doc, and one has some in many places, including a completely different branch of the directory tree under the same client root, i.e the document is in clients\clentname\newsletters\month and some links are located there, but others are located in clients\clentname\logos\better.

                  Changing the root name of the clientname folder in each case caused no problem whatever with missing links. If you rename the "better" folder to "use these" I'm sure you will have trouble, but that's because you've destroyed the relative tree structure within your root.
                  • 6. Re: Relative Link Paths
                    Level 1
                    The way it works right now is a mix between absolute and relative. It stores absolute addresses. But if it can't find the link at the absolute address (e.g., because of some renaming of the sort just discussed), then it will look for them inside the document's folder, although just how deeply it will look, I'm not sure.

                    This is how packaging works. You package a file and all the links are copied to a Links folder inside the package folder. When that package is moved to another computer, the links can't be found at the addresses held in the InDesign document and so it checks inside the document folder and there they are.

                    What relative addressing would allow would be the kind of sharing of common elements that can be done on web sites by using links that go up a level, across to another folder and then down.

                    • 7. Re: Relative Link Paths
                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)
                      >What relative addressing would allow would be the kind of sharing of common elements that can be done on web sites by using links that go up a level, across to another folder and then down.

                      I'm doing that now. As long as you don't rename a folder in the middle of the path (i.e. everything is below the folder you rename) it works fine. If the target is in a folder on a different branch of the same tree and you rename something partway out that branch, you break the link.
                      • 8. Re: Relative Link Paths
                        Level 1

                        Yes, it works on a single machine, but if you try to move the whole project to another machine (or disk on the same machine), the "relative" links are all broken. Relative links make for easy moving of stuff. Generally, InDesign documents are held in static locations so relative links aren't that important, but there are times when I've wished for them.

                        • 9. Re: Relative Link Paths
                          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)
                          I'm a little confused now about how you want to move things. Moving the whole project implies moving the links as well as the document, at least to me, and that says "package," but I'm playing with simply moving directories.

                          I've just moved a document from one physical drive to another on my workstation and opened it without any issue -- the links stayed where they were and were still accessible since they are on the same machine.

                          I've also just moved the document back, then moved the entire client folder to the second drive so nothing was left in it's original location. Again, the document opened as if it were never moved, which implies to me that I could move it to a second physical machine the same way (and in fact I have -- most of my client folders are duplicated on my laptop).

                          I think Grant's problem is that he is interrupting the path information by changing the names somewhere besides the top level. I don't think you can expect any application to figure out that instead of looking in fred\martha\george\larry it should look in fred\martha\josephine\larry.

                          • 10. Re: Relative Link Paths
                            Level 1
                            But packages don't work at a project level -- think of a book with 15 chapters with a mix of project art and chapter art. You really only want the project art once. That's where relative links would help me.

                            • 11. Re: Relative Link Paths
                              Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)
                              I don't do a lot of booked projects, and so I don't have your scenario, I guess. Can you package a book or do you need to do the files individually? If the latter, I can see where it would take some manual work to move everything into one links folder after doing the packages. Perhaps it would be more useful to ask for the ability to package a book if that can't be done now.
                              • 12. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                Level 1
                                This comes up about once a year, so it's not a big deal. I was just explaining a circumstance where the feature would be useful. I usually end up packaging each chapter and not worrying about the duplication -- it's not that disk space is an issue any more.

                                • 13. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                  Level 1
                                  I don't really do books/packages very often either. In fact 99% of my work is printed internally so I never really have to transport it around.

                                  The only real reason I ever rename folders and end up with broken links is because I'm constantly refining my folder structures and file naming conventions.

                                  I think you could both agree though, that there is some utility value in allowing both relative and absolute paths, even if for only a minority.
                                  • 14. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                    Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                    If you rename a folder in the middle of the path, or move a file to a new location, how do you expect to InDesign to know the new name and/or location? I can't see how relative/absolute comes into play here, but maybe I'm just dense this week.

                                    We've already established that you can move an entire branch or rename the root folder without losing links -- you just can't screw around in the middle somewhere.

                                    • 15. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                      Level 1
                                      Maybe part of the problem here is the loose use of the word "relative." In Grant's OP, he specified that he'd like to be able to use the Web convention "../../image.psd" In this case, ID would know to go UP the hierarchy a certain number of levels (depending on how many ../'s there are), and THEN search down through all directories.

                                      Currently, ID WILL automatically search down from the document directory. Thus, IN A SENSE, ID has "relative" capabilities, but only down, see?

                                      Of course, Grant, telling ID to go up a certain number of directories before beginning a downward search won't truly solve your problem. You'd still have to be able to guarantee you didn't move anything out of the specified "top level" directory.
                                      • 16. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                        Level 1
                                        Bucky, that's exactly right. But assuming you just changed the name of one folder in the process (not the top level folder), then it would indeed be beneficial.
                                        • 17. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                          Level 1
                                          can't everyone stop asking why it needs to be done and just tell us how to do it. The guy wants to use relative links because he damn well feels like it so stop asking him why and just tell him how its done because I also need to know. We've got 20 staff each working on 2-3 ~150 page magazines/books each with a tonne of links and every time they're packaged and saved on to our file server and re-opened on another machine, the docuements need to be re-linked. It can be done automatically but this process just takes too damn long in some cases. We need to be able to open these docuemnts on differnt machines and be able to start working on them immediately. We've got deadlines and can't afford to waste time re-linking.
                                          How the hell do you make all the links in a document relative instead of absolute... simple bloody question. how the hell do you do it???
                                          if you don't know, please don't answer!!!
                                          • 18. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                            Level 1
                                            > How the hell do you make all the links in a document relative instead of absolute?

                                            You do realise this is a feature request forum and that this thread exists precisely because it can't be done?
                                            • 19. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                              Level 1
                                              Maybe this won't apply to the person with the ID software issue.

                                              However, you can make relative links in a PDF. At least in my experience with MS Word, it is relatively easy - no pun intended.
                                              It requires setting the relative link in the origin document as a hyperlink, and then PDFing the MS Word file - using the Distiller button - directly from MS Word. Maybe you have this capability from the ID software. Check for a PDF Maker toolbar in "View Toolbars" to see if the button is available.

                                              My biggest issue is getting Acrobat to PDF any individual or batch of files and maintain the relative links I set within MS Word.
                                              For some reason, Acrobat changes all my relative links to absolute links. I wish it wouldn't do this, as our department has a large number of files that occassionally have to be rePDFd, and the batch process is the easiest method of PDFing over five hundred files at a time. (We have a document repository of over 15,000 files in over 1,600 folders. We also make our repository available on DVD; this is why we use relative links.)

                                              Graham Cooke
                                              • 20. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                Level 1
                                                It seems incredibly strange that Adobe hasn't incorporated relative links within InDesign. If InDesign essentially uses an XML structure under the hood, why (oh why?) wouldn't they use a web convention like relative links, which is both more useful and more consistent with XML/HTML conventions? It's hard to believe that relative links aren't facilitated by InDesign. But given the posting above, I guess they aren't. Heavy sigh.
                                                • 21. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                  Level 1
                                                  The fact that Adobe changes relative links to absolute links creates a big problem, especially if you're making the changes from a mapped or share drive. Any ideas on a resolution?
                                                  • 22. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                    Level 1
                                                    I think I have a resolution, and if anyone looks at ...(gasp)...Dreamweaver they can see it.

                                                    There's a little file manager in there (Files panel) that changes links when you move files.

                                                    That's what I'd love to have in Indesign.

                                                    I have spent hours relinking files since so I've had plenty of time to wish for a better system.

                                                    yes you could package the files up in a separate folder. But then anytime you alter or replace an image, you have to alter the package, or several packages... it's just not clean when you get down to it and you have to be very patient and well organized and methodical. I'm already patient and methodical enough right now, I don't want to get even more so.

                                                    Have a good one
                                                    • 23. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                      Level 1
                                                      Mike, that's a good idea but how would you envisage it working? Say you had 50 linked files in your document, would it list the full path of each one and keep track of things when you move a file? And what if you moved a file while the document was closed? How would it keep track?

                                                      Obviously we're only talking about relative link paths but I'm not sure how an equivalent of the Dreamweaver Files panel would work.
                                                      • 24. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)
                                                        I may be wrong, but I think Dreamweaver can only deal with moved links when you use the Dreamweaver links palette to move them.
                                                        • 25. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                          Level 1
                                                          Dreamweaver changes links whether files are open or closed. And yes if you change links outside of the program, you lose the link. Moreover, it only manages the links in a single site at a time.

                                                          You could compare the html files in Dreamweaver to the pages in Indesign.

                                                          the links panel might have a little file manager in it.

                                                          Trouble is, in an Indesign catalog type environment there are many links that do double or triple duty in many Indesign projects.

                                                          That's why the ultimate answer is to turn Bridge into an enhanced type of file manager that manages all links. You would set up all the files you want to change links in. That would be easy, it would be big list of your current Adobe files and projects. And when you move files around in Bridge, the program would update the links in Indesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and others, including the program where links are the most troublesome of all -- Premiere....
                                                          • 26. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                            Level 1
                                                            I think you misunderstood what I meant by "open document". If Dreamweaver is closed entirely, it doesn't keep track of files that move. And if you already have Dreamweaver open and you move files, Dreamweaver can only keep track of that if the file is within the directory structure, AND moved through the program. If you move the files through Windows Explorer then it still loses the link. I see that as the major issue here.

                                                            How would a file manager in InDesign solve this?
                                                            • 27. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                              Level 1
                                                              Well, as I saw it, you have a file manager that also updates links as files are moved around. The file manager would cover the same range as "Windows Explorer", but it would not be windows explorer, (unless it's enhanced with some kind of plugin). That's why I suggested Bridge for the job. Does that make sense as a concept?
                                                              • 28. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                viveredesign Level 1
                                                                When our company moves a job folder to the archive drive, all the links are broken even though the folder's inside structure is unchanged (i.e., /root/layout.indd is the file, and /root/links/ contains all artwork).

                                                                If we ever have to resurrect that job, it takes as much as an hour to relink all the items...


                                                                Any solutions?
                                                                • 29. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)
                                                                  Are you using the Package command to make the archive?
                                                                  • 30. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                    Level 1
                                                                    We spoke to an Adobe customer support rep on this very issue after migrating to newer servers recently and the support person commented that Adobe's "official" position on this issue is that InDesign wasn't designed to operate in a networked environment and there is no fix or work around. Thanks Adobe for making things even more difficult on top of your memory hog applications.
                                                                    • 31. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                      Level 1
                                                                      We would do *anything* for relative paths in InDesign.

                                                                      For a variety of reasons we have to copy InDesign projects from one server to another (server upgrades, document owner moves offices etc.). In most cases all our linked files are contained within a 'links' folder adjacent to the .Indd file. Even though InDesign stores absolute paths, it is clever enough to look inside the 'links' folder *if* the linked file can not be found along the stored path.

                                                                      But, if the project is copied to another sever and the original server is still available on the network, InDesign will continue to load linked files from the original location (which may be on the other side of the planet in our case), not the copied to location on the new server. Suddenly an InDesign file grinds to a halt.

                                                                      Do the same thing with one of our CAD projects, and everything works sweetly (most CAD packages have the option of storing paths as either relative or absolute).

                                                                      Absolute paths also defeat the benefits of using DFS (Distributed File Shares) in a windows environment for the same reason.

                                                                      Very frustrating!
                                                                      • 32. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                        Level 1

                                                                        I also just realized how much I would love to have a relative link option in InDesign.  I've learned to deal with the packaging idea, but it kind of unorganizes my files... Here's my scenario:


                                                                        I have a custom media kit I make for many clients, based on a template. There are many many elements involved so I have subfolders under my assets folder (which is my name for links) for each section.  If I package it, all subfolders are lost and all links are stuck in one folder, making it very hard to navigate to what I need to change.  If I could drag the file and assets subfolder to the new clients name, keeping my subfolder organized, it would be much easier to just open the files in the new location, change them, and have inDesign update the links.  As it stands now, if I did that, inDesign would  still pull from the original folder and I would have to relink everything to the new folder.


                                                                        It's not a matter of packaging not being able to solve the problem, the issue is that I find it much more of a hassle and much more time consuming that way, when relative links just seem more intuitive in this case.  Not to mention, it takes a lot more time to open the doc, package, and find the new place, rather than the simple drag and drop idea. 


                                                                        I think having the option to have links be relative or absolute would help me out GREATLY.  I am sure there are others in my position.

                                                                        • 33. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                          mdwolff Level 1

                                                                          Indesign CS4 has a 'Relink to Folder' option in the Link palete flyout menu. The problem with this is tha t it does not search subfolders.

                                                                          This would solve the problem by selecting 'Relink to Folder' you would be able to select the parent folder even the whole drive/server and Indesign would find it where ever you placed it. As long as you chose a folder in the higherarchy above the image you want to link.


                                                                          But in my tests Indesign will only find the links if you point it directly to the folder that contains the missing links.


                                                                          I have a problem, where our catalog was out sourced, and now I want to relink it to our huge image library that is organized as follows: server/alphabetically1/comapny/alphabetically2/product (e.g images/C/Canon/P/Canon Powershot G10.eps).

                                                                          To relink my files I need to relink them individually to the 'alphabetical2' folders.


                                                                          Maybe someone knows how to write a script for this?

                                                                          • 34. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                            NicStage Level 1

                                                                            I'm amazed that, this many years later, this simple feature request still hasn't been addressed. It isn't terribly confusing. "Relative" and "Absolute" are just two different methods for locating a referenced resource. More specifically, the difference is simply in where ID begins looking for the resource. Although they are both so simple, it would be easy to impliment the feature as a per-document (or even per-link) option.




                                                                            This document:



                                                                            Contains a link to this resource:



                                                                            Imagine that we save the entire contents of the project folder on a network drive (or check it into a versioning system, or whatever), and the location on that computer becomes:





                                                                            When ID opens document.indd and encounters the link, it sees this information: /archive/project/images/photo.psd and it begins searching for photo.psd from the root. So it asks "Is there a folder in /  named archive?". If it can't find the folder so it begins a sort of convoluted process of searching in other places (read previous posts to learn more about how). Suffice it to say that ID's process will fail to locate photo.psd due to the fact that the project/ folder is located in a folder named something other than archive/.




                                                                            If ID would implement relative linking, it would see the information ../images/photo.psd when it encounters the link and begin searching from the folder where document.indd currently resides. So it begins looking in the project/ folder and, it doesn't care what the name of the parent folders are.

                                                                            • 35. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                              Cousin-Jack Level 1

                                                                              Another vote for relative paths for Indesign hyperlinks.


                                                                              I need to distribute a final PDF on CD-ROM that links to all sorts of files (Word docs, images, other PDF's, Excel files, etc...). If InDesign had relative links when I export to a PDF, I could put the CD on any computer and the links would work fine. Now I have to relink every link in Acrobat everytime there is an edit, no matter how simple. What a waste of valuable time.

                                                                              • 36. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                                ndr111 Level 1

                                                                                Well said, really frustrated that InDesign does not support relative link paths. been search around for a workaround and found out this feature has been requested awhile back, many versions ago. i dont know maybe i have not searched long enough for a workaround.

                                                                                • 37. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                                  Pickory Level 4

                                                                                  Hello Every One,


                                                                                  I am I reading this right. If all the images ( images just for now ) are stored at the same folder level as the document, or within sub folders at the same level as the document ID fails to find these images when the folder containing the document is moved to a new volume?



                                                                                  • 38. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                                    NicStage Level 1

                                                                                    Hi P,


                                                                                    Yes, this is true. InDesign is not capable of creating or automatically following relative links. When you store the resources for your indd file in the way you mentioned and move the indd file and those resources to a new location (while maintaining their locations relative to each other), InDesign will not be able to automatically locate those resources when the indd file is opened from the new location. It will prompt you aksing if you want it to "fix" "broken" links. If you confirm that dialog, it will alter the document's links and create a new revision of the file simply because you opened it.


                                                                                    It get's very frustrating in a team environment where InDesign documents are under revision control.

                                                                                    • 39. Re: Relative Link Paths
                                                                                      Pickory Level 4



                                                                                      I did a quick test.


                                                                                      I created a folder in my documents folder, copied a png file into it, created a document in that folder and placed the png file. Closed the document and copied it to my pen drive and opened it from the pen drive. The link palette showed that the image path was still to my documents folder. I closed the document and renamed the folder in my documents folder and reopened the document from the pen drive, the path to the image was now showing the pen drive.


                                                                                      Is that not what you want to happen?


                                                                                      I did my test test on Mac CS4.



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