Adobe Illustrator Could Not Find The Linked File [Solved]

I’ve written an app for OS X that will take an Adobe Illustrator file with broken links / liked files, and run through those trying to relink them automatically.


  1. Open the Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file with Illustrator. This application has been confirmed to work with Illustrator versions CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6, and Adobe Creative Cloud
  2. Choose “Ignore” or “Ignore / Apply to All” to the messages about the missing files when the document is opening. Those are typically something like “Could not find the linked file / Choose Replace to select another file or Ignore to leave the link unchanged.” Adobe Illustrator Cs5 Could Not Find The Linked File
  3. Run the Fix Linked Files App that you downloaded / installed.
  4. You will be prompted for a directory to search (recursively) for the missing linked files. By default this is set to three levels up from where the Adobe Illustrator file with the missing linked files is located. Please note: If you choose the root folder ( / ) or a folder with many files in it, it may take some time for the system to search for the linked files. I would suggest choosing the most restrictive path possible to start with.
  5. After the app has completed, any linked files found will be updated (and will show up normally) in Adobe Illustrator.
  6. Save the AI file and the linked files will continue your workflow with all the linked resources now fixed!
  7. Next time you open this file all of the resources will remain fixed and you will not be prompted to relink them when re-opening the .ai file.


  • Mac OS X
  • Adobe Illustrator CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6, CS7, CC
  • Also works with latest Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) version

What if I have Adobe Creative Cloud?

I’ve done thorough testing to make sure that my application works with all version of Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud. If the Fix Linked File application doesn’t work I will personally help you and if that doesn’t work I’ll issue a refund.

Adobe Illustrator Could Not Find The Linked File [Solved]

Beta Version

The beta version features a more comprehensive report of the files that are missing and which ones are found when you run the program. If you have any problems with the current version let me know and you can test the beta version.

Adobe Illustrator Could Not Find The Linked File [Solved]

Instructions – for Newest Version

  1. Open the Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file with Illustrator
  2. Choose “Ignore” or “Ignore / Apply to All” to the messages about the missing files when the document is opening. Those are typically something like “Could not find the linked file / Choose Replace to select another file or Ignore to leave the link unchanged.”
  3. Run the Fix Linked Files App
  4. Click on “Analyze Linked Resources”
  5. The area in the middle should show a list of linked resources that are present in the .ai file you opened
  6. Now click “Search and Re-Link Resources” and choose a folder that contains the link resources ( or that contains subfolders which contain the linked resources )
  7. Click OK and the program should start fixing the broken links

Download / Purchase

The cost of this application is $15USD per license. One license should be purchased per user, but if you have multiple computers (where you are the primary user) you may use this application on each of them. You may purchase via PayPal and you will receive a link to download it immediately. You will also receive both the application and the sample project and resource files from the video / screen cast. You may not modify or redistribute this application. Please contact me if you have any questions.

  • Satisfaction Guaranteed or your money back
  • Instant download upon payment

Prefer to pay with a credit card without using PayPal?

“Adobe Illustrator Fix Linked Files” General Feedback

So far I’ve had a few dozen people who have purchased this program (thank you all for supporting further development!) and the application is working well for all of them. If you have any trouble with this program please contact me and I will be happy to assit, usually within an hour or two.


Does this work in Adobe CS6?

Yes, thoroughly tested with Adobe Illustrator CS6, this application solves the problem quite well. Screenshots:

How To Fix Broken Links Illustrator

Will this work if some of the linked files are missing?

YES – This program will re-link all of the files it can find – even if one or more are not present.

If someone has sent me files created on a Windows PC, can I use this to re-link them on my Mac?

Absolutely! You can re-link all of Illustrator’s Linked Files independent of which platform created the Adobe Illustrator (ai) file initially.

What types of files can be re-linked?

All file types – including but not limited to: PNG, JPG / JPEG, GIF, BMP, PSD (Photoshop), PDF, EPS, and AI file extensions.

I use mac 10.6.8 and adobe CS6. Do you have positive feedback from anyone using CS6?

I wrote the application while using 10.6.8 before upgrading to 10.7 and then 10.8. It worked fine for me on all versions and no one who has purchased the application has ever complained that it wouldn’t run. I am currently using it with Adobe Illustrator CS6 and it works great. So far there have been three issues customers have had:

1) The application was unable to add in a linked resource – after investigation this turned out to be due to the resource being named with the incorrect extension – it was a JPG file that had a .PNG extension. This actually causes an error in Illustrator which prevented my application from completing its task. After renaming the file to the proper extension it worked fine.

2) Occasionally someone will find a file that has a special character in the path name that causes the application to fail. If you experience that issue I can usually provide a fix in about 24 hours.

3) If you are using an AFP fileshare from a mac with a G4 processor you may have to move the resource files to a local drive (try moving the project folder to your Desktop).

Does this work on Microsoft Windows based PCs (Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7)?

Not at this time, but please leave a comment below if you would like to be notified if I can ever get the Windows version working. (I tried to write a Windows version first ;)

I am a freelance designer, so I would be using your product for business. How much does a commercial version cost?

I’ve just rewrote the pricing section so that it is more clear. Basically, each person who uses the application should purchase it. What I hope won’t happen is for a design shop to purchase the application once and install it on all of their computers.

Do you have a physical address and a phone number?

I am happy to provide e-mail support unless an issue is overly complicated and then we can schedule a phone call. If you are not satisfied with the program please contact me and I will make sure we resolve any issues.

Do you provide a user guide with your “Adobe Illustrator Linked File” program?

The application is fairly straight forward – there isn’t any functionality that is not shown on the YouTube video / screencast. I try to keep my webpage updated with helpful information.

Would I be able to “uninstall” the program if it causes any problems?

The application does not need to be “installed” – it is a single, self-contained `.app` file. You can store it wherever you like but most people would probably drag it to the Applications folder. To uninstall, just drag it to the trash.

Is there any chance that your program could cause any kind of problems on my computer?

I suppose there is no 100% guarantee for anything, but the application works by looking for missing files in your Adobe Illustrator (`.ai` file) and then scanning the folder (and subfolders) your specify to try and repair the links. It seems unlikely to me that this “read only” behavior would be able to cause any problems.

If I update my links with your program, then if I deinstall your program, will illustrator still be able to locate the linked files automatically?

Adobe Illustrator is that smart at handling linked files. If you move a project folder from one computer to another, chances are when you open the `.ai` project Adobe Illustrator won’t be able to located the linked resources. If you use this application to fix the linked files, then save the `.ai` file, the next the you open that Adobe Illustrator file on that system it will open just fine without asking to re-link the files – even if the program has been uninstalled. However, if you move your `.ai` project to another computer Adobe Illustrator will most likely ask you fix the links when you open it on that computer.

If I desire, am I able (via a preference setting) to change the default of three levels of folder searching to something else, like 1, 2, 4, 5, 10 etc. ? I realize that the more folders that it needs to look through, the longer it will take to find the linked files.

The app will actually search unlimited levels deep – so you can use it to search your entire hard drive. The “three levels” thing is where the default “open folder” dialog starts off. For example, if your illustrator file is in Projects->BigClient->Billboards->Spring-> when you run the application it will open an “open folder” dialog to the “BigClient” folder – three levels up from where the .ai file is stored. If you click “OK” the application will then search the “BigClient” folder and all subdirectories until it finds the matching resource or has completed the search of all files and subdirectories inside the “BigClient” folder – no matter how many levels deep.

I would like for your program to search through my entire hard drive and/or drives to find the missing links. However on my drives there may be mulitple files of the image with the same name. So it would be nice to be able to set a preference to find the either the MOST RECENT file, or to have a feature that would show me the linked file various locations and allow me to pick one of those links. Does that make sense?

This is not currently a feature but it is something that could be added to a future version, although I can’t promise you a date that this would be available. However, like everyone who purchases the application, future updates will be provided to you free of charge.

Is your program an illustrator plug-in, or a freestanding application?

It is a small freestanding application.

Can I move or rename the Adobe Illustrator relinking application?

Yes – you can move the application anywhere you choose (Applications folder, desktop, etc). You can rename it if you like. You can create a shortcut in your Dock (many people do that).

Do I need to change any System Preferences?

You may need to change the “Allow Applications” system preference under the “Security and Privacy” section:

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31 Responses to Adobe Illustrator Could Not Find The Linked File [Solved]

  1. Sergio G. says:

    Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool for creating amazing artwork, but the one thing it fall short on is with its absolute path for linked images. And if the images are located in different folders, relinking them a not fun. Luckily Will created this awesome Illustrator Link Fix app. It definitely should be turned into an Illustrator plugin or script.

  2. Uros says:

    It works, thanks a lot!

  3. Arch says:

    We recently moved our file storage at work to a central server location. What a surprise it was to find out that Illustrator links files absolutely and every single Illustrator file has broken links in it!

    So far, this has been a lifesaver. We’re using Illustrator CC2015, and this works like a charm. Thank you so much.

  4. Marc says:

    Great app, five star rating! Had a problem downloading and Will responded within minutes.

  5. Jim says:

    This app is AWESOME! Can literally save you hours when dealing with complex files – THANKS!

  6. Arik Nordby says:

    I wish I could get back all the time I’ve wasted searching for links in the past – does exactly what I’ve always hoped for all these years! Works great on my Creative Cloud.

  7. Gracie says:

    I got it to work thanks. You are a lifesaver. Well worth the money. Look forward to your other ideas. Simply Genius!

  8. Michael says:

    That did the trick. Thank you so much for sending the updated version. Your program saved me a handful of hours. Have a great holiday season,


  9. Lee says:

    Hey!!!! :)))))

    So, on testing with the new 2014 version of Illustrator it just worked – awesome – the previous time around I had to do it manually (around 4 hours) but now it has worked like a dream. Awesome piece of software. I think it might have been a CC (standard) version bug before.

    The guys in the office are gonna be so happy to hear about this tomorrow :D

    Also your support responses are great – I’ll be sure to mention this.

    Cheers, Lee

  10. Benno R. says:


    Incredible work!


  11. Michael says:

    This new application works perfectly thank you. I will keep testing to make sure it continues to work over SMB.

    Regards, Michael

  12. Mohammad Mahmoud says:

    Hi Will,

    MAN This is REALLY magic !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks alot will share it as well :)

  13. Daniel Owens says:

    The Beta version (2.0 b41) of this App worked fricken’ wonders for me. It found all my links very fast despite pointing it to a remote directory, and a large one at that. I’ve been looking for an app like this for a long time, so excited to finally find it.

    Thanks Will!

    My setup: Illustrator CS6 OSX Mountain Lion .ai file and links residing on a mounted volume, AFS format.

  14. Mario says:

    I bought this app in preparation on migrating my entire artwork archive to a new server at work. I thought it was going to be a nightmare… but this app saved me a lot of time. Even with a lot of links on different locations Will’s app is super fast in finding them! YMMV of course. Works for me on os x 10.9 (Mavericks), Illustrator CS5 and CS6 with USB and SMB connections.

  15. Giacomo Ardesi says:

    I just purchased and downloaded your application. I found it googling about ways to automate the absurd process of having to relink missing files form .ai artworks, which is very time consuming and boring. And it happens often to me cause I need to work back and forth between clients and my home office on one external HDD. So it seems to me this is dead perfect for my need. I had couple issues with present release (maybe due to the fact this HDD is ExFat formatted for PC compatibility needs and Spotlight has some issues about it) but Will sent me his beta version right away and…It’s a kind of magic!! God bless you Will.

    thank you. Giacomo

    PS: I’m gonna spread the word as much as I can.

  16. Eric Witzer says:

    Add my whole-hearted endorsement, it works with the latest version of CC as of Feb 2014 and I highly recommend it. The purchase cost is minimal, it payed for itself the first time I used it. If you use Dropbox to share files you definitely need this. Not to mention outstanding customer service. My remote team had a different path to Dropbox on PC that included the drive letter and I’m on a Mac so the program didn’t work out of the box and I had an emergency with 30 files to make quick edits to (the whole reason I purchased it). Updating the files would have taken longer than doing the edits. Will got back to me immediately and updated it to work within a half hour including the back and forth emails. That is unparalleled. This should be in everyone’s Illustrator workflow, I can’t stress it enough.

  17. Robin says:

    is there a windows 7 version yet? please, please, please :'(

  18. dandid says:

    Will re-jigged a version if this to work with mountain lion and CS6 creative cloud, and it works like a treat. I can’t begin to show my appreciation for such a great little script. opening one project alone it has saved me best part of an hour i’d guess.

    Will contacted me, did a direct screen share and skype conversation to assess my issues before fixing within a few hours, amazing service on a £10 script. Adobe will no doubt address this problem one day, but they owe him a medal for doing their work for them.

  19. Ian R says:

    I tested it on a CS6 file and it worked great. Thanks for solving this issue!

  20. Steve Zimmer says:

    GREAT APP!!! Thanks Will!

  21. ben runciman says:

    Thanks for a great app! you saved me so much time!!

  22. W says:

    @CC – It should work although if your SMB connection is slow it may take a little while to run. It seems that it will in fact run with both SMB & AFP, but performance is of course based on your hardware and connection speed. For some it works quite fast. You can always try it and if it doesn’t work there is of course the satisfaction guarantee.

  23. CC says:

    Will this work on a smb share where the directory structure has changed? We converted a xserver to a windows server and changed the directory structure. Files are still being accessed from a Mac 10.5 and 10.6 using smb instead of afp.

  24. Mike says:

    Thanks w!

  25. W says:

    Hi Mike – if you’re asking if this problem persists in CS6, the answer is unfortunately “yes”

  26. Mike says:

    Just what I was looking for…

    One quick question: Does anybody know if Illustrator CS6 uses relative paths?

  27. Nicolas Antille says:

    The following comment is an e-mail thread between Nicolas and I, posted with his consent, and my replies in line.

    Hi Will,

    Thanks for your email, I was quite busy last week so I took me some time to answer. You’ll find my feedback below.

    I had no trouble downloading the script and I’m just starting to use it. At first I thought it was a script to be put within the Illustrator presets. But I soon realized something was wrong when going to File > Script so I came back to your page to see how to use it properly.

    I tried running it without any AI file open and it gave me instructions as to how I should use the app. However, when I opened a file and selected a folder that didn’t have the linked files, the script didn’t show any warning.

    Will: Hmm, I could add in a warning that tells you if it can’t find any linked files in the Illustrator document. That is a great idea!

    The best part is when you select the right folder, the script works and it’s such a pleasure to see it do what you’d painfully do one click at a time !

    Another time-saving feature is the default three levels up from where the AI file is. The linked files aren’t usually too far from that.

    Will: Yes, I don’t know if that’s the way everyone works, but I thought three levels up was about right for most. I’m impressed that you noticed that! :)

    There are two things I’m going to test soon. The first is, whenever I want to transfer the “fixed” AI file to another computer, will I have to run your script again ? If the links in Illustrator are absolute, then it’s very likely that I’ll have to do so.

    Will: I think this is a problem actually with the way Illustrator saves files. Before I wrote this script I tried to duplicate the file structure that my graphic designer was using on her hard drive, but Illustrator still didn’t seem to want to automatically link the files. It saves them very definitively as absolute paths, and also it seems to be somewhat specific to the system you’re on. While it might be possible that if you have the same file structure on two machines and share Illustrator files without having to relink them each time, it seemed to me that it was flaky at best and so writing this application seemed like a better solution for me :)

    The second thing is, what happens when I use the CollectForOutput script to package a project in a similar fashion as InDesign does (without the fonts) ? Do I then need to close, open and run the script again ?

    Will: I guess I don’t use this thing very often – when you run CollectForOutput does it lose the linked files? Basically once you open an AI file and relink the files, and then save the AI file, it should then remember the updated paths. I’m sorry if I’m not answering this question very well, I’m not that familiar with this (can you tell I’m not a graphic designer by trade?)

    One thing that could be improved: rather than running the script from the Finder or Spotlight, I’d prefer to have this available within Illustrator with a shortcut or if it is meant to be an application, that it’d remain open in a window with a “relink” button or something.

    Will: This is another great suggestion and would make a lot of sense! I will add it to the to-do list for the next version.

    Could you tell me what you’re planning to add to the new version of this utility ?

    Will: So far there have been two versions of this application, the first worked well and the second fixed a few issues with network drives and filenames with special characters. The next version should be even faster (sometimes if you have a lot of resources it can take a while to search them all – some clients have used this with 100+ linked resources), and will also have an option to output a list of the linked / missing resources. I will check and see if I could integrate it from the Illustrator file menu – that is a great thought, and if I can’t then I will make an option to keep the program open and have it remember your settings so that you can easily re-link the resources again. I also would like to get the future version into the App store and set it up so that it could auto-update.

    Best, Nicolas

  28. Will says:

    Hi Martin, I will let you know if a Windows version becomes available. I had originally tried writing one for Windows before I wrote the one for Mac but it seemed almost impossible the way it is set up. I will keep you (or anyone else who comments here on wanting a Windows version) updated if I make any progress. Best, Will

  29. Martin says:

    I need a tool similar this, but for Windows. Please let me know. Since we change the Server, the directoryname is different. Y need a tool to change only the root for example \server01\folder01\imag.jpg to \servernew\folder20\imag.jpg. The settings for example: Old Directory : \server01\folder01 New Directory:\servernew\folder20

  30. Brett says:

    Yeah this is exactly what I had been look for, this script is easy to use and has made my life easier- thanks.

  31. Brian says:

    In the world of cloud storage (ie. Dropbox), Illustrator is fundamental flawed: It links to images using absolute paths, rather than relative paths (like Indesign). This creates a nightmare if you work on multiple computers like I do. Each time you open a file, you have to waste an incredible amount of time relinking EVERY image, ONE by ONE. Finally, I discovered Will’s script and I can now open Illustrator files without flinching. One click

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