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Using LinkrUI with InDesign
Using LinkrUI with InDesign

An explanation of how these two tools interact to help you understand their capabilities and limits

Updated over a week ago

Generally, an InDesign document (an .indd file) can contain images that are embedded or linked. So, what's the difference?

Embedded images

Embedding an image means it becomes part of the InDesign (.indd) file, similar to adding an image to a Word document. Embedding images can significantly increase the file size, especially as the output from an InDesign files usually needs to be high res files (e.g. PDFs), meaning any images it uses will need to be high-res as well.

As a result, most designers use linked images (and it’s the default in InDesign) rather than embedded images.

👉 A linked image can be converted into an embedded image by right-clicking on the image in the “Links” tab and choosing “Embed Link”. The rest of this document discusses linked images only.

Linked images

When images are placed in InDesign, by default these will be linked images. A linked image means it's displayed in InDesign, but its source is elsewhere, such as on a local drive or a third party site such as Dash.

InDesign will always show you a low-res preview version of the image within the document even if the original source image is not where it should be on the hard drive(in which case it will show a red alert icon next to the image in the document).

💡Example: How sharing an indd document between users affects linked images

Designer A creates an InDesign document and adds an image to it that they had on their local drive: /tmp/pictures/image.jpg. They then email the indd file to their colleague, designer B, who opens it.

If Designer B just needs to make some edits to the document, and doesn’t need to generate a high-res output file, they can go ahead and do this without needing the missing image.

Otherwise, because Designer B doesn’t have the image “image.jpg” located in the folder “/tmp/pictures”, InDesign won't be able to find the linked file and will show the alert symbol ❗️ by the preview image. To resolve this, Designer B can ask Designer A for the image file (“image.jpg”). If they put it in /tmp/pictures/ or the same folder as the indd file then InDesign will be able to find it. Alternatively, they can click “relink” to manually browse to the image file to let InDesign know where it is.

ℹ️ A better option could be for Designer A to send Designer B a “package”, which they can create by going to “File - > Package” in the InDesign menu. This creates a folder containing all the resources the indd document needs, including linked images, fonts, etc. That folder can then be zipped up and sent to designer B.

Why are you telling me this? How does it relate to Dash and LinkrUI?

When you’re ready to generate your output e.g. a high-res PDF, you need all your linked images to be in place on your local or network drive.

However, your images may be stored online e.g. in Dash. This is where LinkrUI comes in - it allows a tool such as InDesign (or Photoshop, Office etc) to connect with a Dash account and places the images where they need to be on your local drive (in a special cache folder that you don’t need to worry about!)

So, how does it work, exactly?

Placing an image

The LinkrUI panel in InDesign enables a user to log into a Dash account and then search or browse that account to find images to drag-and-drop into an open InDesign document:

When you're placing this image in InDesign, LinkrUI takes care of putting the image onto your local hard drive and then keeping this up-to-date when necessary.

As a result then, the same rules apply as we explained earlier:

  • If you send that InDesign document to someone who either a) doesn't have LinkrUI at all or b) has LinkrUI, but isn't logged into the same Dash account in the LinkrUI panel, the low-res preview of the image will still show within the document.

  • To get the high-res version, they’ll need to get the images by logging into the correct Dash using LinkrUI (and then LinkrUI will download the images for them), or they could do it manually by placing the images onto their local drive and re-linking if necessary.

  • Note that every time LinkrUI downloads an image, this will count as a download in Dash.

What actions in InDesign will count towards my download allowance in Dash?

✅ What counts as a download:

  • Inserting an asset into an InDesign document using the LinkrUI plugin panel (i.e. clicking "place")

  • If you open an InDesign document that contains images that were added in by LinkrUI from Dash, and those images are not present in the LinkrUI cache folder on your local drive, then LinkrUI will automatically download the missing images. This may be the case if you have cleared your LinkrUI cache folder, or if someone else authored the document.

❌ What isn't a download:

  • Creating a copy of the document yourself and re-opening this document.

  • Copying an image from one InDesign document to another using copy and paste.

  • Converting the InDesign document to a PDF or other file type

  • Packaging the InDesign document.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to use the downloaded image? Can I keep the temporary, lower-res version instead?
You don't need the images to be downloaded if you just want to make edits to the document. However, to generate the output you created the indd for (e.g., a PDF), you'll want the source images to be present.

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