Inserting a PSD into another PSD File

By Forrest Smith -

For the longest time I’ve been waiting for the ability to insert a Photoshop file into another Photoshop file. I think the capability has actually been around for quite some time, but up until recently I was using an older version of Photoshop, mainly out of protest of the subscription fee business plan that Adobe adopted (I mean seriously, subscription plans…don’t get me started…). Now that I am up to date on my Adobe software, I’m fully utilizing the ability to embed linked photoshop files.

How to Insert a PSD File into another PSD File

It’s easy to insert a Photoshop file into another Photoshop file, where if the inserted Photoshop file changes, it automatically updates in the Photoshop file that it’s inserted into:

  1. In the file that you want to embed the Photoshop file into, go to ‘File’ > ‘Place Linked…’
  2. Find the Photoshop file that you want to insert into it, and then click on the ‘Place’ button.
  3. Once it inserts, hit enter to actually insert it into the document.
  4. It will be shown as a single layer, which you can move around as needed. If you open up the inserted file and make an edit, the embedded version will automatically updated.

Occasionally, Photoshop doesn’t automatically update a linked file. I think this mainly happens if I’ve just opened a file and there were changes made to the embedded file while it was closed. To update the linked file, find it in the layers palette — there will be a yellow exclamation point next to the layer name to denote that it’s out of date. Right click on the layer, and then click on ‘Update All Modified Content’.

Insert a PSD into another PSD

Artist: Sergey Nivens 


Why You Should Insert Photoshop Files Into Photoshop Files


Photoshop files can get messy pretty click, and sometimes all of the other stuff on the page just gets in the way of you being able to focus on a small piece. Sure, you can group all of your layers into folders and hide what you don’t need, but there is still just extra clutter to wade through.  I love working on one piece of a design, without the distraction of seeing the entirety of it all. Sure, for cohesion I check in with the rest of the design, but for many things I can more intently focus on details and a single piece of a design by breaking things out into different files.

Smaller Files

I used to have enormous files, which take longer to open, sync and just doesn’t jive with my minimalist philosophy. Larger files take more computing power, and just generally seems like a sloppy way to go. 

Keeps Files Clean

By breaking things into different, smaller files, it’s easier to keep things organized and cleaned up. I’ve noticed this for quite some time with code files for javascript and other programming and scripting languages — the smaller the file, the easier it is to maintain it and keep it looking nice. I see this translate to Photoshop files as well. The smaller the file, the easier time I have removing unused layers and elements, keeping up on naming my layers, and just keeping the file beautiful in general — which helps make it easier for the actual design work contained within the file to be beautiful. 


Much of my work utilizes the same elements, but just in different arrangements and across several files. It’s faster to just create the element once, and embed that element wherever I need it. It also saves a load of time if I need to change that element. With an an linked file, I only need to change that file once for that change to be reflected everywhere. 

Because of the above points, using the ‘Place Linked’ feature in Photoshop helps me work faster, which gives me more time to make my work better. Which in turn makes me gain better clients, and pretty soon I’ll be taking over the world, all thanks to my ability to insert a Photoshop file into another Photoshop file.