How to Insert Images in a Word Document without Embedding

Written by Amit Agarwal on Oct 7, 2013

How to insert images in a Microsoft Word document such that any changes made to the original image are auto-updated in the document(s) where these pictures are embedded.

This is a common issue in organizations where documents often contain common graphic elements – examples could include a company’s logo or an organization chart. For instance, if there’s a reshuffle in the company, updating every single Word document that contains the older version of the org chart may take lot of effort.

link pictures in word Luckily, there’s a simple workaround. In the Insert Picture dialog box, click the down arrow next to the Insert button, and then click either “Link to File” or “Insert and Link”.

Here’s what the different options mean:

Option #1 – Link to File: When you link a picture file from a Word document, Microsoft Word creates a virtual connection with that picture without actually embedding it in the document.

This is very similar to embedding images in an HTML web page. So if you edit the linked picture, the change is reflected immediately in all the Word document(s) that use that picture.

Option #2 – Insert and Link: The drawback with the “Link to File” approach is that if you upload the document onto the web or share it via email, the recipient won’t see any of the pictures as the links have broken.

That’s where this “Insert and Link” command comes in handy. It’s like saying – link to the selected picture in the Word document but, to be on the safer side, also embed a copy of image so that if the original source file cannot be located, the recipients can still see the picture in the document.

Convert Linked Images to Embedded Images

If you are sharing documents externally, the “Insert and Link” approach should be preferred over “Link to File”.

However, if there’s a Word document that contains only linked images and you want to upload it to Google Docs, the first thing you need to do is convert these “linked” pictures into embedded graphic. To do so, click the Office button and select Prepare -> Edit Links to Files. Now you can easily save linked pictures in the document itself.

save linked word pictures

Bonus Tip: If you like to save all these embedded images out of the documents, just save your Word document as an HTML web page – this is similar to extracting pictures from PowerPoint slideshows.

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