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Keeping the Same Scale Size when Updating or Relinking to Images


Lisa asked:

I draw up a set of charts in Illustrator and place them all into my InDesign file at 100% so that font sizes all match, alignment is spot on… Then, one of the charts needs an extra bar added, so I extend the illustrator artboard to the right and add another column. On returning to InDesign and updating the link, InDesign decides to shrink said chart to 94.5696% (or whatever) to fit in the existing image container. Please help, I’m going out of my mind!

This has been an annoyance for InDesign users for many years: When you relink to an image and the image size has changed — even a tiny bit — InDesign scales the image up or down in the graphic frame so that the new image takes up the same amount of space.

For many people, that’s exactly what they want. For example, it’s terrific when substituting a highres image for a low-res FPO. Or, if you’re swapping out one image for another in a frame after you’ve already laid out the page.

But in your example, it’s a disaster! You need the scaling to remain the same.

The solution is far simpler than you might fear: It’s a preference. That’s right, all you need to do is open the Preferences dialog box (Command/Ctrl-K), click the File Handling pane on the left, and turn off the Preserve Image Dimensions When Relinking checkbox.

Preserve Image Dimensions

Now you have control! You can master your future! But with power comes great responsibility… or something like that… ;)

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, CreativePro Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at LinkedIn Learning ( are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. [addbr]You can find more about David at[addbr]Follow on LinkedIn here
  • Lindsey Thomas Martin says:


    I’ve never found that selecting Preserve Image Dimensions helped one bit when using Edit Original to modify charts constructed in Illustrator. And, I’m not sure it’s designed to do so: see the quotation below from Adobe’s help file, which refers to replacing a graphic with a different source file, which doesn’t seem to be the case when one is editing the original of placed image.


    ‘When you relink to replace one graphic with a different source file, you can keep the image dimensions of the file that?s being replaced, or you can display the incoming file in its actual dimensions.

    ? Choose Edit > Preferences > File Handling (Windows) or InDesign > Preferences > File Handling (Mac OS).

    ? Choose Preserve Image Dimensions When Relinking if you want images to appear at the same size as the images they?re replacing. Deselect this option to have relinked images appear at their actual size.’

    • Glenn Farnham says:

      Ive just found that switching ‘Preserve Image Dimensions’ OFF allows me to drag and drop updated linked graphics from the desktop over the older (but exactly same graphic bounds) picture frame.

      With it switched on, the re-link changed the newly placed image’s scale (to some random figure) and no longer ‘fit’ the picture box as set before the re-link.

      So the check box should actually be renamed ‘Don’t Preserve Image Dimensions And Randomly Scale Image Within An Already Existing Picture Frame’.
      Or just: ‘Useless Check Box’.

  • @Lindsey: Yes, that’s what the docs say, but every time I’ve tried it with Edit Original and Update, it works the same. It is my belief that “Update” is basically “Relink to same file” (that is, it throws away the current file and then re-imports it). In this case, Lisa (the original person with the chart problem) replied: “That’s it! Perfect. Easy when you know how.”

  • Nina Storm says:

    This tip was of great help to me as I didn’t know of that preference.
    I thought that incorrect use of frame fitting options was the culprit of my problems in the process of placing 100 charts in a rapport and they kept changing percentage when relinking to new charts.
    Disabling the preserve image dimension solves the problem (even in the cases where the image dimension hadn’t been changed this was the solution).

    Thanks :-)

  • Rachel says:

    I applied the instruction as mentioned above in the Preference, then relinked the images I needed at 100%. I also rebooted the program afterwords when the change was not applied. I tried a second time (reviewed Preferences settings, relinked images) It didn’t work for me and I had to make the changes manually to 100%. (was using Cs5 on a PC)

  • Jane Taguchi says:

    I am having this problem with InDesign CS5.5 even with the preference unchecked!!! What is the problem?

  • rob says:

    This preference has been costing me money as a simple replacement of image has meant packaging proofs have been printed at the wrong size.

    So, with inDesign, measure 5 times and cut once!

  • Ken says:

    Thanks, a bunch, David. That one’s been giving me fits for some time! We’ve had the wrong percentage size print, causing costly re-runs. Thank you, thank you.

  • Nisih says:

    Thank you for this! It works. I can now update without having to keep on re-sizing the pages which has been very time consuming.

  • scott says:

    there may be more to it…
    Thanks though, I am trying that.
    In testing this “fault” on the same page I have two picture boxes which behave differently:
    in one when I re-link, it resizes to fit the box, the other maintains the percentage size of the original contents.
    I did nothing different between them – go figure?

  • Ulrike says:

    appling the tips above did not help me. still have the same issue with things resizing… :(

  • Scott says:

    Works great!
    I’m copying an image box from page to page, then placing different size Photoshop tifs into the box. Each time I did they would place at 100.535% more or less-just not 100%!
    Now they place at 100%, Thanks, great hints here.keep it up!

  • Caroline says:

    David, truly grateful for this hidden tool. It made me save many hours during the most critical of times. Many thanks!

  • Aaron says:

    David, with this old tip alone you have more than paid for the cost of my InDesignSecrets web subscription. Oh, wait — it’s free? Even better! But seriously, this is a lifesaver. Thank you.

  • Manya says:

    I have a similar problem with ID. After googling the problem, I found this page. But unfortunately the above tips, which are great actually, didn’t solve my problem.
    The matter is that I work with images, which need to be extended in Photoshop very often. After I extend an image and save it, InDesign repositions the image after updating, which is a disaster, having in mind that on the pages i and my colleagues work on, we have dozens of them. The last time after a time-consuming composing I had to make, I didn’t notice that some of the images didn’t reach the bleed. I created realistic shadows for the images, which were imported with clipping paths and put against new backgrounds, and imported the shadows in new boxes, which i arranged backward. After seeing the bleed problem, i extended the images, and ended up with repositioned images, which no longer corresponded to their shadows. I had to make new shadows and import them anew. So, the question is: is there a way to extend and image and update it in ID, without ID changing the position of that image? When you have a lot of photos on a page, this is really very time consuming – to move the photo around until it gets to the position, which should be visible in the box. Not to mention if you have spent much time creating shadows, and placing them, and then doing the whole thing again… thank you in advance. And thank you for the above mentioned tips again!

  • Mike says:

    OMG… it was so simple….
    thank you very much :)

  • Bart Van Put says:

    I had this same problem with Autosize = on, on top of it. Tx !

  • Ken Mcguire says:

    Sorry. Changed preference but placing different image continues to re-scale.

    I would be happy if there was a keyboard shortcut for 100% resize?

  • CJ Johns says:

    That did work for me but it re positioned the art. so I have to hit Command Shift E so it will center it back in the page.

  • position normal says:

    Also un-tick “Content-Aware Fit” in “General”. It helped me out.

  • Camilla says:

    Having the Content-Aware Fit setting under “Generel” checked off helped my problem!

    • Valerie DeCleene says:

      OMG, this is exactly what I needed! I’d click on my photos to ‘edit original’ through the links palette, then come back into Indesign and the image would recenter. I was so tired of having to reposition my image in my frame.

  • Charlotte says:

    Hello and good evening from England…

    HELP…! I am in desperate need of some assistance… I have design a floor plan 2D view in Sketchup, saved it, that part was OK, however, when I go to copy and paste the Jpeg image to Indesign it comes out larger than I require. I go to select it when you see the orange box appear but have I got this correct that by doing this and adjusting it, it adjusts the scale? Although saying that I pasted it to a Word document and printed to see if it remains in scale and it does not, how does the scale change from Sketchup? If so how can I re size the image without adjusting the scale? Getting pretty fed up with something that should be a breeze but it not and I am reaching my deadline for university in April. I am incredibly behind!

    I hope this all makes sense?

    Thank you,

    Charlotte :-)

    • Ruben Soler says:

      This is probably way too late, but:

      To resize the image while keeping proportions, hold shift+cmd while resizing the image with the cursor (click and hold on one of the small boxes in the corner of the image).

  • Sam Ezzo says:

    Yes! That’s the answer, you have to UNCHECK both preferences:
    – Preserve Image Dimensions When Relinking under “File Handling”
    – Content-Aware Fit setting under “Generel”

  • Marcos González says:

    Thanks a lot David, this was driving crazy for hours.

  • scott warren says:

    Hi David,
    My issue with this, is html changes.
    Whenever I edit an html object,
    I have to resize both the object,
    + its frame.
    very tedious and frustrating!
    any ideas?

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