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Troubleshooting: Linked Picture in Shape Fill Shows a Small Red X Icon

Learn how to troubleshoot any small red X icon in PowerPoint indicating missing linked pictures within the shape fill.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 97, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013
OS: Windows 7 / Vista / XP

January 21st 2011
January 21st 2011






It may happen that you add a picture fill to your shape, and may opt to link the picture rather than contain it within the presentation. You may thereafter forget about this altogether and delete the linked picture file or even rename it. Or you may move the presentation itself to another computer -- and since the linked picture file does not exist on that other computer, PowerPoint may get some hiccups!

How do you know that you are missing a linked picture? Most of the time, PowerPoint indicates a missing picture with a small red X icon that you can see in Figure 1 (see zoomed in Figure 2). Next to the icon, you'll find helpful text that says "The linked image cannot be displayed. The file may have been moved, renamed, or deleted. Verify that the link points to the correct file and location."

On your slide, you may get these indicators for missing linked pictures
Figure 1: On your slide, you may get these indicators for missing linked pictures

PowerPoint indicates a missing picture with a small red X icon
Figure 2: PowerPoint indicates a missing picture with a small red X icon

To avoid these small red X icons, you can follow these guidelines:

  1. If you are using a smaller resolution picture that you don't want changed, it's best not to link any picture fills since smaller pictures don't bloat up presentation file sizes. Just use the default Insert option rather than Link (see Add Picture Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2010).

  2. If you must link the picture file, make sure that you always copy the picture used to the same folder as your presentation before you insert it within your slide. Then if you need to copy or move this presentation to another computer, just move or copy the entire folder.

  3. If you are reading this after you see the red X icon, and want to know which picture was linked -- then PowerPoint provides no straightforward way to get the name or path of the linked picture unless you are ready to explore the XML code within PowerPoint's PPTX file container.

 

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