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Insert or Link Pictures in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

Learn about options available for inserting or linking pictures in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac. Linking allows some advantages over normal inserting, but it has cons as well.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X

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Presentation Management 14: Making Presentations Intelligent

When you insert a picture on your PowerPoint slide, you are doing a task that is frequent and commonplace. And to you, this may look like an activity that's simple, but behind this simple task, there are options you may not be aware of.

You know that a picture located in any of your folders can be inserted on a slide. But, have you wondered about the relation a picture on the slide has with the original picture located in your folder? By default, PowerPoint retains no relation. Even if you delete or move the original picture file you inserted, the copy on your slide will still be retained since PowerPoint saves the picture as a part of the file it creates.

However, there are options in PowerPoint that let you maintain the relation between the original picture and the inserted picture. For example, if you make changes to your original picture, PowerPoint will update its copy on the slide!

The advantage of this approach is that you can change pictures in your folder that have the same file names, and your slides get automatically updated with newer pictures. This approach also has a disadvantage. If you rename, delete, or move the picture file you linked from, then the picture on your slide won't be there! Now that we have made you aware of the pros and cons, let us explore these options.

Whenever you bring up the Choose a Picture dialog box either by selecting the Insert tab | Pictures | Picture from File option, or by clicking the Picture from File button in a Content placeholder, you may typically choose a picture and just click the Insert button (highlighted in red in Figure 1).

Tip: A Content placeholder is a flexible placeholder on your slide that lets you add text, pictures, or any other content types. A Picture placeholder, on the other hand, lets you add just a picture. We use the Content placeholder in this tutorial.

Choose a Picture dialog box
Figure 1: Choose a Picture dialog box

But if you look closer, you will find two check-boxes: Link to File and Save with Document below the Show option in the Choose a Picture dialog box, highlighted in blue in Figure 1.

Let us learn how to make use of the Insert button, Link to File check-box, and Save with Document check-box to achieve the three different ways of inserting a picture on a slide in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac:


When you just click the Insert button without selecting any of the Link to File, or Save with Document check-boxes, the picture is embedded within the presentation. This is the default option, and will save the inserted picture as a part of the presentation file. We have already explained this in our Insert Picture in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac tutorial. Do note that this option will increase the file size of the presentation, although PowerPoint 2016 does some automatic compression.

Link to File

If you want to link the picture in your folder to the slide where you place it, select only the Link to File check-box as shown in Figure 2, before clicking the Insert Button.

Link to File check-box selected
Figure 2: Link to File check-box selected

This will reduce the size of your presentation since PowerPoint only saves the path and name of your picture, rather than saving the entire picture. Also, if the linked picture is edited outside PowerPoint, the change will get reflected within the presentation automatically as long as the file name and location is not changed for the edited picture. Conversely, if the original picture is deleted or renamed, you will see a small red X icon indicating that the linked picture cannot be displayed.

Note: If the Link to File option is something you want to choose, always copy the picture used to the same folder that contains your presentation save the presentation at least once before you place the picture within your slide.

Insert and Link

If you want to embed the picture within the presentation, and also update the picture if it is edited or updated, then make sure that both the Link to File and Save with Document check-boxes are selected before clicking the Insert button as shown in Figure 3. Do note that the Save with Document check-box is enabled only when you select the Link to File check-box.

Link to File and Save with Document check-boxes selected
Figure 3: Link to File and Save with Document check-boxes selected

Opting for Insert and Link (Save with Document) will bloat the file size, especially if you are using high resolution pictures. However, if file size is not an issue, this approach does give you the best of both worlds.

See Also:

Pictures Basics and Adjustments: Insert or Link Pictures (Glossary Page)

Insert or Link Pictures in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Insert or Link Pictures in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Insert or Link Pictures in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Insert or Link Pictures in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

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