How to use Linked Smart Objects in Photoshop CC 14.2

The Photoshop team today just changed the game with their latest update to PS by enabling smart objects to be shared across multiple files and automatically kept in sync. If used properly, I believe this feature will be one of the most valuable additions to the application in recent years. The way that Adobe set this up is such that any open files sharing the linked Object will automatically get the update, and any closed file containing it will have to be opened and manually synced.

Getting the update

I had trouble getting the Creative Cloud application to grab the latest update. Here’s the instructions from Adobe:

  1. Look for the update in the Creative Cloud application and click “Update”. If it doesn’t appear, you may need to quit and re-launch the Creative Cloud application.
  2. If you don’t have the Creative Cloud application running, start Photoshop and choose Help > Updates.
  3. The Adobe Application Manager will launch. Select Adobe Photoshop CC and choose Update.

Creating a *.psb

I start converting to a Smart Object by duplicating the layer(s) or folder into a new document (You may want to remove the added transparent pixels using the trim command). Once you are ready to save, choose file > save as… and change the file format to “Large Document Format” this will produce a “*.psb* file that you’ll want to keep organized in your project folder.
File Save Dialog

Adding the file as a Linked Smart Object

Next, open the parent file that will contain your newly saved object file, and chose File > Place Linked… (I’d recommend setting a custom keyboard shortcut for this). Select your file and position it and you’re done! You might want to remove the old layers if any duplication exists. Repeat this step with any other files you want to share this object.
Place Linked... Menu

Updating your Linked Smart Object

There’s 2 easy ways to change your SO. First, you can simply double click your linked object from the layers panel to have the object open up in a new window. Because we created a file for it, instead of a using a standard smart object, it will open the shared file. Then save your changes and return to the parent document to see the changes (assuming you kept it open). The second way is to open up your “*.psb” file you created in step one, make your edits, and save it out. Any closed files will need to be manually opened and updated.