Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Breaking a Document Link.

Breaking a Document Link

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 4, 2018)


At some point in working with a document you may determine that an existing document link is no longer necessary. You can break a link between your document and another application by following these steps if you are using Word 2010 or a later version:

  1. Click the File tab of the ribbon.
  2. Make sure that Info is selected at the left side of the screen.
  3. At the bottom-right side of the screen, under the Related Documents category, click Edit Links to Files. (If this option is not available, it means that Word doesn't think there are any links in the current document.) Word displays the Links dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Links dialog box.

  5. Select the link you want to break.
  6. Click on Break Link. You are asked to confirm your action.
  7. Click on OK.

The steps are a bit different if you are using Word 2007:

  1. Click the Office button and then click Prepare.
  2. Click Edit Links to Files. (If this option is not available, it means that Word doesn't think there are any links in the current document.) Word displays the Links dialog box.
  3. Select the link you want to break.
  4. Click on Break Link. You are asked to confirm your action.
  5. Click on OK.

Word breaks the link between your document and the source application, but the information remains in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6010) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Breaking a Document Link.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is four more than 3?

2019-07-05 15:23:09

Tony Shulthise

Thank you!!!

2019-06-28 10:28:08


Something funny is going on with a document I created. First I tried your solution in a current office version, but no links were showing.

td;dr I can't open my file in our Engagement organizer application. No reason is given, but I've determined it needs access to an index.docx in the current working directory.

Long version: Here's the problem. I have to roll forward a disclosure checklist from 2018 to 2019. I didn't want to reinvent the wheel, which I got tired of. I'm always looking for efficiencies, for myself and the team. I tried for the first time using Compare feature under the review tab. That worked very well from my end user perspective. I would accept all the changes on the left side of the doc, where descriptions were modified or added, and on the right side I would reject most changes because that's where we checked things off and most of them stayed the same and there are hundreds of lines.

I did this, it was much faster and I saved it. Then I imported it into prosystems Fx Engagement, although I don't think it's their fault. I drilled into their working directory for their engagement, and I couldn't open the file there because it couldn't find index.docx. Well on my desktop where I originally made the file, an index.docx got created, which is identical to the file I made and want to use. I don't know why this was made but there's obviously a link and my good file obviously depends on "index" but not vice versa. Yes I know what you're saying, why don't I just use that. I probably will but I want to know what's going on. I also can't complete my 'disclosure checklist 2019' file in the binder because i'ts 'locked', but I"m confident I could delete it in the directory itself or someone with admin rights could but I have no idea what's going on here and was hoping you could help. BTW the disclosure checklist is made by PPC, and they use macros and stuff. I don't necessarily think it's their fault either but full disclosure. Googling this returned a null value pretty much. Thanks

2018-12-15 06:39:36

David King

Hi all,

Apologies, bit of a long post. But just to contribute some guidance on the matter, that I put together for work colleagues.
It was hard won knowledge! So I shared with colleagues. The previous posts set me on the right track, much appreciated.

Word top tip: Never insert an image from a file. Especially, from a file on a server or the web.

Why so ?

Because Word re-retrieves that image from the source, whenever you open the document (can be disabled),
and whenever you first scroll past that image in the document. And if the web etc is slow, Word whitescreens
the document display, and hangs for minutes. Or can be indefinitely, if multiple such retrievals are in progress.

Also, on retrieval, Word can change the dimensions of the image, throwing out pagination. And indeed, the image
could change, in a way that is not appropriate to the usage within your document.

How to know if you have any such file sourced images in a document ?

Check File > Info > Edit Links to Files, as arrowed:

(see Figure 1 below)

Look in the Type column, for rows saying Graphic. For example, as highlighted:

(see Figure 2 below)

If you have any, remedy as follows. Firstly, for each, click Change Source.. as arrowed, and link instead to a picture on your local drive,
of something that wouldn’t ordinarily be in a company document. Such as a picture of a cat. Below, is one you can use.

(see Figure 3 below)

Save, close Word, reopen document. Now, the document shouldn’t whitescreen, and Word will be usable.

Then, look through your document for cat pictures. For each, open the image that you actually need in eg Paint or or
your favoured image program. Choose Copy, switch to Word, and Paste overwrite the cat. You will need to resize the pasted-in
image as need be.

How to retrieve your required images from the original Word document ?

Make a copy of the document, add a .zip extension, drill into the word \ media folder, select all, copy, open a new
Explorer window, make a temporary folder, paste in the images, and open in eg Paint from there. Yes, Word docx
documents are actually zip files, of a folder and file structure. Don’t be tempted to edit within the zip, then rename
back to docx, as risk it will never re-open.

These images will be original resolution. Instead copy/paste from within Word obtains only a copy at the resolution to
which you resized within Word.

The described issue is perhaps where received wisdom arises that Word documents are slow if they contain lots of images.
Speed is fine if the images are instead pasted in from eg Paint.

Best regards,


Figure 1. 

Figure 2. 

Figure 3. 

2018-01-08 17:53:17


Thanks. !

2017-10-10 08:24:40


Thanks, that's what I was looking for! Every time someone opened my word document, they were getting several Excel error windows due to missing files. Updating the document (F9) was also removing the links in some of my charts. Breaking the links solved both issues!

2017-07-13 17:28:31


It saved me a lot of time, thanks!

2017-02-09 08:17:16


Great article. Helps me much! Thank you.

2017-01-27 14:07:54

Alonso Santamaria

I have tried to break image links using this method and it simply does not do it.

On the other hand, I'd rather links did not exist in the first place. Because of my needs, embedded images, and embedded ONLY, is the best option.

Is there a way to tell Word to avoid those links altogether? As if this linking facility did not exist at all.

Sometimes the improvements get to be more a problem than a solution if no control over the functions is available.


2017-01-19 10:08:12


I have a border around text. It seems to be linked to the top of the page (small green circle). But, I need to add a blank line above the border. It won't let me. I tried deleting, adding lines, and re-adding the border but is still tied to the top of the page. How to fix? Thanks!

2016-11-04 08:54:17

Bo Johanson

Made my day!
Well, at least the morning.

2016-08-18 01:58:42

Amit SL

Nice.. to the point tutorial :)worked perfectly..thanks a lot..

2016-07-27 08:59:22


This was a perfect walk-thru ...thank you! worked great!

2016-07-13 10:55:43

Mark S

Hi Allen,

Yes, I've used this method before. In my Word document, I have linked Visio files. However, when I do "Break Link", it makes the Visio diagram into a Word "Picture" and is no longer editable as a Visio file. How can I "break the link" but keep it as Visio within the document? Basically, what I want to do is select all my Visio diagrams (which point to local network locations) and "break the link" so that all the Visio files get sucked into my Word document. Then I can send the Word document to my downstream customer (who does not have access to my local network) and the document will be completely editable.

2016-07-13 07:39:09


I hope this thread is still active.

I am using Word 2016 and when I save the picture in the document the picture actually disappears from the document!

I have successfully used this method many times in the past.

2016-07-08 07:33:47


Any Macro to delete these image links

2015-05-20 04:24:24


Hi Graham,

Thanks for that breaking-link hotkey, has proved immeasurably helpful in my creation of a Macro to sidestep a Word/Excel bug, whereby you have to fiddle with breaking links when copying and pasting charts into Word tables...otherwise it tends to print an EMPTY chart.

So thanks again, that hotkey was necessary...

2014-03-07 11:22:19

Graham Fewell

For linked graphics, a simple method of breaking a link is to highlight the linked graphic, then press Ctrl+Shift+F9.

By the bye, in past versions of Word (2003 and before) I sometimes had trouble deleting graphics that were linked but not embedded. I found that if a graphic wasn't currently displayed when I broke its link, the graphic would disappear completely. I haven't experienced this problem with Word 2010, so perhaps the bug has been fixed.

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