| TechNote #153:
MathType: Error message: "The linked file is not available"
The information in this document applies to:
- MathType 6.9 and later (Windows)
- MathType 6.7 and later (Macintosh)
- Microsoft Word 2007 and later (Windows)
- Microsoft Word 2011 (Macintosh)
In this article:
Explanation -- Why does this happen?
Resolving the error
When inserting an equation number or a numbered equation in Word, you see
this pop-up message (from Word 2013; other versions of Word will be similar,
though text may vary):
You may have to click OK multiple times before the dialogs quit appearing.
When you insert an equation number or a numbered equation, MathType will
normally update all the equation numbers, references, and links in the document.
It may seem like the error message is caused by MathType, but this is not the
case. It is because a "linked object", typically a chart, is missing. Since Word
cannot find the linked object, it's letting you know the object's
information cannot be updated.
Explanation -- Why does this happen?
This typically happens either when working on a document you received from
someone else, or when working on your own document on a different computer than
on which you originally created it. Either way, there's an included attachment
that is now missing.
Linking or embedding objects
Word has two ways that it can handle "objects" that aren't part of the
document's text. An object can be a picture, an Excel chart, or any number of
other things you choose to add to a document. Even MathType equations are
- Embedded objects. One way Word can include objects in a document
is to embed the objects. Embedded objects become part of the Word
document, so if you were to send the document to someone else or to edit it
yourself on a different computer, all you need is the document. MathType
equations are by default embedded objects, but if you choose, you can link
- Linked objects. The other way Word manages objects is to link
the objects. A linked object is a separate file, saved either on your
computer, or on removable storage or a network drive. Word includes only the
link to the object rather than the object itself, so if you send the
document to someone else or edit it on another computer, you must include
all the files for all the linked objects.
Note that you cannot tell simply by looking at a document in Word
whether its objects are linked or embedded -- or some of both. The visual
appearance is the same.
The choice of whether to embed or link an object is always up to the author.
The default method is to embed the objects. Since this is the default and there
are more steps to link an object than to embed one, many people do not know
- Advantages of embedding are that it's easier, and since
everything is contained within one file, the one file is all you need for editing it on a
- Advantages of linking objects are that it results in a
smaller Word file, which we believe also makes for a more stable Word file. Also,
linking allows an object to be created once and used multiple times either
in your own document or those of colleagues. When a linked object is edited,
once the links are updated in documents containing the linked object,
changes will be reflected in all documents containing the object.
dealing with objects, one thing to remember is that since Word did not create
the objects (linked or embedded), if you need to edit these objects you'll need
the software they were created with -- MathType for example. If all you need to
do is read and print a document with objects, or if you need to edit its text,
all you need is Word.
Resolving the error
If you no longer have the linked files for the missing objects, your only
option is to re-create the missing objects (or ask the document author to send
you the files). Resolving this error is simple if you have the linked files.
It's a matter of correcting the link and telling Word where to find the linked
Finding the links
The first step is to find the list of links so you can provide the correct
one to Word and update the document. The text of the error dialog gives you some
clues, but unfortunately the text isn't perfect. It says (in Word 2013), "To
edit the link, click the File tab, and then under Related Documents, click Edit
Links to Files." In plain English, this is what it means:
- Word 2010 & later: Click the File tab on Word's ribbon. In
the list on the left, Info will be pre-selected. There will be 2
columns of information on the right. At the bottom of the right
column will be something that looks like this:
Click Edit Links to Files.
- Word 2007: Click the Office button (in the upper left of the
screen), and on the left, hover the mouse pointer over Prepare. In
the menu that appears, choose Edit Links to Files, which will be the
last item shown.
- Word 2011: In Word's Edit menu, choose Links.
Correcting the links
After following the previous step, the Links dialog will appear (this
is from Word 2013 on Windows 8.1, but will appear similarly in all other
Notice the 5 lines that have dashes in the Item column. These are the
objects that Word cannot find, and for which we need to provide a correct link.
In this particular document, we would have had to press OK five times to dismiss
the "missing link" dialogs shown at the beginning of this article. There will
always be one error dialog for each missing link.
To correct a link, select it by clicking it once. Click the Change
Source button on the right, and navigate to the location on your computer or
network drive where the source file is located. Once you find it, select it and
click Open. When you've corrected all the links, click Update Now,
and wait for Word to make the corrections, then click OK. For each one
you correct and update, the dashes will be replaced with OK in the Item
Now save the document with the corrected links, and you should be able to add
MathType numbered equations without getting the "missing link" error.
We hope this has been helpful. As always, please let us know if you
have questions about this, or if you have additional techniques that work. We'd
love to hear from you.