Working with Symbols in Adobe XD

Creating and managing Symbols in Adobe XD

With the June 2017 update you can now create and override Symbols in Adobe XD. Symbols allow you to easily edit multiple copies of the same element across your document. They are a huge time saver while working with repeated elements and building components in your design. I’ve put together an overview on Symbols in Adobe XD.

Creating a Symbol

Creating a Symbol

You can convert any element or a group of element into a Symbol using the following options. Once you make a selection a Symbol, its represented with a green on-canvas decoration.

  1. Right click — Make Symbol (Context Menu)
  2. Keyboard shortcut — CMD K (Mac) CTRL K (Win)
  3. Plus (+) button in the Symbol Library

Viewing Symbols

Viewing Symbols

When you make a selection into a Symbol, it gets listed in the Symbol Library. The Symbol Library allows you to view, manage and reuse Symbols across your document. You can access the Symbol Library using the following options:

  1. Keyboard shortcut — CMD Shift Y(Mac) CTRL Shift Y(Win)
  2. Click on the Symbol Library icon (Bottom left corner)

Reusing a Symbol

Reusing a Symbol

Once you have created a Symbol, reusing it across artboards is easy. You can use any of the following approaches to create another copy or instance of the Symbol.

  1. Drag the Symbol from the Symbol Library
  2. Copy & Paste (Context Menu)
  3. Duplicate — CMD D (Mac) CTRL D (Win)

Editing a Symbol

Editing a Symbol

You can easily edit a Symbol and propagate changes in realtime across all the instances. In order to edit a Symbol, you must double click the Symbol. (Similar to editing a group on canvas) Any position, size or appearance changes to the elements in a Symbol are propagated to all copies. There is no master copy of the Symbol. You can edit from any copy of the Symbol and preview those changes in realtime across your document.


Symbol Overrides

Symbol Overrides

While position and appearance changes are linked, you can have unique text and bitmap content in a Symbol. What this means is that, you can override the text and image in a Symbol while keeping it appearance linked to all the other copies. Edit the Symbol and change the text or drop in a new image to override the content.


Update All Symbols

Update All Symbols

Having the ability to override Symbols is very helpful. However, what happens if need to update all the copies of the Symbol to have the same text and bitmap content? The update all commands helps you specifically do that. Right click on the Symbol and select Update All from the context menu to push the text and bitmap content from that Symbol to all the copies. If you select a specific part of a nested Symbol and hit Update All, it only updates that part of the nested Symbol across all copies. Simplicity and power with the update all command.


Nested Symbols

Nested Symbols

You can nest Symbols inside each other to create well defined components and reusable structures. This allows you to make changes to parts of a Symbol. Using nested Symbols and overrides, you can create complex components.


Ungrouping a Symbol

Ungrouping a Symbol

If you decide that a specific copy of a Symbol should no longer be linked, you can use the Ungroup Symbol command to break it apart. Ungrouping a Symbol means that it is no longer a Symbol and will not receive any updates.

  1. Right click — Ungroup Symbol (Context Menu)
  2. Keyboard shortcut — CMD Shift G(Mac) Shift G(Win)

Deleting a Symbol

Deleting a Symbol

You can right click a Symbol in the Symbol Library and select Delete Symbol from the context menu to remove it. This only removes it from the Library and doesn’t impact the copies of this Symbol on canvas.

Copy Pasting Symbols between documents (Unlinked)

Copying Symbols between documents

You can copy symbols between documents as unlinked symbols. This means that the pasted copy is not linked back to the original document. This is helpful while transferring a symbol or multiple symbols from UI kits or Sticker sheets into a new document. If you paste successive copies of the same symbol, we map them as instances rather than duplicate new symbols. We are currently working on adding support for linked symbols between documents.

Swapping symbols

Swapping Symbols

You can drag symbols from the Assets panel to replace them across artboards. When you swap a symbol, we update all instances of it across the document. To swap a nested symbol, double click into the symbol group and then drag to replace it. Swapping a nested symbol will only update the nested copies. When you swap a symbols with exactly one text and image override, we preserve your overrides.


The Future Of Symbols?

Please up vote these suggestion on adobexd.uservoice.com or submit a new one if its not in the list below. Your feedback is important and has helped shape Adobe XD.

  1. Labeling Symbols (Coming soon)
  2. Resize & Transform Symbols (Coming soon)
  3. Style Overrides / Exclusions
  4. SVG support with Symbols