Images, Attachments and Links

Aeon Timeline allows you to attach and link items in your timeline with additional images and files to provide further information about those items. Depending on your project, this could include design documents associated with a phase of a project, correspondence related to an event in a legal case, maps of locations, or images of people.

Images and external files can be incorporated into your timeline in two forms: attachments and links. 

Types of Attachments and Links


Attachments are files that are embedded directly inside your timeline file (this is the same as how Microsoft Word treats images added to a document). 

This provides portability between devices, as you only need access to the timeline file itself to be able to view and open allow of its attachments, but it also increases the size of your timeline file. As such, it may not be an appropriate choice to attach hundreds of high-resolution photographs, as this could make your timeline file several gigabytes in size.

Once a file is attached to the timeline, it remains a fixed copy of the file at that point in time. You are not able to edit or update the attachment directly. If you wish to update an attachment, you will need to delete the current attachment and then attach a new copy of the updated file.


Links are for files that are not embedded into the timeline file, but can be pointed to at a known, consistent location. Links can be to resources on the World Wide Web, shared drives (such as a work server), or to files stored locally on your computer. As links point to the original location of the file rather than creating a copy, they will always refer to the most up-to-date version of a file.

As with attachments, web links provide a high degree of portability, as they are accessible from any device with an internet connection (although they will not be available offline). 

Local file links provide the least portable option, as the same file would need to exist at the same location on every computer or device in order to be retrievable. You can choose to refer to locally linked files via an absolute or relative path, which is described in more detail below.

Note: Due to restrictions within iOS, it is not possible to link to files directly on iOS. You can, however, link to data within specific applications if they support internal linking (e.g. using x-callback-urls).

Primary Image

Each item can have one attached or linked image that is considered the primary image associated with that item. This image will be shown in the Inspector, and depending on your view settings, may also be visible as part of the item card in the Timeline, Narrative, and Mindmap views also. 

Further attachments or links, including additional images, can also be associated with the item and opened and viewed externally.

Modifying Images, Attachments and Links

An item's image, attachments and links are all set in the Attachments tab in the Item Inspector.

Setting the Primary Image

An item’s primary image can be an attachment or a link. When you attach an image, it is embedded into the timeline file.

Use the Attach image and Link to image buttons to set the image for the selected item(s).

When clicking Attach image, an Open Dialog window will allow you to choose a file from your computer to embed into the timeline file.

When clicking on  Link to image, you can choose to type or paste a website URL, or click on the Browse button to link to a file on your computer (without embedding it into the timeline file).

Additional Attachments

In addition to the primary image, other files (including additional images) can be added to the file as attachments.

To add an attachment to an item, click on the add icon ( ) alongside the Attachments label, and then use the Open Dialog to select the file. This file will be embedded into the timeline file.

Once a file is attached, clicking on the filename will open the file in an appropriate external application (as determined by your operating system). The opened file is a copy of the attachment, not the original, so you cannot edit the attached file directly. You would instead have to delete the original attachment and add a new one.

Website and File Links

To add a new link to an item, click on the add icon ( ) alongside the Links label, and then either type in a website link or use the Browse button to link to a file on your computer (without embedding it into the timeline file).

Once a link is added, clicking on the link will open it in an appropriate browser or external application (as determined by your operating system).

Switching between Absolute and Relative Paths 

Links to local external files (such as other files on your computer) can be stored as either absolute or relative paths. This setting is configured per-timeline file rather than per-link, so all of the links within the same file will use the same option.

Links within new timeline files are always stored as absolute paths by default. Once the timeline file has been saved for the first time, you can switch to using relative paths instead by choosing Convert Links To... Relative Paths under the File menu.

Once this setting is changed, all existing paths are converted to the new format, and this format will be used for any new links that are added to the file in future.

If you only intend to work on a single computer and will be linking to files spread throughout different folders across your computer, then storing links using absolute paths is the best approach.

If, however, you want your timeline to be portable across multiple computers, then storing local links using relative paths is the better option, as this will allow Aeon Timeline to locate the correct linked files as long as you copy a consistent folder structure across the computers.

Further information on Absolute vs Relative Paths 

Although you are unlikely to type a local file path directly, it may help to understand how these two methods work to help you decide which is best for you, so the following sections provide more information on how absolute and relative paths differ.

Absolute Paths

Absolute paths specify the exact and entire location where a file is stored.

  • On Windows, an absolute path will start by specifying a drive, such as:
    • C:\Users\JohnSmith\Documents\MyProject\ProjectPlan.aeon
  • On Mac, an absolute path will start with a slash (/) and contain the entire path from your computer drive, such as:
    • /Users/JohnSmith/Documents/MyProject/ProjectPlan.aeon

As can be seen, the absolute path may contain some folders such as User folders that typically remain hidden from the user’s view inside Finder (Mac) or  Windows Explorer. This makes absolute paths less portable, as they often include names from user accounts etc. that will differ from machine to machine.

Relative Paths

Relative paths instead store the path from one file to another, in our case from the timeline file to the external file you are linking to. To do this, the special sequences ./ and ../ are used to refer to the current directory and the parent directory respectively. It is therefore typical that a relative path would start with one of those two sequences.

To provide concrete examples, assuming the files are stored in the same location referred to in the absolute paths above:

  • A file adjacent to the timeline file(inside the MyProject folder) could be referenced as ./photo.png
  • A file in a sub-folder within the MyProject folder could be referenced as ./images/photo.png
  • A file in a separate folder Different Project next to the My Project folder could be referenced as ../DifferentProject/photo.png

As these paths do not contain references to user accounts or absolute folder paths, the linked files can be located as long as the relevant folders are preserved within the same relative position.

For instance, using the first two examples above, the links would work correctly so long as you copied the entire MyProject folder (and sub-folders) to a new location (including a different computer).