The ability to have linked objects in Blender is great for many reasons. But there are times when you need to unlink objects that share data. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to unlink objects and object data in Blender.

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What are Linked Objects in Blender?

Linked objects in Blender are objects that share some type of data. There are different ways in which an object can be linked. Objects can link their data, materials, animation values and more to other objects.

When data is shared between objects, the objects are referred to as “linked objects.”

Linked objects reduce memory usage and file size in Blender. There are many reasons why linking objects is useful. There are also reasons why you may want to unlink objects which were previously linked.

The most common reason is we want to change one object without changing its linked object.

Here’s an entire article on how to create linked objects in Blender if that’s what you’re looking for.

Industrial 3D Models in the Blender viewport.
Industrial greeble assets in Blender 3D viewport.

How to Unlink Linked Objects in Blender?

Say we have objects that are “linked” and we want to unlink them. Here’s how.

  1. Select the object you want to unlink.
  2. From the Object Menu, choose Relations – Make Single User
  3. Choose the type of “single user” you want to create. In most cases, this will be “Object and Data.”
The object menu in Blender is expanded to show the options to "make single user"

Method 2: Search for “Make Single User”

Alternatively, you can press F3 on the keyboard to search for commands in Blender. If you type in “Make Single User” you’ll see the options available for how to unlink data just as you would with the first method.

The "make single user" options are displayed in the Blender search menu.

What are Single Users in Blender?

Why does Blender call this “Make Single User?” It’s because when two objects have linked geometry, materials or other data properties, they are considered shared users of that data.

In order to unlink them, we are making them “single users” of data rather than sharers of data. Here’s a quick lesson on how Blender data works.

Types of Data to Unlink

You may have noticed several options available when we choose to make an object into a single user.

Each of these options will unlink different data types between the two objects.

The options for how to unlink data are displayed in Blender.

Make Single User: Object

This is the first option and I honestly can’t figure out what it does or in what scenario it would be useful. It sounds like the option you’d want to choose, but in most cases you want the next one.

Make Single User: Object & Data

This option unlinks the object’s data from whatever other objects it shares data with. When two objects share data, changes made to one will affect the other. This option unlinks that data and allows us to edit an object’s geometry independently.

Two 3d human models
Human Generator Add-On for Blender

Make Single User: Object & Data & Materials

This adds materials to what you are separating between the objects. The “Objects and Data” selection will leave them sharing the same materials. So even though we can edit geometry of one object independently, changing the material on one object will still affect the other linked objects.

Choose “Object & Data & Materials” when you want the new object to have its own (unlinked) geometry and separate materials than the original object.

Make Single User: Materials

Choosing this option will create separate materials for the selected object but will leave their data (meaning their geometry) linked.

Make Single User: Object Animation

By default, animating linked objects will animate both of them and this can cause serious issues. Choosing to unlink only the “Object Animation” will leave the geometry and materials linked. It will unlink the animation data but assign any keyframes already in place to the current objects. Only changes to the animation going forward will be different.

A beach scene with nature assets
Geo Scatter Add-on for Blender

Make Single User: Object Data Animation

This sounds like the previous option but refers to animations for the object’s data. For example, if you had shape keys applied to the object and wanted to have different animation values for those shape keys, you’d use this.

By choosing only this option, the object’s animations will still be linked. It appears there are other similar “data animations” that may be affected by this.

I hope this was helpful. Check out my video tutorials on YouTube and join my newsletter to receive each month’s content directly in your inbox. Stay creative!

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