File > Create Reference


Imports the contents of a scene, including objects, animation, shaders, into your currently open scene without importing the files into the scene. The contents that appear in your scene are read or referenced from pre-existing files that remain separate and unopened.

You can create a file reference from a Maya (.ma, mb) scene file or an Alembic cache.

NoteTo reference a file that was created in a earlier version of Maya, ensure the Ignore Version preference is turned on in the File/Projects preferences. See Files Projects preferences.

File > Create Reference >

General Options


When this option is turned on, any reference created is added to the scene in an unloaded state, and only appears when it is manually loaded.


Locks the file reference when it is loaded into the scene. That is, all of the nodes and attributes for a selected file reference are locked so they cannot be accidentally modified. A lock icon appears beside the listed file reference within the Reference Editor to indicate the locked status.


Specifies whether the referenced objects are grouped under a single transform when you reference the file. Grouping makes it easier to work on the nodes of imported objects. The default is off.

Group Name

Specifies a name for the grouped references. The reference group appears in the Outliner by the this name.


When used with the Group option, groups the contents of the referenced file under a locator, annotated with the reference node name. The reference node has a message connection to the locator’s transform. If a Group Name is specified, the locator appears in the Outliner by this name.

File type

Select from the drop-down list the file type you are importing. If you aren’t sure what type of file you are importing, you can select Best Guess.

For more information on file type options, see File > Import.

Load Options

Load saved reference load state

(Default setting) Respects the referenced file’s state in the referencing file when the referencing file was last saved. Whatever references were loaded or unloaded the last time you worked on the file are properly loaded or unloaded when you re-open it.

Load all references

Opens the file with all references loaded. You can change the state of reference loading after the file is open in Maya by opening the Reference Editor (Reference Editor overview) and selecting the references you want to unload.

Load top-level references only

Loads only the top-most referenced files (which may themselves contain many nested referenced files). This is useful in cases where you may be opening a complex nested scene reference hierarchy with many nested references and you want to easily work at the top level of the hierarchy.

Load no references

This opens the file without loading any references. You can load references after the file is open in Maya by opening the Reference Editor (Reference Editor overview) and selecting the references you want to load.

Shared Reference Options

Shared Nodes

Sets whether anything will be shared between nodes, be it display layers, shading networks or render layers. If you have a render layer, display layer, or shading network in a referenced file that has the same name as the one in the referencing file, turning this option on allows these nodes to be shared between the referencing and referenced file.

For shared display layers, merging is decided based on name alone. If both layers have the same name, and shared display layers is turned on, the contents are merged.

For shared shading networks, merging is done only if the node names and types are the same.

Display Layers

When on, display layers associated with the referenced child scene are integrated into the parent scene.

See Shared display layers.

Shading Networks

When on, the shading networks from the referenced scene are combined with those in the current scene (including those of any references). This avoids duplicate shading networks when you want the same ones used throughout your scene, including the reference.

See File referencing and shading.

Render Layers

When the reference is created, the render layers associated with the child scene are integrated into the parent scene.

You can choose to use the render layer by Name or by Number to determine which render layers are merged. If a render layer name or ID already exists in the parent scene, any objects assigned to a render layer with the same name or ID in a child scene are added to the referencing scene’s render layer when they are referenced.

Namespace Options

Use namespaces

When you reference or import a scene with Use namespaces on, Maya creates a new namespace that contains the referenced data. Turning on Use namespaces ensures that all nodes are uniquely named. See What are namespaces? and Create namespaces when referencing or importing.


Before referencing a file, make sure that the renaming prefix contains no invalid characters.

The currently set namespace is indicated in the Namespace Options section by the icon. Namespaces that are parents of the currently set namespace are indicated by an icon. You can set the current namespace in the Namespace Editor by clicking Set Current. See Namespace Editor Overview and Edit namespaces.

Namespaces do not effect selection, the DAG, the Dependency Graph, or any other aspect of Maya.

Use selected namespace as parent and add new namespace (file name)

Specifies that the referenced file name is added to the beginning of object namespace.

For example, if you are referencing or importing a scene named that contains an object named ball, its namespace is foo:ball.

Use selected namespace as parent and add new namespace string:

Specifies that a text string is added to the beginning of the object namespace. Type the string in the field that appears.

Merge into selected namespace and rename incoming objects that match

Merges the object's namespace wih an existing, selected namespace.

If duplicate namespaces occur, the namespaces are merged and duplicate object names are incrementally suffixed with a number. Use this option to avoid an accumulation of new namespaces each time your referenced or imported objects have the same namespace.

Proxy Options

Set proxy tag to

Type the text string for the proxy tag you want applied to the proxy reference or select an existing tag from the list in the drop-down menu. When a proxy tag appears in gray in this list, it indicates that the tag is already in use for this specific file reference. The proxy tag appears in the Reference Editor.

Once you create a proxy tag, it will become available for selection within the Set proxy tag to drop-down menu in both the Proxy Options and Reference Options windows.

See About proxy tags.

Once you create a proxy tag, it will become available for selection within the Set proxy tag to drop-down menu in both the Proxy Options and Reference Options windows.

Proxy tags must be unique within a given proxy set. That is, a proxy tag will be available for a proxy set provided it is not already in use within the same proxy set. You can create your own tags and reuse them in different proxy sets.

Related topics

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