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Adobe Illustrator Essentials Guide: Saving/Exporting

Saving

  • Saving: “File” – “Save” OR “File” – “Save As”

    • .ai” OR “Adobe Illustrator Artwork”: preserves all data within document so that you can edit later. Can only be viewed if you have Adobe Illustrator.

    • .pdf” OR “Portable Document Format”: saves document that is not editable but can be opened by anyone with a free PDF reader.

    • .eps” OR “Encapsulated Postscript”: which is a vector format used for printing to post script printers and image setters.

    • .ait” OR “Adobe Illustrator Template”: another way to save an Illustrator file that is good if you are making multiple iterations of a project.

    • .svg” OR “Scalable Vector Graphics”: used to save image for use on website and in print. Can be used in most places a .jpeg or other pixel-based images are used. (TIP: If .svg is not an acceptable file format you can export the image as a .jpeg explained later.)

    • .svgz” OR “Compressed Scalable Vector Graphics”: smaller file size of .svg

  • “Illustrator Options”: When you save a document for the first time or save a document as a copy a dialog box like the one below will pop up. This dialog box allows you to save the file as a format that will allow you to open it in earlier versions of Illustrator (anything pre-Creative Cloud) among other more advanced options. In many cases you can keep the default settings and click “OK”.

Exporting

  • Exporting: “File” – “Export” – “Export As”

  • If you have anything surrounding the Artboard that will be exported with your artwork.

File types

  • Outlined below are explanations for the different file types and links at Adobe Illustrator's Help Page for further explanation on exporting that specific file type. Most likely you will use ".jpg", ".png", or ".tiff" for use in other commonly used Microsoft/Adobe applications.
    • ".png" OR "Portable Network Graphic": Used for lossless compression and for display of images on the web. Unlike GIF, PNG supports 24-bit images and produces background transparency without jagged edges; however, some web browsers do not support PNG images. PNG preserves transparency in grayscale and RGB images. For more information, see PNG export options
    • ".bmp" OR "Bitmap": A standard Windows image format. You can specify a color model, resolution, and anti-alias setting for rasterizing the artwork, as well as a format (Windows or OS/2) and a bit depth to determine the total number of colors (or shades of gray) that the image can contain. For 4-bit and 8-bit images using Windows format, you can also specify RLE compression.
    • ".css" OR "Cascading Style Sheet": used for HTML web design
    • ".dwg" OR "Auto CAD Drawing": the standard file format for saving vector graphics created in AutoCAD. See AutoCAD export options.
    • ".dxf" OR "Auto CAD Interchange File": drawing interchange format for exporting AutoCAD drawings to or importing drawings for other applications. See AutoCAD export options
    • .emf” OR “EnhancedMetafile”: Widely used by Windows applications as an interchange format for exporting vector graphics data. Illustrator may rasterize some vector data when exporting artwork to EMF format.

    • .swf” OR “Flash”: A vector-based graphics format for interactive, animated web graphics. You can export artwork to the Flash (SWF) format for use in web design, and view the artwork in any browser equipped with the Flash Player plug-in. For more information, see Flash export options.

    • .jpg” OR “Joint Photographic Experts Group”: Commonly used to save photographs. JPEG format retains all color information in an image but compresses file size by selectively discarding data. JPEG is a standard format for displaying images over the web. For more information, see JPEG export options

    • .pct” OR “Macintosh PICT”: Used with Mac OS graphics and page-layout applications to transfer images between applications. PICT is especially effective at compressing images with large areas of solid color.

    • .psd” OR “Photoshop”: The standard Photoshop format. If your artwork contains data that cannot be exported to Photoshop format, Illustrator preserves the appearance of the artwork by merging the layers in the document or by rasterizing the artwork. As a result, there may be times when layers, sublayers, compound shapes, and editable text are not preserved in the Photoshop file, even though you selected the appropriate export option. For more information, see Photoshop export options

    • .tif” OR “Tagged-Image File Format”: Used to exchange files between applications and computer platforms. TIFF is a flexible bitmap image format supported by most paint, image-editing, and page-layout applications. Most desktop scanners can be produce TIFF files. For more information, see TIFF export options.

    • .TGA”: Designed for use on systems that use the Truevision video board. You can specify a color model, resolution, and anti-alias setting for rasterizing the artwork, as well as a bit depth to determine the total number of colors (or shades of gray) that the image can contain. 

    • .txt” OR “A Standard Text Document”: Used to export text in an illustration to a text file.

    • .wmf” OR “Windows Metafile”: An intermediate exchange format for 16-bit Windows applications. WMF format is supported by almost all Windows drawing and layout programs. However, it has limited vector graphics support, and wherever possible, EMP format should be used in place of WMF format.

    • .svg” OR “Scalable Vector Graphics”: used to save image for use on website and in print. Can be used in most places a .jpeg or other pixel-based images are used.