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How to Import and Export into Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator lets you place images and other forms of data in a new document. Importing files works similarly, no matter which Creative Suite 5 program you’re working with.

Import into Illustrator

You can import Photoshop, PDF, image, and vector files by choosing File→Place. The Place dialog box opens and you can choose a file to import. Click Place to import the file.

An Import dialog box may appear at this point, depending on the type of file you’re importing. This dialog box offers several options for choosing a way to import the content into Illustrator. For example, you can sometimes choose between flattening layers or retaining layers when you import a document containing layers.

Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) is a commonly used file format for saving vector drawings (although it can be used for other file types as well). Because this file format is used in many programs, you may find other people giving you these files to work with.

To import an EPS document, you also choose File→Place; after you import an EPS document into Illustrator, the file is converted to Illustrator objects but isn’t editable. To edit the EPS object, choose File→Open to open the file, or double-click the image name in the Links panel.

You can also import text files into Illustrator. Microsoft Word, TXT (text only), RTF (Rich Text Format), and Unicode, among other text documents, are all supported by Illustrator, and you can import them by choosing File→Place. When you import the text file, you’re prompted to choose the character set used for the text.

You can not only use the Place command for importing files but also copy and paste from other programs. You can select part of an image in Photoshop and copy it to the Clipboard by pressing Ctrl+C (Windows) or Cmd+C (Mac) and then pasting it into the Illustrator document.

Use the Place command whenever possible to avoid losing quality in the content you’re importing. Also, transparency isn’t supported from one application to another when you copy and paste, but it is when Place is used.

When you have particular plug-ins installed, you can import additional file types, such as CAD files, into Illustrator.

Export Illustrator files

Illustrator supports exporting to many different file formats. You can export files in a long list of image formats. Choose File→Export, and the Export dialog box opens. Click the Save As Type (Windows) or Format (Mac) drop-down list to view the exportable file formats.

After you choose a file type to export to, a second dialog box may appear, allowing you to enter a bunch of settings for the exported file.

Try choosing the Flash SWF file format when you export a file. A second dialog box opens that includes many settings, such as options to generate an HTML page, save each layer as a separate SWF document, and preserve editability (when possible). The options that are available when you export a document depend on the type of file format to which you’re exporting.

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