When you try to open a file in Illustrator CS4 or earlier, the following error message appears:

"Can't open the illustration. The illustration contains an incomplete or garbled object description. Offending Operator: '%%End Setup.''

The error message then lists the content that includes a tilde followed with a greater-than sign: "~>". 

This error indicates that the document contains one or more malformed binary data entries.


Solution 1: Upgrade to Illustrator CS5 or later.

Illustrator CS5 implemented a fix for this issue that resolves affected documents when opening them.

Solution 2: Using Illustrator's content recovery mode, remove the malformed binary data entries.

  1. Enable the content recovery mode, then run the recovery on the files to covert them to a format that can be modified in a text editor. A complete explanation is available in How to enable content recovery mode in Illustrator CS2 or later.

  2. Open the recovered copy of the file in a plain text editor such as TextEdit (Mac OS) or Word Pad (Windows). Use a more traditional word-processing application and save the file as plain text without allowing a hidden .txt extension to be added.

  3. Search for the following string:

    %_/Binary: /ASCII85Decode

    This string is followed with text that includes a tilde followed with a greater-than sign:

    The subsequent line is in the form of:

    %_; (hItem) ,

    where hItem can be some different dictionary key name.

  4. Select the text beginning with "%_/Binary" through and including "%_; (hItem) ,"
  5. Delete the selected text.
  6. Repeat the search to find additional instances, and if found, repeat the deletion.
  7. Save the file.
  8. Open the file in Illustrator, and choose File > Save As and save with a new name.
  9. Close the file.

    Note: This last step is necessary.

Additional information

The absence of any characters in between the tilde "~" and the greater-than sign ">" indicates that the data is empty. Third-party plug-ins or other software cause hitem, because the entry is not native to Illustrator. If you find another name in place of "hitem," report it through Adobe's online bug reporting page: