Importing EPS files

Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) is a popular file format for transferring vector artwork between applications. You can bring artwork from EPS files into Illustrator using the Open command, the Place command, the Paste command, and the drag-and-drop feature.

Keep the following in mind when working with EPS artwork:

  • When you open or embed an EPS file that was created in another application, Illustrator converts all objects to native Illustrator objects. However, if the file contains data that Illustrator doesn’t recognize, some loss of data may occur. As a result, unless you need to edit the individual objects in an EPS file, it’s best to link to the file rather than open or embed it.

  • EPS format does not support transparency; therefore, it is not a good choice for placing transparent artwork from other applications into Illustrator. Instead, use PDF 1.4 format for this purpose.

  • You may receive an error message when printing or saving artwork that includes linked EPS files, if those files were saved in binary format (for example, in Photoshop's default EPS format). In this case, resave the EPS files in ASCII format, embed the linked files into the Illustrator artwork, print to a Binary print port instead of an ASCII print port, or save the artwork in AI or PDF format instead of EPS format.

  • If you are color-managing artwork in a document, embedded EPS images are part of the document and therefore color-managed when sent to a printing device. In contrast, linked EPS images are not color-managed, even if color management is turned on for the rest of the document.

  • If you import an EPS color that has the same name as a color in your document but a different definition, Illustrator displays an alert. Select Use Linked File’s Color to replace the color in your document with the EPS color in the linked file. All objects using this color in your document will get updated appropriately. Select Use Document’s Color to leave the swatch as is and resolve all color conflicts using the document’s color. The EPS preview cannot be changed, so the preview may be incorrect, but it will print to the correct plates. Selecting Apply to All will resolve all color conflicts, using the definition either of the document or the linked file, depending on which option you choose.

  • Occasionally you may encounter a warning when opening an Illustrator document containing embedded EPS images. If the application cannot find the original EPS image, you will be prompted to extract the EPS image. Select the Extract option in the dialog box; the image will be extracted into the same directory as the current document. Although the embedded file does not preview in the document, the file will now print correctly.

  • By default, linked EPS files are displayed as a high resolution preview. If a linked EPS file isn’t visible in the document window, it may be because the file’s preview is missing. (Previews are sometimes lost when transferring EPS files saved with PICT previews from Mac OS to Windows.) To restore the preview, resave the EPS file with a TIFF preview. If performance is negatively affected when you place the EPS, reduce the preview resolution: choose Edit > Preferences > File Handling & Clipboard (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > File Handling & Clipboard (Mac OS), and select Use Low Resolution Proxy For Linked EPS.

Importing DCS files

Desktop Color Separation (DCS) is a version of the standard EPS format. The DCS 1.0 format supports only CMYK images while the DCS 2.0 format supports multichannel CMYK files as well as multiple spot inks. (These spot inks appear as spot colors in Illustrator’s Swatches panel.) Illustrator recognizes clipping paths in Photoshop-created DCS 1.0 and DCS 2.0 files. You can link DCS files in Illustrator, but you can’t embed or open them.


To see DCS transparency interactions in the Links panel, choose Panel Options from the Links panel menu and select Show DCS Transparency Interactions.

Importing AutoCAD files


Illustrator will not open AutoCAD files saved in a version later than AutoCAD 2007.

AutoCAD files include both DXF and DWG formats. You can import AutoCAD files from version 2.5 through version 2007. During import, you can specify scale, unit mapping (custom unit for interpreting all the length data in the AutoCAD file), whether to scale lineweights, which layout to import, and whether to center the artwork.

Illustrator supports most AutoCAD data, including 3D objects, shapes and paths, external references, region objects, spline objects (mapped to Bezier objects that retain the original shape), raster objects, and text objects. When importing an AutoCAD file that contains external references, Illustrator reads the contents of the reference and places it at the appropriate locations in the Illustrator file. If an external reference is not found, the Missing Link dialog box opens so you can search for and retrieve the file.

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