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Copy and duplicate objects

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Learn how to duplicate objects within Illustrator and copy objects between Illustrator and other Adobe applications.

You can duplicate or drag and drop objects to create copies of your objects in Illustrator, letting you work on your artwork efficiently. Similarly, you can copy objects or artwork from other Adobe applications and use them in Illustrator.

copy and duplicate objects

Copy objects using drag-and-drop

  1. Select one or more objects.

  2. Select the Selection  , Direct Selection  , or Group Selection   tool.

  3. Alt‑drag (Windows) or Option‑drag (macOS) the selected object.

Copy objects using the Layers panel

You can quickly duplicate objects, groups, and entire layers by using the Layers panel.

  1. Select one or more layers that you want to duplicate in the Layers panel.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • From the Layers panel menu, select Duplicate <Layer name>.

    • Drag the selection to the Create New Layer   at the lower right of the Layers panel.

Copy artwork between Illustrator and other apps

You can use the Clipboard to transfer selections between an Illustrator file and other Adobe applications, including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. The paths are copied to the Clipboard as PostScript language descriptions which let you import paths.

Artwork copied to the Clipboard takes the PDF or AICB version. PDF enables you to retain transparency, and AICB lets you specify whether you want to preserve the overall appearance or copy the selection as a set of paths.

To specify copying preferences, do the following:

  1. Select Edit > Preferences > Clipboard Handling (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > Clipboard Handling (macOS).

  2. Select PDFAICB, or both.

If you select AICB, do one of the following:

  • To discard any transparency in the copied artwork, select Preserve Paths.
  •  To flatten transparency, and preserve the copied artwork’s appearance and overprinted objects, select Preserve Appearance And Overprints.

Select the tab to learn how to drag and drop artwork between Photoshop and Illustrator.

Drag and drop artwork into a Photoshop document

  1. Select the artwork that you want to copy.

  2. Open the Photoshop document into which you want to copy the selection.

  3. To copy the artwork into Photoshop as bitmap images, do one of the following:

    • Drag the selection toward the Photoshop window, and when a black outline appears, release the mouse button.
    • To place the selection in the center of the Photoshop image, press and hold Shift before dragging the selection.

    By default, selected objects are copied as bitmap images to the active layer.

  4. To copy a vector artwork into Photoshop with paths, press and hold Ctrl (Windows) or Command (macOS), and drag the selection to the Photoshop document.

Drag and drop artwork from Photoshop into Illustrator

  1. Open the Photoshop document from which you want to copy.

  2. Select the artwork that you want to copy.

  3. Select the Move tool  and drag the selection from Photoshop into the Illustrator file.

To learn how to import and export artwork between Illustrator and Photoshop, see Use Illustrator artwork in Photoshop.

Copy type object from InDesign

You can copy any InDesign text and paste them into an Illustrator document, retaining the character style, paragraph style, effects, and format. Similarly, you can copy any text frame or text from Illustrator and paste it into InDesign. 

Before you begin, ensure that you select Edit > Preferences > Clipboard Handling (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > Clipboard Handling (macOS) and deselect Paste text without formatting.

  1. Select a text frame or text from InDesign and press Ctrl / Cmd + C.

  2. Open the Illustrator document and press Ctrl / Cmd + V to paste the text.

To learn how to copy text and paste it in InDesign, see Copy and paste from Illustrator.

Offset duplicate objects

You can set a duplicated object to a specified distance from the selected object using the Offset Path option, or using arrow keys. Offsetting objects create concentric shapes or make multiple copies of an object with regular distances between the duplicates.

The effect lets you convert a mesh object into a regular path. For example, if you've released an envelope or want to convert a mesh shape for use in another application, apply an offset path with an offset value of zero and delete the mesh shape. You can then edit the remaining path.

Offset objects using the Offset Path command

  1. Select one or more objects.

  2. Choose Object > Path > Offset Path.

  3. Specify the offset distance, line join type, and miter limit.

Offset objects using keyboard

  1. Select one or more objects.

  2. Press and hold Opt or Alt, and press an arrow key.

An object is duplicated and is offset by the Keyboard Increment value specified in Preferences > General.

If an object doesn't duplicate, ensure that the Keyboard Increment preference value isn't zero.

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