by Neeraj Nandkeolyar


March 29, 2011

File Formats of Illustrator CS5

The definition of ‘file format‘ states that ‘a file format is a particular way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file‘. Inter-application workflows are guided by specific file formats and, Illustrator, being a creation tool, deals with a lot of such file formats. Our interaction with our users tells us that usage pattern of Ai is different in different segments, and while some formats are popular in some segments, others are simply important to the workflow even if they are not as commonly used. Ability to exchange content in different formats has helped Ai users in their varied workflows. We keep hearing queries like … does Illustrator open DXF files? … what about SVG? … I have Freehand files, can I open those in Ai, directly?

To present a detailed picture of all the formats that Illustrator CS5 saves, imports, and exports, below is the list.

File > Save (and Save As)

  • Adobe Illustrator (ai)
  • Illustrator EPS (eps)
  • Illustrator Template (ait)
  • Adobe PDF (pdf)
  • Adobe FXG (fxg)
  • SVG Compressed (svgz)
  • SVG (svg)


Formats that can be opened or placed in Ai

  • Adobe FXG (fxg)
  • SVG Compressed (svgz)
  • SVG (svg)
  • AutoCAD Interchange File (dxf)
  • AutoCAD Drawing (dwg)
  • Freehand (fh7, fh8, fh9, fh10, fh11, ft11)
  • GIF89a (gif)
  • JPEG2000 (jpf, jpx, jp2, j2k, j2c, jpc)
  • JPEG (jpg, jpe, jpeg)
  • Macintosh PICT (pic, pct)
  • Enhanced Metafile (emf)
  • Windows Metafile (wmf)
  • Encapsulated Postscript (eps, epsf, ps)
  • Text (txt)
  • Microsoft Word DOCX (docx)
  • Microsoft Word (doc)
  • Microsoft RTF (rtf)
  • CorelDraw 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (cdr)
  • Computer Graphics Metafile (cgm)
  • TIFF (tif, tiff)
  • Photoshop (psd, pdd)
  • Adobe PDF (pdf)
  • BMP (bmp, rle, dib)
  • PCX (pcx)
  • Pixar (pxr)
  • PNG (png)
  • Targa (tga, vda, icb, vst)
  • Adobe Illustrator (ai, ait)


Formats that Ai can export to:

  • PNG (png)
    Also through ‘Save for Microsoft Office’ and ‘Save for Web & Devices’
  • BMP (bmp)
  • AutoCAD Drawing (dwg)
  • AutoCAD Interchange (dxf)
  • Enhanced Metafile (emf)
  • Flash (swf)
    Also through ‘Save for Web & Devices’
  • JPEG (jpg)
    Also through ‘Save for Web & Devices’
  • Macintosh PICT (pct)
  • Photoshop (psd)
  • TIFF (tif)
  • Targa (tga)
  • Text Format (txt)
  • Windows Metafile (wmf)
  • GIF
    Also through ‘Save for Web & Devices’
  • SVG
    Also through ‘Save for Web & Devices’ and via ‘Save / Save As…’
  • WBMP
    Only through ‘Save for Web & Devices’


The list does not comprise of formats that are part of the HTML5 Pack for Illustrator CS5.


  • By cptobv - 4:47 PM on March 29, 2011  



    • By Neeraj Nandkeolyar - 5:44 AM on March 30, 2011  

      Thanks! Do share your topics of interest.

      • By Katherine - 3:49 PM on March 22, 2013  

        Hi, I am not a graphic artist by trade, just a person who likes doing art. I have CS6, and have run into a problem in the last two days and don’t know what I have done. Where I would open a file in Illustrator, the list would have the AI brand and color in front of the file, and an .ai file under TYPE…I now have the DW insignia and an AI in the type.

        I noticed when I sent out a file that instead of the Illustrator file being there it is a Dreamweaver file (still AI, but not .ai as normal).

        Have I done anything wrong to get this? Even when I go into files of type at the bottom I am picking the All formats, or the Illustrator files and it still shows up as Dreamweaver….??? very confused and not trained in this, but seems I have done something to make this happen. Can anyone help? I am afraid the person I send these files to may not be able to open them if they don’t have Dreamweaver.

        • By Terry Hemphill - 9:38 AM on March 24, 2013  


          You don’t say is you’re on WIndows or Mac. But id you’re on WIndows, it could be one of two issues:

          –You may have accidentally changed the default file type association for what program is to open a particular file type (in this case, Illustrator)
          –The icon cache may be corrupted and needs to be rebuilt

          Check out this Windows 7 tech doc:

          And if this is not addressing your problem, please post this question on the Illustrator Forums page:


          –Terry H.

  • By decals - 6:15 PM on April 1, 2011  

    I have always been impressed with the range of file formats available for input and output in Illustrator. It makes things a lot easier when clients send you every type of file under the sun.

  • By mm - 10:06 PM on May 5, 2011  

    Not related to your post above, but I JUST discovered the new drawing modes in CS5. I LOVE Draw Inside!!! One of the best additions to AI CS5. It’s functionality that i’ve been wanting for years, since I use clipping masks so much, and they can get really messy. That said, I find draw behind absolutely useless. I’m sure other users feel differently, which is fine, but you’ve implemented these modes as a CYCLING TOGGLE (in my opinion, this is a UI standard to avoid – I disliked this functionality in the camera tool of After Effects as well but I think you’ve moved away from it since?) , so we have to click through Draw Behind, which really ruins my workflow (i’m often unaware if I’m in Draw Behind or Draw Inside). Please, please, please, is there anyway that I can disable Draw Behind, so that SHIFT+D toggles between Draw Inside and Draw Normal?
    Thank you,

    • By Terry Hemphill - 10:14 PM on May 5, 2011  


      Thanks for the feedback, and I’ll pass along this to the development team. I think that the drawing modes are great timesavers as well, so glad that you find them useful. But I’m not sure if there’s anyway to actually disable one of the modes in that toggle. But maybe a member of the team might have some thoughts on that.


      –Terry H.

  • By John S - 8:18 AM on July 21, 2011  

    Hey there, as someone working in an environment using CS3 software, were I to upgrade to CS5 how easy or difficult would it be for me to set a default saving setting for my files to be compatible with my co workers using CS3?

    • By Terry Hemphill - 4:30 PM on July 21, 2011  


      I don’t know of a way to set up a default for this, however, you can create an Action to accomplish this.

      To learn more about creating Actions, you can check it out on Illustrator Help:

      Also, this is a good overall tutorial on creating an Action:

      Hope that helps.

      –Terry H.

      Hope this helps

  • By mandy - 6:52 PM on October 11, 2011  

    looking to bicubic downsample in Illustrator. I have files that are large and need to be sent to the printer in a much smaller file size. I have the presets set to bicubic downsample @ 200 and it’s still sending out a 6-7 and sometimes higher MB file.

    I have uploaded (1) file and it will read 6MB but when I upload all (12) of my files to one single PDF doc it will read as 15MB…but that’s will ALL 12 pages.
    what needs to be done?

  • By Clare - 9:09 AM on December 1, 2011  


    I am trying to export a file from Illustrator (CS5) to a DWG or DXF file and it just won’t work. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • By Neeraj Nandkeolyar - 12:28 AM on December 2, 2011  

      Please send more details to sharewithai[at]adobe[dot]com. It would be nice if you could send the sample file and the steps, that cause this problem.


      – Neeraj

  • By Ben - 4:13 PM on December 23, 2011  

    I am also having problems exporting to .dxf, when the files are opened by someone using AutoCad all of the curves and circles have been replaced with segmented lines. The shapes look fine when opened in Illustrator but are thoroughly messed up in Autocad. There seems to be a large community of designers out there who have experienced the same issue as there are a few specialized pieces of software for converting .ai files to .dxf but it seems like Adobe would really want to have this as a simple native function. I am using CS4 in the Mac OS.

    • By Neeraj Nandkeolyar - 5:02 AM on January 5, 2012  

      Hello Ben,
      Please send a sample file and steps to sharewithai[at]adobe[dot]com We will investigate this and get back to you.



      • By Scott - 9:36 AM on January 30, 2012  


        I am wondering if the issues around exporting illustrator files to DXF have been resolved. Thank you. Scott

  • By George - 9:45 AM on December 28, 2011  

    I cannot open a dxf in CS4 Illustrator (mac). It unexpectedly quits when I try to place or open directly. There seems to be much talk about this around the web and NO fix. What is the story here? I need to resolve this and have wasted too much time getting no useful answers around Any help is appreciated.

    • By Neeraj Nandkeolyar - 5:03 AM on January 5, 2012  

      Hello George,
      If you could send a sample file to sharewithai[at]adobe[dot]com, we’ll get that investigated and get back to you.



  • By David Schmitz - 7:36 AM on May 15, 2012  

    I am trying to open a .DWG file in AI CS5.1, but it will neither open or be placed into a new document. Not sure why as the file shows up in the open window when sorted for .DWG files.

    • By Neeraj Nandkeolyar - 4:56 AM on May 16, 2012  

      Ai CS5.1 supports .DWG files till version 2006 / 2007. Please check if the file you’re opening is of higher version. Thanks!

  • By Jesy - 12:03 PM on June 7, 2012  

    Is there any classes you offer or know of that deals with the ins and outs of AI with CAD programs. I’m a production designer that works with Engineers who use AutoCad, Inventor and Solid Works. It would be nice to know what I can do to help maximize my production and create more efficient ways of working better with them if that makes sense.

  • By Eric - 10:56 PM on September 12, 2012  

    Has there been any resolve as to why the curves in AI are converted into very coarse splines? It doesn’t matter how large the object is, it’s the same size splines. I need to work with engineers that need graphics and I’m trying to make working together easier and less frustrating. Any news?
    Depending on how a CAD file is saved some time it will open in AI and sometimes it will crash AI. IF you ever get the message asking for “Text Import options” when opening a dxf file, hit cancel. It will always crash not matter what option you try. If you get a message titled “DXF/DWG options” you good to go. The file will open.
    Another attribute I have noticed is that the dxf file icons had changed to mxml labels. This prevents CAD users from opening the file. I found that the preference to open the file had been changed. Select a dxf file in your finder, get info (command+I). In the info panel change “Open with:” to back to AI.

  • By todd - 1:17 PM on February 6, 2013  

    Currently In the process of doing basic designs for T shirts and other merchandise. (black and white)
    1. the individual I am going to who owns a graphics company works in corel draw (pc) and i use the adobe suite.
    2. i can’t seem to find a format in illustrator thats compatible with corel draw.
    3. I do all of my work in Adobe InDesign and export work as eps, or pdf and place in illustrator. (converts to points and paths) however, none of my work opens using corel draw
    any file i export as a jpeg, eps or pdf, comes in as a bitmap, rather than vector when opened in corel. (despite that such are done using InDesing, which is vector based)
    ALL suggestions welcomed.

    • By Terry Hemphill - 6:00 PM on February 6, 2013  


      It’s a bit of an odd workflow to go from InDesign back into Illustrator, it’s typically the other way around and seems like an unnecessary step. Can you not just export your files directly from InDesign as either EPS or PDF, then bring them into CorelDRAW? Keep in mind that CorelDRAW may only open older versions of these files.

      But that being said:

      Try saving your Illustrator file (either .AI or Illustrator EPS) out as an older, legacy version of either formet. I’m not sure what are the most current versions supported by CorelDRAW.

      My understanding is that CorelDRAW supports both .AI, .EPS and PDF files. You may want to contract the graphics company that your sending the files to, they should understand better what version of these files can be opened properly.


      –Terry H.

  • By Chad Lester - 12:48 PM on February 8, 2013  

    I have Adobe Illustrator CS5 Version 15.0.0 for Mac, and DXF files do not show up as readable files for Open or Place.

    When I was using CS3, I had downloaded a DXF plugin called DxfDwg.aip, but it failed to load under CS5. Is that my problem? If so, how do you fix it? I’ve searched for solutions online, but to no avail.

    • By Terry Hemphill - 1:47 PM on February 8, 2013  


      You should be able to open DXF files directly in Illustrator. It’s likely a missing plug-in, but a standard one that ships with the product.

      Please post this question on the Illustrator Facebook page or Twutter, which are monitored by support.


      –Terry H.

    • By Amy Zhong - 3:52 PM on April 11, 2013  

      Hi Chad,

      Do you know which version of AutoCAD were these DXF files saved from? Illustrator currently only supports AutoCAD version 2.5 through version 2006. If the DXF files were saved from a newer version of AutoCAD, you’ll have to either downsave them to version 2006 or lower, or export them as PDF or EPS.

      If that’s not the case, our forum would be a great place to start troubleshooting your issue:

      Hope this helps 🙂

  • By CHRIS - 9:23 PM on March 30, 2013  

    Hi, I’ve been trying to place an image using adobe cs5 illustrator, it default to the desktop folder instead of subfolder.
    For example, I have a folder call “project” in desktop. When I try to “place” an image for the file, it always default to the desktop folder instead of the “project” folder. I don’t know what I press accidentally, but now I can’t place the image for the recent folder anymore or relink an image from the same folder. I have to go to Desktop, scroll down to project folder, and then select the image for the “project” folder. Please help. Thank-you in advance.

  • By Beatriz - 2:28 PM on April 11, 2013  

    I’ve been trying to open and also place a .dwf and .dxf but my CS5 Illustrator (for PC) doesn’t recognize these files. Please, I really need help!!! Thanks

  • By Rissie - 4:00 PM on June 9, 2013  

    Help please! When I open to finish my artwork this morning, a dialog box showed up titled “Text Import Options” and when I hit ok, it opens up a blank file. What should I do? My client already saw the design and loved it. Worst thing is, she said that she’s approving the design and asking me to send it tomorrow. OMG! Somebody help me please!

  • By Rissie - 4:01 PM on June 9, 2013  

    Fyi, I’m using a CS4.. Thanks in advance!

    • By Neeraj Nandkeolyar - 1:48 AM on June 10, 2013  

      I’ve sent you an email. It would be nice, if you could share the file with us, so that we could look into the problem. Thanks!

  • By Janette Marin - 8:36 PM on June 12, 2013  

    Hi, I’m an aspiring graphic designer & just recently I’ve been creating invitations for people who ask for them for their upcoming events. The only problem I’m having with this is when I print them they come out pixelated. What format do I use to print them out so they won’t be pixelated. I’ve tried saving it for web & device but that didn’t seem to work. If you can shoot me an email ASAP it would be highly appreciated. Thanks 🙂

    • By Neeraj Nandkeolyar - 12:51 AM on June 13, 2013  

      Would be nice if you could share the file with us to investigate the issue. Send the file to us at: sharewithaiaATadobeDOTcom Also mention the printer details. Thanks!

      – Neeraj

    • By Terry Hemphill - 6:46 AM on June 13, 2013  


      Please post this question to the Community Forums page for Illustrator:

      –Terry H.

  • By Cheri Magorno - 7:48 AM on June 16, 2013  

    I am trying to copy/place a .emf or .wmf graphic from Art Explosion into Illustrator CS6 for PC. The error is: .wmf or .emf is in a format that cannot be placed. I have recently upgraded from CS4 to CS6.

    Is there a setting in CS6 that I need to change? I use clip art quite often in my business and don’t want to have to export every time.

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