I saved my .ai as .pdf in order to send a proof to client. I then made another days worth of changes and hit "Save" and then "close". Now I've realised that because I most recently saved as PDF, that was the file I then saved over. My major issue now is that all the important content is sitting off the artboard, but because I've saved as PDF - I cannot access it. I can see the data displaying within the PDF in the preview thumbnail of the document (In Illustrator's recent file list) but when I open it, it asks me to specify an artboard and only opens the artboard content. Is there anyway that I can get to the "off-artboard" content?

  • 2
    Did you disable the "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities" option when saving the PDF? If so, then everything outside the artboard will be lost. Preview thumbnails are generally just raster images, and there's no way to recover lost data from them.
    – Billy Kerr
    Apr 23, 2019 at 7:12
  • Yeah I was thinking that might be the case (eg. thumbs not representative of what's in the actual file). It's my bad of course - I should have re-opened my AI version and made the changes, but unfortunately I got distracted and when I came back to the file it was open and I kept working on it. I wish there was some type of warning when Saving that you are going to lose this content due to the format you're saving in. Apr 23, 2019 at 22:47
  • It might help you if you use File > Save a Copy when saving a PDF. That way, your original AI document will remain open. I've been caught out by this behaviour too.
    – Billy Kerr
    Apr 24, 2019 at 22:53
  • @Billy Kerr yes that is a habit I will have to force myself into so this doesn't happen again. Apr 27, 2019 at 23:04
  • It might not be your fault. Illustrator currently has a issue saving AI files with artworks. Ends up saving ti as PDF not ai as told. Paul
    – user142202
    Sep 5, 2019 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


Based on feedback through various forums and the response from Adobe tech support staff - it appears the answer is: the content is lost and cannot be accessed.

I will ensure that I never "File / Save as / PDF (proof quality/no editing capabilities" again as it opens me up to potentially making changes and unwittingly saving them without being able to access them again. Instead I will know always "file / Save a copy..." to ensure the file that remains open after save is my 'raw' AI file.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.