I draw a shape, save it in AI and want to use it in another files as editable template. But when I place this AI into a new file, the shape is shown as an image not a vector. So how to place a vector AI into a new AI file?

  • 1
    The answers seemed to kinda try to steer you in the right direction based on the title of the question, without directly addressing the question in the description... So I wanted to say that when you link it, it may act like any raster image because you can't move separate objects inside the linked file or edit it at all right there, but as long as the linked file contents are vector, it's not going to turn raster just by linking it to another document. So to recap: it stays vector and the way you're doing it is correct.
    – Joonas
    Mar 20, 2020 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


You should consider making those shapes into Symbols.

Open the symbol Panel (Window → Symbols or Shift+Ctrl+F11)

Symbol Panel

To add a symbol, you just select drag your entire shape(s) into the panel.

From there you can create a pack of symbols. To export your pack of symbols click on the menu → Save Symbol Library and you can choose to save it as an .ai file containing your predefined symbols.

To then reopen that pack just choose the library form the subpack of User Defined

Symbols also help reduce your file size and increase performance of Illustrator - especially when working with a lot of paths, here's a real example.

  • And how to change a symbol in this pack? If I change a symbol in the pack, does it changed in all other files where it is used?
    – Ivan Z
    Mar 20, 2020 at 21:44

You can't link to other AI files and have the contents editable via the Link. You need to edit the original AI file if you want the link content to change and retain the link.

However, after placing an AI file you can then embed the link and the art will be fully editable. But, it will also no longer be linked to the original file. Embedding breaks the link and merely copies the contents to the active document.

  • Ura-a-a, I understand that placed AI is linked with the source file, and when the source is changed all placed objects are changed too in all files.
    – Ivan Z
    Mar 20, 2020 at 21:54
  • Yes, that's the point of linking files... and to that end, each link shouldn't (and won't) allow individual, localized, editing. Localized editing of a linked file defeats the entire purpose of linking.
    – Scott
    Mar 20, 2020 at 21:57

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