I often run into this issue. I'm creating a file in Photoshop with masked layers etc. I want to make the final output available for some mock-ups in Illustrator, so I rasterize the layers and marquee select the entire area, copy and move to Illustrator.

Pasting the area in Illustrator flattens all transparencies, which is quite annoying. I'm left with my object and a flat white background.

Is there a reason for this?

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    Not an answer but an observation: I'm guessing you're rasterizing layers for copying purpose. You don't have to merge/rasterize layers. Just hit cmd+A to select all, and go to Edit->Copy Merged. This way you'll copy all the visible elements on all layers as if they were on one layer. – Jin Jul 2 '11 at 1:21
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    Shockingly, this is still an issue in CS6. (PS 13.0.4, AI 16.0.0 on OSX 10.8). This seems so basic to me. – supertrue May 16 '13 at 0:06

I'm not sure why you're rasterizing the layers, nor why you would want to copy and paste rather than place the image in AI. If there isn't a vital reason for that workflow, Place the PSD in Illustrator (File > Place) instead. All of the transparency is preserved, layers are intact.

Once the image is placed, you can embed it if necessary. One of the embed options is to flatten all layers, which also preserves transparency. If you don't flatten, "Convert Layers to Objects" opens up various possibilities for subsequent editing.

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    Basically, it's for when I'm just making quick and simple Mock Ups and I want to use one or two assets in Illustrator. I know you can place PSDs, but that drives up the file size – Dan Hanly Jul 2 '11 at 10:30
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    Got it. I was thinking of efficiency (time) rather than size. With a placed PSD you can iterate quickly using "Edit Original" and updating via the links panel. Drag the image in from Bridge as the fastest way to embed it in the first place. – Alan Gilbertson Jul 2 '11 at 17:00
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    I agree with @danielhanly.com that it would be useful to be able just to copy a layer in photoshop and paste it in illustrator with transparency when doing quick mockups etc. The whole "save as...", "import..." work flow feels superfluous in those cases. – Henrik Ekblom Feb 13 '14 at 14:27
  • This does not answer the question – Charlie Mar 21 '16 at 20:54

Instead of Copy/Pasting, save as a PNG in Photoshop, then open in Illustrator.

This will preserve transparency :)

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    not for me (CS5) – Matt Mizumi Jun 10 '14 at 0:24
  • This does not answer the question – Charlie Mar 21 '16 at 20:52

I don't think this is possible (I'm on Windows 7) without saving the file first. This is probably not a limitation of Photoshop since you can copy and paste transparency within the application.

Quick tip: No need to merge your layers. Select the area, then Ctrl + Shift + C (Windows), and you'll copy all of the layers.

  • This is an oversight in Photoshop or Illustrator that Adobe has ignored for decades. The limitation exists. – Charlie Mar 21 '16 at 20:54

Try saving the file in a vector format that Illustrator would recognize. Also remember that Illustrator is a vector based program where as photoshop is more for images. So one thing that is a certain way in photoshop maybe different in Illustrator

  • This does not answer the question – Charlie Mar 21 '16 at 20:52

Exporting as PNG answer makes the most sense to me.

If you are determined not to save a file you can apply a background layer with a matching colour of your Illustrator document and then Copy Merged & Paste. It's a bit mad but will get the job done.

  • This does not answer the question – Charlie Mar 21 '16 at 20:52

I had put an image in Photoshop with the object that I wanted to have transparent. I selected it with the polygonal lasso tool and pasted the selection in a new Photoshop file. Then in this new file I deleted the layer containing the white background (with opening the new file it also gave me the option background contents--> transparent).Then I saved the file as .png. Then I opened the png in Illustrator and clicked export and saved it again as .png.

This last .png is transparent. Maybe the first .png is also transparent, I don't know, but this works for me.


You can do this:

  1. In PS: Save some transparency tif with layers
  2. In Ai: Place it.
  3. Edit in PS > Save > Auto updated in AI > Make Copy in your Ai file > Embed the copy.

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