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I am working in Illustrator CC, but my printer needs the files saved back to ai version 6. Doing this embeds the effects, such as drop shadows.

Is there a way to work around this other than keep 2 files?

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No. There's no way to workaround flattening which can occur when saving to legacy versions.

Older versions may not understand how new features work. Therefore Adobe determines what needs to change based on the version you are working in compared to the version you are saving to. If it were possible to leave something in tact, it remains in tact. Only those effects or features which are incompatible are expanded and/or flattened.

The only way to ensure nothing gets altered is to save to the version you are working in.

This has always been the case with most software.

  • There is a list... the "New Features" which are described by Adobe with every release. – Scott Dec 3 '14 at 0:09
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    Sometimes. For example, Gaussian Blur was changed in CS6.. so it gets expanded/flattened if saved to an older version even though older versions had a Gaussian Blur item. Basically anything touted as a "New Feature" means older versions probably won't be able to use it and it'll be flattened. – Scott Dec 3 '14 at 1:09
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No, there is no other way than having 2 files unless you change the way you work.

The only way you can lower your Illustrator file below version 10 and keep the same "visual effects" as on the modern version... is to unfortunately "rasterize" your effects! (menu object/rasterize)

Some transparency and blending effects can be achieved by using the pathfinder and adjusting the color of each part of your vector. That's not always an option for some designs and it can take a lot of time too. But it's a good habit though if you use transparency on logos, for example!

The other way is to change your workflow and do these effects the "good old way" in Photoshop and keep Illustrator only for vector graphics. For example, you can do the shadow of the text in Photoshop and import that shadow behind your text in Illustrator. Some designers will definitely react saying it's a dinosaur technique but technically it's a bulletproof method for any kind of RIP, old and new.

  • Absolutely no reason to downvote this. If a logo (for example) cannot be opened with native transparency, drop shadow, blending effects and gets its spot colors converted to CMYK in Illustrator 6... A skilled designer will not see any issue in converting his/her logo to something that actually works 100% of the time. Transparency doesn't work on old RIP and cannot be used for some printing methods. That's why a logo should be converted to 100% vector with no effects. Licensing software is also expensive for companies when there's 10-20 stations... Some use old versions. That's the reality. – go-junta Jul 2 '15 at 9:21

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