I have 20 of the same icons on one art board. I would like to select all and replace all with a new icon. I want the icons to show in the same spot as the replaced icons.

  • Are the icons linked [placed] files? Because that would make this really easy, if they are. – Manly Nov 24 '14 at 19:08
  • They are just copied from file and pasted to artboard. – Andrew Nov 24 '14 at 19:49
  • You will have to select each icon and get the x and y at the top of the page. If the new icons are the same size then delete the old and paste the new in. Use the same X and Y and they will position themselves in the correct spot. – John Dangerous Nov 24 '14 at 20:57

After asking around and playing with some commands I was able to come up with a quick solution. Sorry I have no reputation but this works.

  1. Select the object then hold down the alt option key
  2. Then start dragging the object to where it needs to be.
  3. While you are dragging the object, hold down the shift key without letting go of the option key.
  4. After you have dragged the object to a desired spot be sure not to deselect the object(s).
  5. Then hit the Apple or Command key+D several times depending on how many copies you want.

Here's an example. If you divide your artboard into 24 squares and you need 24 of the same objects in each square it is best to put the first object in the top left corner square. Run the above process to get your object into the second square. Then select the objects in those two squares and run the above process again to get the other two squares filled on the first row. Now you have 4 squares done. Now it's time to go down and fill the rest. Select the top row of the objects (all 4) and run the same process. Then end it by tapping Command Key +D 4 times. You should end up with 24 squares with objects in the exact spot you need them to be.

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  • 1
    hmm...that's kind of not the same thing you originally asked. – Carlos Canto Nov 26 '14 at 15:05
  • Well, perhaps it can't be done, but this is the best and closest method so far. I have asked many who are proficient in .ai and they all said this is a good question and they weren't sure. So, if other people have a better way, then post your answer. – Andrew Nov 26 '14 at 22:04
  • You could use the method outlined by @CarlosCanto below. But instead of symbolizing each icon use a small script to do this. The problem is that most Graphics designers wouldn't know how to do this so it is mostly useless to ask graphics designers how to do it. Depending in scene this is 10 minutes of work first time you do it. (likewise using symbols is only work if you never incorporated them in your workflow). Likewise you could use linked files instead of symbols. Anyway Proficient does not mean all knowing, it usually means does things for work and only needs a part of available tools. – joojaa Mar 26 '15 at 10:12

here's one way, see if this works for you. Turn each of the 20 icons + the new icon into symbols (this is tedious), then it is easy to replace them.

  1. create a new action, give it a shortcut key (F2 for example)
  2. select your first icon and drag it / drop it into the symbols panel. Click Ok on the Symbol Option dialog.
  3. stop recording

you just created an action to make a symbol out of the selected item. To bypass the dialog options each time you make a symbol, turn off the "Toggle Dialog On/Off" next to your Action's name in the Actions Panel.

that's the hard part, now on to the easy stuff

  1. select another icon and press F2
  2. repeat for the remaining 18 icons + the New Icon

now all icons are turned into symbol instances (on the artboard) and symbols (in the symbol panel)

  1. select all 20 symbol instances on the artboard
  2. activate the New Icon symbol in the symbols panel
  3. and click on "Replace Symbol" command in the symbols panel flyout menu.

that's it, it seems like a lot of steps but it should take 2-3 minutes tops.

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Check out the copy to objects script in Wundes illustrator script archive. It basically does what you want right out of the box:

User selects two (or more) objects: This script copies the top most object to the position and size of all other selected objects.

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