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Every once in a while a client emails me a .eps file. Most of the time these files fail to open or they open with errors. This can often delay production or mistakenly allow errors to slip through. The client swears there was no problem with the eps file on their end.

What can I do to fix these bad eps files?

  • Eps files can contain characters that are not supported in all servers. Either encode them using something like uub or archive them. – joojaa May 15 '15 at 14:45
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    Close votes crack me up. Yes this is technical.. bit it's good technical knowledge, not application troubleshooting. – Scott May 15 '15 at 17:03
  • Actually no.. questions like these fall under "Technical Knowledge" It's not application trouble shooting, in fact it's not even application specific and this information is valuable to any designer using email and sending or receiving files. – Scott May 15 '15 at 17:22
  • Questions like these are technical knowledge that is extremely useful to have as a graphic designer. Even designers need some technical knowledge to funtion. Since it's not tech support, I see no reason why this would be off-topic. – Vincent May 19 '15 at 16:02
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Email servers often do not understand what the .eps file format is - specifically any binary data. In some cases the server sees them as "executable" files because of internal binary data and due to this the server will often scan the file for viruses and in the process break the file.


In order to email an eps file, the best practice is to always compress the .eps into an archive, such as a .zip file. Then email the .zip file rather than the raw .eps file.

There's nothing you can do to fix this corruption when it occurs. If a client sent you a raw .eps file and you can't open it or it opens with errors or missing data you can only request a new file and ask that it be compressed before emailing it.

Note it appears to only be emailing that is an issue. Services such as DropBox or Hightail don't have a problem with .eps files. It's email servers that don't fully understand the format and damage it in an effort to protect users.

This issue has a great deal to do with data encoding on the client side. Data can be sent as UU, Binary, or Base64. Many desktop email clients have a difficult time with binary data and often break EPS files when they are sent in binary form. Many desktop email clients will also allow a user to specific the data encoding, however many users are completely unaware of how, why, when, or where to alter this data encoding setting. If they were, they could simply specify UU or Base64 encoding and the eps files should transport without issues. Web mail clients typically default to Base64 encoding for files. Base64 isn't generally any issue with EPS files. So, in general terms, using a web-mail provider such as Gmail in a browser doesn't show the issue.

In my own experience, only about 1 in 50 .eps files actually makes it through email unscathed.

  • Actually its the other way around. The email app does not think the eps flie is binary but thinks its text. As it predominately is text. So it does not UU Encode the message. Since the sending app does know that zip files are binary it will proceed and auto UU encode the data transmission. Binary files do not survive email unscathed unless they are encoded. Since EPS may contain binary data its a really bad idea to send it over as if it was text. Email servers cant handle binary data, but email apps circumvent this if they suspect the data source is binary. – joojaa May 15 '15 at 14:52
  • You've kind of contradicted yourself there joojaa -- "It's the client... " then "Email servers don't understand binary" -- so it's the server. I realize UU encoding helps but 99.5% of users have no clue how to alter the method for data encoding in their email client and it's just far easier to ask them to .zip the file first :). – Scott May 15 '15 at 15:02
  • Client (Program) is the application you read email with, clients interact with servers, OK (you do not read email with servers you read them with clients that take the data form servers).. Clients (Program) handle this, or at least are supposed to. If the client handles it wrong its not really the email servers fault. yes its easier to ask users to zip the file as its sure that the client understands the zip file is binary. also Clients (the human kind) are more likely to understand this BUT its the client (sfotware's) FAULT. – joojaa May 15 '15 at 15:16
  • I wasn't arguing Joojaa -- your'e 100% correct. I just felt the encoding information was superfluous for most users. Feel free to explain in an answer if you'd like. – Scott May 15 '15 at 15:22
  • I think this problem occurred in some emailing servers and didn't show in others. I think webmail servers didn't show this problem, while pop3 desktop client may corrupt files. what email server do you use? – hsawires May 15 '15 at 16:58

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