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How can I remove the white rectangle created when opening a file? When I open an image in Illustrator, I see a small rectangle in the center of the image and when I save the image using "Save For Web", Illustrator saves only the part within the rectangle but I want save all of the image.

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That's the Artboard and you don't remove it. You can make it larger or smaller by going to File > Document Setup and then click on Edit Artboards:

Document Setup Panel

Your artwork must be contained in the Artboard. I'd suggest you read the link above from Adobe to get a better understanding of this concept.

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To expand a little on what Ryan said, there is a faster way to edit your Artboards. Simply click on the Artboard Tool and resize them to fit.

artboard-tool

The even faster way is to automatically size your Artboard to fit your artwork.

I have this image of a tree that extends beyond my Artboard

tree-ext

Go to Object > Artboards > Fit to Artwork Bounds

menu

And there you have it:

final

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