just realized (what I think is) a pretty bad bug in Illustrator CC and I wanted to know what your opinion was on it. In short, saving as seperate artboards works in regular PDF viewers but if you re-open the PDF with Illustrator, you have access to the entire file.

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Take an illustrator file with more than one artboard.
  2. Save as a copy and select the PDF format. Check the "use artboards" function and select one of the artboards you want saved.
  3. Save the pdf with whatever settings, but make sure "Preserve editing capabilities" is checked on the first screen.

If you open the PDF in adobe reader or Preview, you should see that the PDF only saved your selected artboard. This is what is expected.

However, if you re-open the PDF in Illustrator, the entire file is available, including the other artboards and anything in the file outside the artboards.

This is really not something I expected, and now I'm thinking of all the PDFS I might have sent to clients with funny/unprofessional reminders to myself outside of artboards. (Which they could see if they open the PDF with Illustrator)

I would consider this a bug. Why would the entire file be available for editing if you selected a specific artboard on the previous screen?

What do you guys think?

  • 2
    I think step 3 is the culprit. When preserving editing capabilities, your .ai document will be embedded in the PDF, so that it can be reopened in Illustrator for further editing. Rule of thumb: Only preserve editing capabilities if you really, really need it.
    – Max Wyss
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 0:30
  • Yeah, I'm pretty confident that's it as well. I would have liked for Illustrator to "generate" a version of the file with only that artboard in it, but I'm guessing that's not a valid option for a few reasons. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 3:06
  • Why not creating an .ai file with just that artboard in it, and then export to PDF?
    – Max Wyss
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 9:09
  • This seems entirely intuitive and expected behaviour to me. Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


This is not a bug in Illustrator as Illustrator open PDF files natively however, you should be careful when you send PDF's to your clients not all software act the same when you save as PDF's because PDF file can support "Hidden Content" and some information about your computer name and the user produced in the PDF. you should work on your PDF after save it, and make sure of it size. a vector graphics in a PDF must not take so many KB.

So here is my solution to make sure that your PDF will contain only the information that you really see.

After you (print/save) to PDF open it in Adobe Acrobat and go to protection panel and select Remove Hidden Information

the screen shoots below show you what you have to see.

enter image description here

and you should see a confirmation in Adobe Acrobat that there is some hidden objects and when you confirm deleting it you should see in the results "Overlapping objects" checked.

enter image description here

That's it.

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