I get how the pathfinder tools work whether it's uniting, exclusion, intersect, etc.

Is there a way to do the same thing, only exclude a path instead of the whole shape?

Example: There's a square background with a circle outline in front of it. Can I remove the circular outline while keeping the center intact? (Probably becomes part of the square)

  • Yes you can do a knockout, this leaves your curve editable so you can change the width of the stroke later see near duplicate, and possible duplicate. No need to expand or even use pathfinder.
    – joojaa
    Mar 8, 2016 at 10:50

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can... with the pathfinder tool! Works the same way but keep in mind Mr Pathfinder doesn't like strokes!

You need to make sure the outline (stroke) of your circle is "expanded" first, e.g. not a stroke anymore but a shape.

To do this, select your circle with the outline and go in the menu Object > Expand.

expand stroke in illustrator before using pathfinder

Then you can use the pathfinder tool (divide works well here) and then remove that outline.

To remove the parts you don't need quickly, you can click on that outline slice and then go in the menu Select > Same > Fill & Stroke, and then press delete.

You'll end up with what I think you're explaining in your question... a circle without the outline and within a square.

Result after pathfinder divide

In my example the outline is thick. You can divide a single path with no thickness or you can expand any stroke and then divide it if you want it to be thicker and have a "visible" transparent outline on your circle.

  • That's it! I never would have guessed the expand thing. Didn't know I had to change a stroke to a shape. Thanks a lot.
    – Mitchell
    Mar 8, 2016 at 17:33

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