Using Adobe Illustrator, "Expand" and "Outline stroke" seem to produce the same result of converting a path to an object (correct me if i'm wrong). So I'd like to know;

  1. Do both commands really perform the same action?
  2. When to apply either command?

2 Answers 2


"Outline Stroke" is essentially a subset of "Expand". If all you have is a simple object with a stroke applied then they will do the same thing.

"Expand" on the other hand will affect most things. It will expand strokes, fills, gradients (to a single gradient mesh), blends, envelope distorts and probably more. It's bigger brother "Expand Appearance" will also expand any effects and appearance attributes applied to an object.

You can read more in the help:

As for when to use each...

  • If you only want to outline a stroke then use "Outline Stroke" (unless your object only has a stroke then use either).
  • If you want to expand more complex attributes such as envelopes or blends then use "Expand" or "Expand Appearance".
  • Thank you Cai! Your edit as well as the Illustrator help were very enlightening. Sep 9, 2016 at 15:24

Apparently, according to the comments, this guy summed it up very succinctly.


  • 1
    that was pretty straight forward! loved the pictorials. Thanks Sep 10, 2016 at 4:42

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