Is there a way to export my artwork as PDF so that it has a transparent background? Something like exporting objects only... whenever I try to save my .ai as pdf, it always comes with a full white background. If I try to save as eps, I get a chunky white background (where it has white rectangles behind the artwork only where the artwork exists, so there are transparent chunks).

If I export as png, I get an image like what I'm looking for. Is there any way to do that in a vector format?

  • What program are you importing the PDF where it "comes with a full white background"? I just saved an AI as a PDF and placed it in another AI, there is no white background...
    – Farray
    Aug 7, 2012 at 19:48
  • Why would you need a PDF without a background?
    – Scott
    Aug 7, 2012 at 22:11
  • 3
    Because I'm trying to deliver a vector-based logo for my company that a 3rd party can use when producing materials like posters and such. Aug 8, 2012 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


Long story short, .eps is the slow cousin of .pdf. Use .pdf if possible.

Your .pdf problem is, I think, no problem at all, as long as you save your file as Pdf 1.4 or higher, you should be good to go, because it is the earliest pdf version to support transparency.

Since you said that "it always comes with a full white background", I'm thinking that if you viewed the .pdf in Acrobat or actually almost any application that takes in PDF, it will have a white background for convenience. Imagine reading text documents with a transparency grid on.

Acrobat and many other applications have what is in Adobe applications called a "transparency grid", which helps you view the document without the default background. It's not always called that in every application. In Acrobat: settings (Cmd+K) > Page display > Transparency grid. Photoshop and Illustrator also have a transparency grid.

You could also just open the output image back in Illustrator to make sure nothing changed since the export.

  • I was viewing the PDF in Preview on my Mac and you're exactly right. It was adding the white document background. Thank you, sir! Aug 7, 2012 at 20:50
  • 1
    I had the same problem with Preview on Mac but you can turn it off with View->Show Document Background (Should say 'Hide' in my opinion but it works) Jan 15, 2013 at 20:47

This solution worked for me:

In Acrobat, go to Preferences > Accessibility > Replace Document Colors - toggle this to off

Good Luck!

  • This is what I did as well. But note that this will only change YOUR view. If your design team or customer opens the PDF file, they will still see the white background until they change this setting themselves. May 16, 2022 at 18:43

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