A client asked me to send the following files .ai, .eps, .pdf, .psd, .tif ( created in Adobe Illustrator) with transparent background. After searching through this site, I found out that I can save the .eps, .pdf & .psd with transparent backgrounds.

When I open the files in Preview and click on Show Image Background, the white background disappears and I can view the design with a transparent background.

I tried to do the same with the .Ai and .Tiff formats but it doesn't seem to be working.

In fact when I open the files with Preview & click on Show Image Background the image remain the same, just a block of white. I opened the .tiff in illustrator too using the outline mode command + Y but it still doesn't work.

Is it possible to save .AI and .TIFF files with transparency?

  • 1
    This isn't a forum: don't keep adding new information and comments as answers
    – Yorik
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:54
  • what is it this website exactly if is not a forum?
    – Th-Inker
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 16:04
  • I could have just removed the posts myself if you or other users explained to me, whoever did the down vote, there was no need to down voting my posts, anyway i did remove the posts now. i'm new here i don't know how exactly works this website.
    – Th-Inker
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 16:08

3 Answers 3


Apple's Preview is not a professional-level image viewer/editor. It's made for home users that are merely viewing basic image formats such as jpg, png, gif, and pdf. There are many standard PDF features which Preview will not support. And Preview has never been designed to view .ai files, and .eps files are hit or miss (not dependably displayed).

The instant you need anything remotely above the rock-bottom basic user level image formats, you need to abandon Apple's Preview for a better application. If a client is insisting that "Things don't look right in Preview" then you'll need to explain all this to them. Do NOT "dummy down" files so Preview will display them properly. This will merely lead to incorrect files for production.

  • .ai and .eps inherently have no background. If you are seeing a background, it's the fault of the viewing application not the file. Unless you specifically added a background to your .ai and .eps file, there is no background.
  • .tif with a transparent background is a fairly recent hybrid format. The easiest method of achieving such a file is to just copy/paste your Illustrator artwork into Photoshop and a Smart Object, then save as a .tif file with layers (and transparency). I do not believe Illustrator has the ability to save a tiff with transparency.
  • .pdf files can present a bit of a viewing problem. All pdfs appear to have a background in most applications. Even if the file itself does not have a background. Acrobat, Reader, and certainly Preview, will always show a white background. There is no way to generate a PDF for these applications without the appearance of a background. However, if you open the PDF is a more robust application, such as Illustrator, Photoshop, Graphics Converter, (and I"m guessing Gimp), you will not have a background. So really, for PDF, it depends on what is viewing the PDF.
  • I don't know actually if i did dummy down the files. i applied a clipping mask to the design so that the client is able to look @the white colour design on .ai & .eps format in Preview. Now i know it wasn't needed. For the .tif Illustrator doesn't offer the transparency option. I did copied & pasted the vector in Photoshop & when saved in .tif i got the option to save the file with transparency. It did work. For the .Pdf i think there's no problem because the printer can preview the file in illustrator or other applications simply using the outline option. thanks you have been very helpful.
    – Th-Inker
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 20:19
  • You are incorrect. Apple's Preview is not called "Preview" it's called Quicklook, and it is more capable than you give it credit for, even in 2017 when you answered this, it still was. Professionals use it, and it wasn't made for "home users" as you say. It was made with a wide array of image codecs/configs and is continuously updated with each new version. It is also extensible with plugins to add more previewing options than what come with the OS. Commented May 13, 2019 at 4:06
  • I strongly disagree, Mike. My 30+ years of professional design experience has proven Preview to be an inferior image viewer. But to each his own.
    – Scott
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 8:08

You don't say what software you're using, but the following applies to Photoshop and Illustrator:

When you are saving a TIFF out of Photoshop, you need to have the 'Layers' option selected at the bottom of the Save window. This will create a TIFF with a transparent background. However, I don't think Preview can show the transparency of a TIFF (the option is greyed out when I try) so you can't check it that way, but you could check the transparency by placing it in a document with something behind it to be sure.

To save an AI file out of Illustrator with a transparent background, you need to have Clipping Masks applied to your Layer(s) in Illustrator. Otherwise the default is to show the canvas / page underneath as the background. That one will show as transparent in Preview.

  • I edited the post i used Adobe Illustrator
    – Th-Inker
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 12:04

It actually is possible. However, I've only used it with grunge textures. I convert my image to threshold, convert image/mode to bitmap, and save it as a .tiff file. You should be able to control the color of the file within illustrator. See example. it's a tff file laid over vector object in illustrator.enter image description here

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