I want to export assets of an Illustrator file so I can use them as links later-on.

However the "Asset-Export" dialogue does not let me use .ai as output format:

enter image description here

While I know, you can use SVG or PNGs as links as well, I would prefer to use .ai, since it should have the best possible compatibility (for obvious reasons).

My main goal is to have key assets, that might need to get changed / revised, as links, so that I only have to make changes once and they will be reflected in multiple illustrator files, which use these assets.

Am I missing something? Is this a dumb idea? Or why is this option seemingly absent? Or does it just happen to be placed somewhere else in the menu?

  • I am not sure I am understanding what you are trying to accomplish here. Are you creating images (like icons or logos) that will then be placed in other Illy files? If so, then you should be able to place the ai images without having to do any sort of export function.
    – magerber
    May 16, 2017 at 22:40
  • 1
    I just played a bit in Illy and may have a solution, although not an answer to your question. Instead of exporting the asset, instead add the asset to a Library within Illy. Then when you want to place that asset into another document you choose the "Place Linked" option. If you need to change the asset, you can right click on the asset in your library, choose "Edit" and make the change. Once you save, the saved change will be updated in all of the documents where you placed the library file. Just make sure not to choose "Place Copy."
    – magerber
    May 16, 2017 at 22:55
  • The fact that you cannot export to AI is infuriating. For those who don't understand the validity of the question: someone gave me a storyboard for an animation I will make, their panels are full of vector elements. Exporting them to SVG or PDF is no good to me (I use Adobe's very own After Effects and need scalable vector graphics...) Dec 9, 2021 at 23:40

2 Answers 2


Just export your artwork into PDF files and rename all your output files from .pdf to .ai


A possible work around could be done via "Save As" or "Save as Copy." Although this is not a perfect solution as it would depend on your artwork set up, so take the time to see if it fits your needs and makes the process easier for you.

Place the artwork you want as separate files onto separate artboards if you haven't already done this.

Then, via Save as or Save a copy, save as an .ai file and click "Save each artboard to separate files."

enter image description here

This will save each artboard as separate illustrator files. It will only keep content associated with the artboard in the separated files. This includes content on the artboard and content partially on the artboard. It also includes content that is grouped but appears off the artboard. This isn't an issue but worth noting, as you can consider this in your artwork set up from the beginning. Which will make life easier in the long term.

You could then link the separate files as you wish and make amends to the newly separated files. Alternatively amend in the single file and just repeat the save process and overwrite the files.

However, you wont be able to have a say in the file names like the Export features offers. You would have to accept having the file name with numbers, i.e [File Name]_1, [File Name]_2 etc. If this isn't an issue then happy days! If it is then you could manually change the names and replace the linked files but then that might just be more hassle if you have a lot of files to rename.

If you want to get fancy you can layer artboards on top of each other and use the same process. Without going into too much detail, I have done this in the past on some bespoke print jobs that require a lot of manual craft work afterwards and I am after particular alignments. I have also done this to pure vector storyboards or artwork I want to split on mass but still want to edit afterwords.

On a final note, look for scripts ;)

  • This is a bit tedious. My solution now is to drag the element into the libraries panel and then to find it in the computer as an Ai file but even this is a bit long Dec 12, 2021 at 1:41
  • I would say tedious is a relative term in this case, impacted largely by the size and nature of the job. You could achieve an acceptable result in a few clicks. Dec 12, 2021 at 9:17
  • one single artboard could have over 10 elements. Dragging them in the libraries window is objectively faster than having to create 10 artboards. Dec 12, 2021 at 16:37

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