I'm doing some design work where I've been sent an .ai file that opens up in my (older) version of Adobe Illustrator (CS4 or CS5) as a blank box. I've tried opening it using different programmes but no success. I can't figure out how to change the .ai or save as an EPS so I can actually see the image. Is there a way to do this? Do I have to get the latest Illustrator to view? Also, if I am able to open it in my version, would it change the illustration format (the layers, etc.) at all or would I be able to carry on editing as it was left?

Sorry it's such a long winded question, I'm new to using Illustrator as I've been using Photoshop up until now :)

  • Your layers will not survive the operation. But you can place the newer ai in a older ai file. Better save in legacy format in newer AI
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 10:55
  • You don't say what version of Illustrator the AI file was saved with. Illustrator files are backwards compatible, i.e. it can open older version files in newer versions of the software, but not the other way round.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


Drag the .ai file to Adobe Acrobat. Then export an EPS from Acrobat.

.ai Files, by default, are both .ai and .pdf files.


To see the image try new Adobe reader or GIMP.

GIMP does not admit Illustrator files as images, but shows them as openable + opens them when I select in GIMP File > Open > all files. I quess that GIMP tries to handle it as a PDF.

Obviously Adobe reader would do the same if you change *.ai to *.pdf.

All this can be prevented by saving the ai file as "not pdf compatible"

There's no quarantee that everything in the file is visible, only high hopes.

You do better trying to get a modern Ai CC. It gives a free trial period, if you already haven't used it. In Ai CC you can save the image in other format, maybe in parts if you want to keep all available in legacy Ai.

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