How to Open Illustrator Files in Photoshop

There may be times when your client or other designers send you an Illustrator file in or.eps format while your computer only has Photoshop installed. Not to worry though, there are ways that you can open Illustrator files through Photoshop 

My name is Aly, I am a graphic designer and have been using Adobe Photoshop for over five years and I am Adobe certified in Photoshop. In this article today, I will be explaining how you can open .ai files (Illustrator Files) in Photoshop without having Adobe Illustrator downloaded onto your computer. 

Key Takeaways

  • I will be referring to Illustrator as AI a lot in this article. 
  • You will learn how to open files using smart objects and rasterization.
  • Settings will be changed in Photoshop, I would suggest writing down your steps so it’s easier to revert back later. 

Method 1: Opening an AI File As a Rasterized Layer

You can open an Adobe Illustrator file in Photoshop as a layer, and this is the easiest way. Check out the steps below to see how it works. 

Step 1: Simply opening the AI file in Photoshop is the fastest way to work with it. After you have the .ai file for your project from Illustrator, launch Photoshop and select File > Open from the overhead menu.

Step 2: After you click the .ai file to open, a menu box will appear on your screen. In Photoshop, the file will launch as a brand-new project. 

You’ll notice, though, that this project opens as a single rasterized layer, which means that all the layers from the AI file have been combined into one. The individual pieces and layers produced by AI are not editable.

My image below is an example of what settings should be turned on/off. Ignore the sizing as it will be specific to your project. Once your settings are correct, select OK

Step 3: This is not a problem if your project in Illustrator only has one layer because you may carry on working on the layer essentially in the same way.

You won’t be able to use this technique, though, if your project contains numerous layers, to modify particular layers in Photoshop.

I will explain in the next method how you can solve this issue. Disclaimer: If you have multiple layers, you will need to have Adobe Illustrator downloaded to your computer. 

Method 2: Maintaining layers to save the AI file as a PSD.

The alternative way of opening an AI file in Photoshop ensures that all of the file’s layers are correctly preserved and that Photoshop can identify each layer in the project. This indicates that in order for Photoshop to open the file, you must correctly export it from Illustrator as a PSD file.

Step 1: You will need to have the file open in Adobe Illustrator before we start work in Photoshop. Once the file is open in Illustrator, go to File > Export > Export As to accomplish this.

Step 2: To export the file as a PSD file, choose Photoshop (psd) in the Format section, and select Export.

Step 3: The Photoshop Export Options window will appear once you click Export. As soon as Write Layers are chosen, check that Preserve Text Editability and Maximum Editability are both selected. then press OK.

By enabling Photoshop to detect certain layers, these choices guarantee that you can work with the same layers in Photoshop as you did in Illustrator.

Step 4: The file can now be opened in Photoshop. Go to File > Open to accomplish this.

Step 5: The PSD file will then be immediately opened as a new project after being selected. You’ll see that in this instance, in contrast to the previous technique, every layer is displayed and available for editing in the Layers panel.

How to open a .ai file in Photoshop without losing quality? 

You may have noticed that these methods listed above work great, but you may notice the quality had a loss. Using Smart Objects will allow you to transfer your Illustrator project to Photoshop while maintaining the highest level of quality. 

A smart object is a Photoshop layer that allows non-destructive editing, which means changes made to the object may be quickly changed or undone and won’t permanently impact the file.

Step 1: Open the Illustrator file in Photoshop by selecting File > Open as Smart Object.

If you are using an eps file format, another window will pop up, asking you to rasterize the project. Just click OK

There you go! Now that Photoshop is open, you can view the Illustrator file. The rasterized condition of an Illustrator file may result in some quality loss, therefore I wouldn’t advise using Photoshop to edit it, just view it. 

Bonus Tip: Once finished with your project, make sure you are saving it in the correct format you need. 

Final Thoughts

Working in both Photoshop and Illustrator combines their advantages and enables you to add more adjustments to your project.

Even though it might seem challenging, you can transfer a project from Illustrator to Photoshop using the techniques described above without sacrificing quality and without spending a lot of extra time or effort.

Any questions about opening an illustrator file in Photoshop? Leave a comment and let me know.

About Aly Walters
As a graphic designer who uses the entire Adobe Suite on a daily basis, Photoshop is my inspiration, especially since I'm Adobe certified and use it most often for my graphics and web-designed images.

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