Save As PDF and PDF Export
Illustrator is long overdue for PDF export. Without PDF export saving a PDF from Illustrator is an arduous, multi-step process that must be repeated every time. There is also a dangerous trap in the process that can make the user’s file uneditable. Compare this to InDesign, which has PDF export and all changes are sticky.
1. File > Save a copy,
2. Change format to PDF,
3. Remove “ copy” from filename,
4. Change directory,
5. Click Save,
6. Enter PDF options,
7. Click Save.
1. File > Export,
2. Click Export.
Because all options in InDesign are sticky every export after the first will repeat the Settings, including directory, filename, and PDF options (even custom options that don’t use a preset).
The danger is a user might choose Save As (instead of Save a copy) to save a PDF then not realize the file they continue to edit is a PDF without Illustrator editing turned on. Any changes made would be saved to the PDF portion of the file, but there would be no fully editable Illustrator portion to keep their work. It is a dangerous trap that can lose work. It is a disgrace that this can happen in a program that’s over 30 years old.
There is no true PDF Export in Illustrator, because Illustrator allows to have editable PDFs with .ai-content stored within. Other apps does not allow that, and some users heavily rely on editable PDFs.
Attemps to solve this were made, but there is no clear solution so far. Still we hope to find one.
The intended way to get a PDF (without loosing your data) at the moment would be to use Save a Copy command that saves a separate copy of your file to PDF instead of Save As which keeps a saved file open.
In case anyone still interested in this functionnality, I developped my own script to create multiple PDF export at once with different settings.
Script available on github. Current release is v3.6 (User Instruction "Multi-PDF Exporter 3-5 - Notice.pdf" created for v.3.5 is completely relevant though).
Release here : https://github.com/CoriusPhoto/Multi-PDF_Exporter
Scott Falkner commented
The solution has already been proposed. Add PDF as a format for export.
Why can’t the devs just copy the export pdf menu as it is in InDesign? From Egor’s response to our request I think it’s painfully clear that the devs DO NOT understand what it’s like to be a pro user who has to deal with this limitation on a daily basis.
Lorraine Gagliardotto Garry commented
Oh please. What's your R&D and Tech departments getting paid for..... figure this out and just do it!
The whole edit PDF is a mess!!! As the sole designer in our department, I am in charge of all digital assets. It makes it so difficult when a co-worker makes a 'minor' change to a PDF and I don't know about it, now I have an outdated original Illustrator file.
Just set it so you Export a PDF, close the open file so you cannot inadvertently edit the PDF that is now open.
Yes I know there is a Save as Copy... option, but when you are in a fast paced environment, and you have 500 windows open, it's burdensome to look for the tiny text at the top left that says: filename.ai not filename.pdf
I would suggest removing the PDF option from the Save As dialog completely.
New and entirely separate Export menu items could be added for PDFs. I would suggest two separate menu items, within the existing Export under the File menu:
1. Export PDF...
This would open the current joboptions dialog, using "Illustrator default" as the selected set of options, followed by the save-as dialog for input of filename, location, etc. Essentially duplicates the existing "save as" implementation, allowing users to set all their own options. If user does not need to retain illustrator editing, they could turn it off here before export. Would be nice if options set were 'sticky' for the next export, and properly recorded in an action. This would also *CLOSE THE FILE* when the export is finished, or at least present the user an option either via pop-up dialog (close file or continue editing?) or on the save-as dialog via checkbox to close file after export. Or, at the very least, export the PDF with the selected options and filename without replacing the open AI file with the newly exported PDF.
2. Export PDF (illustrator default - editing preserved)
This would not open joboptions dialog, just file name 'save as' dialog. This would act as a sort of 'quick export' for illustrator default PDF, such as one would use for placing in InDesign. This function could even be duplicated with an implementation as Rick suggested, via a button somewhere in the main interface that just quick-exports a basic "illustrator default" PDF, while keeping the AI file open for continued editing. I quite like this idea.
I only suggest adding these two options, because chances are if you're turning OFF illustrator editing in the joboptions, you have a very good reason for doing so. Conversely, if you really need to retain the ability to edit the PDF in illustrator then the "illustrator default" joboptions are most likely to be the one you want.
However, I also recognize that there are users who have a very specific set of joboptions they need to use, while also retaining the ability to edit the result PDF in illustrator later.
In that light, it'd be nice for them (and others) if the user could create/add/manage custom entries to the export menu; creating a new one for each of their own most commonly used joboptions. You could even leverage CC libraries by giving users the ability to add their joboptions setups to their CC library for quick and easy use later on another illustrator installation.
Rick Wallace commented
YES, every pdf should be saved with "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities", YES we should be able to set what PDF preset is default, and YES a QUICKSAVE PDF should be a tool in the tool palette (Pagemaker had this a million years ago).
Seems there are two types of users that comment here in requests: 1) you use Illustrator at a relaxed pace, when needed, but you are not trying to do a hundred+ jobs a week and are never under a lot of pressure, and 2) the rest of us.
Mark Nicoll commented
Ok, so editable PDFs are a thing. Fine. But there is a fundamental functional design principle being violated when “Save As” can result in an un-editable document. The user expects the current document to always behave in the same way when it is saved, closed and re-opened using the feature designed for saving a natively editable document, as opposed to exporting it for use elsewhere.
The solution is clear; Save As/PDF should always maintain “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities” with all the current document information preserved. Saving a non-editable PDF should be available separately through ‘Save A Copy’ (or Export).
The top level categorisations should support the user's intended purpose (eg. to preserve a working document), not the vague complexities of PDF configuration options.
use save a copy.....
I agree and was going to suggest the same!
I totally thought I was the only idiot that used the File > Save a copy method for my PDFs! Necessary fix to an export dialogue
Mark Nicoll commented
Wow... thank you, at last.
I thought it was just me who found it insane to have such a dangerous 'gotcha' hidden right in the middle of everyone's every day working path!
And yeah, save us some clicks!
"a disgrace that this can happen in a program that’s over 30 years old." That applies to dozens upon dozens of these feature requests and bug reports. This. Is. Adobe Illustrator.
This is a huge issue that I can't believe only has at this time 77 votes!
I've been dealing with this for years now ever since they removed the print postscript method and I've finally had enough to make a comment for Adobe to address this program flaw. I don't know a single Illustrator user who has had the issue where they have 'saved as' a pdf (the current only way to make a pdf) file only to keep working on the pdf file that says open, only later to realise they were working on the pdf and not the original .ai file. The export option would save tons of time, simplify and end this frustrating issue that everyone has had at some point.
Illustrator used to close the document you saved or exported as a PDF file. We keep finding ourselves inadvertently editing an open illustrator document only to find out it was the PDF file that was saved out. It would be nice if Illustrator would close the file when saving as anything other than a .ai file.
Ludwig Tomaschko commented
That is exactly what i wrote!
Kevin Prutzman commented
It's because once you save the Illustrator file as a PDF, you are now in essence working your saved PDF file in Illustrator. NOT your Illustrator file that you began with before saving it as the PDF. Does that help in making sense for the reason why it does it?
I guess the solution here would be...when you save as a PDF the PDF saves to wherever you want to save it, but your Illustrator file stay open in Illustrator. Not the PDF that you saved your Illustrator file to for another file.
Ludwig Tomaschko commented
When i SAVE AS PDF,
and then make some changes and hit SAVE,
the changes are then saved in the PDF and not in the AI file.
THIS MAKES NO SENSE!!!
"Save as" should work like "Export"
And not change the your filetype you are working in
Christo Boshoff commented
Fair enough. It is still just a work around after all, just a far less risky one that "Save As". I am in full agreement with this feature request hence my vote for it.
Norbert Martin commented
I don't see "Save as Copy" as the missing feature, because as you said yourself, it would need at least three changes to it. And so this is not a solution at all.
Christo Boshoff commented
I always avoid the highly dangerous "Save As" and use "Save a Copy" (Ctrl+Alt+S). I see this as the "missing" export feature everyone is looking for.
I would like to suggest that this is renamed to something like "Export As PDF". Furthermore that it defaults to .PDF instead of .AI and doesn't append the file name with "copy".