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Disappearing Symbols!

Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2016

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I use symbols a lot, but suddenly one day they became very glitchy.

More specifically, some symbols do not display when the file is saved as a pdf.

When the pdf is opened in some other software, the symbols disappear. Same results on different computers, too.

If the pdf still has preserved illustrator editing capabilities, the symbols display properly only when opened in Illustrator.

If the pdf does not have illustrator editing capabilites, the symbols are gone when opened in illustrator too.

if I save as an ai file with pdf support, I get the same problem when previewing the file or placing into an InDesign layout

if I tinker around, I can get some symbols to display but not all of them, and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for why some display and others don't.

if i export the file as a PNG, the symbols are all displayed properly, but this doesn't work for what I need. I need to be able to edit a file that supports symbols and then drop it into an InDesign layout.

This is a problem with only my computer. This happens on almost every file I work with. I'm using a mac.  I've tried opening a problematic file with an older PC running a slightly older version of AI CC, and there was no problem saving it properly. I've tried this on a better mac and there was no problem. I've tried deleting all my preference files, but the problem remains. I updated from AI CC 2015 to AI CC 2017 and the problem remains.

I've tried using Illustrator EPS files...the result is ok but I often get glitches with spot colors and the alignment point of symbols gets reset every time the file is saved/closed/opened. I'm also working on a team, so if I can't get AI or PDF files to work with my computer, it means that all of our shared files would need to be changed to EPSs to accommodate my glitchy computer. That sucks.

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Disappearing Symbols!

Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2016

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I use symbols a lot, but suddenly one day they became very glitchy.

More specifically, some symbols do not display when the file is saved as a pdf.

When the pdf is opened in some other software, the symbols disappear. Same results on different computers, too.

If the pdf still has preserved illustrator editing capabilities, the symbols display properly only when opened in Illustrator.

If the pdf does not have illustrator editing capabilites, the symbols are gone when opened in illustrator too.

if I save as an ai file with pdf support, I get the same problem when previewing the file or placing into an InDesign layout

if I tinker around, I can get some symbols to display but not all of them, and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for why some display and others don't.

if i export the file as a PNG, the symbols are all displayed properly, but this doesn't work for what I need. I need to be able to edit a file that supports symbols and then drop it into an InDesign layout.

This is a problem with only my computer. This happens on almost every file I work with. I'm using a mac.  I've tried opening a problematic file with an older PC running a slightly older version of AI CC, and there was no problem saving it properly. I've tried this on a better mac and there was no problem. I've tried deleting all my preference files, but the problem remains. I updated from AI CC 2015 to AI CC 2017 and the problem remains.

I've tried using Illustrator EPS files...the result is ok but I often get glitches with spot colors and the alignment point of symbols gets reset every time the file is saved/closed/opened. I'm also working on a team, so if I can't get AI or PDF files to work with my computer, it means that all of our shared files would need to be changed to EPSs to accommodate my glitchy computer. That sucks.

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Nov 08, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 09, 2016

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We're talking about symbols in the symbols panel? Or about CC library objects?

Are they vector or pixel?

Anything special about them? Used a plugin to create them? Something else?

Which symbol options?

With which options exactly are you saving the PDF?

With which apps exactly do you open the PDF?

WHen you access the PDF part of the file, everything actually should be embedded. When you open the AI part of the file, it depends.

Please watch this about Illustrator files and PDF Mysterious things Illustrator does - Saving files on Vimeo

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Nov 09, 2016 1
Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2016

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They are symbols in the symbols panel

They are simple vector art with a few nested symbols. no effects whatsoever.

symbol options:

Graphic / Movie Clip makes no difference.

Static /  Dynamic makes no difference. But I am using static only.

The symbols will appear in the pdf if I have 9-scale slicing enabled, but then the symbols become distorted when they are resized.

I am saving the pdf/ai files with default settings. I also save with the smallest file size preset and the problem persists.

I've opened the problematic pdfs in preview, acrobat, wps office, and web browsers, all with the same result.

After watching the mysterious video you linked, I would say that the pdf portion of my ai files isn't embedding the symbols.  The same is true for the main pdf portion of pdf files, but the ai portion of the pdf file is intact.

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Nov 09, 2016 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 09, 2016

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Please upload one of these files to Dropbox or the like and post a link here.

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Nov 09, 2016 1
Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2016

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Dropbox - Test

In this folder you'll find 4 files.

• illustrator_editable.pdf is was saved with default settings. If you open it with a pdf viewer you will not see the symbols. If you open it with illustrator you will.

• NO_pdf_support.ai is the file saved without the pdf component.

• NOT_illustrator_editable.pdf was saved using the smallest file size preset. Even if opened in illustator, you will not see the symbols. I have found they ARE embedded in the file, but I have to release all the clipping masks in order to reveal them.

• pdf_support.ai is saved with default settings. If you open this file in a pdf viewer or place it into an indesign layout, you will not see the symbols. If you open in illustrator you will see them.

If i build an ai file from scratch, the symbols will work fine, but as the file gets more complex, they start to fail. For these files, I copied a problematic symbol from a complex file and the problem was copied right along with the symbol.

Just a warning - I have opened these files on a different computer, made no changes, and simply re-saved the file and found this fixed the problem. I'm sure if you do the same on your computer, the file will be fixed....but if i open the fixed file on my computer, make no changes, and re-save it again. the problem comes back.

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Nov 09, 2016 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 10, 2016

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Looks like there is a problem with a clipping mask that is created outside of the document area.

I have asked staff to have a look at this.

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Nov 10, 2016 2
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 10, 2016

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The symbol inside the clipping mask seems to be the problem.

If you copy that symbol and paste it inside a new document, it becomes invisible in the pdf.

If you break the link to that symbol, everyting becomes visilble.

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Nov 10, 2016 2
Community Beginner ,
Apr 19, 2017

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I hope this gets fixed. With nested symbols, expanding all symbols in a document is not a single click and it's a pain to have to do this on each export.

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Apr 19, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 10, 2017

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one year and still no fix...but w/r/t expanding all the symbols, I've been deleting everything from the symbol pane and choosing expand instances that way. I guess it's just a little easier than doing it one-by-one.

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Nov 10, 2017 0
Contributor ,
Aug 25, 2020

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I think this is related to a little bit different problem I'm having at the moment — when trying to export artboards with Export for Screens... to multiple formats (PDF, PNG, SVG) where two of the designs use one simple pattern made from one symbol having two Clipping Paths on two separate elements (each element having their own Clipping Path), only the PDF file has problems with some of the symbols not appearing.

 

If I Expand the pattern rectangle, then the PDF shows all of the symbols correctly — but that increases the file size by dozen times (11 MB vs. 0,6 MB). PDF Squeezer managed to get the file size to 4,8 MB that is still eight times the file size but I need to move on.

 

Just to let you know, that using Patterns might have problems with Symbols as well when exporting to PDF files.

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Aug 25, 2020 0
New Here ,
May 09, 2017

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I have the exact same problem 😞

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May 09, 2017 0
New Here ,
Mar 25, 2018

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Its March 2018 and it doesn't look like this has been fixed. I have been working on a big packaging project and when I tried to make a PDF for customer approval...ALL symbols had vanished. There is not much point in having symbols if they are going to be so erratic.

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Mar 25, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 25, 2018

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It would be a good idea to mention this problem here:

Adobe Illustrator Feedback

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Mar 25, 2018 1
New Here ,
Nov 06, 2018

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I was having the same problem but then I've found the solution!

  1. Select the symbol that is not showing on the PDF from the Symbols library pallette
  2. Click the top right menu of the Symbols pallette (three lines)
  3. Choose Symbol Options...
  4. On Symbol Type select Dynamic Symbol

All done! Now save as PDF and celebrate! Haha

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Nov 06, 2018 0