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Windows Explorer preview of .ai files

Participant ,
Apr 06, 2018

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At least on this machine (Win 7 with CC) some Illustrator files will preview well in Explorer, and some don't.

I created a simple illustration in Illustrator and saved it in a number of names and formats. Explorer previews it just fine!

I have a lot of graphics that I pulled out of PDFs - open in Illustrator, save as .ai, strip the extra stuff and edit as needed.

Most of them will not preview correctly. The preview pane shows some old version of the PDF. It never seems to reflect changes in the file done in AI.

I even saved a modified file as PDF, opened and revised it in Acrobat Pro (ok, ver 8.3) and resaved it.

Then opened that revised PDF in AI and resaved it.

Still the ancient preview shows for the .ai in Explorer - though the PDF previews fine.

Any theories?

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Windows Explorer preview of .ai files

Participant ,
Apr 06, 2018

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At least on this machine (Win 7 with CC) some Illustrator files will preview well in Explorer, and some don't.

I created a simple illustration in Illustrator and saved it in a number of names and formats. Explorer previews it just fine!

I have a lot of graphics that I pulled out of PDFs - open in Illustrator, save as .ai, strip the extra stuff and edit as needed.

Most of them will not preview correctly. The preview pane shows some old version of the PDF. It never seems to reflect changes in the file done in AI.

I even saved a modified file as PDF, opened and revised it in Acrobat Pro (ok, ver 8.3) and resaved it.

Then opened that revised PDF in AI and resaved it.

Still the ancient preview shows for the .ai in Explorer - though the PDF previews fine.

Any theories?

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Apr 06, 2018 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 06, 2018

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I dunno. I've never used Explorer's preview window much (running CC in WIN7 here too), so I initially theorized it probably has something to do with whether an AI is saved with PDF Compatibility enabled. (Your description sort of hints at it.) But after trying several things, I can't reproduce your problem; I get correct previews of AI files no matter how I save them.

If I happen upon anything that might help, I'll post back here.

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Apr 06, 2018 0
Participant ,
Apr 06, 2018

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if you open a pdf in Illustrator, then save it as .ai, you are more likely to see the issue.

(one of the docs I just tested was built in ID CS5, so it's not just from non-Adobe software)

If I copy the contents of one of the bad docs into a new file and save it, it works/previews fine.

So something in the format of a .ai file that was created from a pdf may keep it from previewing correctly.

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Apr 06, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 09, 2018

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https://forums.adobe.com/people/Jay+Maechtlen  wrote

. . . something in the format of a .ai file that was created from a pdf may keep it from previewing correctly.

Not sure "format of an .ai file" is an accurate characterization, but I'd agree it is likely something inherent in the file's original construct; something that survives the re-save in Illustrator.

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Apr 09, 2018 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 06, 2018

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in Windows 10  you can use the preview pane to see the Ai files:

123.jpg

or you can use applications like:

SageThumbs

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Apr 06, 2018 2
Participant ,
Apr 06, 2018

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doesn't matter -  we are talking Win 7 here, and the Explorer preview pane.

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Apr 06, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 06, 2018

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so you can use apps like Sega Thumbs in win7

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Apr 06, 2018 0
New Here ,
Nov 15, 2018

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Thanks a lot

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Nov 15, 2018 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 07, 2018

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The only reliable PDF viewer is Acrobat. Use it and none other.

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Apr 07, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 07, 2018

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Adobe Bridge is an awesome Previewer. Have you tried that?

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Apr 07, 2018 1
Participant ,
Apr 09, 2018

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Yes, we know there are lots of previewers.

That is not the point of the question.

My specific question was, "why do some AI files preview in Win Explorer, and some don't?"

And "why doesn't AI know how to save files (created from PDFs) that will preview consistently?"

Bridge is ok, but seems clumsy when I'm looking for content across various directories.

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Apr 09, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 09, 2018

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https://forums.adobe.com/people/Jay+Maechtlen  wrote

My specific question was, "why do some AI files preview in Win Explorer, and some don't?"

And "why doesn't AI know how to save files (created from PDFs) that will preview consistently?"

Bridge is ok, but seems clumsy when I'm looking for content across various directories.

  • Question #1: Here's the preview in the Mac Finder.

    If it doesn't work in Windows Explorer, it could be the way it's programmed by the Microsoft engineers. If some do, and some don't, then what is different about them?


  • Does this mean you have a PDF, open it in Illustrator, and then are having issues with the Preview? If not, please explain. I see a couple of ways to interpret this.

  • Question #3: From the View menu in Bridge, enable Show Items from Subfolders. Turn it off when you are done. Does that solve the multiple folder issue? How do you handle that elsewhere, by the way?

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Apr 09, 2018 1
Participant ,
Apr 12, 2018

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The workflow is, I often get someone's source documentation in PDF.

Yes, we should get source. No, it seems we can't get the soruce.

So - I open the PDF in Illustrator and save the useful chunks - graphics mostly - as separate files in .ai format, pdf-compatable.

For whatever reason, those docs usually will not preview correctly in Win Explorer or when browsing from ID to place as a graphic.

It seems there's some preview/thumbnail info from the original PDF that lingers in the AI file - even though it was a multi-page file, and I'm only using a piece of it from a page in the middle.

It seems that, because I opened the PDF and then saved it as AI, Illustrator doesn't clear out the old thumbnail info.

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Apr 12, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 12, 2018

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Is your workflow that you copy the elements you need into a new Illustrator document? Or something else?

If yes, open the Layers panel and see if anything looks odd. Or show a screenshot.

If you are saving the PDF as an AI, try the copy and paste to a new file to see if that helps.

If needed, try it with one element and see if the preview shows. Then add more. Maybe one thing is causing the issue.

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Apr 12, 2018 0
Participant ,
Apr 16, 2018

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Update - as of ver 22.1, it seems to create previews even from strange PDFs.

But also, am not seeing the preview issue with old files. Wish I had saved some samples.

Perhaps some of what I saw was cured by some other updates on the computer, not just AI?

if I create a new Illustrator file and copy content into it, it works fine.

If I open a PDF and save it as Illustrator, it doesn't preview correctly.

That's pretty much the bottom line.

Opening a PDF seems to land everything in a single layer. with lots of clipping masks and compound paths.

But those don't seem to be the issue, based on my experiments.

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Apr 16, 2018 0
Participant ,
Jul 16, 2018

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late reply - did you try Finder with files that were PDF, opened in AI, modified and saved as AI?

Files that, after editing in AI,  looked much different than the original PDF did?

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Jul 16, 2018 0
Participant ,
Aug 20, 2018

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"Finder"? This is Windows...

This was the general case - open one page of a |PDF, save as AI, trim and modify as needed. Preview is from first page of original PDF, regardless of how much I changed the graphic.

... and, the 'insert image' feature here is broken, says 'that image type is forbidden' for png, jpg, and gif.

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Aug 20, 2018 0
Participant ,
Aug 20, 2018

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revised update - as of 20 Aug 2018, the previews don't work on many of these AIs, even if I open then, edit, save as, etc.

So maybe resource issue with Windows?

Don't see how that could be, as some previews work fine. Strange...

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Aug 20, 2018 1
Explorer ,
Aug 28, 2018

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Did not find a solution to this problem?  

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Aug 28, 2018 0
Participant ,
Sep 13, 2018

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Sorry, did not find solution. Have to rely on good naming and use of Bridge or other preview software to identify files prior to placing.

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Sep 13, 2018 0
Participant ,
Apr 09, 2018

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And something that I should have mentioned in the beginning - it matters, because the preview also fails when browsing for a file to place when using Ctrl-D.

Not just browsing around in the file structure, when Bridge or something else can easily be used.

Is there an effective alternative to place a file (especially when linking a graphic onto a page of text) that lets you browse previews?

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Apr 09, 2018 0
Engaged ,
Nov 16, 2018

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just use adobe bridge -- it is adobes window explorer and very good at previewing/zooming/adding meta data

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Nov 16, 2018 0