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Adobe Illustrator/Ai Clipping masks in PDF format


Saving as an editable PDF makes file nice and small and seemingly open fine in Illustrator. However I recently discovered that if I share an editable PDF that has been created in a higher version than that of the person who is opening the file it first appears with a clipping mask, then if released all the strokes become their own shapes, all patterns are their own shapes, and any fills are shapes with no strokes.
Do you have any insight in to this or a way around it?

For our systems we are limited to saving as an older version EPS or PDF, ideally we'd like to stick with PDF as it is a smaller file size.

Hi Helen,

Using PDF to go back to an older version of AI will cause issues. It's like trying to open a CS6 document in CS4, it will run into incompatibilities.
There really isn't a work around because this isn't really an issue, it's just a given that trying to open newer versions in old software will cause issues.

Backsaving to a native AI format in the proper version will eliminate issues like this. Unfortunately, you say you can only use EPS or PDF, but I'm wondering if you have tried a native AI format in your system? Most software can take an AI file because it saves as a "PDF compatible format" that allows other apps to utilize the native file as a PDF.

If you cannot use an AI file, then you may have to make sure people are all using the same version of the software when editing. I know this is sometimes an unreasonable answer, but working between various versions does make for a lot of compatibility issues. Sometimes the worst case means that the newer users will have to use the oldest software until everyone can catch up.



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Kevin Stohlmeyer


I am an Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Community Professional and Adobe Freelance Professional. I travel nationally speaking on Adobe Creative Suite applications, including Illustrator and design. I can answer questions about Adobe Illustrator version CS1 through the all-new Creative Cloud.


I am an Adobe Certified Instructor for Adobe Illustrator and have been teaching this software in college/higher education and for an Adobe Authorized Training Center since 2000. I have been an active user of Adobe Illustrator as a professional graphic designer since 1994. I am also the author of the Adobe Illustrator Certified Expert Exam. I am a published author for Adobe Inspire Magazine, writing articles on Creative Suite applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and the Adobe Touch apps.

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