You are here:

Adobe Illustrator/Editing PDF with disappearing item


QUESTION: I was asked to edit a PDF to expand it from one page to two. When I opened the PDF in Illustrator, all the layers are there for each of the elements in the document. When I try to move around .... say a picture in the document to another artboard, it disappears behind a mask once I pass the original document. Is there anyway to "open up" the bounding box of the original document so I can move stuff around? On the same note, when I move something with a clipping mask, I can't move the whole picture, rather I'm just able to move the picture behind the clipping mask so when moved up or down, it disappears behind it too.

I tried upgrouping, and releasing clipping mask but nothing works. Releasing clipping mask just release the items that have a clipping mask in the PDF, and still doesn't let me move it beyond the original document.

I'm using Illustrator CS4. Please help. Thank you.


Editing PDFs not created in Illustrator can be a challenge to put it politely. You are on the right track, but there can be more than just one clipping mask in the document. Normally there is one mask over the whole page and then individual masks on each item.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I believe it was originally created in Illustrator, but I was just given the PDF. Is there anyway to get rid of all the clipping mask so I can move the items around freely?

And how can I move a picture with a clipping mask around without it disappearing behind the mask. There's a picture in the PDF that has a clipping mask, but when I click on it just to move it to another corner of the page, it moves the picture under the mask rather than the whole mask.

Thank you again for your quick reply.

Hi Kim,

If this was created in Illustrator, you should be able to open it up and have it react just like a normal Illustrator file. There is no automatic way to release all clipping masks without just going through and doing it manually. When you select an item with a mask applied, make sure you are using the regular selection tool, not the direct select tool. The direct selection will only grab the image and not the mask. The regular selection should grab both and move as one unit.



Adobe Illustrator

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

Adobe Freelancers Program Adobe Influencers Program Milwaukee Adobe Users Group AIGA National Association of Photoshop Professionals C2 Graphics Productivity Solutions

Adobe Inspire Magazine Photoshop User Magazine Layers Magazine

BA - Graphic Design Adobe Certified Instructor - Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat Adobe Community Professional - Adobe Creative Suite

Awards and Honors
Member, Adobe Influencers Program and Adobe Freelancer Member Spotlight, National Association of Photoshop Professionals, November 2011 Runner-Up, The Next Adobe Photoshop Evangelist contest, 2010, 2011 Runner-Up Layers Magazine Design Contest

Past/Present Clients
Harley Davidson, Reader's Digest, GE Medical Division, Kohl's Corporate, Bon-Ton/Boston Stores, Cramer-Krasselt, Marquette University, AIGA, Mattel/American Girl, Photoshop World

©2017 All rights reserved.