Extract/Export embedded images out of Illustrator.

Published in Design


Illustrator image links pallet
Ok you have an embedded image in Illustrator but not the original and you need some way to get it out. I'll give you two was to export embedded images out of illustrator which will cover almost every situation.

Both of these methods will work for all embedded image files types: TIFF, JPG, PSD, EPS, BMP, PNG .. you get the general idea.

1) The SVG method.

This method is only suitable if you're image is RGB or you are happy to export it as RGB and then later convert it to CMYK (with photoshop for example). All you have to do is choose "save as" from the file menu and then save the file in a separate folder. When Illustrator saves SVG files it separates out embedded images so all you need to do is look in the folder where you saved it and you will find RGB images sitting there as seperate files.

save as SVG options dialogue
NOTE1: If the embedded file is a Photoshop (PSD) file, some layers or text may be missing from the extracted file if that is the case, then just try...

NOTE2: method one may convert the exported image into a 24 bit png file, but that shouldn't bother too many people as it is a common format and does not have lossy compression.

2) The PDF method.

The most all-purpose way of getting an embedded file out of illustrator is to "save as" from the file menu and choose the PDF format. I recommend you delete all but the images you need to extract to make thing easier. Before saving you should click "compression" in the "save adobe PDF" dialogue and set "Color Bitmap Images" = Do Not Downsample  --and-- "Compression" = None.  Do this for all the embedded image types you want to export.

Once the PDF has been saved, you can open it in Photoshop. You will be prompted to rasterize the image (a process which turns any line art in the illustrator orignal into pixels) so choose a high DPI value which will allow you to crop down to get the image you are trying to extract from illustrator.


  • Lastly if that doesn't extract your image from Illustrator to your satisfaction, remember:
  • You can also save as EPS from Illustrator and open them in Photoshop
  • If you have Acrobat Distiller or another PDF parsing or PDF editing/creation software then you can probably open a PDF file you have save from Illustrator without rasterizing it.
  • Don't forget to try simply copying and pasting the image direct from Illustrator to Photoshop if all else fails.