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Making AI files transparent when placed in InDesign

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Josh Freeman
Making AI files transparent when placed in InDesign
on Apr 10, 2012 at 6:28:46 pm

Lately I am finding that some native AI files (CS5) are importing with solid white backgrounds. This seems to happen with files other people have created, but sometimes it happens with my own files. I would like to find the setting in Illustrator that controls this.

Please don't tell me to save the file as an EPS. I know that can work but you lose other functionality. Adobe is very clear that transparency is supported in AI formats, but I can't find out how that characteristic is controlled. I've searched the Adobe forums and various other places online.

Does anyone know where that setting is? Thanks.


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Matt Townley
Re: Making AI files transparent when placed in InDesign
on Apr 10, 2012 at 7:15:06 pm

There are a few ways to place the AI file into InDesign, using the Place command (or keyboard shortcut) or dragging the file into the workspace.

If you drag it in, it will use the settings that you last set when you used the Place tool.

If you go to FILE > PLACE (cmd + d) you will see there is a check box for SHOW IMPORT OPTIONS in the bottom left of the dialog box. Check that. In the next screen you will get some options (cropping, what artboard, etc) and one of those options is TRANSPARENT BACKGROUND. Do you have that checked?

This is the most obvious thing that I would check. If you are already doing this, there could be something else going on.


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Josh Freeman
Re: Making AI files transparent when placed in InDesign
on Apr 11, 2012 at 3:57:46 am

I was (obviously) looking in completely the wrong place, in the wrong application! Your suggestion about the InDesign import options appears to be working. Thanks! (You'd think I'd know how to work ID after using it for the last 10 years. I must have changed my defaults somewhere along the way or something.)


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Charlie McDougall
Re: Making AI files transparent when placed in InDesign
on Jul 22, 2014 at 4:10:15 pm

Very helpful. Thank you!


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