What Is an AI File?

Adobe Illustrator Artwork is a proprietary vector format

What to Know

  • An AI file is an Adobe Illustrator Artwork file.
  • Open one with Illustrator or for free with Inkscape.
  • Convert to PNG, JPG, SVG, etc. with Zamzar or those same programs.

This article explains what AI files are, how to open one, and how to convert one to a different format like SVG, JPG, PDF, PNG, etc. so that it's compatible with other software.

What Is an AI File?

A file with the .AI file extension is most likely an Adobe Illustrator Artwork file created by Adobe's vector graphics program called Illustrator. It's a proprietary file format developed and maintained by Adobe Systems.

Instead of using bitmap image information, AI files store the picture as paths that can be resized without losing quality. The vector image is stored in either the PDF or EPS format, but the AI file extension is used, since Illustrator is the primary software that creates files in this format.

AI Files

AIT files are similar, but are Illustrator Template files used for making multiple, similarly designed AI files.

If your AI file isn't associated with Illustrator, it might instead be a Battlefield 2 artificial intelligence file. If so, it has nothing at all to do with vector images, but is instead a plain text document that holds the properties for how certain game elements work.

AI is also the common abbreviation for artificial intelligence, but it, of course, has nothing specific to do with Adobe Illustrator.

How to Open AI Files

Adobe Illustrator is the primary program used to both create and open AI files. Some other applications that can work with Adobe Illustrator Artwork files include Adobe's Acrobat, Photoshop and After Effects programs.

If the file doesn't have PDF Content saved within it, and you're using Photoshop to open it, you might get a message that says something like "This is an Adobe Illustrator file that was saved without PDF Content." If this happens, return to Adobe Illustrator and make the file again, but this time choose the Create PDF Compatible File option.

Some free AI openers include Inkscape, Scribus, ideaMK's Ai Viewer, and sK1. Another, Photopea, is a free image editor that runs in your browser (no download necessary). So long as the file is saved with PDF compatibility, some others include Preview (the macOS PDF viewer) and Adobe Reader.

Battlefield 2 is used to open AI files associated with that game, but you probably can't open the file manually from within the game. Instead, it probably resides somewhere special so that the software can refer to the AI file on an as-needed basis. That said, you can most likely edit it with a free text editor.

How to Convert an AI File

The AI openers from above can convert an AI file to a number other similar formats. Use Illustrator's File > Save As menu to save the AI file to FXG, PDF, EPS, AIT, SVG or SVGZ, or File > Export if you want to convert AI to DWG, DXF, BMP, EMF, SWF, JPG, PCT, PSD, PNG, TGA, TXT, TIF, or WMF.

Photoshop lets you open an AI file through File > Open, after which you can save it to PSD or any other file format supported by Photoshop.

If you don't want to buy or download a dedicated AI file viewer, you can still convert it with an online tool like Zamzar. With that website, the file can be converted to JPG, PDF, PNG, SVG, GIF, and a number of other formats.

Still Can't Open the File?

The .AI file extension is really short and contains two very common letters. This makes it easy to confuse it with other similarly spelled file extensions that have nothing to do with either Adobe Illustrator or Battlefield 2.

AIR is one example, as are INTUS Audio Archive (IAA) and A-Law Compressed Sound Format (AL). None of those file formats has anything to do with what's been discussed on this page.

Another example is AIA; this one can be a little confusing. This file extension might be used for MIT App Inventor Source Code files used with MIT App Inventor, or it might actually be an action file used to automate steps in Adobe Illustrator.

More Information on the AI Format

Some programs can only open AI files that are older than a certain version. For example, the free Inkscape program can import Adobe Illustrator 8.0 files and below only with UniConvertor installed.

The AI format used to be called PGF, but isn't related to the Progressive Graphics File format that uses the .PGF file extension.

  • How do you create an .AI file?

    Open Adobe Illustrator, and select File > New to create a new project. Once you're finished creating, head to file File > Save to save your project as an .AI file.

  • What are .AI files used for?

    Vector files like .AI files are most often used in graphic design in the context of graphics and logo creation. Artists create graphics in Illustrator in the form of .AI files and then export them to common filetypes like .PNG for actual use.

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