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Adobe Illustrator: How to Reduce The File Size

Bridgette BurtonComment

When I first started using Illustrator, the files I was working on took forever to load and would cause the computer to crash. It usually crashed after I had a breakthrough design moment, and then I lost all that hard work. To correct this I did two things:  

1.  Reduced the file size.

 2.  Installed Autosaviour plugin by Astute Graphics.

How to reduce your file sizes in Adobe Illustrator

Here are key ways to reduce the Illustrator file size, thus saving your designs!

1.  Create a PDF Compatible File Only If You Need To

When you save your design (File > Save As...) you have the option of saving a compatible PDF file. The benefit of using this option is that you can recover your files after a crash.

Illustrator uses PDF and PGF file formats. When you choose to create a PDF compatible file, AI saves the two formats in the same file, thus increasing the file size. It creates an accompanying PDF syntax that can be read by any application that recognizes the PDF file. 

I discovered the Astute Graphics Autosaviour plugin which allows you to set intervals to save your design files. This is especially beneficial for those of you (like me) get so engrossed in your work that you forget to save on a regular basis. The plugin will pop up with a reminder and voila! And P.S. Astute Graphics has some other cool AI plugins you should check out that can help to reduce your file sizes. 

2.  Use Compression Options

When you save your file check the compression option. Compression reduces file size. 

Use compression as another way to reduce the AI file size

3.  Use Linked Images

When you are using external artwork or images you have two options. You can link them or embed them. There are benefits and disadvantages to both.

When you choose to embed your images, the image is now part of your design file. This increases the file size, but you will never have to worry about your image and design file being separated. If there is any change to the original artwork, you will have to re-embed the image. There will not be any notification by AI. 

When you choose to link images there is only enough information in the file to find the original artwork for display. This decreases your file size, but if your image is deleted, your file will not be able to find it, thus resulting in an error. If you update the original artwork, linked files will notify you of the changes. 

Illustrator CS automatically includes linked file by default. This could increase your file size if you have a little artwork but large linked files. 

4.  Use the Symbol Sprayer Tool

The symbol sprayer tool acts like a can of spray paint, but for symbols that you create. It does take a little practice but getting the sprayer tool to work is pretty easy.

Create an object in AI and drag it into the Symbols panel. You can also select the object and choose new symbol in the symbols panel. You then choose the symbol and you "spray" it. You can increase or decrease the size by using the bracket keys. This not only saves you time, but it reduces your file size. 

Once you create a symbol from an object, each time it is sprayed into your file it is considered an instance. That means that AI does not have to add the complex art multiple times. If you have several of the same objects in your designs, use the symbol sprayer tool. 

5.  Reduce Anchor Points

Each object in AI has anchor points. Some objects can have less anchor points and still maintain the original shape. Some objects do not need to maintain the original shape and their anchor points can be reduced significantly. You can do this is AI by using Simplify (Object > Path > Simplify...). There are plugins out there that can do this for you. Astute Graphics has a few! (I am not a representative, just a fan!)

6.  Decreasing the Steps When Blending 

The more steps you have when you a re creating a blend, the larger the file size will be. Minimize the number of steps (Object > Blend > Blend Options). Choose a number that will not decrease the quality of the object blend. 

7.  Delete Unused Palette Items

This is not a huge reduction in file size, but sometimes every bit counts. Delete all unused symbols, swatches, palettes, brushes and graphic styles. 

Do you have any other tips or tricks to reduce AI file sizes?