How to Open an AI File: 7 Ways to Do It

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

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Do you have a file that ends in .ai and you don't know how to open it? Don't worry, you're not alone. Lucky for you, there is an AI file opener that fits your problem! Even though AI files are proprietary to Adobe, it doesn't mean that you won't be able to edit AI files. The AI file extension can be opened by several different programs nowadays.

In this blog post, we will discuss seven different ways that you can open an AI file format. We will also provide instructions on how to open AI files in each of the programs listed below. So whether you are using a PC or a Mac, we have you covered!

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Open your .ai file with Adobe Illustrator

The easiest way to open AI files is to use Adobe Illustrator. You can do this by double-clicking on the file, or by opening Adobe Illustrator and choosing “File > Open.” Once your file is open, you'll be able to edit or export to other formats as needed. Illustrator is also the easiest way to edit an AI file.

Adobe Illustrator is the premier vector image editor out there. It's literally made for editing AI files. Even though it's not a free vector editing program, it is the easiest way to open an AI file type. While you can try to open an AI image in Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop is a set of raster image editing tools. In other words, you can view AI files or import AI files in Photoshop, but you won't be able to do deep edits.

Of course, if you're looking for a way to open or edit AI files, chances are, it's because you don't have access to Illustrator or Adobe Creative Cloud. If you just need to get in for basic stuff, check these other two solutions down below!

Open an .ai file with Photopea (free)

Many people don't know that you can edit an .ai file with Photopea, which is a free online photo editor. This is great news for those who want to use Adobe Illustrator but don't want to pay the monthly subscription fee.

All you need to do is upload your .ai file to Photopea and you'll be able to edit it just like you would in Illustrator. You can add text, shapes, and even xrefs (external references). If you're not familiar with xrefs, they're basically like linked files that you can embed in your Illustrator document. So if you need to edit an .ai file but don't have access to Illustrator, give Photopea a try. It's a great alternative that won't cost you a dime.

Edit AI files with Affinity Designer

Adobe Illustrator is a popular vector graphics editor, but it's not the only option available. If you're looking for an alternative to Illustrator, you may want to try Affinity Designer. Affinity Designer is a powerful vector graphics editor that can open .ai files, making it a great choice for anyone who needs to work with Illustrator files.

Best of all, Affinity Designer is available for both Windows and Mac, so you can use it regardless of your operating system. Plus, it's much more affordable than Illustrator, so you can save money while still getting the features you need. So if you're in the market for a new vector graphics editor, be sure to give Affinity Designer a try.

Other things to try

If you really need Illustrator to open your file, there are a few ways to get access to Illustrator. Most of these other solutions are really just getting access to Adobe Illustrator

Start a free trial

First off, you can start a free trial! Yes, it kind of sucks if you're just using your free trial to open a file that you need, but hey – it serves a need. You can get your free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud right here!

Visit your local library

Sometimes, libraries will have access to name brand programs like the Adobe systems. It really just depends on your library's funding. It can never hurt to ask though! Your librarian might also have some tips for you to open the AI file format either at the library or a nearby location.

Visit a college computer lab

If you have a community college or public university nearby, chances are that there's a computer lab that can open and edit AI images for you. The AI format isn't that hard to open once you start asking around. And many public colleges DO allow visitors to use their resources.

Hit up your artsy friends / social media

If nothing else works, you can always ask your friends if they have access to something that can open and edit AI files and vector images. You'd be surprised how many of your friends have access to Adobe Illustrator.

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