Saving as Legacy AI Format in Illustrator CS6


This is a tutorial that covers saving Adobe Illustrator CS6 files into any previous version, also known as an Illustrator legacy format.


Adobe Illustrator CS6 file (*.ai) and the knowledge of the physical file location.

NOTE: Replacing or overwriting your original file with a legacy version will cause feature loss. Be sure to backup your original file before saving in a legacy format.

Production steps for saving as Illustrator legacy format:

  1. Launch Adobe Illustrator CS6 and open your artwork (*.ai file) by clicking File -> Open….
  2. Under the “Files of Type” drop-down, select “Adobe Illustrator (*.AI,*.AIT)”.
  3. Browse to the folder where you stored your *.ai file, select it, and then click the “Open” button.
  4. Your artwork will load and then click File -> Save As… or File -> Save a Copy…
  5. Under the “Save as Type” drop-down, select “Adobe Illustrator (*.AI)”. Name or rename your file and click the “Save” button.
  6. On the next screen you will have a couple of choices to make (see the figure below). Under the “Version:” drop-down you can choose from several Illustrator legacy formats, including version 3, 8, 9, 10, all previous CS versions as well as Japanese Illustrator 3. It will also let you check or uncheck “Create PDF Compatible File”, “Use Compression” and “Embed ICC Profiles” if applicable, depending upon the version you are targeting. Once you have everything set the way you would like, you can click the OK button.
Illustrator Save As dialog with legacy formats
Illustrator CS6 dialog for saving Illustrator legacy format

If encounter a dialog box that states: “Saving this document in an older format may convert all type to point type and may disable some editing features when the document is read back in. Do you want to continue?“, you can just click OK, however, you should make sure that you have kept or backed up the original CS6 file and have not overwritten it. It is a fairly common occurrence for version formats to not be fully backward compatible.