How to Add Hyperlinks in Adobe Illustrator

Adding a link to text is such an easy task to do when you’re working on (text-based) documents and emails, but in Adobe Illustrator, it’s completely a different story.

There isn’t a quick action that you can add hyperlinks to text in Adobe Illustrator and the steps are somewhat complicated (for new users). 

You might’ve seen a couple of ways to add hyperlinks in Illustrator, such as using the Attribute panel or Slice Tool, but honestly, after trying out all the methods myself, there is only one best way to add hyperlinks to text and images in a non-destructive way. 

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you the best and easiest way to add Hyperlinks to text and images in Adobe Illustrator. 

Note: Screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC 2023 Mac version. Windows or other versions can look different. 

How to Add Hyperlinks to Text or Images in Adobe Illustrator

You know that even if you typed out an URL in Adobe Illustrator when people click on it, it wouldn’t open the web page, right? If you want to make it a clickable option, you need to add hyperlinks to the text. 

This method that I’m going to show you, works exactly the same whether you’re adding hyperlinks to images or text. Follow the steps below to add hyperlinks in Adobe Illustrator. 

Step 1 (Optional): Create a new layer. This will be the layer to that you’ll be adding the text of the hyperlink. 

Although this step is optional, it’s highly recommended, especially if you’re adding multiple hyperlinks in the same artwork, because it makes it easier for you to manipulate the opacity all at once.  

Step 2: Select the Type Tool from the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut T to activate the tool. 

You can click on the artboard to add text and type in the URL you want to link to or copy the URL and paste it into the text box directly. For example, I want to add a hyperlink to the images so that when you click, it takes you to IllustratorHow, so I typed “illustratorhow.com”.

Don’t worry about the font, character style, or color, you’ll see the trick later on 😉 

Step 3: Select the URL text and place it together with the text or image you want to add the hyperlink to. You might have to adjust the size of the text box of the URL to fit exactly the text area so that when people click on any part of the text area, it takes them to the link. 

It’s okay to distort the text. 

It works exactly the same if you’re adding hyperlinks to text instead of images. You just need to adjust the hyperlink text box to cover the whole text you want to add the link to.

Step 4: hyperlinks layer and change the opacity to 0%. If you’re only adding one hyperlink, you can also select the link’s text box directly.

Now you won’t see the text, but if you click on the area where you placed it, you’ll see the text box. 

Step 5: Go to the overhead menu File > Save As and choose to save the file on your computer instead of the creative cloud. 

Then choose Adobe PDF (pdf) as the file format and click Save

Make sure the Embed Page Thumbnails option is checked and click Save PDF.

That’s it! You can open the PDF file and test it out. 

If you click on the image or text where you place the hyperlink text now, it will take you to the URL you added in Step 2

Conclusion

The easiest and least confusing way to add a hyperlink in Adobe Illustrator is the method I showed you in this tutorial. A quick sum up of the steps is: Type in the URL, place it on top of the object you want to link to, make the URL transparent, and save the Illustrator file as a PDF

About June Escalada
Graduated from Creative Advertising major, worked more than eight years as a graphic designer focusing in branding and Illustration. Yes, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend and I’m passionate about art and design.

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  • Rich

    I struggled with Illustrator 25 to get this to work, but I found workarounds to the problems, which I’ll share here:

    I’d created a text document with hidden links throughout it, positioned in the way this tutorial describes.

    PROBLEM A: When I saved as PDF and it opened in Apple Preview, the text beneath the invisible link text was getting blended into the URL, as though Preview was just seeing all text displayed rather than just one of the layers. The link therefore failed.

    SOLUTION A: I rotated the links 180 degrees, so they’re upside-down, and that confused Preview enough to ensure the links weren’t garbled.

    PROBLEM B: Long URLs squashed on top of a very short label could become garbled, causing the link to fail.

    SOLUTION B: I used a URL shortening website to change very long links into very short ones, ensuring no garbled URLs.

    It seems ridiculous I had to do any of this, but there you are…

    Reply
    • June Escalada

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • Scott Lorenz

    Excellent! A simple and elegant solution. Your method is by far the simplest method I have seen, absent Adobe creating a menu selection for hyperlinks. Before seeing your method I had decided to create the links via Acrobat after saving my work to PDF. I am designing a complex flowchart, and that would have been a nightmare. This will allow me to create and organize my links and change them in the original creation if I need to modify them later.

    Reply
    • June Escalada

      Hey Scott, thanks for sharing. Yeah, I definitely think that Illustrator should develop an easier method to add hyperlinks soon, it just seems to be such a basic feature it should already have, right?

      Reply