How to Save an Adobe Illustrator File As a PNG

The most common and popular image format is probably JPEG. So why PNG? We all love it for at least one reason: the transparent background! Because you can use the image on other designs.

Want to save your image with a transparent background? Save it as a PNG! 

One tricky thing is, you won’t find the PNG format when you choose Save As or Save a Copy. Although we say we’re going to save the file, we actually need to export the file instead of saving it.

When you hit Command + S (or Control + S for Windows users), the default format when you save a file in Adobe Illustrator is .ai, an original document that you can edit. 

So where is the PNG format and how does it work?   

Follow the easy steps below to save your .ai file as a PNG! 

Note: all screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC 2022 Mac version. Windows or other versions can look different. 

For example, let’s save this pattern as a png with a transparent background. 

Step 1: Go to the overhead menu and select File > Export > Export As

Step 2: There are options that you need to pay attention to in this step. 

1. Name your file in the Save As option. Type the file name before the format .png. 

2. Choose where you want to save the file. For example, here I choose to save the file at Desktop for demonstration. Normally, it’s a good idea to create a folder for different projects for easy navigation.  

3. Choose the PNG (png) format.  

4. Check the Use Artboards option and select the artboards that you want to save. If you want to save all, choose All. If you want to save a specific artboard, input the artboard number in the Range box. 

You can also save multiple artboards from a range. For example, you want to save artboards 2, 3, 4 as png files, input 2-4 in the Range box. 

Note: It’s important to check the Use Artboards option, otherwise, objects outside of the artboard will show as well when you export. By choosing Use Artboards, the saved image will only show what’s created within the artboard.

After finishing the settings, click Export

Step 3: Choose resolution and background color. You can choose Transparent, Black, or White background. 

Not sure about the resolution? Here’s a quick guide for choosing the resolution. 

  • If you are using the image for screen or web, 72 PPI should be ok. 
  • For printing, you probably want a high-resolution (300 PPI) image. 
  • You can also choose 150 PPI when your printing image is large and simple, but 300 PPI is preferred. 

Click OK and you’re all set. Now you can add your png image to different designs. 


Now you know where you find the PNG format in Adobe Illustrator. Remember, it’s Export As, not Save As. Another key point to remember is that if you don’t want to show the objects outside of the artboard on your saved image, you must check the Use Artboards option when you export. 

Hope this article has helped solve your image saving problem. Leave a comment below if you have any issues in the process, or if you find another great solution. 

Either way, I’d love to hear about them. 

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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