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 that 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 Ctrl + 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 Mac version. Windows or other versions can look different. 

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

Want to create a pattern first? Check out this video:

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 on the 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, if you want to save artboards 2, 3, and 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 the resolution and background color. You can choose a 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. 


Here are more questions related to PNG files that you might want to know.

Why is my PNG not Transparent in Illustrator?

Even though the file doesn’t come with a background when you save your file as a PNG, the default background color is white, so you’ll need to change it to Transparent in order to have your artwork on a transparent background.

Is PNG higher quality than JPEG or PDF?

PNG tends to have higher quality than JPEG because JPEG contains fewer data than PNGs. It’s hard to compare PNG vs PDF each format is good for a specific purpose, but generally, PNG and PDF have the same quality. PNG is mainly used for the web and PDF for print.

What format should I save my logo in Illustrator?

In most cases, you would save different formats of your logo for different purposes. If you’re using the logo for websites or any digital use, save it as a PNG. If you want to print your logo on products/materials, depending on the product, you can save it as a PDF or the default .ai format.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Paul Bailey

    Thank you for your attention to detail. This is the best answer I’ve read concerning converting Illustrator CS5 files to PNG. I have 30 Illustrator files to convert that will be on a poster that will be printed. If I choose 300 dpi each time I convert one of the 30 Illustrator file to PNG, isn’t that going to make my poster an enormous sized file? What would you recommend to keep the poster’s file size down. I fear if I converted them all at 72 dpi, they might pixelate on the poster. Thank you for time and whatever assistance you might offer. May your passion for art and design never waver.

    • June Escalada

      Hi Paul,

      If you want to print out the posters, I do suggest saving the files as PDF and choose High Quality Print.

  • Sherwin Escuro

    This is great and detailed; adobe has a lot of vague terms that they can’t even explain well. Thanks for this!