15 Replies Latest reply on Nov 22, 2016 1:53 PM by zippidi

    Embedded images result in enormous filesize

    asee23455 Level 1

      I'm using Illustrator to crop and arrange a number of raster images. However, I'm starting to have file management problems, because the Illustrator files quickly balloon in size.


      Example: I got public domain jpg image of a deer off the Wikimedia Commons. This jpg image is 0.35MB. I opened up a new Illustrator document, placed and embedded the image, and saved the document (with the 'pdf compatible box' unchecked). The resulting Illustrator file is 7.7MB in size, over 20 times the size of the embedded jpg image.


      I've looked around these fora, but other than the 'pdf compatible box', I couldn't find any good solutions. Could anyone suggest a workaround? Or is there some other option or preference that I could tweak? I need to use embedded images rather than links, but the files are getting out of control (>100MB).


      The screen capture at the end of this post shows the situation. In the top folder in the screencapture, the image file is highlighted, so you can see the filesize. In the lower folder in the screencapture, the Illustrator file is highlighted, so you can see it's filesize. Then you can see the open Illustrator document on the right.

      (edit: the forum software is no longer allowing me to add images, so I've put the screencapture on Google Drive here:



      The .ai file with the embedded image is here:



      I'm using Illustrator CS6 64-bit, v16.0.3 on Windows 8-64.


      Any advice would be greatly appreciated,



        • 1. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
          Jacob Bugge MVP & Adobe Community Professional



          When you File>Place the image, you may tick Link.


          With this, Illy uses the image as an external file that only appears in the document, and the AI filesize remains low.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
            asee23455 Level 1

            True, but I really want the images embedded, not linked.

            • 3. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
              Jacob Bugge MVP & Adobe Community Professional



              One reason for bloating filesize is that when you start messing with JPEGs you lose the compression, so it is a bit like trying to fly with liquid helium still in the tank without letting it inflate the balloon.

              • 4. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                This behaviour is entirely normal. The pixel information becomes part of the Illustrator file and is therefore in Illustrator format.

                To see the real uncompressed size of your JPEG files, try saving them in other formats, for example uncompressed tiff.

                You will see that the Illie files are not really bloated, it’s just that the JPEG compression has been removed from the images, which is why you should keep your images linked for as long as possible.


                Why do you think you need to embed the images?

                • 5. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                  asee23455 Level 1

                  Hmm. That's a good point. One that I hadn't considered. I opened up that jpg, then used Office Picture Manager to export the file in various other formats. The png is 4.8MB while the bmp is 5.6MB, and the tiff is 6.7. All of those are still smaller than the 7.7MB of the .ai file, though only by 10-30% rather than 2000%. So compression does explain most of the ai filesize. Perhaps that last 1.0MB is just Illustrator overhead?


                  But you know, when I save the .ai file, there is a checkbox for "use compressed", and I left that checked. So it seems that whatever compression Illustrator is using, it can't be doing much for images.

                  • 6. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                    asee23455 Level 1

                    I think I need to embed the images because I work off of two different computers. Recent experience suggests that, when I transfer the project folder from one system to the other, the links break. I use simple backup software to make sure that the project folders on the two systems are identical, so the relative locations of the files are the same on both systems, but since these are different computers, the absolute paths are different.


                    In an earlier post on a related question, folks suggested that Illustrator uses absolute locations rather than relative ones, and that this is indeed the cause of my broken-link problem. If I could get Illustrator to use relative links, I'd be OK, but posters suggested this wasn't possible. Given that I need both computers, and relative links aren't possible, I have two choices: use links, but have to keep resetting them (annoying) or embed the images in the ai documents (slightly less annoying).


                    If you know of any better options, I'd love to hear.

                    • 7. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                      Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                      As long as the pixel image is in the same folder as the Illie file, Illie will have no trouble finding the image.

                      • 8. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                        asee23455 Level 1

                        They're not in the same folder. It's a heirarchical organization. A project folder that holds many subfolders and sub-subfolders. So even though the .ai and the .jpg are within the heirarchy of the overall project folder, they're not in the same sub-subfolder.

                        • 9. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                          Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                          If you are going to work in a silly way then Illie isn’t going to help you.

                          Simply put your pixel image into the same folder as the one that your Illie file is in and she will be most obliging :-)

                          • 10. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                            Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                            I offer some insight here, hopefully.


                            When you embed the image and also create a pdf compatible ai file it embeds the file twice one for the ai file and the other for the pdf version of the file. The file size includes twice the image data so it will be considerable.


                            If you turn off this option it will reduce the file size but you will not be able to place the file in another program with a preview as the preview is a part of the pdf data.


                            Not only that but you will not be able to print the file to a non-postscript printer that is it must be outputted through the postscript process or if you wish a postscript driver.


                            In the past the generally accepted and recommended method was to link the image as a way of working and maintaining a smaller size file and then use the Include Linked Images option in the Illustrator Save Options dialog so only the file you sent the printer would be large. Of course if you are like me and make back ups of everything then you would now have a copy of what you sent the printer as well and the original file which would take more space than a single file with the embedded image.


                            The more modern way of doing this is to work with the link file and then save it as a pdf as well the pdf will be considerably smaller in size and the linked ai file will be as well together they will be about the same as an ai file with the pdf compatibility turn off which is another way of doing this which is fine if you are not placing or opening the file in another application or sending it to a non postscript driver for output.


                            I recommend for your purposes to work linked, the traditional way, and output to pdf and send the pdf to the printer or if you are a member of the Cloud link the image and use the new collect for output mechanism which will collect you file images and fonts for out put in a neat folder for you, or at least that is what I understand.


                            This is only a suggestion not a directive, it is meant to be helpful. Please feel free to ignore it entirely if it does not suit your needs.

                            1 person found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                              asee23455 Level 1

                              Really guys, linking doesn't work well. The links keep breaking. It's annoying. I'm not doing this to be silly, I'm trying to find a workaround for Illustrator's poor linking skills.

                              • 12. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                                asee23455 Level 1

                                Wade, I appreciate your suggestion. Unfortunately, it seems like there's no good solution here. Sure, I could put all the stuff in one folder, but I've just started this project, and I already have ~20 images and ~20 .ai files, with a semi-random set of 3-5 images being used by each .ai file. The total number of files will probably triple by the time I'm done. If all the files are in one folder, I can find files by name, but it's easier still if they're organized into subfolders by subject matter.


                                For now, I guess I'll go with embedding. It seems the best answer of the bunch. But if file sizes become more troublesome, I can go back to linking, and just accept the need to regularly repair the links.

                                • 13. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize


                                  reading all these was really informative for me, i was on the go to learn more about document management softwares and this gave me something to manage images too, thanks.

                                  • 14. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize

                                    My IT guy told me a few years ago that the reason Illustrator links turn to garbage is because in Illustrator the entire filename location is used in remembering the link (not a relative link as you can use with a web site) and there is a limit of 256 characters, and it's an absolute link, meaning includes the root level server/disk name. For example if you use: MyMainServer/2013ClientProjects/PrettyLongClientName/TopofthelineProductline>DeliciousFla vorline/HeightWeightSizeline/ProductFancyLongName/Labelstructure/Links, for your folder hierarchy, you have used over 150 characters already for your links, and if you think you have the modern 256 characters for your filename, think again. If you get garbage links, then you have exceeded 256 characters in your absolute filename. Keep it short!!


                                    Linking files is still the best, but you need short folder and file names, not too deep, and putting links in the same folder as the art are recommended.


                                    Sort your items in the folder by naming them, not by putting them in folders (such as, start image names with "IMG_", other categories give them their own prefix.)


                                    If you think you need to embed, think again. If you just need it to send a proof to the client, do one of two things: (1) take a screen shot (you have a big monitor right?) or (2) more professional, save an eps (then you will need to embed) and then process it into a pdf of the desired resolution in Distiller (then toss the eps of course). (Adjust settings of an existing setting to get the size you want and "Save As" settings if necessary in Distiller.)


                                    If you are sending to a commercial printer, it really shouldn't matter in most cases how big the files are, but if you're sending a proof to your own printer and don't want to hog the bandwidth, do one of two above.


                                    If you are worried about file size for storage, new 2T drives are about $120 and falling.


                                    Sorry there is no simple answer, but that's the way it goes for those of use whose first application is Illustrator, not InDesign. It would be nice if somebody at adobe took a look at harmonizing functions such as saves, links/imports, tool behavior etc., across applications.

                                    • 15. Re: Embedded images result in enormous filesize
                                      zippidi Level 1

                                      I don't know if you ever got a reasonable answer from these so called know-it-all f@ck wits but the solution I found was quite simple.


                                      Cropped your image down in Photoshop to the size that it will be displayed on your Illustrator page at the appropriate PPI.


                                      I was having the same issue and wondered why embedding 7 images resulted in an increase in size of 150mb even though each image size on the page was only 30mm x 30mm.


                                      As an experiment, I cropped them down to this size in PS and it worked.