Creating Package Files In Adobe Illustrator

Banner Image - Package Wrapped in Kraft Paper and Twine

How to use the Adobe Illustrator Package function for sending your custom binder artwork to SpeedBinder. Actually, this will work any time you need to send someone an Illustrator file. But we do custom binders, so that’s what we’ll talk about here.

Step 1: Select “File->Package” from the Illustrator menu

Step 2: Specify your desired package location and the name of the package in the dialog box

Make sure all the check-boxes are turned on.

Step 3: Zip up the folder that Illustrator created

That’s it. You’ve now created a zip file that contains not only your original Illustrator file, but all of the required elements needed to open and edit it when you send it to someone. Use that zip file to communicate your design.

Details that you can skip, but you might find interesting

If you’ve createe the zip file described above, you’re done and you can stop reading. But if you’re curious about some of the details, feel free to continue.

Adobe Illustrator files contain an assortment of graphic elements. For our purposes here, what is important is that those elements can include both photos (or any other linked file) and fonts.

When you open a file, Illustrator searches your system for those elements. If you created the file on the same computer you are using to open it, Illustrator has no trouble finding those items.

However, when you send the Illustrator file (the one with an “ai” file extension) to someone else, and they try to open it, Illustrator will not be able to find those elements, because they aren’t on your recipient’s computer. If you’ve ever seen the “Missing Files” or “Missing Fonts” error messages when opening a file, that’s what’s going on.

The Solution: The Adobe Illustrator Package Function

In 2012, with the introduction of Illustrator CS6, Adobe introduced the “Package” feature. InDesign had included that feature forever, and getting it added to Illustrator was a big step forward.

With the Adobe Illustrator Package function, Illustrator creates a directory for the package, and then creates sub-directories for the various component parts (the images, the fonts) referenced in the file.

Things to watch out for with the Illustrator Package function

There are a few things that can go wrong with Packaging files in Illustrator.

If you are using commercial fonts, sometimes they do not allow themselves to be included in a package. Remember, when you package an Illustrator file and send it to someone, you are sending them all the font files you used. The font publishers can be unhappy about that. Fonts cost money. Don’t use packaging as a way of sharing bootleg fonts.

If your Illustrator file contains links that are themselves Illustrator files, understand that Illustrator will not recursively chase down the fonts and links from those files. Same thing with Photoshop files. If your Illustrator file contains links to a Photoshop file, and that Photoshop file contains linked elements (such as fonts or linked images), the artist you send your package to will not be able to edit the Photoshop file unless you also send them those elements.

When you package a file, you effectively double the size on disk. Every image is stored twice: Once embedded in the Illustrator file, and once inside the “Links” directory of the package. That sort of thing used to matter more in the past (when storage space was scarce and internet speeds were slow) than it does today, but it’s still worth remembering.


Package files allow you to send Adobe Illustrator documents to other artists, and allow those artists to edit them on their end. Package files contain all of the components elements needed by Illustrator to render the file.

Let us know if you have any questions. We are always here to help.