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I'm new to Illustrator and I'm trying to do something which I would think would be relatively simple.

enter image description here

I essentially have a red square and a "W" text layer above it. I'd simply like to cut out/destroy all intersecting paths out of red box so as to "cut out" a W from the box.

I'm totally new at this. How can I do this in Illustrator?

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If it's like photoshop you would hold the control key and click on the text layer (on the icon) - that will put a selection around the W. Then select the layer with the red square and press delete. If the red square is on your background layer make sure it is editable. – BJ292 May 18 '12 at 23:41
up vote 6 down vote accepted

To do what you want and remove all the intersecting paths outside of the box requires several steps.

First you want to put the text behind the rectangle — not in front of it, convert it to outlines, then group them and the rectangle together.

after creating outlines and grouping with rectangle

Then, with the entire group selected, pick the Effect | Pathfinder | Minus Back submenu item to apply it to them, which should result in the following:

final result of the Minus Back effect

Hope this helps.

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