In Windows 7, I want to change an .ai (Adobe Illustrator) file extension to a .pdf extension...How do I do this? I have tried renaming the file, but Win7 still thinks it is a .ai file...how do I change file extensions?

I already know that I can turn on file extensions to the end of file names, but I'm looking for another option...Thanks!

  • 2
    Are you attempting to convert an image to a PDF, or are you simply renaming the file?
    – Hello71
    Jun 30, 2010 at 2:41
  • I'm trying to rename the file, so that Acrobat/Foxit/Sumatra can open the file...I read elsewhere on SU that if I renamed a Illustrator file, I could view it in PDF
    – studiohack
    Jun 30, 2010 at 3:04

2 Answers 2


As Hello71 commented, to me it seems as if you are confusing things (if you aren't I apologize). File name extensions aren't meant to be changed like that. If you turn on the extensions at the end of file names, you can change its extension to .pdf, but it will not make it a PDF file. You will need to use some software to convert it to PDF. I think that Illustrator can do it natively, but I haven't used it in a long time. Another option would be to use one of those print as pdf drivers. If you have Acrobat installed, you should already have this. It will show up as printer. When you send something to be printed, it'll be converted into PDF. If you do not have Acrobat installed, just search for free print to PDF driver. There will be numerous results. I did use some of them a while ago, but I can't remember which one, so I cannot give you any recommendations.

If what you wanted was just to rename file without converting it and without enabling extensions on the end of file names, you could try to use command prompt or powershell. Type CMD into start menu search and run the program. Then use cd command to go to the directory where the file which you want to rename is. The easiest way would be to go there inside explorer, cut the path and type cd into CMD and press space. Then using right-click paste the path. Here's and example of what you should get in CMD (assuming the files are in Peter directory on C: disk):

C:\Users\AwesomeUserName\ cd C:\Peter

After that use the rename command to change file name, like this:

rename michael.ai lazarus.pdf

After that, michael.ai should be renamed into lazarus.pdf. As I said, that will not make the ai file into real .pdf file.

  • OK, well, my situation is that I work with a lot of Illustrator files for work, but when I need to view them @ home, I don't have Illustrator...so how can I view them? That is what I'm trying to do...see reply comment to Hello71's comment....
    – studiohack
    Jun 30, 2010 at 3:06
  • 1
    It could be that there is some undocumented trick in Acrobat reader that will allow you to do this. You can try, but the official way is to convert .ai files to some other format. Also, interesting option would be xps. With windows, you will already have xps printer installed, so you could print the document and convert it to xps using that too. Then you would be able to view it at home.
    – AndrejaKo
    Jun 30, 2010 at 3:10
  • interesting...good idea...since your post is the most thorough, I will give this the 'accepted answer'...Welcome to Super User! :-)
    – studiohack
    Jun 30, 2010 at 3:54
  • use ren not rename! I guess cmd.exe recognizes both so do the shorter one. ren /? and rename /? shows they're the same.
    – barlop
    Jan 3, 2011 at 20:06
  • 1
    @barlop ren (as well as Rename-Item, and in some cases mv, in PowerShell) is just aliases for rename. It's just like del or erase
    – phuclv
    Jun 6, 2014 at 1:56

A Illustrator file will still be an Illustrator file even if you change the extension to PDF.

Extensions don't really get turned on/off in Windows - they are still there, just displayed or not displayed.

If you have extensions turned off and you add a .pdf extension to an Illustrator (.ai) file, you are really renaming it to file.pdf.ai

Windows only looks at the last extension to determine the file type. So nothing has effectively changed.

  • I noticed that when I tried to rename the file abcd.ai to abcd.pdf...
    – studiohack
    Jun 30, 2010 at 3:07
  • 1
    +1 for Windows only looks at the last extension to determine the file type. Many viruses attempt to disguise themselves this way.
    – AndrejaKo
    Jun 30, 2010 at 3:11

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