The AI file format was originally a native format called PGF.
Vector files, unlike raster files, are made up of lines. These lines are easy to manipulate and shape to an image of your liking. These files are commonly used for print illustrations and graphics, and their sizes range from KBs to a couple of MBs. Vector graphics are saved in a more popular file format – AI (.ai) .
AI is the proprietary file format of Adobe Illustrator. These are EPS files in disguise, but their portability is poor. What would you do if you have to open an AI file, but the requisite software isn’t available on your computer. Do you ask your operating system to find the appropriate software or do you spend your time rasterizing the image so you can view it better. All it would end up doing is reducing the quality of these images. Before you jump the gun, we give you a list of software most appropriate to view AI files.
Scribus is an open-source software that’s compatible with both Mac and Windows. It supports many vector image formats, including AI. It has enough plugins and extensions to improve the composition of any image.
GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation software is known as the free-to-use Photoshop software. It works on multiple operating systems – Windows, Linux, Solaris, OS X, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and AmigaOS4, and is also available in multiple languages. Its native format is XCF, but it supports most proprietary formats. Viewing an AI file in this program is a good bet.
Inkscape is another great tool for viewing AI files. Being compatible with a broad range of file formats, as well as the new and improved spiro curve tool added to Inkscape, viewing and editing AI files is a cinch. It runs on the operating systems of Windows, OS X, and Linux.
If AI files aren’t opening, Paint.NET comes to the rescue. This was originally intended to be a replacement for Microsoft Paint. But to run AI files, you need to download and install the ‘Illustrator Encapsulated PostScript’ plugin. It runs on Windows 7 and above, and needs the installation of Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.
XnView is a free-to-use software compatible with Windows, Mac OS X , and Linux. It can open multiple AI files in multiple tabs. It even has a portable version of the software available for cell phones. It can even convert the file into many popular formats, such as JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF, etc.
Free Ai File Viewer is a free-to-download software, that lets you view AI files as well as other popular extensions like JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, and TIFF. It runs on the operating systems of Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. This software needs Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 installed as a prerequisite.
Website: Free Ai File Viewer
Xara Xtreme has a slick and uncluttered interface, with the menus displayed in floating windows. Although it has become proprietary, a free version is available for Linux. It is based on Xara Xtreme for Windows, now known as Xara Designer Pro. It can be run on Linux using an emulator such as Vine. It has a huge resource library of video tutorials and tips, and an enthusiastic online community for novice users.
Website: Xara Xtreme
Although a PDF reading software, this one can open images too. It can convert an image into the following formats – TXT, BMP, JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIF, and TIFF. It can read other formats such as CBR and MOBI, and is available in multiple languages. It runs on the operating systems of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.
Website: FoxPDF Reader
PCX Viewer is a modest software that hardly takes up any space on a PC. One of the unique features of this software is that, all the tools are available on the interface. Originally, this software was made to support PCX, a file format used by Paintbrush, and was used before the popularity of other standard formats, such as GIF, PNG, and JPG. Other than AI, it also supports other formats, such as PCX, PSD, TGA, and EPS. It even lets you import the image in other formats. It is supported only by Windows.
Website: PCX Viewer
GSview is a free-to-download software for viewing AI files. But, you need to install Ghostscript in order to run it. It even has an online help forum for users encountering any problems with the software. Although its main purpose is for printing PDF and PostScript files, it allows users to view AI files, as well as all the associated files in the Adobe suite.
Although viewing AI files is fine with the above software, you were probably restricted from viewing the contents to protect the author and his work. AI files can be viewed best by using Adobe Illustrator. If the above software don’t work for some unforeseen reason, you can try software such as SVG-edit, Mondrian, Karbon, Serif DrawPlus, and Vector Paint.