Manage vector graphics and prep your images for high-resolution prints with the EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) file format — the industry standard for professional printing. Discover more about how to use EPS files and how they compare to other formats.
What you’ll learn.
- What is an EPS file?
- History of the EPS file
- What are EPS files used for?
- Pros and cons of EPS files
- How to open an EPS file
- How to create and edit an EPS file
- EPS files: frequently asked questions
What is an EPS file?
EPS is a vector file format often required for professional and high-quality image printing. PostScript printers and image setters typically use EPS to produce vast, detailed images — such as billboard advertising, large posters and attention-grabbing marketing collateral.
EPS files also:
- Contain bitmap data, retaining individual coding on colour and size. This means the image retains its resolution regardless of scale.
- Get used by illustrators and graphic designers in tools such as Adobe Illustrator.
- Offer backward compatibility and are one of the more common formats used by professional printers.
History of the EPS file.
Adobe created Encapsulated PostScript in the late 1980s, making it an early image file choice for the design industry. The format was designed to mak e it easier to incorporate images and illustrations into predominantly text-based creations. The EPS file format could also render in a preview before printing — something that wasn’t previously possible.
EPS became one of the industry standards for professional printers — compatible with most leading printing hardware and image setters. Though still in use today, EPS technology has largely been replaced by native file formats.
Because EPS files contain image-specific data, they are a useful format for graphics that need to be scaled.
What are EPS files used for?
EPS files have a variety of uses for designing and printing graphics.
Though they’ve been overtaken by more modern file formats such as PDFs, EPS files still have a function as a legacy format compatible with almost all systems and software.
Many professional printers use EPS files for large-scale jobs. The backward compatibility feature of the file format makes it suitable for a wide range of printers — including those that may outdate more modern formats such as PDF. Computer-controlled engraving machines may also find EPS data simpler to render in detail.
The individual image data stored in vector files means EPS files retain resolution regardless of scale. That makes EPS ideal for expanded images, such as billboards and other large-scale marketing collateral.
Pros and cons of EPS files.
As with most file formats, EPS is used in a wide variety of ways. These are the main advantages and disadvantages of EPS files:
Advantages of EPS files.
- The EPS format is ideal for scaling images. The image data it retains ensures the resolution remains high, even when stretched or blown up to larger proportions.
- EPS image data benefits from a lossless form of compression. This ensures picture quality remains high, even when the file gets downsised.
- Most modern professional printers can comfortably handle EPS files — making them a universal choice for larger print jobs.
Disadvantages of EPS files.
- EPS files consist of mathematical data that determines how the image will look in a thumbnail preview. It can be time consuming to establish the image settings before creating the EPS file, which is not always convenient for fast-paced working environments.
- Once you save a file as an EPS, you can no longer edit it. If you notice any mistakes and want to make edits, you’ll need to return to the original design file to make your changes before resaving the EPS.
- EPS files require specialised software to open. You’ll need an app like Adobe Illustrator to view and edit EPS images.
How to open an EPS file.
Opening an EPS file depends on the device you’re using.
- macOS users benefit from the system’s built-in reader, allowing Apple products to easily render EPS files for display and preview.
- Windows systems don’t have any in-built capacity to handle the EPS format, which means you’ll need additional software, such as Adobe Illustrator, to edit and view any images.
How to create and edit an EPS file.
An Encapsulated PostScript image consists of bitmap info and vector data. Only the vector information is editable using the correct software.
To create an EPS file:
- Once you have completed the design of an image in Illustrator or a similar programme, go to File.
- Hit Export.
- Choose Export as EPS.
- Specify where you want the document saved.
- Select which pages in the range you want to export when prompted.
- Set any additional options.
- Ensure your graphics are within the border image or page trim area.
- Hit Export.
To edit EPS files, you will need specialised software such as Adobe Illustrator.
EPS files: frequently asked questions.
Is PDF better than EPS?
PDFs are editable and compatible with more operating systems. However, you might find that EPS is preferable if you’re using older printing machines.
Can I open EPS in Photoshop?
You can open EPS files in Photoshop, but the image will be rasterised — meaning it will be locked for editing.
Do EPS files open automatically on a Mac?
macOS devices have the built-in ability to open EPS files without the use of an additional software package. Windows devices require specialised software to do so.
Is the EPS format dead?
EPS files still have their place. Their backward compatibility makes them a good back-up choice for professional printing jobs. However, graphic designers might find AI (Adobe Illustrator) files more useful for editing.
Which is better: SVG or EPS?
SVG files are generally more useful for website design, live building and creation of images. However, they don’t offer the same impressive printing resolution that comes with an EPS file. It’s best to consider the ultimate output before choosing which image file type to use.
Learn about similar file types to EPS.
Compare EPS with other file types.
Learn more about how these two file types compare when it comes to saving and sharing high-quality illustrations.
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