Make Clickable URL Hyperlinks in PDFs Created with Illustrator

Make Clickable URL Hyperlinks in PDFs Created with Illustrator

As you may or may not know, Illustrator will make any URLs in documents its creates ‘clickable’ – that is to say anything identified as a website address or an email address will launch a viewers web browser or default email program when they are clicked (and the cursor changes to a pointing finger when these elements are hovered too).

Now while that’s create, sometimes you want to make other things clickable in PDFs – in fact I highly recommend making everything relevant clickable as who knows where your PDFs will end up (they are after all design to be portable: Portable Document Format) and embedding links is a great way to direct readers to your website or other relevant resource.

If you’re looking for a good guide to Illustrator I recommend: [easyazon_link identifier=”0133987035″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”bomc-21″ popups=”n”]Illustrator CC: Visual QuickStart Guide[/easyazon_link]

How to Create Hyperlinks in Illustrator PDFs

In this example I am going to make a logo clickable using a very simple trick:

Step 1: Locate the artwork you want to be a clickable (made in to a hyperlink):


Standard Logo Artwork In Illustrator

Step 2: Type the URL you want to link to using the text tool:

Create a URL with the Type Tool

Step 3: Stretch the URL so it covers the element that you want to clickable:

Stretch URL Over Logo

Step 4: Make the URL completely transparent (important – do not simply set the color to transparent, this will break the link – it needs to be a color with 0% opacity):

Transparency 0

Invisible URL

Step 5: Save as a PDF as you normally would and enjoy the clickable joy!

Just to re-iterate, do not attempt to make transparent link text by setting the color to transparent in the color selector like this:

Clickable URL Hyperlinks in PDFs Created with Illustrator

Set a solid color (e.g. black) and then use the opacity to make it invisible, otherwise the link will not work:

Transparency 0


Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob is a Founder of Seguro Ltd, a full time father and husband, part-time tinkerer-with-wires, coder, Muay Thai practitioner, builder and cook. Big fan of equality, tolerance and co-existence.

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20 comments on «Make Clickable URL Hyperlinks in PDFs Created with Illustrator»

  1. Michael says:

    this doesn’t work

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Michael,

      This works perfectly for me – which version of Illustrator are you using? I’m on CS6.

  2. Andi says:

    Thanks! It worked for me (I’m using CC). One thing I would add is if you want to add a tracking link to a spelled out url (not a graphic), you have to turn the type into outlines, otherwise it grabs both URLs.

  3. Betty Kennedy says:

    THANK YOU! I’ve read a few extremely convoluted and time consuming tutorials. I am making a document with 30+ links and there was no way I was going through all that hullabaloo. This was a great quick trick and it WORKED!

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hey Betty, thanks for the thanks!

  4. Rasam Rostami says:

    Thanks Man!
    I tried slicing and attributes, but didn’t work.
    This one worked.

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hey Rasam,

      Glad it help! Thanks for the thanks! 🙂

  5. LEGEND!!!!
    Thank you so much, I’ve spent all morning using the slice technique (that doesnt work)

    Life saver.

  6. Jason T Warren says:

    Worked Like a Charm! To make it less confusing I just collected all hyperlink overlay text onto a separate layer. I would have NEVER guessed it was this easy. I also tried creating slices but they did not work.

  7. Lalit Suryan says:

    Hey Bob Mckay,
    How can we open _blank(target) page using this method?

  8. Serena says:

    I have a problem, in adobe pdf i can’t open the link. Suggestions?

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Serena,

      Do you mean Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat? If you open the PDF on a browser such as ‘edge’, do the links work there?

      1. Serena says:

        Hi Bob!
        On browser it works. I tried again in Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat for Pc and it works.
        I have any problem in pdf reader for mobile (WPS Office, Visualizzatore PDF for Drive, Adobe Acrobat, Visualizzatore PDF for Dropbox, Visualizzatore PDF for Google).

        1. Bob McKay says:

          Hi Serena,

          Looks like a quirk of the mobile reader then I’m afraid, all I can suggest is make sure you’re using a chunky font for the link text and maybe double them up (make two links) to make a better target area

  9. BB says:

    I normally don’t leave a comment because I am so lazy. But your method is really simple and solved the problem. I don’t quite understand why people teach this in a hard way.

  10. Linda says:

    Thank you, I tried other methods to no avail, but this worked and was easy!

  11. Camilla says:

    Hey! The whole process works up until I click on the link, it won’t take me to my page. I noticed that Illustrator changed the URL of my link. When it loads in the browser it is a slightly different link. I’m guessing that’s what is causing it not to work?

    Any suggestions?


    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Camilla,

      Without seeing the URL its hard to say – does it have any unusual characters in it? You should try using a URL shortening service to give you a simpler URL to put in your document.


  12. Andrew says:

    Hey – this is super! Thanks. Much easier than Image Map. In regards to another comment – any way to make this open in a new page/tab? (incorporate _blank). I know that is probably not likely with this simple trick but thought I’d ask if anyone has figured it out. Thanks again.

  13. Naresh says:

    It’s working on chrome n Internet explorer n all browser except Mozilla Firefox. Thanx

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