Open the .cdr file on the Mac - that's how it really works!

Opening the CDR format on a Mac is not that easy

There are many guides circulating on the Internet that promise a lot and keep little. I read quite a few of them today when I was looking for a way to open a Corel Draw file (file extension ".cdr") from a customer and then use the logo as a JPG or to incorporate PNG on the website. Acrobat Distiller - actually made to produce PDF files - also throws an error and not a PDF file. The file supplied came from a foil labeler who decorated the customer's car with his lettering.

With on-board tools, graphic files in the CDR format of Corel Draw cannot be opened under macOS (graphic: SIr Apfelot).

With on-board tools, graphic files in the CDR format of Corel Draw cannot be opened under macOS (graphic: SIr Apfelot).

The proposed solutions from forums

I liked the answer from a user in a Mac forum who, when asked how to open a CDR file on a Mac, wrote the following:

Addressing Corel on the Macintosh Forum is like offering holy water in Hell.

So it is right! Unfortunately, I still have to open the Corel file and it doesn't help to hide in the Apple ivory tower.

Nevertheless, there were a few answers that seemed helpful at first:

  • Open CDR file in Photoshop
  • Import CDR file into Illustrator
  • Throw the CDR file into Adobe Distiller and generate a PDF from it
  • Ask the customer whether he can send an eps instead of a cdr file

Except for the last idea, I went through everything and everything didn't work out. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop (for me Adobe CC 2020) do not know the file format and cannot open it. I think they already recognize the file format, but Adobe just can't bring itself to import Corel Draw. : D

Cdr files cannot be opened with Adobe Illustrator - that much is certain.

Cdr files cannot be opened with Adobe Illustrator - that much is certain.

 

Acrobat Distiller - actually made to produce PDF files - also throws an error and not a PDF file.

Acrobat Distiller - actually made to produce PDF files - also throws an error and not a PDF file.

The bottom line was that none of this helped and I was back with my cdr file that simply no program would open under macOS.

The solution: Zamzar file converter

After some research, I finally came across the (free) solution to my problem: an online service called Zamzar, that offers all possible file conversions - even without an account requirement.

With the Zamzar online service, CDR files can be converted into practical formats such as PDF, EPS or AI, among other things.

With the Zamzar online service, CDR files can be converted into practical formats such as PDF, EPS or AI, among other things.

In addition to many other formats, Zamzar also supports the conversion of CDR files. There are a number of options for what you can do with an uploaded CDR format:

  • ai (Adobe Illustrator)
  • bmp (Windows Bitmap)
  • eps (Encapsulated PostScript)
  • gif (Graphics Interchange Format)
  • jpg (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
  • pcx (picture exchange)
  • png (Portable Network Graphics)
  • svg (Scalable Vector Graphics)
  • tga (Targa Image File)
  • tiff (agged Image File Format)
  • wbmp (Wireless Application Protocol Bitmap Format)
  • web
  • pdf (Portable Document Format)

The conversion works by uploading your source file to Zamzar and then being queued. Paying users can convert directly, but free users have to wait a few seconds to minutes.

I`ve read and accepted the CDR to PDF conversion selected and used the function to be informed by e-mail when the conversion is finished. When the time comes, you will receive a message and you can load the finished PDF file on the page.

The whole thing worked perfectly for me. After downloading the converted PDF file, it could be opened in Adobe Photoshop in any resolution.

Do you have any tips on what you can do with CDR files on the Mac (besides throwing them in the trash), then I look forward to your comment.

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6 comments

  1. Peter says:

    It would be interesting if you can get newer Adobe Illustrator CC files converted into formats that you can then open with an old CS5 version.

    Recently I had the problem that I simply couldn't do it any way, which apparently made it even more difficult that the Illustrator CC I received had been saved without PDF compatibility. If the latter is given, there are apparently certain (detours) ways.

    So if someone had a good tip on this ...

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      There is no way to convert .AI to .AI there. But what you could try would be to convert .AI to .EPS or .SVG. That should open an old Adobe Illustrator too.

  2. Peter says:

    Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to work here either: the original .ai file (approx.2015MB in size) created according to the source code with Adobe Illustrator CC 8,4 is converted by Zamzar into a 6kB, visually empty PDF.

    My guess is that there may be no visible elements in the original file - it is supposed to be a document with Illustrator brushes: these are most likely also included (so they should appear in the Brushes panel, if you could open the file regularly), but are not applied to any "real" elements on the drawing area.

    What remains is the impression that the newer "pure" AI format (without PDF compatibility) is possibly so proprietary that it cannot actually be interpreted by other applications.
    So it would be very interesting if someone had a good idea or even a tried-and-tested way of how or with what it BUT could work ...

    Newer .ai files from CC versions, which have been saved WITH a checkmark next to "PDF-compatible file" in the save dialog, but still refuse to accept old Illustrator versions because of their newer version, should open with a preview on Mac by the way and have it saved in an EPS that can then be opened again with an old illustrator. At least that's how it worked for me once.

    Affinity Designer apparently also needs PDF compatibility in order to be able to open AI files.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Yes, brushes and the like are of course lost during the conversion. There is simply no way to save this in an EPS / PDF without it being visible somewhere in the document. At least that's my guess.

      And with regard to Affinity Designer, Adobe will certainly not be extremely cooperative and reveal all the details of its data format. But of course it would be great for the user.

  3. Rokli says:

    Hi all,
    try it with Inkscape> https://inkscape.org/de
    I use a MacbookAir 2017 with the latest software and today I downloaded the latest Inkscape for Mac. (the old version no longer ran on my 64bit computer)
    "Inkscape is a professional program for editing vector graphics for Windows, Mac OS X and GNU / Linux. It is used by professional and amateur designers all over the world to create a variety of images, such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps and even web graphics Inkscape uses the W3C's free SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) standard and is free, open-source software. "

    Once installed, I was able to open, edit, print, and save CDR files in various formats with no problem.

    I haven't tried which files can still be opened and edited.

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