I usually export graphics from Mathematica as PDFs which I tweak with Adobe Illustrator. When most plots are exported from Mathematica as PDFs they contain a large number of mostly useless clipping masks.


Plot[Sin[x], {x, -Pi, Pi}]

Mathematica graphic


All the clipping masks can be removed from this PDF with no effect on the look of the plot.

Is there a way to have the PDF exported without clipping masks or somehow remove them automatically after export, ideally with Mathematica?

Note: in some cases (see below) the clipping masks are needed but I don't need a smart solution, if I can get it of all the clipping masks, useless and useful thats fine.

Plot[Sin[x], {x, -2 Pi, 2 Pi}, PlotRange -> {{-Pi, Pi}, All}]
  • $\begingroup$ Do you see the masks when opening the doc with other programs? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @belisarius It's a feature of the PDFs, it should be visible in any decent vector editor that supports PDF. $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ I would try re-processing the PDFs with various programs (xpdf? ghostscript?) and see if that reomoves the masks. I know the problem well, but I haven't tried to come up with an automated solution yet. $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Szabolcs define "decent" :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Once upon a time I fixed some EPS bounding box issues by stringbased postprocessing of Mathematica output. Are the masks easily identified in a PDF? $\endgroup$
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


If you are willing to export to eps first and then convert to pdf, try if this works for you. I think it does for me. It is a pretty dirty hack though, so there might be side effects I haven't noticed.

p=Plot[Sin[x], {x, -Pi, Pi}];
Export["plot.eps",StringReplace[ExportString[p,"EPS"],"clip np"->""],"String"]

Also, it might not work for all plots.


Actually there is a pretty obvious side effect in form of a colored border around the actual curve. I think with a little more tinkering one might be able to get rid of that too.

Edit 2

Alexey Popkov pointed out that it's better to export as "String" than as "Text". I haven't tested it, I just trust him here.

  • $\begingroup$ It is more correct to Export as "String" the output of ExportString, because exporting as "Text" potentially can damage the output. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 11:17

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