Tensai FreeHand Illustrator Plugin User Guide


Installation and Initial Setup

  1. Install
  2. Download the latest version of the Plugin installer for Mac or Windows from here:


    Make sure no copies of Illustrator are running. Double click on the installer and follow the installation instructions.

  3. Initial Setup
  4. Start Illustrator and select the File | Open menu item. Check that you can see FreeHand listed in the drop down list of file formats.

    If your FreeHand files do not have any extension or do not have a standard FreeHand extension, you will need to select "All Documents" in order to open the files.

    When you open the first FreeHand file, you will see the following window asking you to enter your license code. Note the "License will lock to:" message. This tells you which network adapter the license will lock to. This should be something that will always be present on the computer, normally "Ethernet" on Mac and "Local Area Connection" on Windows. If it is the name of a VPN connection or a connected device like a phone, disconnect the device and restart Illustrator before entering the license code.

    Once the license has been validated, you will see the "FreeHand Import Options" window, which means the plugin has been successfully installed and activated.

Opening FreeHand Files

The settings on the FreeHand Import Options window allow you to control how files are opened:

License Settings

These controls allow you to change the licensing information.

Batch mode scripting

Version 2.2.0 and later of the plugin allows you to run a batch process for converting FreeHand files to Illustrator files. This uses a script file called FreeHandBatch.jsx. The link below contains this script in a zip file. Download the zip file and extract the FreeHandBatch.jsx file.


You can use this script by selecting the "File | Scripts | Other Script..." menu from Illustrator. You can also add the script to the "File | Scripts" menu by copying the script file to the "Presets/en_GB/Scripts" folder of your Illustrator installation as shown below. The script will appear in the Scripts menu the next time you start Illustrator.

When you run the script, you will first be asked to choose the folder containing the FreeHand files you want to convert. Note that the script will also search in the subfolders of the selected folder. You then select the folder for the converted Illustrator files to be saved into. The script will open each FreeHand file it finds in the input folder and save it as an Illustrator file in the output folder. FreeHand files are identified by the file extension, so FreeHand files with a non-standard extension will be ignored. FreeHand files with no extension will be processed. There is a known issue with Illustrator CS6 and CC in that they leak memory when running scripts. This means that if you try to convert a lot of files, Illustrator will slow down and may hang or crash as it converts more files.

It is possible to edit the script to change its behaviour. The original script will open all pages in the FreeHand files and will not convert text to outlines. If you want to open just a specific page in the input FreeHand files or you want to convert text to outlines, you can edit the script in a text editor.

The first few lines of the script are:



For use in Illustrator CS6 or later with the Tensai FreeHand Plugin (version 2.2 or later) installed
Open all Freehand files specified in the user selected folder and save them as AI files
Version 4.0

Version 1.0 Initial version (22 March 2015)
Version 2.0 Add Keep Missing Font setting (14 October 2015)
Version 3.0 Support for file names without extension (20 January 2017)
Version 4.0 Add character encoding setting and fit to view (30 May 2017)
Version 5.0 Add choice of replacement font and overset text scaling and replace displayName with name (21 May 2021)

// FreeHand import options
var ConvertTextToOutlines = false;
var ImportSinglePage = false;
var ImportPageNumber = 1;
var KeepMissingFonts = true; // (Plugin version 2.3.0 or later)
var CharacterEncoding = 0; // (Plugin version 2.5.0 or later) 1 = Chinese, 2 = Japanese, 3 = Hebrew
var ReplacementFont = "Myriad Pro"; // (Plugin version 4.0.0 or later)
var AdjustOverset = false; // (Plugin version 4.0.0 or later)
var OversetScaling = 95; // (Plugin version 4.0.0 or later)
var FitToView = true;
// End of FreeHand import options

The first part of the file is just comments explaining its use. The lines between // FreeHand import options and // End of FreeHand import options control how the input files are processed. To open just a single page of the input files, change the ImportSinglePage value to true and the ImportPageNumber value to the number of the page to open. To convert text to outlines, change the ConvertTextToOutlines value to true. The KeepMissingFonts value determines the behaviour when the file contains fonts that are not available on the computer. If this is set to true, the fonts are treated as missing fonts. If it is false, the fonts that are not found are replaced with the font specified by ReplacementFont (or the default font for versions before 4.0.0). The CharacterEncoding value allows you to set the encoding. AdjustOverset turns on or off the "Overset Text Font Scaling" feature available in verion 4.0.0 and later. When this in enabled, all overset text will be scaled by the OversetScaling percentage. FitToView means the document contents are centered in the view before saving.

For example the following settings will open page 2 of each input file and convert text to outlines.

// FreeHand import options
var ConvertTextToOutlines = true;
var ImportSinglePage = true;
var ImportPageNumber = 2;
var KeepMissingFonts = true; // (Plugin version 2.3.0 or later)
var CharacterEncoding = 0; // (Plugin version 2.5.0 or later) 1 = Chinese, 2 = Japanese, 3 = Hebrew
var ReplacementFont = "Myriad Pro"; // (Plugin version 4.0.0 or later)
var AdjustOverset = false; // (Plugin version 4.0.0 or later)
var OversetScaling = 95; // (Plugin version 4.0.0 or later)
var FitToView = true;
// End of FreeHand import options

More information about scripting in Illustrator can be found in the Adobe Illustrator Scripting Guides.

Adobe Illustrator Scripting Guides up to CC 2017

Scripting Guides from CC 2018 (requires an Adobe id)

Updating to a newer version

If a newer version of the plugin is released, you can upgrade by simply installing the newer version. Check the version history to see if you have the latest version. If a newer version is available, download it using the download link above. Make sure Illustrator is not running and then install the new version using the Installer. This will replace the old version.

Uninstalling and transferring license to another computer

If you want to use your license on another computer, you need to return your license to the server.

To uninstall the plugin, run the installer again (the installer version should be the same as or newer than the installed plugin version) and choose the "Uninstall" option, this includes a checkbox to return the license to the server.

If you want to transfer the license without uninstalling the plugin, open a FreeHand file so that you can see the FreeHand Import Options window as shown below. Click on the "Return..." button to return the license to the server. The ability to transfer the license to a different computer is not a right guaranteed by the license and is subject to fair use.

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