Sometimes, when you want to copy a complex appearance between two documents, Illustrator will decide it wants to expand the effect instead. This is rarely a thing I want – one easy-to-edit path can become many complicated paths.
Here’s a way to work around it.
- Open the document with the path whose style you want to clone into the new document.
- Select that path and create a new Graphic Style from it.
- Save the document.
- Open the document you want to bring the troublesome style into.
- Hit the ‘library’ button at the lower left of the Graphic Styles palette; choose “Other Library…” at the bottom, then use the file requestor this invokes to select the file from step 1.
- Double-click the style to bring it into your document’s Graphic Styles. Or just select it and draw a shape, that works too.
- Keep on drawin’.
You can use this trick to clone brushes, palette swatches, and symbols from other files. Maybe for some other stuff, too; Illustrator has a ton of palettes and I might be forgetting something! For multi-file projects it can be very useful to have one central file where you store all of these kinds of things.
You can also make your libraries show up in the ‘User Defined’ submenu by putting them in a certain place in the filesystem – check the manual for that, it’s a different place for each class of palette on OSX and Windows. The “Libraries” palette is, I think, supposed to make this easier and to sync between computers, but I’ve never played with it.