Corrupted preference files cause Adobe Illustrator misbehavior ranging from minor hiccups in the application interface all the way up to major crashes and freezes. When Illustrator changes from the best-behaved application on your system to a crash-happy troublemaker, analyzing its symptoms in search of a cause can waste time without solving your problem. If you're running the latest Illustrator update on a Mac with an up-to-date operating system, toss the program's prefs and you may solve your problems without having to look further for their cause.
Press "Cmd-Q" or open the "Illustrator" menu and choose "Quit Illustrator" to shut down the software before you delete its preferences. Deleting the prefs from an active application can cause more problems.
Navigate to your startup drive's "Users" folder and locate the folder with your user name. Inside this folder, open the "Library" folder and locate the "Preferences" folder inside it. Within that "Preferences" folder, find the "Adobe Illustrator [version number] Settings" folder, where [version number] equals the software version you use. This folder contains a folder named with the abbreviation for your language version and country localization. For example, if you use the US English version of Adobe products, the folder name is "en_US." Within that folder, you'll find the "Adobe Illustrator Prefs" file. Press "Cmd-Delete" or dragging the file to the Trash to delete it.
Locate your user "Library" folder using different methods if you're using OS X 10.7 Lion or later, in which the operating system hides these files. Access the Finder's Go menu and choose "Go to Folder." When the Go to Finder dialog box comes up on your screen, type "~/Library" without the quotation marks. Click on the "Go" button to reveal your "Library" folder and locate the "Preferences" folder that contains your Illustrator settings folder. You also can press and hold the "Option" key while you access the Go menu and choose "Library." Once you reach your prefs file, delete it.
Press and hold "Option-Cmd-Shift" while you double-click on the program's icon in the Finder and keep these keys depressed while Illustrator starts up. This built-in reset procedure deletes your Adobe Illustrator prefs file and immediately replaces it with a fresh set of defaults. Once Illustrator finishes launching, open the "Illustrator" menu, choose the "Preferences" submenu and select its "General" option to bring up the Preferences dialog box so you can recustomize your settings.
Tips & Warnings
- Make a backup copy of your Adobe Illustrator prefs once you reset and recustomize them after deleting them. Use the backup to replace your prefs the next time the application misbehaves.
- Delete the entire "Adobe Illustrator [version number] Settings" folder to remove all the program's preferences, not just the main application prefs file. These ancillary prefs store settings for color management and presets for printing, tracing and transparency flattening.
- If you rename the prefs file instead of deleting it, Adobe Illustrator ignores the renamed file and creates a new default prefs file the next time you launch the program.
- Don't delete files whose purpose you're not sure you understand. You may damage the functionality of your software or the Mac OS.
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
- The Adobe Illustrator CS6 WOW! Book; Sharon Steuer et al.
- Adobe Illustrator CC Classroom in a Book; Adobe Creative Team
- Adobe Illustrator CS6 Classroom in a Book; Adobe Creative Team
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