Resetting Illustrator Preferences

4 minute read • Last updated 2021-12-16

If you experience an issue with Adobe Illustrator, including with any Astute Graphics plugin, you may be asked to reset your Adobe Illustrator preferences. This can be done by following the guidelines below.

Note that this process will reset all your panels, etc. in Illustrator, but these may be re-applied and set to your workflow manually once more.

Why would I want to reset my Illustrator Preferences?

It's good practice, very easy to do and solves a lot of issues with Illustrator and Astute Graphics' plugins.

What do I need to do after resetting my Illustrator Preferences?

Upon starting Illustrator for the first time after resetting your Illustrator Preferences, the usual start-up windows will re-appear including the native application "welcome" window and Astute Graphics' warning that you need to re-enable the Advanced toolbar to see all the tools. There may be options to tick to ensure these do not show again, otherwise they will automatically be marked to not re-appear until you delete your settings or preferences again.

Beyond this, other tasks may include:

  1. Re-open and dock native and plugin panels (found under the Window > ... menu)

  2. Save custom UI workspaces

  3. Redefine any custom keypresses and save these

  4. Readjust any custom Illustrator Preferences (Illustrator > Preferences > …)

  5. For users of Illustrator 2019 and above, panels may not scale correctly first time - please refer to our UI Panel Scaling issue troubleshooting article for full information

Typically, all this will take 5 minutes, depending on how far you've customized Illustrator.

Can I restore previous settings?

Yes, as long as you first make a backup of the preferences file you can always return to your previous preferences.

How will resetting Illustrator's Preferences affect my plugins?

It will not impact your licensing or trial period. Therefore, resetting will not mean you need to re-apply your software license keys.

How do I reset my preferences?

Follow Adobe's official guidelines here. Alternatively, read on…

There are two levels of resetting your preferences, the first and more commonly known is to:

  • Windows users: Press and hold Alt+Control+Shift as you start Illustrator

  • macOS users: Option+Command+Shift as you start Illustrator

Your current settings are deleted.

The second method is to:

  1. Quit Illustrator

  2. Manually locate your Adobe Illustrator Prefs file

  3. Delete it

How do I back up and restore up my Illustrator Preferences?

To back up your Adobe Illustrator Prefs file…

  • Quit Illustrator

  • Locate the Adobe Illustrator Prefs file

  • Copy it to somewhere safe

To restore it…

  • Quit Illustrator

  • Locate the correct folder

  • Copy the previously backed-up Adobe Illustrator Prefs file back into the folder

Restoring this file will revert your panels, window positions, native Illustrator and Astute Graphics plugin preferences.

Locating your Illustrator Preferences file

The file is named Adobe Illustrator Prefs

Adobe document the location of this file here. But here is a quick guide on how to find the folder which contains the Adobe Illustrator Prefs file…

macOS users:

  1. In the Finder menu bar, follow Go > Library (this may be hidden, so hold down the Alt key to reveal)

  2. Open the Preferences > Adobe > Adobe Illustrator [version*] Settings > [local language] > … folder

Windows users:

Users > [username] > AppData > Roaming > Adobe > Adobe Illustrator [version*] Settings > [local language / 32/64] > …

*Depending on your Illustrator version this folder will be named as follows:

  • Adobe Illustrator CS6 Settings = CS6

  • Adobe Illustrator 17 Settings = CC (initial CC release in 2013)

  • Adobe Illustrator 18 Settings = CC2014

  • Adobe Illustrator 19 Settings = CC2015

  • Adobe Illustrator 20 Settings = CC2015.3

  • Adobe Illustrator 21 Settings = CC2017

  • Adobe Illustrator 22 Settings = CC2018

  • Adobe Illustrator 23 Settings = CC2019

  • Adobe Illustrator 24 Settings = 2020

  • Adobe Illustrator 25 Settings = 2021

  • Adobe Illustrator 26 Settings = 2022

For the full Illustrator version/naming list, please refer to the Illustrator Wikipedia page.