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Workspace basics

  1. Illustrator User Guide
  2. Get to know Illustrator
    1. Introduction to Illustrator
      1. What's new in Illustrator
      2. Common questions
      3. Illustrator system requirements
      4. Illustrator for Apple silicon
    2. Workspace
      1. Workspace basics
      2. Learn faster with the Illustrator Discover panel
      3. Create documents
      4. Toolbar
      5. Default keyboard shortcuts
      6. Customize keyboard shortcuts
      7. Introduction to artboards
      8. Manage artboards
      9. Customize the workspace
      10. Properties panel
      11. Set preferences
      12. Touch Workspace
      13. Microsoft Surface Dial support in Illustrator
      14. Undo edits and manage design history
      15. Rotate view
      16. Rulers, grids, and guides
      17. Accessibility in Illustrator
      18. Safe Mode
      19. View artwork
      20. Use the Touch Bar with Illustrator
      21. Files and templates
    3. Tools in Illustrator
      1. Tools at a glance
      2. Select tools
        1. Selection
        2. Direct Selection
        3. Group Selection
        4. Magic Wand
        5. Lasso
        6. Artboard
      3. Navigate tools
        1. Hand
        2. Rotate View
        3. Zoom
      4. Paint tools
        1. Gradient
        2. Mesh
        3. Shape Builder
      5. Text tools
        1. Type
        2. Type on a Path
        3. Vertical Type
      6. Draw tools
        1. Pen
        2. Add Anchor Point
        3. Delete Anchor Point
        4. Anchor Point
        5. Curvature
        6. Line Segment
        7. Rectangle
        8. Rounded Rectangle
        9. Ellipse
        10. Polygon
        11. Star
        12. Paintbrush
        13. Blob Brush
        14. Pencil
        15. Shaper
        16. Slice
      7. Modify tools
        1. Rotate
        2. Reflect
        3. Scale
        4. Shear
        5. Width
        6. Free Transform
        7. Eyedropper
        8. Blend
        9. Eraser
        10. Scissors
        11. Dimension
    4. Generative AI (not available in mainland China)
      1. Generate a vector graphic using a text prompt
      2. Recolor your artwork using a text prompt
    5. Quick actions
      1. Retro text
      2. Neon glow text
      3. Old school text
      4. Recolor
      5. Convert sketch to vector
  3. Illustrator on the web (beta)
    1. Illustrator on the web (beta) overview
    2. Illustrator on the web (beta) FAQ
    3. Troubleshooting issues FAQ
    4. Keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator on the web (beta)
    5. Create and combine shapes on the web
    6. Add and edit text on the web
    7. Apply colors and gradients on the web
    8. Draw and edit paths on the web
    9. Work with cloud documents on the web
    10. Invite collaborators to edit on the web
  4. Illustrator on the iPad
    1. Introduction to Illustrator on the iPad
      1. Illustrator on the iPad overview
      2. Illustrator on the iPad FAQs
      3. System requirements | Illustrator on the iPad
      4. What you can or cannot do on Illustrator on the iPad
    2. Workspace
      1. Illustrator on the iPad workspace
      2. Touch shortcuts and gestures
      3. Keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator on the iPad
      4. Manage your app settings
    3. Documents
      1. Work with documents in Illustrator on the iPad
      2. Import Photoshop and Fresco documents
    4. Select and arrange objects
      1. Create repeat objects
      2. Blend objects
    5. Drawing
      1. Draw and edit paths
      2. Draw and edit shapes
    6. Type
      1. Work with type and fonts
      2. Create text designs along a path
      3. Add your own fonts
    7. Work with images
      1. Vectorize raster images
    8. Color
      1. Apply colors and gradients
  5. Cloud documents
    1. Basics
      1. Work with Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Share and collaborate on Illustrator cloud documents
      3. Share documents for review
      4. Upgrade cloud storage for Adobe Illustrator
      5. Illustrator cloud documents | Common questions
    2. Troubleshooting
      1. Troubleshoot create or save issues for Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Troubleshoot Illustrator cloud documents issues
  6. Add and edit content
    1. Drawing and dimensioning
      1. Drawing basics
      2. Edit paths
      3. Draw pixel-perfect art
      4. Draw with the Pen, Curvature, or Pencil tool
      5. Draw simple lines and shapes
      6. Draw rectangular and polar grids
      7. Draw and edit flares
      8. Image Trace
      9. Simplify a path
      10. Symbolism tools and symbol sets
      11. Adjust path segments
      12. Design a flower in 5 easy steps
      13. Create and edit a perspective grid
      14. Draw and modify objects on a perspective grid
      15. Use objects as symbols for repeat use
      16. Draw pixel-aligned paths for web workflows
      17. Measure and plot dimensions
    2. 3D objects and materials
      1. About 3D effects in Illustrator
      2. Create 3D graphics
      3. Map artwork over 3D objects
      4. Create 3D Text
      5. Create 3D objects
    3. Color
      1. About color
      2. Select colors
      3. Use and create swatches
      4. Adjust colors
      5. Use the Adobe Color Themes panel
      6. Color groups (harmonies)
      7. Color Themes panel
      8. Recolor your artwork
    4. Painting
      1. About painting
      2. Paint with fills and strokes
      3. Live Paint groups
      4. Gradients
      5. Brushes
      6. Transparency and blending modes
      7. Apply stroke on an object
      8. Create and edit patterns
      9. Meshes
      10. Patterns
    5. Select and arrange objects
      1. Select objects
      2. Layers
      3. Group and expand objects
      4. Move, align, and distribute objects
      5. Stack objects    
      6. Lock, hide, and delete objects
      7. Copy and duplicate objects
      8. Rotate and reflect objects
      9. Intertwine objects
      10. Create realistic art mockups
    6. Reshape objects
      1. Crop images
      2. Transform objects
      3. Combine objects
      4. Cut, divide, and trim objects
      5. Puppet Warp
      6. Scale, shear, and distort objects
      7. Blend objects
      8. Reshape using envelopes
      9. Reshape objects with effects
      10. Build new shapes with Shaper and Shape Builder tools
      11. Work with Live Corners
      12. Enhanced reshape workflows with touch support
      13. Edit clipping masks
      14. Live shapes
      15. Create shapes using the Shape Builder tool
      16. Global editing
    7. Type
      1. Add text and work with type objects
      2. Create bulleted and numbered lists
      3. Manage text area
      4. Fonts and typography
      5. Convert text within images into editable text
      6. Add basic formatting to text
      7. Add advanced formatting to text
      8. Import and export text
      9. Format paragraphs
      10. Special characters
      11. Create type on a path
      12. Character and paragraph styles
      13. Tabs
      14. Find missing fonts (Typekit workflow)
      15. Arabic and Hebrew type
      16. Fonts | FAQ and troubleshooting tips
      17. Create 3D text effect
      18. Creative typography designs
      19. Scale and rotate type
      20. Line and character spacing
      21. Hyphenation and line breaks
      22. Spelling and language dictionaries
      23. Format Asian characters
      24. Composers for Asian scripts
      25. Create text designs with blend objects
      26. Create a text poster using Image Trace
    8. Create special effects
      1. Work with effects
      2. Graphic styles
      3. Appearance attributes
      4. Create sketches and mosaics
      5. Drop shadows, glows, and feathering
      6. Summary of effects
    9. Web graphics
      1. Best practices for creating web graphics
      2. Graphs
      3. SVG
      4. Slices and image maps
  7. Import, export, and save
    1. Import
      1. Place multiple files
      2. Manage linked and embedded files
      3. Links information
      4. Unembed images
      5. Import artwork from Photoshop
      6. Import bitmap images
      7. Import Adobe PDF files
      8. Import EPS, DCS, and AutoCAD files
    2. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator 
      1. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator
    3. Save
      1. Save artwork
    4. Export
      1. Use Illustrator artwork in Photoshop
      2. Export artwork
      3. Collect assets and export in batches
      4. Package files
      5. Create Adobe PDF files
      6. Extract CSS | Illustrator CC
      7. Adobe PDF options
      8. Document info panel
  8. Printing
    1. Prepare for printing
      1. Set up documents for printing
      2. Change the page size and orientation
      3. Specify crop marks for trimming or aligning
      4. Get started with large canvas
    2. Printing
      1. Overprint
      2. Print with color management
      3. PostScript printing
      4. Print presets
      5. Printer's marks and bleeds
      6. Print and save transparent artwork
      7. Trapping
      8. Print color separations
      9. Print gradients, meshes, and color blends
      10. White Overprint
  9. Automate tasks
    1. Data merge using the Variables panel
    2. Automation with scripts
    3. Automation with actions
  10. Troubleshooting 
    1. Known issues
    2. Crash issues
    3. Recover files after crash
    4. File issues
    5. Supported file formats
    6. GPU device driver issues
    7. Wacom device issues
    8. DLL file issues
    9. Memory issues
    10. Preferences file issues
    11. Font issues
    12. Printer issues
    13. Share crash report with Adobe
    14. Improve Illustrator performance

You create and manipulate your documents and files using various elements, such as panels, bars, and windows. Any arrangement of these elements is called a workspace. (The workspaces of the different applications in Creative Cloud look similar so that you can move between the applications easily.) You can adapt Illustrator to the way you work by selecting from several preset workspaces or by creating one of your own.

Home screen

When you launch Illustrator, the Home screen appears, which includes the following contents:

  • A wide range of tutorials to help you quickly learn and understand the concept, workflow, tips, and tricks 
  • Popular presets to get you started with the new documents quickly
  • Recent documents
  • What's new in Illustrator

The contents of the Home screen are tailored based on your familiarity with Illustrator and your Creative Cloud membership plan. 

Home screen interface

The Home screen shows the following tabs and buttons on the left:

  • Home: Click this tab to open the Home screen.
  • Learn: Click this tab to open a list of basic and advanced tutorials on Illustrator to get started with the application. 
  • Create New: Click this button to create a new document. You can create a document by selecting one of the numerous templates and presets available in Illustrator. For more information, see Create documents.
  • Open: Click this button to open an existing document in Illustrator. 

In addition, you can use the following icons to navigate between the document and the Home screen:

  • Home: Opens the Home screen from the document.
  • Back:  Opens the document from the Home screen.
The Home button
The Home button

Back button
The Back button (arrow)

Disable the Home screen when no document is open

  1. Select Preferences > General.

  2. Deselect Show The Home Screen When No Documents Are Open.


You can use the keyboard shortcuts to open files (Ctrl/Cmd + O) or start new documents (Ctrl/Cmd + N).

Application header

Application header with enhanced options

When you create a new document in Illustrator, you can view the application header with the following options:

  • Share document: You can now quickly invite people to your document by clicking this icon. Save the document first as a cloud document before you invite. 
  • Search and discover: Along with the existing search options, you can now see a discover panel. The discover panel gives you recommendations based on your skills and your work. These recommendations include tips and tutorials on how to get multi-step workflows done faster. 
  • Arrange document: Click this icon to arrange all your open documents in grids and tiles formats. 
  • Switch workspace: Click this icon to view different types of workspace options. Refer to the Workspace overview below for more information. 

Workspace overview

Illustrator provides you ten different workspaces including the Touch workspace. The default workspace is Essentials.


  • The Application frame groups all the workspace elements in a single, integrated window that lets you treat the application as a single unit. When you move or resize the Application frame or any of its elements, all the elements within it respond to each other so none overlap. Panels don’t disappear when you switch applications or when you accidentally click out of the application. If you work with two or more applications, you can position each application side by side on the screen or on multiple monitors. If you are using a Mac and prefer the traditional, free-form user interface, you can turn off the Application frame. Select Window > Application Frame to toggle it on or off.
  • The Application bar across the top contains a workspace switcher, menus (Windows only), and other application controls. On Mac, the application bar is available only when Application frame is off. You can toggle it on or off using the Window menu.
  • The toolbar contains tools for creating and editing images, artwork, page elements, and so on. Related tools are grouped.
  • The Control panel displays options for the currently selected object.
  • The Document window displays the file you’re working on. Document windows can be tabbed and, in certain cases, grouped and docked.
  • Panels help you monitor and modify your work. Panels can be grouped, stacked, or docked.

Properties panel

The Properties panel in Illustrator lets you view settings and controls in the context of your current task or workflow. This new panel has been designed with ease of use in mind, ensuring that you have access to the right controls right when you need them.

The Properties panel is available by default in the Essentials workspaces. You can also select Window > Properties to view it.

For details, see Properties panel.

Manage windows and panels

Hide or show all panels

  • To hide or show all panels, including the toolbar and Control panel, press Tab.

  • To hide or show all panels except the toolbar and Control panel, press Shift+Tab.

    Tip: You can temporarily display hidden panels if Auto-Show Hidden Panels is selected in Interface preferences. It’s always on in Illustrator. Move the pointer to the edge of the application window (Windows®) or to the edge of the monitor (Mac OS®) and hover over the strip that appears.

Display panel options

  1. Click the panel menu icon in the upper-right corner of the panel.

    Tip: You can open a panel menu even when the panel is minimized.

Adjust panel brightness

  1. In User Interface preferences, you can customize the interface to sport one of the four available color options designed for optimal user experience: DarkMedium DarkMedium Light, and Light.


    The canvas color in Illustrator is matched to the user interface brightness by default. Choose Preferences > User Interface > Canvas Color > White to change the canvas color to white. 

Enter values in panels and dialog boxes

You enter values using the same methods in all panels and dialog boxes. You can also perform simple math in any box that accepts numeric values. For example, if you want to move a selected object 3 units to the right using the current measurement units, you don’t have to work out the new horizontal position—simply type +3 after the current value in the Transform panel.


Press Cmd/ Ctrl key while clicking the arrow buttons to increase or decrease the numerical values in fractions. For example, when you press Cmd/ Ctrl key while clicking Arrow Up to increase the Stroke Weight, the value increases from 1 point to 1.1 point. 

Calculate values in a panel or dialog box

  1. In a text box that accepts numerical values, do one of the following:
    • To replace the entire current value with a mathematical expression, select the entire current value.

    • To use the current value as part of a mathematical expression, click before or after the current value.

  2. Type a simple mathematical expression using a single mathematical operator, such as + (plus), - (minus), x (multiplication), / (division), or % (percent).

    For example, 0p0 + 3 or 5mm + 4. Similarly, 3cm * 50% equals 3 centimeters multiplied by 50%, or 1.50 cm, and 50pt + 25% equals 50 points plus 25% of 50 points, or 62.5 points.

  3. Press Enter or Return to apply the calculation.

Control panel overview

The Control panel offers quick access to options related to the objects you select. By default, the Control panel is docked at the top of the workspace.

Options displayed in the Control panel vary depending on the type of object or tool you select. For example, when you select a text object, the Control panel displays text-formatting options in addition to options for changing the color, placement, and dimensions of the object. When a selection tool is active, you can access Document Setup and Preferences from the Control panel.

Control panel
Control panel

A. Hidden options B. Link to another panel C. Panel menu 

When text in the Control panel is blue and underlined, you can click the text to display a related panel or dialog box. For example, click the word Stroke to display the Stroke panel.

Change the kinds of controls that appear in the Control panel

  1. Select or deselect options in the Control panel menu.

Open and close a panel or dialog box from the Control panel

  1. Click a blue underlined word to open its associated panel or dialog box.
  2. Click anywhere outside the panel or dialog box to close it.

Dock the Control panel at the bottom of the workspace

  1. Choose Dock To Bottom from the Control panel menu.

Convert the Control panel to a floating panel

  1. Drag the gripper bar (located on the left edge of the panel) away from its current position.

    To redock the Control panel, drag the gripper bar to the top or bottom of the application window (Windows) or screen (Mac OS).

Contextual Task Bar

The Contextual Task Bar is a floating bar that provides the most relevant next actions for the object you select, in the object's vicinity. The Contextual Task Bar ensures that your focus remains on the object you're working on.

You can move the Contextual Task Bar around to where you want it to be. You can also reset its position, pin it, or hide it by selecting More options  . To enable it again after hiding it, navigate to Window > Contextual Task BarLearn more about the Contextual Task Bar.


The Contextual Task Bar is currently available only for limited object types.

Contextual Task Bar for the Type object
Use the Contextual Task Bar to access some of the most frequent next actions.

Change screen modes

You can change the visibility of the illustration window and menu bar using the mode options at the bottom of the toolbar. To access panels when in Full Screen Mode, position the cursor at the left or right edge of the screen and the panels will pop up. If you’ve moved them from their default locations, you can access them from the Window menu.

You can choose one of the following modes:

  • Presentation Mode displays artwork as a presentation, with hidden application menu, panels, guides, and frame edges.
  • Normal Screen Mode  displays artwork in a standard window, with a menu bar at the top and scroll bars on the sides.

  • Full Screen Mode With Menu Bar  displays artwork in a full-screen window, with a menu bar at the top and scroll bars.

  • Full Screen Mode  displays artwork in a full-screen window, with no title bar or menu bar.

Use F key to toggle between the screen modes.

Using the status bar

The status bar appears at the lower-left edge of the illustration window. It displays any of the following:

  • current zoom level

  • current tool in use

  • current artboard in use

  • navigation controls for multiple artboards

Search for Help topics and assets from Adobe Help and Adobe Stock directly from within the Illustrator workspace. Select one of the following options from the drop-down menu of the search box on the right side of the Application bar:

  • Adobe Stock
  • Adobe Help

Search for Adobe Stock assets

You can search for high-quality, curated, royalty-free stock illustrations and vector graphics from for all your creative projects from right within Illustrator.

  1. In the search box in the upper-right corner of the workspace, enter the name of the item that you want to find.

  2. Press Enter.


You can also search for stock asset by selecting File > Search Adobe Stock.

All assets available from Adobe Stock for a particular search query appear in a separate browser window.

Search Adobe Help

Use the Search For Help box to search for Help topics and online content. If you have an active Internet connection, you can access all content on the Community Help website. If you search for Help without an active Internet connection, search results are limited to Help content that is included with Illustrator.

  1. In the search box, type the name of the item on which you want to search (such as a feature, application, or tool).

  2. Press Enter.

All topics available from the Community Help center appear in a separate browser window.

You can directly access the content stored in AEM Assets without the need to log in to AEM Assets. Adobe Asset Link is installed as an extension in the Illustrator application. Your IT admin has to configure and deploy the panel. Once installed and configured, you can do the following to open the panel:

  • Choose Windows > Extensions > Adobe Asset Link.

For easy access, you can configure your workspace to include the Adobe Asset Link panel. For more information, see the following links:

Use Illustrator with the Touch Bar on MacBook Pro

Illustrator supports Touch Bar, the multitouch display at the top of the new MacBook Pro keyboard. Using the Touch Bar, you can access Illustrator features and controls right in the context of your current task on the main screen. The Touch Bar supports familiar gestures, such as tap, drag, and slide. For details, see Use the Touch Bar with Illustrator.

Use Illustrator with Microsoft Dial

Illustrator supports the new Microsoft Dial on Windows 10 Anniversary edition and later or directly on the SurfaceStudio. You can use Dial to adjust settings and parameters for your Illustrator documents.

While using Illustrator, long press the Dial to access the following options:

  • Undo/ Redo
  • Arrange
  • Zoom
  • Artboard Navigation
  • Tools, including Rotate, Scale, Brush, Blob Brush, and Eraser.

For details, see Microsoft Dial support in Illustrator.


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Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online