Repair damaged Illustrator documents

Learn how you can repair a damaged or corrupt Illustrator document with minimal data loss, using the content recovery mode.

Are you unable to open your Illustrator document? Your document might have some corrupt data that is preventing it from getting opened. The content recovery mode in Illustrator lets you recover the document with minimal data loss, by deleting only corrupt data. Read on to learn how to repair and recover content in Illustrator.

Perform content recovery steps with care, and at your own risk. Create a backup of your Illustrator document before you proceed.

Enable content recovery mode

Before you can repair the document, you have to enable the content recovery mode. Perform the following steps to enable content recovery mode in your current version of Illustrator:

  1. Quit Illustrator.
  2.  Navigate to the Illustrator preferences file:

    macOS: /Users/<user name>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator <current version> Settings/en_US/Adobe Illustrator Prefs.

    Windows: C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator <current version> Settings\en_US\x64\Adobe Illustrator Prefs.

    If you can't find the Library folder on macOS, see Can't see user library files in macOS on how to unhide it.

  3. Open the preferences file in a plain text editor such as Text Edit (macOS) or Notepad (Windows). Look for enableContentRecovery in the following block of text:

    /aiFileFormat {
    /PDFCompatibility 1
    enableATEReadRecovery 0
    /enableContentRecovery 0
    /enableATEWriteRecovery 0
    /clipboardPSLevel 3
  4. Change the value of enableContentRecovery from 0 to 1:

    /enableContentRecovery 1

    If the /aiFileFormat section does not have the enableContentRecovery line, add the line.

  5. Save the preferences file without changing the filename or extension. 

Repair the document

Now that you have enabled the content recovery mode, perform the following steps to repair the damaged document and recover content:

  1. Open Illustrator and navigate to File > Open, or press Cmd+O on macOS, or Ctrl+on Windows. 

    Do not double-click the document, or open it from the Recent Files list, or drag it onto Illustrator.

  2. Select the document that you want to repair, but do not open it.

  3. Press and hold Cmd+Opt+Shift (on macOS) or Ctrl+Alt+Shift (on Windows), and select Open.

    A blank document opens.

  4. Close the blank document without saving it.

In the same folder that contains your document, look for its duplicate copy whose name starts with an underscore. For example, for the document, you see its copy named

The duplicate copy is the repaired version of your document that you can work on. To modify any text in the repaired document, you can also open the document in a text editor.

Related resources

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