When you launch Adobe Illustrator, the necessary plug-ins, fonts, drivers, and other third-party elements that are required to function properly are loaded. In the past, when Illustrator encountered an error, for example – a damaged font or an incompatible plug-in, the application would crash and it was difficult to diagnose the cause of the problem.

Safe Mode is a new feature that:

  • Assists you in diagnosing and troubleshooting the problem-area, thus providing you with a way to fix any issues.
  • Determines the cause of a crash, prevents the particular file from loading with Illustrator, and provides a listing of the problem-causing elements when Illustrator restarts.
  • Enables Illustrator to start despite encountering fatal, crash-inducing fonts, plug-ins, or more.

While running in Safe Mode, Illustrator functions normally, except that the disabled items will not be available for use within Illustrator. For example, if a font has been found to be damaged, Illustrator will no longer display that font as an available option to apply to text elements.

Safe Mode workflow

When you have crash-inducing elements in your Illustrator environment:

Illustrator Safe Mode workflow
Illustrator Safe Mode workflow

Using Safe Mode


This procedure assumes, at Step 1, that Illustrator has been functioning normally until now.  

  1. Start Illustrator. If Illustrator detects a file that is corrupt or causes errors, the application exits.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Windows: Re-launch Illustrator.
    • Mac: Choose Reopen.
    Sample of an error on a Mac computer
    Sample of an error on a Mac computer

  3. As Illustrator restarts, you can:

    • Choose Run Diagnostics to switch Illustrator to Safe Mode, to help with troubleshooting the error.
    • Choose Launch Illustrator to try to start Illustrator normally again.
    Click the Run Diagnostics button to enter Safe Mode
    Click Run Diagnostics to enter Safe Mode

  4. (This step may repeat multiple times) Illustrator restarts. If an error is found, the cause of the error (font, driver, plug-in) is identified and disabled from obstructing Illustrator launch.

    Illustrator startup screen during Safe Mode
    The Illustrator startup screen, during Safe Mode, indicates progress of diagnostic tests


    This step is repeated for each crash-inducing file that Illustrator finds. Do not interrupt diagnostic tests.

  5. When all error-causing files have been isolated by the diagnostic steps and noted, Illustrator launches in Safe Mode.

  6. When Illustrator starts, the Safe Mode dialog displays a list of all the plug-ins, fonts, or drivers that are causing Illustrator to crash. Choose from Step 7 or Step 8.

    Safe Mode dialog to mark fixed issues
    The Safe Mode dialog to mark fixed issues

  7. (Option 1 of 2) To fix errors:

    1. Click a row in the list.

    2. Check the Troubleshooting Tips area for information.

      Diagnostic information in the Troubleshooting Tips area
      Check the Troubleshooting Tips area for diagnostic information

    3. Follow the tips provided and replace a font, or update a plug-in, or uninstall error-causing items, as preferred.

    4. If you believe the error has been fixed, select the checkbox available for each row.

    5. Click Enable on Re-launch, save your work, and restart Illustrator.

  8. (Option 2 of 2). To continue in Safe Mode: In the Safe Mode dialog (Step 6), click Close to continue running in Safe Mode. All error-causing files will continue to be disabled.


At any point in time, click the Safe Mode link in the App Bar to see the Safe Mode dialog. Or, you can click Help > Safe Mode, to use the Safe Mode dialog.

Open the Safe Mode dialog to troubleshoot errors
Open the Safe Mode dialog to troubleshoot errors