About preferences

In order for Illustrator to run as smoothly as possible, in a way that's customized for your particular workflow, you need to set up your Preferences to your liking.

Numerous program settings are stored in the Adobe Illustrator Prefs file, including general display options, file-saving options, performance options, type options, and options for plug‑ins and scratch disks. Most of these options are set in the Preferences dialog box. Preference settings are saved each time you quit the application.

Unexpected behavior may indicate damaged preferences. If you suspect damage to preferences, restore preferences to their default settings.

Open a preferences dialog box

  1. Do one of the following:

    • (Windows) Choose Edit > Preferences > [preference set name].

    • (macOS) Choose Illustrator > Preferences > [preference set name].

    • With nothing selected, click the Preferences button on the Control panel.

    Preferences button on the Control panel

  2. Select an option from the menu on the left of the Preferences dialog box to switch to a different preference set.

Setting Illustrator preferences

The Illustrator preferences file manages the commands and panel settings in Illustrator. When you open Illustrator, the positioning of panels and commands are stored in the Illustrator preferences file. If you want to restore the default settings for Illustrator or change the current settings, delete the Illustrator preferences. Illustrator automatically creates a preference file, when you restart Illustrator and save a file.

To manually restore preferences to default

  • Remove or rename the Adobe Illustrator Prefs file. When you restart Illustrator, a new preference file will be created in the original location.

To restore preferences quickly using a keyboard shortcut

  • Press and hold Alt+Control+Shift (Windows) or Option+Command+Shift (macOS) as you start Illustrator. You are prompted to delete the current settings. The new preferences files are created the next time you start Illustrator.

Depending on the operating system that you are using, the Illustrator preferences file is available at the following location:


<OSDisk>/Users/<username>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator <version number> Settings/en_US*/Adobe Illustrator Prefs


<OSDisk>\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator <version number> Settings\en_US*\x64\Adobe Illustrator Prefs


  • Replace  <version number> with the following values, depending on the version of Illustrator that you have installed on your system:
Illustrator CC release Version number
CC October 2017 22
CC 2017 21
CC 2015.3 20
CC 2015 19
CC 2014 18
CC 17
  • The folder name may vary depending on the language version you have installed.
  • In Windows, the Application Data folder is hidden by default. To make this folder visible, open Folder Options in Control Panel and click the View tab. In the Advanced Settings pane, select the Show Hidden Files and Folders or Show hidden files, folders, or drives option.
  • If you cannot locate the preferences file, use your operating system’s Find command, and search for AIPrefs (Windows) or Adobe Illustrator Prefs (macOS).

About plug-in modules

Plug-in modules are software programs that add features to Adobe Illustrator. A number of special effects plug-ins come with your program and are automatically installed in the Plug-ins folder inside the Illustrator folder.

You can install any commercial plug-in designed for use with Photoshop or Illustrator. To install an Adobe plug-in module, use the installer if one is provided. Otherwise, drag a copy of the module to the Plug-ins folder inside the Illustrator folder. Then restart Illustrator for the plug-in to take effect. To install a third-party plug-in module, follow the installation instructions that came with the plug-in module.


The open architecture of the Adobe Illustrator program allows developers outside Adobe to create features that are accessible from within Adobe Illustrator. If you are interested in creating plug-in modules compatible with Adobe Illustrator, visit www.adobe.com.

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