About preferences

Preferences are options regarding how you want Illustrator to work, including those for display, tools, ruler units, and exporting information. Your preferences are saved in a file called AIPrefs (Windows) or Adobe Illustrator Prefs (Mac OS), which is launched each time you start Illustrator.

Open a preferences dialog box

  1. Do one of the following:

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

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

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

  2. To switch to a different preference set, do one of the following:

    • Select an option from the menu at the upper-left of the Preferences dialog box.

    • Click Next to display the next options, or click Prev to display the previous options.

Reset all preferences to default settings

Resetting preferences can be helpful if you are having problems with the application.

  • Do one of the following:

    • Press and hold Alt+Control+Shift (Windows) or Option+Command+Shift (Mac OS) as you start Illustrator. Your current settings are deleted.

    • Remove or rename the AIPrefs file (Windows) or Adobe Illustrator Prefs file (Mac OS). New preferences files are created the next time you start Illustrator.

      note: It is safe to remove the entire Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings folder. This folder contains various preferences that can be regenerated.

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.

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


The folder name may vary depending on the language version you have installed.

Mac OS X

<startup drive>/Users/<username>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings/en_US*/Adobe Illustrator Prefs

Windows XP

<startup drive>\ Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings\en_US*\AIPrefs

Windows Vista or Windows 7

<startup drive>\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings\en_US*\AIPrefs.


In Windows XP, the Application Data folder is hidden by default. The same is true for the AppData folder in Windows Vista and Windows 7. To make this folder visible, open Folder Options in Control Panel and click the View tab. In the Advanced Settings pane, select theShow 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 (Mac OS).

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 Systems 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 of Adobe to create features that are accessible from within Adobe Illustrator. If you are interested in creating plug-in modules compatible with Adobe Illustrator, see the Adobe Systems U.S. website at www.adobe.com.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License  Twitter™ and Facebook posts are not covered under the terms of Creative Commons.

Legal Notices   |   Online Privacy Policy