Fix Illustrator crash and recover documents

Learn how to fix a crash issue in Illustrator, and how to protect and recover unsaved documents after a crash.

Does this sound familiar?

User problem

"I was working on a detailed artwork in Illustrator. Before I could get a chance to save my work, my system went in an unresponsive state and I had to restart it. Is there a way I can recover my unsaved work? I'm chasing a deadline, so this document is extremely important for me."

A quick check after crash

When Illustrator crashes unexpectedly or becomes unresponsive, you can troubleshoot some of the common issues yourself. Illustrator messaging system helps you determine the cause of the crash by providing a list of problem-causing items. 

Update Illustrator

Product version

Update Illustrator

Update to the latest version if the crash-causing issue is now fixed (see fixed issues), or you need to view files from a newer version.

Update Illustrator

System requirements


Ensure your computer meets minimum hardware and software requirements for Illustrator.

Update Illustrator

GPU drivers


Ensure you have the latest GPU card drivers. If performance drops, disable Preferences Performance GPU Performance.

Update Illustrator

Plug-in drivers


Ensure you have the latest drivers for third-party plug-ins. If crash persists, remove the plug-in and restart the app.

More crash-causing issues

  • Compatibility issue with Windows or macOS 
  • System memory issue
  • Preference file issue
  • Fonts issue
  • Printer or removable media issue
  • Virus in one of the open files
  • Interruption in network connectivity or power failure

Restart Illustrator to auto-recover files

Restart Illustrator

When Illustrator crashes, the rule of thumb is to restart the app. If the app doesn't respond, force quit and then restart it. On restarting Illustrator, app auto-recovery process gets initiated and opens up all the unsaved files with the Recovered suffix. 

file recovery

Save the recovered file using the File Save As option. This recovered file might undergo some data loss during the recovery process. See Recover files in Illustrator.

When you restart Adobe Illustrator, the necessary plug-ins, fonts, drivers, and other third-party elements are loaded. If the previous version crashed due to a damaged font or an incompatible plug-in, you can run Illustrator in safe mode to diagnose and repair the crash issue. See Safe mode.

Recover backup files

The auto-recovery feature of Illustrator autosaves a copy of your files at regular intervals. You can recover your files, which are not manually saved, from the following locations:

[Windows] C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings\en_US\x64\DataRecovery
[macOS] < your username>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings/en_US/Adobe Illustrator Prefs

The backup will help you recover unsaved document data when your Illustrator crashes or you accidentally delete your files or close Illustrator without saving the files.

For more details, see Protect your files from a crash.

7 Other methods to fix crash and recover files

Restart your computer

Restart your system

When the crash is due to an issue related to your system OS (Windows or macOS), restarting your computer resolves the crash issue in Illustrator.

If the crash is due to any incompatibility issues between the OS version and Illustrator, check out the latest documentation on the known issues about Illustrator and macOS or Illustrator and Windows.

Reset Illustrator preferences

Reset preferences

If Illustrator is crashing due to any preference-related issue, deleting or resetting preferences help resolve the issue in most of the cases. Before you delete or reset your preferences, you must save a copy of your existing preferences.

For more details about how to delete and reset preferences, see Troubleshoot preferences file issues.

Fix font issues


If the crash is due to a damaged font, you can try the following resolutions to identify and troubleshoot the issue:

  • Check for third-party font management utility in the plug-ins folder. 
  • Delete the system font cache.
  •  Identify and isolate the font causing the problem.

For more details, see Troubleshoot font issues.

Free up system memory

System memory

Illustrator might run into a crash or slow performance when your system does not have enough memory (RAM) because too many applications are open on your computer. 

  • Perform disk clean up to reduce the number of unnecessary files on your drive and ensure that your Windows temporary folder is empty.
  • Quit some applications to free up your system's memory or expand your system's RAM, if possible.

Set a default printer

Printer settings

Ensure that you always have a default printer installed and set up on your system. Your Illustrator may crash even if the printer is running out of ink and errors with network printer queues. Set up Adobe PDF as your default printer in case you don't have a printer available. 


  1. Choose macOS menu > System Preferences.
  2. Click Print & Fax.
  3. Choose the Printing tab.
  4. Select a printer that is connected to your computer locally (not via a network) or a document printer, such as Adobe PDF.


  1. Go to Start > Settings > Devices > Printers & Scanners.
  2. Select Adobe PDF and click Manage. If you do not find Adobe PDF, choose any printer for Microsoft, such as Microsoft XPS or send to OneNote.
  3. Click Set As Default to set Adobe PDF as your default printer. Ensure that the Let Windows Manage My Default Printer option is not selected. 
Set up a default printer

[Windows-specific] If you run into any printer issues on Windows, you can install the patch provided by Microsoft to resolve these issues. For more details, see Windows Support documentation.

Reconnect network or I/O device

Removable devices

Illustrator might crash when the file read or write process is interrupted due to the following:

  • Removable devices, such as USB stick, pen drive: Ensure that you safely remove the device after a read/write operation.
  • Wacom, Intuos, or any other tablet for freehand drawing: Ensure that you have the latest drivers for them.
  • Network or shared locations: Check your network connection and ensure that the shared location is accessible.

Run the antivirus scan

Antivirus scan

It's good to run the antivirus scan on your system to rule out the possibility of any virus causing Illustrator to run into a crash.

Diagnose and repair a crash using safe mode

Safe Mode

When you launch Adobe Illustrator, the necessary plug-ins, fonts, drivers, and other third-party elements that are required to function properly are loaded. If you run into a crash issue, you can run Illustrator in the safe mode, which helps you:

  • Diagnose and troubleshoot the problem and provide targeted solutions to fix the issues.
  • Determine the cause of a crash by preventing a particular file or a font from loading and lists all problem-causing elements when Illustrator restarts.
  • Start Illustrator despite encountering fatal, crash-inducing fonts, plug-ins, or more.
Safe Mode

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.

For detailed information, see Safe mode.

Autosave: Protect your files from a crash

By default, the autosave or auto-recovery feature is enabled for all Illustrator files. To manage data auto-recovery preferences:

  • Go to Preferences File Handling & Clipboard or press Ctrl/Cmd+K.

In the File Save Options section, do the following :

  • Automatically Save Recovery Data Every: Ensure that this check box is selected.
  • In the time interval drop-down next to this check box, select an appropriate time interval after which Illustrator should save a backup of your work. The backup files will not overwrite the original one.
Auto-recovery preference options

 Setting a time interval that's too short may interrupt your flow as you work, especially if you're working on extremely large or complex files. Also, setting a time interval that's too long may increase the potential for data loss in the event of a crash. Use your discretion to set a value that works best for you.

  • Folder Choose: Choose the location where you want to store the backup files. The default file recovery location is: 
    [Windows] C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings\en_US\x64\DataRecovery
    [macOS] < your username>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings/en_US/Adobe Illustrator Prefs

 When Illustrator crashes, look for the last saved files from these locations or the location you specify for auto-recovery.

  • Turn off Data Recovery for complex documents. By default, this check box is disabled. Illustrator may pause while backing up the large or complex files and slows down or interrupts your workflow.
  • Automatically Save Cloud Documents Every: By default, this check box is enabled. You can control the autosaving of cloud documents through this check box. Select a time interval after which the Illustrator cloud documents should be autosaved.

 If Illustrator crashes in between the specified recovery time intervals, you may notice some data loss. In addition, the auto-recovery preferences are automatically turned off if Illustrator crashes during the data recovery. Re-enable data recovery from the Preferences panel.

We're here to help!

We are here to help

If you're not able to fix the issue and need help, you can share the more information about your crash issue and crash log to help Adobe resolve the issue for you. For more details, see Share information about a crash.

You can also participate in Adobe Illustrator Community to find answers to some common questions or issues or share your ideas. We'd love to hear from you!

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