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5 Tips To Speed Up Illustrator

If you design websites, and your Adobe Illustrator is running like an old dog, wheezing when you try to get it to ‘fetch’, smelling a little off, and piddling on the carpet, then this might help.

I’ve had a few performance issues myself over the years (with my PC, with my PC…) and the following has helped me.  But let’s be realistic – I’m running a Windows 7 x64, quad-core PC with 6Gb Ram and 2.5 Tb of drive space Raided up.  Illustrator CS4 still takes 15 seconds to boot.  Read how I sped it up a little.

  1. Check your hardware – if you’re running an old 486 with 500 Mb of hard drive, then it’s just a sit and wait (forever) game!  Illustrator CS4 has minimum requirements of 2Ghz Processor, 1Gb recommended Ram, and 2Gb drive space for installation alone.  You might get away with less, but it’s more likely to limp like a retired old Lassie with it’s teeth missing.  Read more on the Adobe site for Illustrator CS4 System Requirements.
  2. Scratch disk – yes, you can set this up similar to Photoshop, if you have 2 drives, and it helps with speed.  Go Edit > Preferences > Plug-ins & Scratch Disks.  Set your Secondary to C:\ (or wherever you have Illustrator installed) and your Primary to your ‘spare’ hard drive.
  3. Fonts – Now, I’m sure plenty of us have done it.  Trying to find a nice new font to use on a project, and we accidentally download 10,000 free fonts for Illustrator!  On my machine, Illustrator went from 15 seconds to about 5 minutes on boot.  You can revert your fonts to the standard, Windows-installed fonts.  Caution is required here though.  First I created a ‘Font_Backup’ directory on C:\, and copied all my fonts over from C:\Windows\Fonts.Then I went through C:\Windows\Fonts and selected (Ctrl & click for multiple selection) all the fonts I didn’t want, and hit delete.  If you make sure to do the backup copy first, you know you can get them back if you need them.  If you open Illustrator for one of your projects, and it complains about a font being missing, you know to got to C:\Font_Backup (or wherever you chose to copy them to) and copy the font back to the Windows Font folder.
  4. Display – if you have your Display performance cranked up, and Illustrator’s limping, then you can crank it down in Edit > Preferences > Units & Display Performance.  Look for the ‘Hand Tool’ option, and slide it over towards ‘Faster Updates’ to improve performance when you’re dragging artwork around your workspace.
  5. Thumbnails – in the Layer palette, thumbnails are used to make identifying Layers easier.  To increase performance, go to the flyout menu at the top right of your Layers Palette, and select Panel Options.  Then de-select Thumbnails for Layers, Groups or Objects as you see fit.

Any other comments or tricks about improving the performance of Illustrator are welcome here, so if you have your own, feel free to comment.

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