It can happen to anyone using Illustrator: One day it starts behaving oddly, sluggish, freezing or in worst case it doesn’t launch at all.

As I follow the forums of Adobe and also have a search going on in Twitter for Illustrator OR InDesign I see complaints about this almost every day.

The reasons for this behavior can be many and if you are having it you should check out Adobe’s TechNote for CS3-4 or CS-CS2

The TechNotes describe most of the things you can to concerning Illustrator. But this is vast and time consuming. But then again, you probably don’t have much else to do than to try to fix your Illustrator if it’s broken anyway.

To my experience Illustrator, almost any version is a pretty stable beast. The things that happen to make it go wrong are usually because the user has done something wrong. Of course by mistake.

One of the most common reason why Illustrator is not happy anymore is because he is trying to digest a bad font you have recently installed. I don’t blame you if you don’t remember which one it was. It doesn’t have to be a font you are actually using in your Illustrator project but it is open on the computer and is somewhere in Illustrator’s font menu. This is why you will need to try to isolate the font. The fastest way to do this is by using your font manager to close all the fonts it can close.

The problem here is that I have a hard time persuading people to do this. All the carefully made type sets of favorite fonts or fonts that are in use for clients which people like to have open. People fear that they will vanish. Or maybe there are no custom sets, just randomly open fonts which would be difficult to chase after to open again. This is even worse. People just don’t want to do this. So, I’ll do it myself.

Then I am doing this kind of a fix for people I really don’t want to listen afterwards to the complaints about the missing fonts. So, here is what I do and you can probably do you own version if you are using a different font manager.

I am using Linotype FontExplorer Pro and the rest of the people I work are using FontExplorerX.

FontExplorer does auto activating as do most of the better font managers. That means what even if you delete font sets (a set of aliases/links to the fonts) the correct fonts will open in Illustrator when it calls for it even if you closed all your fonts to start with.

Secondly, if you don’t use or rarely use font sets but just have open various favorite fonts you can go to Activated fonts (a built in filter which shows all currently open fonts). Select All and make a New Set and drag all the fonts into that set. Use a name like: Status+Date and you will know that this was open the day you closed all your fonts.

You can later refer to this set to find your favorite fonts and reopen it if you want to. A great time to make a new favorite set.

I hope this persuades you to let go and close all your fonts when Illustrator is really acting up because this is fast, no risk and you don’t have to be a tech geek to do this. It is more than likely that you only have to do this to save the day. I hope this works for you. And remember that Illustrator (not so speak of the Office pack) opens and runs faster with few fonts open.

I can’t resist to put in a few screen shots from Twitter. You have to read it from bottom up. The story shows tweets from a designer who’s Illustrator has stopped working. I am not sure how far the story goes but he seems to have rebuilt this system software, reinstalled the Creative Suite and ran a number of tools on this mac. Almost everything the TechNotes tell you to do. I noticed his tweet at 11.19 I sent him a reply, telling him to close all his fonts (almost sure he would not). At 11.23 everything works again.




(The designer in the Twitter story is Graham Smith, imjustcreative whom I am very happy to be able to help out with this problem. If you use Twitter you should follow him for all kinds of font and design related links. Or check out his website )