Easily Recover Damaged, Unsaved, or Lost Illustrator Files (2024, 2023, CC, CS6)

Connie Wisley
March 05, 2024 Preview 21.3K Preview 1
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Designers or artists may spend several hours even days in Adobe Illustrator to create a project. So, whenever you get the message “Illustrator could only partially read this file”, leave an AI file unsaved after crash or lose it for unknown reasons, it would cause significant disruptions for your work. This is totally a disaster!

Enabling AutoSave in Adobe Illustrator may not always restore your AI file, here is more about illustrator file recovery: restoring damaged, crashed, unsaved, and deleted AI files on Mac & Windows, in the latest version of Illustrator, even earlier CC, CS6, CS5 versions.


Best Way for Illustrator File Recovery on Windows and Mac

We may need to find and recover an Adobe Illustrator that is deleted, lost, missing, unsaved or formatted, here is the all-in-one solution to recover Illustrator files that is gone under difference situations: using Cisdem Data Recovery.

Cisdem Data Recovery for Windows and Mac is a robust and reliable program to recover 1000+ types of files. It supports recovering photos (vector graphics, common images, etc.), videos, audios, documents, archives and so on, regardless that the files are saved on internal or external hard dive or other storage devices. Users are allowed to preview found files before recovery. The data recovery process is extremely easy and fast, you don’t have to know much more about data recovery, Cisdem basically does all the jobs.

Main Features of Cisdem Data Recovery

  • Recover lost, formatted, disappeared, unsaved, recently deleted and permanently deleted files
  • Recover files from internal & external hard drive, USB, SD Card, etc.
  • Support data recovery on 1000+ types of files (audio, video, photo, docs, archive, etc.)
  • Repair videos in mp4, mov, mkv, avi and so on
  • Automatically fix corrupted images and MS office documents
  • Recover unsaved MS Office documents
  • Preview files before recovery, including video, photo, PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Keynote, Pages, etc.
  • Recover files to local drive or to cloud

How to Recover AI Files on Windows and Mac

  1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery to your Windows or Mac.
    Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7 Free Download macOS 10.9 or later
  2. Go to PC Recovery, select the drive where you deleted or lost the AI files and click Scan. If you want to recover AI files from SD Card, you should choose SD Card recovery mode.recover lost ai mac01
  3. During or after the scanning, you can go to Type > Pictures > AI folder, check AI files in the folder. Also, you can use the filter tool to quickly locate AI files.recover lost ai mac02
  4. Select the illustrator files that you want to recover, then click Recover button to restore the AI files to your device.recover lost ai file cisdem03

You can also check the video for steps, starting from 02:02.


Illustrator Could Only Partially Read This File? How to Recover Damaged Illustrator File?

You may get a reminder "Illustrator could partially read this file. We recovered as much of the file as possible, but some content might be missing. Open to view the recovered file." as follows, or cannot open an illustrator file at all. Then your AI file may get corrupted. In this section, we will discuss about the reason why your AI files get damaged and how to repair a damaged Illustrator file.

ai partially read


Why Illustrator Could Only Partially Read This File?

A damaged AI file with partially missing contents can be caused by different reasons, they are largely about issues on the software, device and the file itself.  

  • The file is too large or complex and Illustrator cannot find a resource to open the entire file
  • Bugs in the software
  • Full file server
  • Special character in the name of the layer of an object that is created in another program
  • Illustrator crash when you are working on the file
  • Update to the latest Illustrator recently but it has compatibility issues with your device
  • There are linked images in the file but Illustrator cannot find them
  • Defective hard drive that installs Illustrator and stores AI files


Quick Fixes for "Illustrator Could Partially read this file"

It is never easy to repair an illustrator file, but before going to the advanced methods to repair a damaged AI file in the follow part, there are some quick fixes for the issue "Illustrator Could Partially read this file".

  • Try a different version of the Illustrator program: downgrade to an older one or upgrade to a newer one
  • Rename the file
  • Remove linked images or unnecessary objects in the file
  • Repair the disk that stores the AI file with built-in repair utility
  • Go back to the operating system version that you didn’t have such an issue if you recently updated


How to Recover Damaged Illustrator File When Partially Read or Cannot Open?

If those quick fixes cannot solve partially-reading files or cannot-open illustrations, there are 3 advanced methods to repair your corrupted AI files.

#1 Recover Partially Read AI Files by Changing Scratch Disk Settings

Illustrator file being complex or large is one of the commonest reasons why results in "Illustrator could only partially read this file". Users are recommended to placing a second scratch disk as the resources on the memory that can be searched to open a complex illustration file.

  1. Open Illustrator, but don’t open the corrupted AI file.
  2. Go to Edit > Preference > Plug-ins & Scratch Disks.
  3. Change the Primary and Secondary disk to C:\ or D:\ and click OK.illustrator settings
  4. Restart your PC, then launch the program and open your AI file to see if it has been fixed.


#2 Repair Illustrator Files with Content Recovery Tool

If your Illustrator could only partially read an AI file, you can use Illustrator’s content recovery mode to delete the corrupt data first, then repair the document and open normally.

  1. Quit Illustrator.
  2. Locate the AI preferences file:
    macOS: /Users/<user name>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator <current version> Settings/en_US/Adobe Illustrator Prefs.
    Windows: C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator <current version> Settings\en_US\x64\Adobe Illustrator Prefs.
  3. Open the preferences file with defaulted tools on your system, change the value of enableContentRecovery from 0 to 1 as following:recover ai in adobe01
  4. Save the preferences file and don’t change its filename or extension.
  5. Open Illustrator and go to File > Open.repair ai in adobe 02
  6. Select the file that you want to repair, do not open it, then press Cmd+Opt+Shift on Mac or Ctrl+Alt+Shift on Windows to open.
  7. A blank document will be opened, close it without saving. In the folder where your corrupted AI is stored, find the duplicate file with _ symbol in its file name, it is the repaired version and you can open and edit now.


#3 Recover Corrupted AI Files Online Free

In the past, we had to pay dearly to a data recovery service, but today, as the remote work and use of cloud services increase, more and more companies or individual developers are providing online tools with an affordable price, including those ones that repair corrupted illustrator files. Here for users in demand, we’ve picked the best---illustrator.repair, it is for online use, but not for free, exclusively designed to repair illustrator files, you have to pay to get the repaired ai files.

  1. Visit https://www.illustrator.repair.
  2. Click SELECT FILE to upload the Illustrator file.
  3. Enter your email address to get the repaired file and click NEXT STEP.repair ai online 01
  4. Once the file is repaired, preview and then pay to get the repaired Illustrator file.repair ai online 02


How to Recover Unsaved Illustrator Files after Crash (2024, 2023, CC,CS6)

An unsaved Illustrator file may be caused by system crash or irresponsive Adobe Illustrator program. Whenever we left an Adobe Illustrator unsaved, we should never give up restoring them. There are 5 ways to recover an unsaved AI file, no matter your AI files are created in latest Illustrator 2024/2023, in CC, CS6 or earlier versions. And we should always start from its AutoSave location.

#1 Recover Unsaved Illustrator Files after Crash by Restart App

Actually, if you have enabled AutoSave in Illustrator, when the program quit unexpectedly, the next time you restart the app, it will restore the ai file automatically for you. Now, go to Edit > Preferences > General > File Handling &Clipboard, check if the check box before "Automatically Save Recovery Date Every:" is selected. 

ai autosave new interface

If yes, we can restart the app to restore unsaved AI files as follows:

  1. Restart Adobe Illustrator program.
  2. In the AutoSave prompt box, click OK to open unsaved AI files again in Adobe Illustrator.autosave launch
  3. Go to File > Save or Save As to recover your unsaved AI files to preferred path. There may be some latest edits won’t be kept in the recovered AI file, but still worth a try.save ai files


#2 Recover Unsaved AI Files from AutoSave after Crash

We create and edit files everyday in different file processors, those files cost us time & effort and they are valuable to us. Most of the file processor developers know this too and this is the reason why there is always an AutoSave or AutoRecover feature added to those programs, Adobe Illustrator is not an exception. We can utilize AI AutoSave feature to recover an unsaved AI file.

If you cannot restore an unsaved AI files by restarting the app in the 1st method, we will need to manually find and restore the file.

Where is the Illustrator Recovered Files’ Location on Mac or Windows?

For Windows Users:

C:\>\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator <version number> Settings\en_US*\x64\Adobe Illustrator Prefs/\DataRecovery

For Mac Users:

< your username>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator <version number> Settings/en_US*/Adobe Illustrator Prefs/ DataRecovery

Steps to Recover Unsaved AI Files with AutoSave after Crash

  1. Go to the illustrator files auto save location as we listed above on your Windows or Mac.
  2. Find and open the auto saved AI file with Adobe Illustrator, edit or save the file directly.autosave folder


#3 Recover Unsaved AI Files from Temporary Folder

When we are creating or processing a file, a temporary file will be generated to store data before a task is completed, it works a backup in case that a file is left unsaved. To recover unsaved AI files, we can also check our temporary folder, the recovery rate is low, but we don’t have another option.

Steps to Recover Unsaved AI Files after Crash from TEMP Folder on Windows

  1. Go to C:\Users\*Your User Name*\AppData\Local\Temp. Or press Windows+R and enter %temp% to open the temporary folder.restore temp win01
  2. Find the unsaved AI file.restore temp win02
  3. Open the AI file with Adobe Illustrator, go to File > Save or Save as to recover.


Steps to Recover Unsaved AI Files after Crash from TEMP Folder on Mac

  1. Go to Finder > Application > Terminal, run this command line tool on your mac.
  2. Enter “open $TMPDIR” and press “Enter”.recover from temp mac
  3. Then find and open the unsaved AI file in TEMP folder.restore temp mac02
  4. Open and save the AI file with Adobe Illustrator.


#4 Recover from the Previous Version of A Cloud AI File

If you have logged in Adobe Creative Cloud, this service will store all the versions of your Adobe Illustrator files. In the case that Illustrator has crashed and your file was not saved, you can go to your cloud assets and restore the unsaved AI files from a latest version.

  1. Go to https://assets.adobe.com/cloud-documents.
  2. Choose Files > Cloud documents, select the AI file.
  3. Click the Timeline icon to view all the versions.
  4. Select the one you want to recover from, and choose Revert to this version.restore ai adobe
  5. Open the file and edit in Adobe Illustrator as needed, then save it to your local drive.


#5 Contact Adobe Illustrator Support

If you fail to recover unsaved AI files with above 2 methods, stop launching and writing to your Adobe Illustrator program, get help from Adobe Illustrator staff right now.

You can either ask for help in the Adobe Community or just contact Adobe support, this may take time, but there are many cases that successfully solved by contacting Adobe support.


How to Recover Lost or Deleted AI Files?

But what if you accidentally deleted or lost AI files on Mac or Windows? That would be quite easier to recover as long as you have a backup of the AI file, but you should check the Trash bin first.

When you delete an Illustrator file on your Windows PC or Mac, it will be moved to the Trash bin, to restore it, all that you need to do is to select and put back.

On Mac:

  1. Open Trash bin app.
  2. Select the deleted AI files and right click Put back.restore ai mac trash

On Windows:

  1. Open Recycle bin app.
  2. Select the lost AI files, right click Restore.recover deleted ai win

If you have backed up the Adobe Illustrator files to an external storage drive using File History on Windows, or Time Machine on Mac, you can restore them easily by connecting the back up drive to your device. If you don’t have any backup, install and try Cisdem Data Recovery to recover the files.



No one want their files ended with damaged, unsaved, deleted or lost, but it cannot be avoided. Whenever we run into the issue of AI file loss, we should never give up. Have a try on our recommended solutions as above, it may help. Or you can share your solutions in the comments section if we didn't mention in this guide.

Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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  • Jeanne Fricke

    Your first method is a duckin life saver. Thought that i lost whole day of hard work.... Phew.

    23 days ago commonReply

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