Easily Recover Unsaved, Lost or Damaged Adobe Illustrator Files on Mac and Windows

Connie Wisley
March 24, 2023 Preview 13.3K Preview 0
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Designers or artists may spend several hours even days in Adobe Illustrator to create a project. So, whenever an AI file left unsaved after crash or lost/damaged for unknown reasons, it would cause significant disruptions for your work. This is totally a disaster!

Enabling AutoSave in Adobe Illustrator may not unfortunately restore your AI file, here is more about illustrator files recovery, restoring crashed, deleted even corrupted AI files on both Mac and Windows, in latest Illustrator, even earlier CC, CS6, CS5 versions.

Part 1. How to Recover Unsaved Illustrator Files after Crash (CC or CS6 Incl.) 

An unsaved AI file may be caused by system crash or irresponsive AI 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, in CC, CS6 or earlier versions. And we should always start from its AutoSave location.

#1 Recover 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.

By default, the AutoSave feature is enabled, you can go to Edit>Preferences>General>File Handling &Clipboard, check if the check box before “Automatically Save Recovery Date Every:” is selected. If yes, we can use the AutoSave function now, if not, select it for next possible AI file lose.

ai autosave new interface

Where is the Illustrator Autosave Location on Mac or Windows?

For Windows Users:

C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings\en_US\x64\DataRecovery

For Mac Users:

< your username>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings/en_US/Adobe Illustrator Prefs

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

#2 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.

  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

#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.
  2. Find the unsaved AI file.
  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.
  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.

Part 2. How to Recover Lost or Deleted Illustrator Files on Mac and Windows

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 find a professional data recovery program. 

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac and Windows is recommended to recover your deleted or lost AI files on Mac and Windows. It supports recovering 1000+ types of files, including 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, 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.)
  • Restore lost data caused by system crash, deletion, formatting, OS upgrade, etc.
  • Repair videos in mp4, mov, mkv, avi and so on
  • Automatically fix corrupted images and documents
  • Recover unsaved office documents
  • Use both quick and deep scan modes
  • 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 Lost/Deleted AI Files on Mac and Windows

  1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery to your Mac or Windows.
    Free Download   Free Download
  2. Go to Disk Data Recovery, select the drive where you deleted or lost the AI files.recover lost ai mac01
  3. Click Search for lost files to start the scanning process, you can go to Type>Pictures>AI folder, check AI files in the folder.recover lost ai mac02
  4. Preview the AI files and select those you want to recover, then click Recover button to restore, you will be able to restore AI files to local drive or to cloud.recover lost ai mac06

Part 3. How to Recover Corrupted AI Files Online Free

Here comes to another situation, we got a corrupted illustrator file and could not open it at all. Damaged AI files can be caused by different reasons: device crash, improper editing/converting/formatting, partition error, virus attach, etc. And it is never easy to repair an illustrator file.

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, 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.

How to Recover Corrupted AI Files Online Free?

  1. Visit https://www.illustrator.repair.
  2. Click SELECT FILE to upload the PDF file.
  3. Enter your email address to get the repaired file.repair ai online 01
  4. Click NEXT STEP to upload, prepare and repair your ai files.repair ai online 02
  5. Pay and save the repaired illustrator file to your computer.

Attention: The files will be stored on the server for 10 days.

Tips to Avoid Unsaved or Lost AI Files

It is not 100% for sure that an unsaved or lost AI file can be restored, to avoid any loss, there are multiple tips to prevent your AI files from being unsaved or lost.

Tips to Avoid Unsaved AI Files

An unsaved AI file is mainly caused by program crash or no response, we should always prepare Adobe Illustrator for coming works.

  • Always update to the latest versions
  • Check AutoSave feature is ON or Not
  • Free up system memory for Adobe Illustrator tasks
  • Antivirus scan your device at a regular basis

Tips to Avoid Lost/Deleted AI Files

An AI file may be deleted by mistake. We should be very careful when perform a file deletion.

  • Don’t empty Trash bin immediately after a file deletion
  • Always have a backup for important files
  • Share files to iCloud storage for future use


No one want their files ended with unsaved or deleted, but it cannot be avoided. Whenever we run into an AI file loss, we should never give up and turn our backs on those unsaved or deleted AI files. Have a try on our recommended solutions as above, it may help. And we should notice that, recovering unsaved AI files is totally different thing from recovering deleted/lost AI files, to restore deleted or lost AI files, we have to use a data recovery tool.

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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