Adobe Illustrator CC - Advanced Training

Adobe Illustrator is running slow how do I speed up Illustrator

Daniel Walter Scott

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Okay, so why is Illustrator running so slow on your machine? Maybe just some documents. Let's talk about the major things. We'll start at the top, the most probably common thing to slow you down is adding kind of pixel effects or raster effects to vector. Like this graphic here I made. It's some Compound Shapes, and I added in a glow which makes this kind of beveled Drop Shadow kind of look. Watch this, every time I move it, and move it back, the bouncing ball, a doom appears. It struggles, right? And this is a pretty good machine. 

So if you've added lots of Drop Shadows to things, basically there's two things you can do. You can make it run faster, by going-- with nothing selected we go to 'Effect', and go into 'Document Raster Settings'. And in here, mine is set to 300ppi, which is awesome for print but it stresses my machine out. If I switch it to '72', click 'OK', nothing really changes in my document, it's not worst quality. It will print worse, but now if I click off and drag it, it kind of just works faster because it's only redrawing it at a lower resolution. 

When I go out to print I need to make sure, I'm sending out a PDF, or making JPEG, I just got to make sure I turn this back up because it is essentially vector, and I just need to do that again right at the end, I'll wait for it and it goes through all of its features. It can take a long time, but now if I make a PDF it will be that great quality, you haven't lost quality in that go. That's kind of one of the easy ones. 

The other one is, let's say you've got this graphic and you use it a lot, and just causing you drama every time you move it, or resize it. You can just select it all and go to this one that says 'Object', and go to 'Rasterize'. Now this is a one way street. If I click on 'Rasterize', and say actually I want this to be '300ppi', so great quality, make sure it's the size you need it to be, I've made it quite big. You might make it even bigger, so you've got a big version of it, but when it's being rasterized, it's now going to be pixels eventually. You'll notice that, sometimes I've made a Clipping Mask, it's got a white box around the outside, which is not fun, I'm going to have to clip it out again but I've lost a few things, transparency is gone but at least now, if I zoom in, I can start to see the pixels. So not vector anymore, but now it is super quick and easy to move around, to rotate. It's not trying to do those effects every single time. So rotating it around, I'll do this often. Keep a backup version of it, all vectory and good but, maybe in your day-to-day use, just use the rasterized version. 

Another big thing can be fonts. You might be, like me, kind of freelanced your way around the world and eventually you end up with this huge pile of fonts, and you're like, you keep installing them every time you get a new Mac. The trouble with fonts is that it slows down your whole system. So what you might want to do is-- use Mac has Font Book, I have no idea what PC has, but just uninstall the fonts you're not using. Especially if there's some bad fonts if you got like a dodgy cactus shaped letter font, some weird font, and it's got some problems in it, you're machine spends ages when it loads programs trying to figure that out, and sort it out. So go through, just be super clean with your font installs. Any dodgy ones, just get rid of, or uninstall them. Yes, fonts can be a big-- they can slow down your whole entire system. 

Actually quickly, I'm going to show you-- so Font Book is what Mac uses. You can go through and just select all the fonts you don't want and get rid of them. 'All fonts', and just have a little look. I've got 381, and mine runs okay. Check, leave a comment, see how many-- I want to see who's got the most. I want to see screenshots as well. Don't install too many fonts. 

Another thing can happen, or things that can slow you down is, while you make a new document, is the way you bring in images. So if you bring in 'File', and go to 'Place', and I'll bring in an image from our 'Exercise Files'. I'll bring in the 'Bike' This option here, 'Link'ing, or not linking. By default, I'm pretty sure, it doesn't link. You have to check, click on 'Options' down the bottom here. It will embed, so if I 'Embed' a file versus bringing in the same image, and linking to it, there's pros and cons. Linking to it, the pro is that it will run faster. Everything runs faster when it's linked. The con is that if I send this Illustrator file to somebody I need to make sure I send the image with it. This one is actually embedded in there, and if I send them an Illustrator file, it will be there. This one here, it will open up Illustrator and say, "Hey, you're missing that file." Where did that go? So that's one of the drawbacks. 

What you can do to fix that, let's say you've got lots of linked images, like this guy. You can just go to 'File' now, and go to 'Package'. Where is Package? I can never find it. It's right there, right in front of me. Click on 'Package'. Save the document, and you'll give it a name. And we'll just gather up your Illustrator file, all fonts that you've used, and all the images. That can be a handy way of doing it. So, Link rather than Embed. 

Other thing to check is, up the top here, you got this rocket chip. GPU enabled-- that just means you've got a good enough graphics card in your computer. That it is helping out. You wouldn't turn this off, I haven't found a reason to turn it off. What you want to do though is, if you've got a machine that's maybe a bit old you might want to update your drivers. That can sometimes fix that. So if this is disabled, you can try and fix it by-- if I go to 'Illustrator', 'Preferences', and we're going to go to 'Performance'. If you're on a PC, go to 'Edit', 'Preferences', 'Performance'. Let's have a little look. So this is unticked. It just says it's not available. You can see down here, I have up-to-date graphics card. And that's pretty good. It's good enough, I think it's a MTek Graphics card, 4GB. 

Anyway, what you can do is, it's not super easy, but you can then come out of Illustrator - It's nothing to do with Illustrator really. - is you can go into your System Preference on a Mac, on a PC, I think it's Control Panel. Find your video card and just see if the drivers are up-to-date. And if not, go see if you can download them from the people that make it. In my case, you saw that was ATI. It might be in Video-- that's hard to do, and often doesn't fix it. It's done it for me before. I've updated my graphics card, and it kind of goes "Okay, you can use GPU," and it does runs faster. 

The other thing you can do, and it's simple enough, it's updating the RAM in your computer. So RAM is king. You want a minimum of 8GB of RAM and as much as you can get. The cool thing about RAM is, often on PCs, it's really easy to upgrade. Won't cost you very much. You can go from 4GB to 8GB, or 16, or 32 pretty cheaply. That kind of gives your computer the kind of grunt you need for, especially like those Drop Shadows in Illustrator. So RAM upgrade. I'm kind of a half tinker, and I can do it myself. I'm not very good, but RAM in a PC is easy enough. I'll unscrew it, pick it out, and put the other one in. On a Mac, it's near impossible, you can take it to people to get it done. But RAM is the thing, when you're buying a computer, get lots of it. 

Another thing that can really cause problems is your hard drive. So if you've got a-- say you've got a 500MB hard drive and it's got 0 or 2GB left. I said Megabyte, sorry, you've got 500GB of space, and you've only got a couple of GB left. That is just not enough, it means-- things like Photoshop and Illustrator, they need about half your hard drive empty. It needs a big chunk of space to work. Let's say you don't have that. What you can do is you can use an external drive. You can go to Illustrator', 'Preferences'. We're getting pretty nerdy here, this is the last one. If you're a nerd, as buzzing, you can skip on to my next video. I catch myself sometimes, we're getting nerdy. But if you're a nerd like me, 'Illustrator CC', 'Preferences' 'Plug-Ins & Scratch Disks'. Remember, it's under 'Edit', 'Preferences' if you're on a PC. And here, my Scratch Disk is just my start up drive. 

What you can do is, if you go out and buy, say your computer is a bit old and your hard drive is the old tape drive one, and it's just full up, what you can do is, you can say Illustrator, I want you to use my external drive. And what will happen is, if I had an external drive plugged in here it would show in this list, and I can click on it. The pros for is that if I get a really good hard drive, what you're looking for is an SSD drive, Solid State Drive. Get as big as you can afford. Often those connections are really fast, and it will speed up Illustrator. The drawback is, and it's a big one. You need to carry the hard drive around all the time, otherwise, when you're using Illustrator it's not going to find it, it's going to snap back to using Primary. Here's that effects, yes, kind of is. I used to a lot to my old PC laptop, it was really old, I couldn't afford to upgrade it, I bought a hard drive and changed the Scratch Disk on every Adobe application, and it ran twice as fast. It was awesome. 

That is it. If you've got any questions, drop me a comment. That is how to speed up Illustrator. If none of these things help, it might be time to buy a new computer. All right, on to the next video.