How to Stop Snapping in Illustrator [Simple Guide]

If you have ever gotten to the point where you are working on the final touches of a logo in Illustrator, you know the feeling. You have everything in place and drag an image to blend in seamlessly with the font–only to have that image move a few millimeters to the left when you release the mouse.

Luckily for you, we are here to help. This type of “snapping” within Illustrator is a default setting that can easily be turned off, so keep reading to discover 5 simple steps for stopping snapping in Illustrator!

5 Simple Steps to Stop Snapping in Illustrator

Use the following 5 steps to easily turn off snapping in Illustrator.

1. Click Window

At the top of your Adobe Illustrator program, you should see a tab labeled “Window” on the task ribbon. Click this tab. You will be met with an extensive drop down list.

2. Select the Transform Palette

From this drop down list, identify the tab labeled “Transform.” As mentioned, the drop down list is rather extensive, so you may have to scroll a bit to find the Transform tab. Luckily, the menu is organized alphabetically, so it should be easy to locate.

3. Click on the Object to Stop Snapping

Once you are in “Transform,” a small task box will pop up in the foreground of your design. 

Make sure that the object you want to stop snapping has been selected. 

This is easily accomplished by clicking on the image. Dotted lines should appear around the object to show it is being worked on. 

If the object or image is not selected, the steps you have taken to stop snapping will not apply. Snapping is not applied as a general setting within the project, but is applied individually for each image.

Therefore, if you want to stop snapping for more than one item in your project, you will need to take these same steps with each image. 

4. Identify Align to Pixel Grid Option

Once the image has been selected, you are ready to turn snapping off.

At the bottom of the “Transform” task box, you will notice a line item that says “Align to Pixel Grid.”

By default, there will be a checkmark next to this item, which is the setting that permits snapping.

Make sure that the check mark next to “Align to Pixel Grid” is not active to turn off snapping.

5. Test Your Image to See if Snapping is Off

Close the “Transform” task box and experiment with moving your image around. If it stays where you placed it when you release the mouse, then you have successfully turned off snapping in Illustrator!

What is Snapping?

If you are like many digital artists, you are probably wondering what in the world “snapping” is. Does it mean that Illustrator is snapping a picture of your project out of nowhere? No, Illustrator is not taking a picture, but it has probably been snapping on you–to your dismay–without you even realizing it is called snapping.

Snapping occurs when Illustrator moves an image to the nearest coordinate on the pixel grid, even if that coordinate is not the exact location you want the object placed.

Essentially, Illustrator “snaps” the image to the nearest location on the coordinate grid.

Imagine that package delivery services had a setting where they knew the location of every street intersection, but not the exact address of your home. Whenever you ordered a package, the delivery service would default its dropoff location to the intersection closest to your home. So you would be receiving your parcels close to where you want them, but not exactly where you want them.

This same concept applies to snapping on Illustrator. It gets your image close to where you want it for making the perfect logo, but not close enough.

Why Would You Want to Turn off Snapping?

As you can see from the previous explanation, there are numerous reasons why you would want to turn off snapping in Illustrator. 

By removing snapping, you give yourself, as a graphic designer, greater control over image placement. You can ensure that everything is perfectly aligned in your project–or not perfectly aligned, if that is what the design calls for.

What Are the Benefits of Snapping?

So far, we have not painted snapping in a very favorable light. Having the program automatically override where you are placing your carefully crafted Placeit logo: Who would want that?

Actually, although snapping can be highly annoying when you do not want it activated, it does have some practical benefits. 

Snapping is meant to help graphic artists align digital images when visible lines are not clearly distinguishable. When we have no point of reference for where to move our images, snapping can use the digital pixel location to move the image to where it is supposed to be.

However, you will need to set a point of reference to ensure that the image is snapping to the correct location. Many graphic artists who incorporate glyph characters into their designs will choose to have an image snapped to this glyph character to help create a cohesive logo.

But without giving Illustrator specific “snap to” instructions, the program will automatically snap images to the nearest pixel coordinate, causing frustration for artists who know their lines and want greater control of the design process. 

Why Does Illustrator Snap By Default?

As most graphic artists want to be able to control the design process and move their objects and images around until they pass the eye test, there is a bit of exasperation in the community as to why Illustrator snaps as a default.

To be honest, there is no clear consensus as to why it does this.

The best anyone can figure is that since Illustrator is a digital program, it wants to add as much automation as possible to the design process, believing that snapping simplifies design and makes life easier for the artist.

If you know how to use it, yes, this is true, but for those uninterested in computer assisted design, it is more of a pain in the neck than anything. 

The Bottom Line: How to Stop Snapping in Illustrator

Meant to be helpful for graphic designers without distinguishable reference lines, snapping is usually a point of frustration for those artists who want control over the process. Fortunately, snapping is a simple setting to turn off. Use the 5 simple steps listed above to stop snapping in Illustrator at your discretion!