Illustrator Can’t Change Workspace [4 Causes and 7 Fixes]

Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular platforms for graphic designers. However, a lot of people have reported issues over the years that prevent them from switching easily between workspaces.

Below, we’ll discuss four things that can cause this problem, as well as a few fixes you can try to get workspaces to work properly again. Keep reading to learn more!

Illustrator Can’t Change Workspace: 4 Causes and 7 Fixes

Many people have reported issues with switching between workspaces on more recent versions of Adobe Illustrator. There are a few reasons why this may be happening, and luckily, a few fixes that have brought others success.

Some of the reasons why Illustrator can’t change workspaces include:

  1. A program bug
  2. Preference settings
  3. Custom workspaces
  4. Your workspace files

Below, we’ll discuss more information about these problems and a few fixes that may solve them.

1. A Program Bug

Sometimes, you can’t switch between workspaces simply because of an issue with your version of Adobe Illustrator. You can sometimes unlock your workspaces by opening a workspace instead of a file in Illustrator. If this doesn’t work, there are a few other things you can try:

  1. Restarting Illustrator
  2. Updating your software version
  3. Uninstalling and reinstalling the program

Let’s discuss how to do each of these three things properly to solve the issue.

Unlock Your Workspaces

Before you restart, update, or reinstall Adobe Illustrator, try this fix that has helped many people “unstick” their workspaces. Open the Illustrator application, but don’t select any file. Instead, navigate to “Window” from the home screen, then choose “Workspace.” Open any kind of workspace, then close the program. When you restart, you might find that your problem is gone and you can now switch between workspaces as you please.

1. Restart Illustrator

As cliche as “turning it off and turning it back on again” sounds, rebooting a program will clear any codes or caches that may be causing problems. The first thing you should try is shutting down Adobe Illustrator completely, ensuring you save any work in progress beforehand. Give it a few minutes, then open the program again and see if you can switch between workspaces.

2. Update Your Software Version

Outdated software can cause more problems than most people realize. If you’re using an outdated version of Adobe Illustrator, updating the program may fix any issues you’re having with workspaces.

When Adobe updates its programs, they usually work out any known bugs. Update your software and see if you can now switch between workspaces.

3. Uninstall and Reinstall the Program

If you’ve restarted and updated Adobe Illustrator and you’re still having trouble switching between workspaces, the next step is to try uninstalling and reinstalling the software. Be sure to save any custom templates, fonts, or other content you have first, or else you could lose them.

Sometimes, glitches occur during the installation process that cause bugs in your software. Run the uninstallation on your computer, then download the program from Adobe again. Then, reinstall Illustrator and see if that solves the problem.

2. Preference Settings

For whatever reason, certain user preferences seem to cause a lot of issues with workspaces. Many people have had luck changing workspaces after resetting their user preferences. This is relatively easy to do, whether you’re using Illustrator on a Windows or Mac computer.

To reset your Illustrator preferences on a Windows computer, all you have to do is hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift while launching the program. When asked if you want to reset, choose “Yes.” If you’re using a Mac computer, hold down Option+Command+Shift while launching Illustrator, then say “Yes” when the prompt appears.

3. Custom Workspaces

Another common cause of these types of issues has something to do with your custom workspaces. If you use custom workspaces in your program, following this process may help:

  1. Close the program down entirely.
  2. Navigate to your custom workspaces. If you’re on a Windows computer, you can find these under C:/User/[Account Name]/AppData Roaming/Adobe/[Current Version of Illustrator] Settings/en_US/x64/Workspaces. If you’re using a Mac, press “Go” in the top Finder menu, then navigate through Computer>Macintosh HD>Applications>[Current Illustrator Version]>Presets>en_US>Workspaces.
  3. Move any custom workspaces to a new folder, then save the folder to your desktop.
  4. Once the custom workspace files are out of your Workspaces folder, re-open the program, but don’t open a file.
  5. Instead, open a new workspace. Click “Window,” then “Workspaces” and choose any type.
  6. You should now be able to change workspaces easily. If you can, close Illustrator and put your custom workspaces back into their original folder.

If you’ve gotten this far successfully, you’re probably all set! Just open Illustrator again and be sure you can still switch between workspaces.

4. Your Workspace Files

Sometimes, the problem lies within your workspace files themselves. If you only started having these issues after updating to a more recent version of Illustrator, you’ll be happy to hear that computers often save application data from previous versions. 

One thing that has worked for others is replacing the current workspace files with their older counterparts. Here’s how to do so on both Mac and PC.

For Windows computers:

  1. The first step is to open the current version’s Workspaces folder. Navigate to C:/User/[Account Name]/AppData Roaming/Adobe/[Current Illustrator Version] Settings/en_US/x64/Workspaces. Delete all the files from this folder.
  2. Now, find the most recent previous version’s folder. Navigate to C:/User/[Account Name]/AppData Roaming/Adobe and choose a previous version of Illustrator. Click on this, followed by Settings>en_US>x64>Workspaces.
  3. Copy all the files in this second folder into the current version’s Workspaces file.

If you’re using a Mac computer:

  1. From the top Finder menu, click “Go,” then choose “Computer.” Navigate through Macintosh HD>Applications>[Current Illustrator Version]>Presets>en_US>Workspaces. Delete the current workspace files.
  2. Now, go back to the Applications folder and select a previous version of Illustrator. Click through Presets>en_US>Workspaces.
  3. Copy the old workspace files, and paste them into the empty current Workspaces folder.

Now, open Illustrator and see if you can change workspaces again.

Final Thoughts

Since approximately 2018, many people have reported issues with Illustrator that prevent them from changing workspaces. This problem could be due to a bug, your preferences, custom workspaces, or the default workspace files themselves. Try all the fixes above and see if they solve your problem. If all else fails, contact Adobe support.