NOTE: Before deleting for restoring preferences, make sure that Illustrator is closed.
How to reset the preferences back to default.
One of the first things you should definitely know how to do on Adobe Illustrator CS5 is how to reset your preferences back to default. You do this by deleting your current preferences, the AIprefs file. I had to learn how to do this so that I could efficiently go through the Adobe Illustrator CS5 classroom in a book lessons. But I would guess that there are many other reasons for someone to need to reset the preferences.
You do this by deleting the “AIPrefs” file located in Users\(your user name)\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings\en_US. Sounds simple, but there’s one problem here. The AppData folder is “hidden” and to find it you have to go through all kinds of trouble, BUT I’m going to show you how to skip all of that!
Click on your Windows Start button. Now in your “search programs and files” search box type “%appdata%” and the “Roaming” folder should appear. From here you can either click on that folder or just hit “enter” on your keyboard and it should take you to the contents inside that folder. Now click the Adobe folder, then Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings folder, then en-US folder. Finally, in this folder you should be able to easily locate the “AIPrefs” file. Delete the “AIprefs” file and Adobe Illustrator will be reset back to default.
How to restore saved preferences.
When you open Illustrator and change any settings AFTER you restore preferences to default, a new AIprefs file will be created. This means that whenever you change anything like rearranging panels for example, Adobe Illustrator automatically saves everything you’ve done with the settings.
If you have made a custom setting in Illustrator that you would like to keep but you have to, for some reason or another delete the AIprefs file, make sure to copy and paste your custom AIprefs file into a separate folder titled so that you know exactly where it is. At any time that you wish to restore your custom preferences all you have to do is replace the current AIprefs file with the custom one you’ve saved. You can do this simply by deleting the AIprefs file and then copy/paste your custom saved AIprefs file. Personally I prefer to drag & drop the file and then click “Move & Replace”.