It's been annoying since forever I have been using Ilustrator (CS6).

I will illustrate the problem with a gif

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


Use the scale tool (hit s), not the black arrow tool. The scale tool does not actually care where you click, which allows you to use geometry as reference. This has some other benefits than just this use case. Just remember to hold shift if you want to scale in one direction only or uniformly. Its also more accurate then the scale handles as it can use actual geometry edges, with smart guides for the scale even for thick non orthogonal lines.

Also using scale tool does not necessitate zooming as it respects smart guides of your cursor so snap edge to edge. Once you get used to it you can easily do the thing you demo even without scaling.

Scale tool can additionally specify what point to scale around, this allows you to spread things form one corner to another etc. Also if you alt click you get a numeric input, with scale emitting form the clicked point. All in all a superior way to scale, get into habit of using it.

PS: Scale tool can do this because there is no ambiguity of what you want to do. The scaling in selection tool needs to use handles so to know which operation you want to do which can obviously get in the way of scaling if what you want to scale is near a handle dedicated to something else. So there is no way to have a generic tool that is better than the dedicated one.

PPS: same applies to rotatinon tool

  • You absolute mad lad. Such a simple solution yet still not considered hahahah, I would have never thought about it. The only hassle about this is that I wouldn't be able to scale in one direction without needing to specify the point to scale around. Other than that besides my workflow not being used to change tools to scale, it's actually a pretty good workaround. I will wait a couple days to see if someome knows an even better solution. If there aren't, I will vote this one and case closed.
    – Cristóbal
    Aug 21, 2019 at 18:29
  • @Cristóbal no you dont need to specify the point holding shift only scales horisontal ,vertical or uniform depending in which direction has a bigger move (from the point you started dragging from). Try it. Oh and by the way you can reset the tool by entering it again form another tool, so you find center again.
    – joojaa
    Aug 21, 2019 at 18:31
  • also yes most users seem not to know about the sacle rotate and mirror tool and thus lose out on 40% of the benefit of using a computer drawing tool
    – joojaa
    Aug 21, 2019 at 18:33
  • Hmm about scaling in one direction I mean about scaling only in left/right/up/down and diagonally directions, like one would do with the selection tool. With scale tool you have to click first on the other corner to do that. Still, it's a great solution.
    – Cristóbal
    Aug 21, 2019 at 18:40
  • @Cristóbal yes thst how the scale tool work, if you **hold shift downÄÄ move about vertically you get only vertical scaling, move only horisontally you get only horisontal scaling, if you move diagonally you get proportional scaling. Exactly same thing as the handles.
    – joojaa
    Aug 21, 2019 at 19:27

Seemingly you are frustrated because you cannot see scaling handle of a bounding box when you have high zoom. You can move the object but instead of moving you want to drag it wider. The object is something more complex than a rectangle.

If you have Smart Guides =ON, no extras are needed, but that's true only if your drawing is sparse enough and the bounding boxes are not rotated.

A workaround: Draw a temporary vertical line which is at the right place and can be seen at the same time as you drag the bounding box scaling handle. Remove the line when you are ready. Often people have "guides" for that purpose. You can convert a line to guide by selecting it and then right clicking it. One of the options is "Make Guides"

Workaround 2: Let it move. Stretch the other edge backwards if there's a better reference. There is, at least if you make a temporary duplicate

  • Thanks for the input. Those workarounds will come handy, but I think that this breaks completely the workflow, adding extra steps to have the exact same result.
    – Cristóbal
    Mar 26, 2019 at 21:08

EDIT: After OP edited the question, the simple answer is "no." I would still recommend using the transform panel and/or smart guides.

[Answer to the original question]
There is no way to scale by clicking and dragging handles when they are off screen. Manual scaling is done in reference to either a corner, side center, or object center handle. Handles center to the bounding box, not the screen.

I would recommend using the transform panel. It is more accurate, can be based off of a selected handle that is not on screen, and can be used at any zoom level.

  • No, but yiu can still scale things without handles using the scale tool (which does not need handles because it is explicit you want to scale and not do something else)
    – joojaa
    Aug 21, 2019 at 17:57
  • The thing with the transform panel is that I can't adjust it in real to fit mathematically perfect with certain objects. Still, thanks for the input!
    – Cristóbal
    Aug 21, 2019 at 18:45
  • Good point, Joojaa. Using the scale tool+Alt, you can drag a side to disproportionately, much like you can with a bounding box handle. That's probably the best solution. Add it as an answer!
    – 13ruce
    Aug 21, 2019 at 20:26

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