My sad story

In the much maligned post-CS3 smart guides, there are some known problems. This Adobe forums thread is a good example. That was all very helpful but my problem is a little different.

I primarily use the Construction Guides feature and I often enter some odd ball numbers that I've derived from one geometry or another (like the example here). A very basic example is if I want to use 30° angles, like so:

enter image description here

Notice that I turn those pesky Alignment Guides off -- it's a matter of preference. In the new system (post-CS3), I have to hold command to make my Construction Guides show up. Dumb UX, but I'm a big boy, I can handle it.

My trouble is, the angles don't always show up. In fact, when this happens I'm often completely unable to revive them without a restart of Illy. On the other hand, the alignment counterparts are always happy to turn on ... even though I don't want them.

There are other times when I do get Construction Guides but only for 45° angles, regardless of what I change them to. They act more like their alignment counterparts but without the spastic guessing lighting up my screen.

In both cases, a restart of Illustrator usually corrects things. But this happens a lot. And those silly Alignment Guides are always happy to pop to life.

Getting to the point

Can anyone confirm that this is a bug, or my system is messed up, or I'm just not qualified to use this fancy new software? I do so love jumping back to CS3 when I need truly Smart Guides.

I'm on Illustrator CS5 v15.1.0 running in Mac OS X 10.7.3.

  • 1
    yeah it's intermittent in CS6 as well. Even the 90° smart guides can fail to appear at times. Some sort of video or redraw bug..... which are fairly common in AI.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 0:53
  • I'm afraid you may have the answer. But why do those silly alignment guides show up without fail? Curse you Adobe! Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 4:55
  • Terrible! AI's utility value goes down with each further release. 999 new snazzy filters and tricks don't interest users that use AI for a living - to ILLUSTRATE with. Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 8:41
  • @Scott do you want to move your comment to a very sad answer and I'll close this one out? Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 0:12

5 Answers 5


A very sad answer...

Display is intermittent in CS6 and CC as well. Even the 90° smart guides can fail to appear at times. Some sort of video or redraw bug..... which seem to be fairly common in AI lately.

Adobe did something to smart guides in CS4. They won't say what, but ever since CS4 smart guides have been much less "smart" than they used to be. I think it may have something to do with the multiple artboards in CS4+ and the artboard guides which were introduced in CS4.

  • Is this still a problem? I've just lost about half (maybe more) of all Smart Guide functionality. For no apparent reason. Everything is still switched on, it's a relatively simple document with only one art board. Done some searching for a possible shortcut key I might have accidentally hit... nothing. I would never have called them Smart Guides before, but now they're just stupid.
    – Confused
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 20:25

I had been struggling with the loss of Smart Guides on specific documents from time to time as well.

Turning off Snap To Grid resolved this for me. Apparently, according to Adobe logic, you can't have both at the same time.

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    Thanks for the tip, Jason. At the time, 'Snap to grid' was not a factor for me, though it did introduce it's own oddities. Scott's answer was correct. I still keep a copy of Illustrator CS3 around. Smart guides work and I can use Scriptographer. For everything else, I've moved on to Bohemian Sketch. I uninstalled Illy CC. No thanks, Adobe. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 17:04
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    Turning off Snap To Grid resolved this for me.
    – Colas
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 20:21

Turn off Pixel Preview. This restored SOME but not ALL of the Smart Guide functionality.


I had full Smart Guide functionality in Pixel Preview previously. Not anymore - regardless of the following:

  • The first time I turned off Pixel Preview it didn't fix the problem of missing Smart Guide functionality.

  • If this happens... do a restart of Illustrator. Yes... this helped!

  • Now don't turn on Pixel Preview... more (but still not all) Smart Guide functionality comes back.

Adobe's probably got some explanation for this, as a feature.


I don't really know if this is want you wanted, but i've noticed that construction guides only show up when you start creating a line from an "snap point".

E.g. Try dragging with the line tool from an empty area: you get no angle guides. But if you start creating the line from an anchor point, you should get snapping to the angles defined on the Preferences panel

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    Thanks for the contribution and welcome to GraphicDesign! Let us know if you have any questions Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 14:56

You're not going to believe how stupid the solution for me was. My Smart Guides would work on a fresh file, but if I had done work in the file it would just not show up. I'm talking about the construction guides while using the pen tool. Other guides worked sometimes, but pen tool guides were almost never showing up. I unchecked all the snaps and modified the preferences in every way that's been suggested all over the internet.

Then.... for some reason I right clicked and looked over the options. At the bottom of the menu is the Select > submenu and I clicked on First Object Above. The highlighting of my last point changed and bit, and my construction guides showed up. Damn problem is I have to do that at least half the time because they don't show again but it always makes them reappear again. It's the only path on that layer, so technically there is nothing above, but whatever it does, it makes it work.

Very strange. Now I'm trying to figure out if there is something I can do to keep my new anchor points so it will work. All I'm doing is clicking. All straight lines, not even using the bezier curves.

I'm curious if this works for everyone and if someone can figure out why.


  • Hmmm, what about if you put Illustrator in "Outline" mode?
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 0:46

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