The Shapebuilder tool always gives me quite a few duplicate paths stacked on top of each other, which can sometimes cause problems when using other tools later and selecting the paths thinking I’m only selecting one path (the one on top). I often have to delete the duplicates manually and it’s very tedious.

How can I avoid these duplicates when using the Shapebuilder tool, or quickly get rid of the duplicates?

Thanks in advance.

  • Hi. If you use the shape builder tool, there will always be duplicate paths where two shapes butt up against each other. This is what the tool is supposed to do. The tool is used for creating closed paths, like individual pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Are you saying there are paths in addition to these being created? Also why do you need to remove them? Generally, for the purpose of creating graphics this really shouldn't matter.
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 16, 2023 at 8:47
  • Ok so you need to click on the line. Otherwise shapebuilder builds shapes (which obviously generates overlapping paths). But its also possible that it started out with overlapping geometry. Anyway you can cut the things in front, select all delete and paste in front to get rid of duplicates.
    – joojaa
    Oct 16, 2023 at 15:38
  • @joojaa while this may be the issue, and using the shape builder on lines is certainly possible, it's pretty hard to tell without seeing what the OP is actually trying to achieve, or what the actual issue is. We definitely need more information. A screenshot or an example of some kind.
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 16, 2023 at 16:32
  • @BillyKerr sure. The 2 cases i outlined account for 99% of the cases where this happens. For some reason 80% of the original file authors were architects.
    – joojaa
    Oct 16, 2023 at 16:39
  • @joojaa - ah that might explain it. but it's still only a guess at this stage. I was thinking more along the lines of the possibility that the OP needs to delete duplicates paths for the purposes of laser cutting or something like that.
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 16, 2023 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


An oversized comment only

"How to remove duplicates" has been up as long as Illustrator has been available. The user interface doesn't offer automatic methods, but programmers have built tools which try to find and remove duplicates. Here's one old script: http://illustrator.hilfdirselbst.ch/dokuwiki/en/skripte/javascript/wr-removeduplicates

No idea

  • how this would work in a modern version of Illustrator
  • what's the detection method and tolerance

Then there's commercial solutions. Astute VectorFirstAid is advertised to do the job (never got one).

These were found by making a web search for an Illustrator script which removes duplicates.

All automatic methods may fail if you have splinters which do not have equal anchor points, they only happen to be visually in the same place. Manual removal is easier if you make the items partially transparent:

enter image description here

In the right the opacities are reduced to 50%. The redundant piece is darker.

Another way to make the redundant piece visible is to select a path and move it:

enter image description here

The ellipse is moved one arrow key tick downwards (the step size is in preferences). It returns back exactly by moving it one tick upwards.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.