I have created a curved line with an end anchor point - the top left end of a horn, in this case, and lost one of the two bezier curve handles. I want to get that handle back without losing the curve created by the other side of the handle.

See image. The left corner has a top bezier handle, but I've lost the bottom handle. I want to get it back without losing the curve of the top of the horn. Hopefully I'm making sense?


  • Select that top line with white arrow and hit copy, just in case you need to replace it. Zoom All the way in to point and look for handle. It may be right on top of point. Select general area with white arrow to see all points and handles. If there are not two handles coming off your point then one is directly over the point.
    – Webster
    Mar 14, 2017 at 6:14
  • Even though Westside's answer is a solution, it does not solve the problem for versions of Illustrator earlier than CC. I've added the bounty in order to see if anyone knows of a solution that works in CS6 or lower.
    – Vincent
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:11

3 Answers 3


There are a couple of different ways to alter the curve of paths in Illustrator. You can manipulate the bezier handles on the points to make the path go where you want it to or you can directly manipulate the path itself and the bezier handles will then automatically adjust accordingly.

In your example, to get the missing handle back you just need to use the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) or the Anchor Point Tool (found by clicking and holding on the pen tool) to click and drag the portion of the path that you want to change. This will add a bezier handle to the end of that portion of the path that doesn't currently have one and adjust the handle at the other end as required. All other portions of the path will be unaffected.

The Anchor Point Tool can even be used to grab perfectly straight lines with no bezier handles at either end (like one side of a rectangle) and bend it so that it has bezier handles at both ends. Again, the other four sides of the rectangle would not be changed.

Please note that in older versions of Illustrator (eg. CS6), this feature is less accessible. When dragging on a stroke with either tool, the shape needs to be unselected. Moreover, it simply will not work on a stroke that has no curve whatsoever.

  • A ha. OK, now I really feel silly. I was so focused on clicking and dragging from the point itself that clicking and dragging on the path did not occur to me. That did exactly what I needed it to. Thank you!
    – kbk
    Mar 14, 2017 at 15:48
  • This did not work for me -- I am using Illustrator CS3.
    – Wimateeka
    Nov 18, 2019 at 23:22

Alternative solutions to the named one:

  • Select the segment then, cut (ctrl+X) and paste in front (ctrl+F). You can now manipulate the handle in the segment as you please without influencing the second one. Once done join it back wit (ctrl+J)
  • You can use a script to coax the tangent out so it can be edited.

    #target illustrator
    // select one point with a zero
    // length segment or two
    var pi = app.activeDocument.selection[0];
    for(var i = 0; i< pi.pathPoints.length; i++){
        if(pi.pathPoints[i].selected === PathPointSelection.ANCHORPOINT){
            var rd = pi.pathPoints[i].rightDirection;
            var a = pi.pathPoints[i].anchor;
            var ld = pi.pathPoints[i].leftDirection;
            pi.pathPoints[i].pointType = PointType.CORNER;
            if( Math.abs(a[0] - rd[0]) < 0.001 && Math.abs(a[1] - rd[1]) < 0.001)
                pi.pathPoints[i].rightDirection = [rd[0]-10,rd[1]]
            if( Math.abs(a[0] - ld[0]) < 0.001 && Math.abs(a[1] - ld[1]) < 0.001)
                pi.pathPoints[i].leftDirection = [ld[0]+10,ld[1]]

The first method has the advantage of working in any version of illustrator, the second one is sometimes fast to use.

  • This did not work for me -- I am using Illustrator CS3.
    – Wimateeka
    Nov 18, 2019 at 23:22

I assume you need the handles for editing purposes, in which case you can press P and hold Alt, then click on the part of the curve you want to edit.

  • This worked for me -- I am using Illustrator CS3.
    – Wimateeka
    Nov 18, 2019 at 23:22

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