I've recently started to use Illustrator CC 2017 (so far I used CS5).

I noticed that line object doesn't have a classic "4 node" bounding box as earlier, just "two nodes". It allows rotation, but not scale of the line. I can grab one anchor and hold ALT so the transformation is around center, but that way I can't be sure that angle is retained. Earlier I would hold ALT+SHIFT, but now SHIFT just locks 45/90 angle.

I could use scale tool (around center, holding SHIFT), but old bounding box was more elegant and faster solution :) Am I missing something?Here is screenshot

2 Answers 2


If a Line Tool Path and another object are selected, the bounding box will scale the path.

So quick solution.. throw in some random object as part of the selection before attempting to scale a Line Tool path with the Bounding box.

A better solution would be to merely use the Free Transform Tool for such scaling. The bounding box in Illustrator is pointless 99.9% of the time. It was added to make Corel Draw users feel more comfortable. Any of the scaling, transforming, rotating, etc you need done can be done with the Free Transform Tool, in addition to other operations. I turn the bounding box off in Illustrator. Then when I need these operations.. tap the E key.... do whatever it is I need,.. tap the V or A key... and move on...

Actually, there is a bounding box. However, when you use the Line Tool the bounding box has no height, but there are still handles for it.

Note the key differences in anchor points and handles at the end....


You can click-drag the handles the same way you can for any bounding box....

[1]: https://i.sstatic.net/lF3

The difference really is that when using the Line Tool each object is an independent line. It's not connected to anything else. You can't use the Line Tool to connect to anything. It creates only independent objects. Therefore the height of any bounding box is irrelevant, the stroke weight controls the height. Once you connect the line to something, it operated exactly like a pen tool path.

There is the limitation that Line Tool paths won't scale via it's bounding box, they will only lengthen. I think this was to keep things in line with how the InDesign Line tool works. But really, I don't know. So in the end, it's not about the bounding box so much as it's about the inability of Line Tool paths to scale dynamically on their own.

  • Thanks for detailed and illustrative answer! I didn't mention that my goal is to keep line exactly the same position and angle just make it longer. Therefore it's not helpful for me to include another object into selection, or to use "2 node" bounding box for the line drawn with Line Tool object. On the other side Free Transform Tool works like a charm! It's quickly accessible and always aligned with the line. You are right, I definitely should use it more often, thanks! :D @Metis
    – Jazzigula
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 0:01
  • longtime user of illustrator and I'd never known there was a difference between "pen"-ines and "line"-lines, thank you!!!
    – spiral
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 8:30

If the reason for wanting the handles is so that you can shorten / lengthen straight lines while retaining the original angle then this can be achieved by turning on Smart Guides. Grabbing either end of the line will bring up a smart guide that shows you when you are retaining the angle. It pops up with the 'Line Extension' Smart Guide label.

Hope that helps.

  • That's just fine solution! I habitually kept "Aligment Guides" turned off under Smart Guides (because earlier I felt they are more distraction than benefit). Now they come handy, thanks for the solution! :)
    – Jazzigula
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 15:46

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