The Start-Up Document

The Start-Up Document

You may notice that whenever you open a new document in Illustrator, the new document always appears the same way. For example, the Artboard and Page Tiling are always visible, the Swatches palette always has the same contents, and so on. The appearance of a new document doesn’t happen by random chance but is determined by the start-up document file. This document controls the way that each new document is created, and you can change it to make each new document open the way that you want it to. Here are some items that you can change in this document:

  • Number of layers: If you only need three, this option makes it so.

  • Zoom percentage: If you find the best balance of detail and readability at a 63 percent zoom, that zoom is yours.

  • Artboard and Page Tiling: You can show or hide these to suit your needs.

  • Window size: This option is especially handy if you’re working on several images at once.

  • Styles: Add the styles you want and delete the ones you don’t — the result is exactly what you have for your new documents.

  • Swatches: You can make the Swatches palette open with exactly the swatches you want — no more, no less.

  • Brushes: New documents open with the brushes you have in the Brushes palette at the time you save the start-up document. (How about leopard spots?)

To change the start-up document, follow these steps:

  1. Open the start-up document in Illustrator.

    Illustrator has two of these: Adobe Illustrator Startup_CMYK and Adobe Illustrator Startup_RGB. You can find them inside your Plug-Ins folder (located in the Adobe Illustrator CS folder).


    CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) documents and RGB (red, green, blue) documents (see Chapter 1) have separate start-up documents. This arrangement enables you to tailor each start-up document to the specific work environment. For instance, RGB files are often used for Web graphics and CMYK is used for print graphics. In the RGB start-up file, you can hide the Artboard and Page Tiling (which are print-specific features); you can also turn on Pixel Preview. In the CMYK file, you can add color swatches that represent your company’s corporate colors to the Swatches palette.

  2. Make changes to any of the items on the handy list that precedes these steps.

    For example, if you want new documents to have three layers instead of one, put three layers in the Layers palette. The layers don’t need any artwork in them; just the act of adding layers in the Layers palette is enough. If you want Pixel Preview turned on automatically, choose it from the View menu. Add or delete swatches from the Swatches palette, and so forth.

  3. Save the document and close it.

Henceforth, each new document that you create reflects the items that you change in the start-up document.


The start-up document does not change existing documents.