Adobe Illustrator Is Stuck on the Hand Tool

By Elizabeth Mott

Whether you're a seasoned user of Adobe Illustrator who's accustomed to using keyboard shortcuts to switch quickly from one tool to another or a new digital artist who's just learning the program and uses the toolbox, you expect Illustrator to give you access to its capabilities as you need them. If your copy of the software seems stuck on the Hand tool, resolving your problem depends on diagnosing the misfortune that's befallen you.

Temporarily Stuck

If you've held down the space bar to activate the Hand tool temporarily so you can scroll around your file and immediately regain use of another tool, you may be able to convince Adobe Illustrator to switch away from the Hand tool by tapping and releasing the space bar. This may free up a temporary glitch, but it's not a permanent solution to a recurring problem. If you find yourself getting stuck often on the Hand tool, move on to more thorough troubleshooting.

Keyboard Problems

Frequently getting stuck on the Adobe Illustrator Hand tool may signal a mechanical problem with your computer keyboard. Shut down Illustrator and your computer itself, and then detach your current keyboard and substitute another one, preferably one you've tested successfully or one that's brand new. If a new -- or at least different -- keyboard solves your problem, you're back in business. Meanwhile, label the keyboard that was giving you trouble so neither you nor your co-workers accidentally use it again.

Corrupt Preference Files

It may seem that every troubleshooting procedure you read suggests trashing your preferences as a way to recover from application misbehavior. That's because corrupt preference files can cause as much havoc as failing hardware or defective computer memory. In fact, many users suspect a hardware malfunction before they take the simple steps necessary to replace their preferences. Shut Illustrator down, and then hold down the "Shift," "Alt" and "Command" keys in Windows or "Shift + Option + Command" in Mac right after you start it back up. You'll see a dialog box that asks if you want to delete your preferences. Click "Yes" and let Illustrator build a fresh set.

Corrupt Font Software

Font corruption hits the troubleshooting suggestion list right after preference files. If your copy of Adobe Illustrator functioned without incident until you recently added new font software, you can connect the dots between your problem and its solution without a great degree of difficulty. Replace the font software with a fresh copy and see if that solves your problem. If it doesn't, simply remove the font from your computer and notify the source that its product appears defective.