Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Adobe Illustrator CS 4 - File Not Readable - Troubleshooting

For those who deal with the common issue of Adobe Illustrator giving the "File Not Readable" error, here's a few tips:

What's going on is that Illustrator is running out of RAM during the display/render process. When you place multiple high-resolution files into an Illustrator document, Illustrator uses RAM to render the objects etc.

  • Illustrator is a 32 bit application is not taking advantage of your 6 Gig of RAM, but only accesses 3 gigs. Nothing you can do will make Illustrator use the rest.
  • When you place so many files into illustrator, it attempts to render them, using up your RAM.
  • Make sure you're LINKING files, not PLACING them on the actual page.
  • Reduce linked file's sizes to exact dimensions you need. (Don't use a 20" x 20" 1200 dpi image if you're printing the file at 300dpi.)
  • You can force Illustrator to display Document Raster Effects Settings to 72ppi, which will reduce some of the RAM requirements, until ready to output. Also turn of Anti-aliasing in the preferences while manipulating the document.
  • Illustrator is not a page-layout application. Learn to use InDesign for page layout rather than Illustrator (I'm still working on this myself.)
  • Once a file gives the dreaded FILE IS NOT READABLE error, you're basically stuck. Your only recourse is to close the application and open it again. If you save a file, which gives the error on opening, the file is pretty much useless. I've found no way of getting into a file that Illustrator has saved in an "unreadable" state.

Many thanks to Wade Zimmerman for help on these notes.


  1. same problem. found a way to re-open the file, though. if the problem are the linked images, rename them so illustrator does not find them at startup, so he skips the preview. then you can relink the (reduced) files to stop it from happening.

  2. Sorry to correct you, but there´s a way to recover files with this error. Get all the images of that Illustrator file and place them somewhere else (inside other folder with another different name). Open the Illustrator file again, it will ask you to locate the images files, press the IGNORE button (check the "Apply to all" square). The file will open but with NO images. The hard work is to RELink all images again. Clean your PDF images: Try to use exact size images used on the AI file, Erase non used channels and Paths, Flatten layers as much as you can and if you can Rasterize Layers Effects. If the final PSD is a flatten (no transparency) image, better save it as a JPG or tiff (with no transparency or layers). If you are using to much images in a AI file, try to divide the AI file in several AI files. All this to lower the amount of RAM memory a single AI file needs. Hope it helps.

  3. You guys are correct! Thanks for the update.

  4. Also... if your file is ready to go and you get this message, you can try importing the illustrator file into another ilustrator file. The edition after that sucks, all effects will be flattened and textss broken or turned into curves. But, once you got the job done, it might work just fine to produce the pdfs.

    1. Yup. I'm very happy with CS6 now, as it has 64bit compatibility and thus removes the 2gig limit.