Frustrated About Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing?
Anchor points are one of the most basic items you must have to create vector objects in Illustrator. Once you start creating a graphic in Illustrator, you will be making use of anchor points.
The purpose of anchor points is just mind-blowing. You can use them to not only manipulate shapes, but you can also control offset paths, expanded or outlined text, and text frames. There’s no way you can use Illustrator without them, don’t you think? 🤔
If your Illustrator anchor points are not showing, there’s a lot that you can’t do. At this point, you’d be too frustrated to get creative. You will have to fix this and not encounter this ever again. Let’s dive in!
Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing
What are anchor points in Illustrator
Anchor points can help you do a lot in Illustrator like manipulating images, objects, and text. Anchor Points are connectors of a path in Illustrator, or points on a path. Imagine a line with a few connectors on it.
The line can be straight, jagged, curved, or wavy. The connectors or Anchor Points on it give you the control to change that part of the line. You can then adjust the handles of these connectors to make the line sharper or curvier.
You can also delete them, connect them to another Anchor Point of other objects, or add more Anchor Points to change their curvature.
That’s the great thing about this app. But that also leads to it being a bit more complex than other tools. For example, when it comes to the term “Anchor Points”, some of us may be confused if these refer to path points or corners of the bounding box.
I would say that Path Points are the same as Anchor Points. They are simply different terms referring to the same thing. Anchor Point is the official term given by Adobe Illustrator.
Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing
Why Are Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing
Some reasons for Illustrator anchor points not showing are due to accidentally hiding the edges of the layer by selecting View > Hide Edges, and not checking “Show Anchor Points in Selection Tool and Shape Tools” in Preferences settings.
If not, your anchor points are missing in Illustrator due to other possible reasons. Your layers or display may be locked or in a clipping mask, or your layer may not be a vector in the first place. It could also be due to your vector object having undergone some effects in Illustrator.
With so many possibilities, let’s explore each reason on Illustrator not showing anchor points on the screen with the right solutions to fix them.
Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing
How Do I Show Anchor Points In Illustrator?
A quick way to resolve Adobe Illustrator anchor points not showing is to select your layer with the Direct Selection Tool or change your cursor to the Pen tool. Or press Command + H (Mac), and Ctrl + H (Windows) to show edges and you will see the Anchor Points.
Here are the different ways you can show Anchor Points in Illustrator in detail.
1. Use the Direct Selection Tool
If you’ve been selecting your layers with the Selection tool and don’t see the Anchor Points show up, change it to the Direct Selection tool. You can find the Direct Selection tool in the toolbar. It is the arrow icon without the outline.
Or you can use the keyboard shortcut A and your cursor will change to a white arrow pointer with a black outline. Click on any of your layers with the cursor, and you will see the Anchor Points show up.
2. Change Cursor to Pen Tool
You may have selected your layer with the Selection tool to expect the Anchor Points to show up. If they don’t, keep the layer selected, then change your cursor to the Pen tool by using the keyboard shortcut P. Or select the Pen tool from the toolbar.
There’s no need to click on the layer since you’ve already selected it before. Once your cursor changes to the Pen tool you will see the Anchor Points show up.
You should be able to see the Anchor Points show up in this way, otherwise, do try the next solution.
3. Show Edges
Most of us can sometimes use the keyboard shortcuts too quickly and may have accidentally pressed the wrong keys. This could be one reason why your Anchor Points are missing in Illustrator.
Edges are fine lines that run along the edges of your vector object to highlight your path lines. They can only be seen inside Illustrator and won’t be exported or printed. Edges are also responsible for showing Anchor Points. If the Edges feature is hidden, you won’t see Anchor Points.
How do you Show Edges in Illustrator? The solution is to select View in the top bar menu. Then look for Show Edges and Hide Edges in the drop-down menu. Or select View > Show Edges.
If you see Hide Edges, this means you already have Show Edges activated and the reason for your Anchor Points not showing up would be something else. If you see Show Edges, click on it for Illustrator to have your Anchor Points show up.
You can also use the keyboard shortcut to show or hide edges by pressing Command + H on a Mac.
Or Ctrl + H on Windows.
If you don’t see the Anchor Points show up, move on to the next solution.
4. Selection & Anchor Display
It can be neater if you don’t see the Anchor Points while working. But sometimes, you want the Illustrator Anchor Points to show up even while you are using your Selection tool. This allows you to know where the Anchor Points are without adding more steps to your workflow.
For your Anchor Points to show up immediately once you select your layer, the first step is to select Illustrator in the top menu bar. Then, select Preferences and Selection & Anchor Display in the drop-down menu. Or select Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display.
In the Preferences dialog box, go to the Selection section and check “Show Anchor Points in Selection Tool and Shape Tools”.
Go back to your artboard and click on any of your layers with your cursor, you should be able to see the anchor points show up. Otherwise, move on to the next solution.
5. Unlock the Object Layer
Sometimes you may receive an Illustrator file from someone else with locked layers, or you may have locked a layer by mistake. In this case, there’s no way the Anchor Points will show up.
For you to get your Anchor Points back in Illustrator, first, open the Layers panel by selecting Window on the top menu bar and selecting Layers in the drop-down menu. Or select Window > Layers.
Then, in the Layers panel, go to the main layer and select the arrow to show all sub-layers. Go to the layer you’d like to select.
Then, check the column in between the column with the eye icons and the layer names. If there is a lock icon, uncheck it by clicking on it once.
That will unlock that layer and your layer in the Layers panel will now look like this:
when you select your layer with the Direct Selection tool, you will be able to see the anchor points.
The other way to check for locked layers in bulk is to go to the Object menu in the top bar, then go to the Unlock All selection in the drop-down menu. If it’s grayed out, that means there are no layers that are locked.
If it’s white in color, this means it’s clickable and that one or more layers have been locked. You can click on that to unlock all layers if you wish and your Anchor Points will appear.
Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing
6. Vectorize the Image
Anchor points will only show up on layers that are vectors, such as shapes and expanded or outlined text. One reason your anchor points not showing could be that your layer is a placed raster image with a format like PNG and JPEG, or it’s a symbol or a special character.
If you have to use this image or symbol and need to edit it inside Adobe Illustrator, one way is to convert your image into a vector either with Image Trace or Pen tool. You will see the Anchor Points appear when you select it with a Direct Selection tool.
7. Release Envelope Distort
Envelope Distort is a tool in Adobe Illustrator that allows you to warp or reshape objects, text, or images. It works by mapping an object to a mesh grid or shape, which can then be manipulated by dragging specific points or segments.
Your graphic may be a vector object, but once the Envelope Distort effect is applied, you won’t be able to edit each anchor point. You can only do so if you were to undo or release the Envelope Distort effect.
Remove this feature by selecting your graphic first. Then, go to Object in the top menu bar, select Envelope Distort and Release in the drop-down menu. Or select Object > Envelope Distort > Release.
You will see your layer back to the original form with Anchor Points showing when you select the object with the Direct Selection tool.
8. Update Illustrator Version
Sometimes, using an older version of Illustrator can result in some issues. Updating to the latest version may solve the issue. Open up your Creative Cloud desktop app by going to the top menu bar of your computer. Select Go > Applications > Adobe Creative Cloud > Adobe Creative Cloud on a Mac.
Or go to Choose Start > Adobe Creative Cloud on Windows.
In the Creative Cloud desktop app, navigate to the Apps section by clicking on Apps on the top menu. Under Installed, look for Illustrator and check if an update is available or not. If it says “Update available”, close all Adobe programs and click on the Update available link to start the update process.
9. Uninstall and Install Illustrator
If all else fails and you are still clueless about how to get your anchor points back in Illustrator, another way is to uninstall Illustrator and reinstall it back.
To do that, go to the Creative Cloud desktop app. In the Apps section, under Installed, go to where Illustrator is and click on the 3 dots on the right-hand side. Then select Uninstall.
A prompt will come up to ask if you would like to remove your preferences. I would suggest that you click on the button that says Yes, and remove app preferences. If there are bugs that caused your anchor points not to show up, they’d better be outta there!
Follow the other prompts to uninstall Illustrator.
Once uninstall is completed, go back to the Creative Cloud desktop app. In the Apps section, go to where it says “Available in your plan”. Look for Illustrator and click on the Install button to reinstall it.
Re-open your file and check if the Anchor Points are showing up normally.
FAQ On Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing
Why Is My Illustrator Not Showing Transform Handles?
The reasons why you can’t see the transform handles in Illustrator are most likely due to the Anchor Points created as sharp corners rather than curves and that you’ve not selected an Anchor Point with the Direct Selection tool for the handles to show up.
How To Add Handles To Anchor Points In Illustrator
The first step to add handles to Anchor Points in Illustrator is to select the Anchor Point Tool from the toolbar, or use the keyboard shortcut Shift + C. Then, click and drag any anchor point with the Anchor Point Tool to add the direction handles. Drag the direction handles to adjust the curve of the path.
How to adjust anchor points, handles, and bounding box display sizes in Illustrator
If you want to adjust Anchor Points, handles, and bounding box display sizes in Illustrator, select Illustrator > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display.
In the Preferences dialog box, go to the Anchor Points, Handle, and Bounding Box Display section. Toggle the size you want between Default and Max. Then, click the OK button.
Final Thoughts: Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing
Anchor points not showing in Illustrator can be frustrating, but fortunately, there are several solutions to troubleshoot this issue. By checking the Layers panel, using the Direct Selection tool, resetting the Preferences, updating Illustrator, or reinstalling the software, I’m sure one of them could help to the Anchor Points to show in Illustrator.
Make sure to try these solutions soon — because other things in life will get in the way of your creative tasks. In the meantime, I hope this guide to resolve Illustrator Anchor points not showing will help you get back to your project in no time.