8 Easy Tips To Fix Missing Bounding Box In Illustrator

Are you working in Adobe Illustrator and have you suddenly noticed that the bounding box is not showing? If so, don’t despair—this issue can be easily fixed.

The problem could be due to a few different reasons, such as an incorrect setting, or perhaps your computer’s graphics card is having trouble processing the information.

In any case, there are simple commands you can use to get your bounding box back up and running quickly. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you’ll be able to troubleshoot the issue and find out what caused it in no time!

Let’s take a look at how to get started with these basic commands and restore your Illustrator bounding box today.

Illustrator bounding box not showing

Quick Steps to Show Illustrator Bounding Box

For your Illustrator bounding box to show, select View > Show Bounding Box. Or use the bounding box illustrator shortcut Shift + Command + B for Mac, or Shift + Ctrl + B for Windows.

What is the Bounding Box in Illustrator?

Before we dive into troubleshooting mode, let’s quickly explain what a bounding box is in Adobe Illustrator. The bounding box is a frame around all the elements of your document.

It’s not the same as the object edges. The bounding box is always a rectangle or square shape, while the object edges follow the outline or shape of the object.

Related: How to make outline in Adobe Illustrator

one triangle showing bounding box and another triangle showing object edges in illustrator
Bounding box and object edges for object layer

The bounding box is like an object border or text box that keeps each element enclosed and visible, so you can easily manipulate them without accidentally selecting the wrong item.

This makes it easier for you to move, transform, rotate, shrink, or enlarge text and objects. It gives you reference points around the selected object and you can use them to align text and objects and arrange your artwork with the box handles rather than the anchor points.

illustrator text box bounding box and object edges
Bounding box and object edges for text

For text frames, if you see that your Illustrator bounding box handles missing, this means your bounding box is not showing. If you Create Outlines for your text, it becomes a vector object and it will have a bounding box the same as the one for an object layer.

In short, the bounding box is like a free transform tool, move tool, and rotate tool in one.

object bounding box to rotate, shape, transform, move in Illustrator

When the bounding box isn’t showing up, it can be frustrating. Showing or hiding the bounding box is not part of an action in Illustrator.

Which also means if you have hidden it by accident, you can’t undo or redo an action to have it reappear. But don’t worry—we’ll have this fixed soon enough!

Reasons Why Illustrator Bounding Box Is Not Showing

Here are some possible reasons why your bounding box is not showing in Illustrator:

  1. Object Is Not Selected
  2. Show Bounding Box
  3. Layer Is Locked
  4. Zoom Level Is Too Low
  5. Preview Issues
  6. Preferences Wrongly Selected
  7. Corrupted Preferences Files
  8. Outdated Illustrator App

How to Fix the Bounding Box Issue

It’s common for Adobe Illustrator users to experience issues with their bounding box not showing. But there can be varying reasons why your bounding box is not showing in Illustrator.

Fortunately, this issue can usually be easily fixed in different ways in a few simple steps.

1. Select the Layer

Your Illustrator bounding box is not showing possibly because you didn’t select the object, shape, or text layer. Layers in Illustrator must first be selected before the bounding box will be shown.

The selection process is indicated by a visible bounding box that appears around the item when it is clicked on.

If this box does not appear, then it means that the object has not been selected and cannot be edited until it is. In order to select an object, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Change Cursor to Selection Tool

Click on the Selection tool from the toolbar, or press V on the keyboard.

selection tool - how to expand text in adobe illustrator

Step 2: Select the Object

Click on the object layer with your mouse cursor, and the bounding box appears around your object layer.

Not selecting an object could be one reason for your missing bounding box. Other causes include incorrect settings or graphics card issues but these can usually be quickly resolved as well.

While a disappearing bounding box may seem like a daunting problem at first, read on more for more solutions.

2. Show Bounding Box

For your bounding box to show up in Illustrator, you will have to first select View in the top menu and select Show Bounding Box in the drop-down menu. Or select View > Show Bounding Box.

select view on top menu and select Show Bounding Box in drop-down menu of Illustrator

There’s no need for you to select any text layers or objects to fix the bounding box issue, because, hiding or showing a bounding box applies to the whole Illustrator file, not to individual layers.

You can also use the show bounding box Illustrator shortcut, Shift + Command + B for Mac OS.

Keyboard shift command B to show bounding box

Or Shift + Ctrl + B for Windows.

Keyboard shift Ctrl B to show bounding box in windows pc

3. UnLock the Layer

If the layer of your object is locked, then no bounding box will be visible. Locking a layer in Illustrator will prevent any objects within that layer from being visible or selected.

As such, if you’re having trouble getting your bounding box to show up, it’s worth checking whether or not your layer is locked.

It’s important to note that locking layers isn’t always intentional—sometimes these settings can be altered by accident when attempting certain operations in Illustrator.

Such as when you are trying to work faster with keyboard shortcuts. It’s common to press the wrong keys.

To unlock your layer, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the Layers panel

Select Window in the top menu, scroll down, and select Layers in the drop-down menu to open the Layers panel.

open layers panel

If you have all the layers nested in one main layer. show all the nested layers by clicking on the arrow next to the thumbnail image of the main layer. Next, you will see a drop-down of all nested layers you have in your AI document.

select arrow pointing down to see more sub layers in layers panel

Step 2: Unlock the Layer

If your layer is locked, you will be able to find a lock icon on the second column from the left-hand side of the Layers panel. To unlock the layer, click on the lock icon next to the object’s name.

click on lock icon in layers panel to unlock the layer

The lock icon disappears and now you can select your layer and move it around freely.

Select the last column of the layer on the right-hand side of the panel. You should see a colored square appear in that column. This colored square indicates the selected layer.

Now you will see your layer with the bounding box around it.

bounding box appears on selected layer

4. Zoom In

If your zoom level is set too low, your artwork objects may not be visible or selectable. This can cause the bounding box of your image to disappear from view—even though the layer might be unlocked and selected.

This is because when the zoom level is set too low, it’s not possible for Illustrator to render all of the elements in detail. As such, some objects may be rendered as too small to be seen on screen—which means they’re also too small to be selected.

The solution here is simple—all you need to do is zoom into your canvas so that all of your objects become visible once again. To do this, use the Zoom tool (keyboard shortcut key, Z) and click on the area around where your object is located.

select zoom tool from toolbar to zoom in

Alternatively, you can click on View > Fit Artboard in Window from the top menu bar.

select fit artboard in window from top menu

You can also use keyboard shortcuts Command + O for Mac.

keyboard shortcuts command + O to fit artboard in window for mac

Or Ctrl + O for Windows.

keyboard shortcuts ctrl + O to fit artboard in window for Windows

This will automatically fit all objects in your active artboard into view.

Once you’ve done this, you should see a visible bounding box around each object on your canvas—indicating that they are now selected and ready to be edited or manipulated as needed.

So if you ever find yourself struggling with a disappearing bounding box issue in Adobe Illustrator, take a moment to check whether or not your zoom level needs adjusting first before trying more complicated solutions.

5. Enable GPU Preview

When your bounding box isn’t showing properly. One potential cause of this issue could be GPU performance.

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance is the amount of computing power that a computer’s graphics card has to render the visuals on your screen. This includes everything from 3D games to simple illustrations in Adobe Illustrator.

If your GPU doesn’t have enough power or is outdated, then it may not be able to handle the workload required for smooth rendering in Adobe Illustrator—which can result in certain features such as bounding boxes not appearing correctly.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help improve GPU performance and hopefully get your bounding boxes back in working order. The first step is to ensure that your graphics card driver is up-to-date.

Outdated drivers can lead to compatibility issues between the software and hardware, leading to poor performance or even crashes.

So make sure you’re keeping up with regular driver updates from either Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website directly if available.

Another way to improve GPU performance is by changing the preview setting to View Using GPU. Select View on the top menu, then select View Using GPU in the drop-down menu.

If you only see “View Using CPU“, this means your preview is already using GPU performance.

view using gpu preview

Using GPU preview will allow Illustrator to process more intensive tasks on your graphics card rather than relying solely on CPU power—which should help with rendering speed and accuracy of visuals like bounding boxes.

On top of this, you should also make sure that any other applications running on your computer aren’t consuming too many resources at once as this could limit how well Illustrator performs as well.

So close any unnecessary programs before trying out Adobe Illustrator again.

In some cases, your computer’s graphics card may be having trouble processing the information. Try updating your GPU drivers to the latest version available or consider a faster alternative that can handle large amounts of data more efficiently.

Updating drivers, adjusting settings within the program itself, and monitoring other applications running on your computer are all good steps towards improving overall system performance.

6. Reset Illustrator Preferences

If you’re still having trouble getting your bounding box to appear, it’s possible that something is wrong with the Illustrator preferences.

To fix this issue, try resetting the preferences to their default settings by following these steps:

Step 1: Go to General Preferences

This can be done by selecting Preferences from the top menu. Then select General….

select general from Illustrator preferences

Click on the button that says Reset Preferences and select the OK button.

go to preferences general and select reset preferences and click the OK button

After that, simply re-open Illustrator and your file. Then select any layer. Your bounding box should now be visible.

7. Delete Corrupted Preferences File

If none of the above steps work, then it’s likely that your Adobe Illustrator preferences file may have become corrupted.

It’s also worth mentioning that deleting Preferences files isn’t always necessary when troubleshooting problems like the Illustrator bounding box now showing.

So make sure you’ve tried all other possible solutions first before attempting this fix! However, if all else fails then deleting your preferences could very well be the answer you’re looking for. Try this only as one of the last resorts.

A preferences file is a type of small text document that stores settings and configurations used by the application when it’s running.

This includes everything from user preferences such as language selection, to important program settings like performance optimization.

As such, if these settings were to become corrupted or damaged in any way, then Illustrator will struggle to run properly—including not displaying the bounding box correctly or at all!

To fix this issue, you must first locate the preferences file and delete it manually. To do so, simply open up your computer’s folder.

Then, look for the “Preferences” folder located inside the main “Applications” directory (for Mac) or the “Roaming” directory (for Windows).

Once you’ve located this folder, right-click on the relevant preference file (which should have an extension of either .plist or .xml) and select “Delete” from the context menu that appears.

8. Update Illustrator

If none of the above solutions work, it can be due to bugs that need to be fixed. Or the Illustrator version you are using may not be compatible with your updated computer operating system.

It may be necessary to update your Illustrator app. This can be done by following these steps:

Step 1: Select Updates From Top Menu

Select Help in the top menu and select Updates… in the drop-down menu.

select updates from help top menu in illustrator

Step 2: Install any available updates for Illustrator

Creative Cloud opens up and you will see the apps that have new updates available in the right column. Quit all Adobe apps and click on the Update button for Illustrator.

update adobe illustrator app on creative cloud desktop app

Re-open the newly updated Illustrator app and your file. Select any layer in your document by clicking on it once. Check if the bounding box is showing this time.

FAQ on Illustrator Bounding Box

Why Is The Illustrator Bounding Box Not Showing When Moving An Object?

You may have done all the above and selected the object with the Selection tool. Yet, there’s still no bounding box. Not to worry, as this is how it works for all layers in Illustrator.

The bounding box will always be hidden while the object is being dragged around.
If you wish to see the shape of your object or text box so that you have lines of reference while moving your object, you can make the object edges show up.

To show object edges, select Illustrator > Preferences > Performance in the top menu.

Then, go to the section that says Others and uncheck the box next to Real-Time Drawing and Editing. Then click the OK button.

uncheck real-time drawing and editing in preferences preference

Now, go back to your Illustrator file, and select any object by clicking and holding the cursor. Drag the object and you will see the same object in the same position while the one you are dragging is only an outline of the object. When you let go of your cursor, your object will appear in the new position.

Can I see the bounding box for every selected object individually even if multiple objects are selected?

Yes! You can do that for text boxes only. But this doesn’t work for objects and raster images. If you were to select multiple objects and images, the bounding box that shows will be only one big box containing all the selected objects.

Final Thoughts: Missing Illustrator Bounding Box

No matter what caused your bounding box to vanish from view, we hope these tips help you get back on track with designing beautiful artwork in no time.

If the issue persists, it could be due to a corrupted workspace or a plugin conflict. In this case, try creating a new workspace or disabling plugins to see if that resolves the problem.

It is important to keep in mind that the missing bounding box issues can have multiple causes and solutions. It is recommended to try different solutions until the problem is resolved.

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