Temporary Insanity

Adobe IllustratorAs spring seasons go, this one has been extraordinarily busy for me so far. Between work, traveling for work and working more, we’re doing more projects and more intensive projects at Behavior than ever before. This means good things for us and our clients, but bad things for the frequency of posts here while I go crazy over work tasks.

Another reason for my slacker performance on this weblog over the past week is Adobe Illustrator CS’s new, bewildering habit of creating dozens of unaccountable temporary files all over my hard drive. There are various explanations for the cause, none of which are conclusive, but the answer seems to lie somewhere between the Creative Suite’s PDF features and Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Adobe Illustrator Temp Files
Above: One file, many temporary files. Illustrator goes a little insane.

The impact of this bug can be mildly annoying or very frustrating, depending on whether you’re uptight about keeping folders clean, as I am, and whether your backup strategy will suffer bloating as a result of saving possibly thousands of useless files. At a higher level, it’s indicative of Adobe Illustrator’s recent and increasing shakiness. I used to consider this program to be rock solid, and on the very few times that I ever crashed it, I found the incident almost laughable. I don’t feel quite that way any longer; I hit save frequently and fearfully.

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  1. ugh! that would drive me batty (not that i’m not already batty, but..) i have the same problem with some of the applications on the *gasp* PC that i use at work. i find temp files for word and ultraedit all over the place and spend a lot of time getting rid of them. i’ve also noticed that iphoto keeps backups of photos that are edited from the app. i have it setup so that when i double-click on a photo, it opens photoshop, i edit it, re-save it and go back to iphoto and the photo updates with my changes. during that process, iphoto creates a backup so that you can revert. talk about sucking up a lot of hard drive space!

  2. I’m feeling the same way about all the Adobe apps I use these days (InDesign, Illustrator, even Photoshop). They seem to be getting progressively more and more bloated with each version, demanding higher and higher system specs, without really providing anything to revolutionise my workflow. Sure, there’s many nice little things in the newer versions, but nothing I lay asleep at night wishing for beforehand.
    Since moving to the mac last year, I’ve been in love with the many OSX shareware apps that are lean, clean and do one thing really fast, really well, without any bloat.
    I would really love to see Adobe (and other big players) adopt “lean and clean” in their dev cycle, rather than trying to make 3 apps do the thousands of things (slowly, clunkily and buggily) I don’t need them to do. Even breaking down major groups of features to modular plug-ins that I can turn off would be nice.

  3. I’m getting the temp files too, but not on a couple of documents – not EVERYTHING I make in Illustrator does this. But the other day I was working on a desktop file and didn’t notice until my entire 23″ screen was covered with these things. Garrr. Have you heard of any solutions?

  4. These things have been driving me up the wall, and what I’ve read about them hasn’t been helpful at all, except to let me know that I’m not alone in my frustration. I’m still on 10.3 at home, so it’s not a problem here, but we’re running 10.4 at work. They’re all over my hard drive, all over our server, and getting all over the backups. Right now, I’m the only one of four designers who has upgraded to Tiger, so I can’t even imagine how bad it’s going to be once we all do.

    I used to love Illustrator so much, and it has become so hard to use. So bloated, slow, and instable. Your last sentence sums up my feelings as well.

  5. I’ve noticed this for awhile (since the Tiger upgrade). It was more of an annoyance until tonight. All of sudden my whole machine locked up while working in Illustrator. I can’t even get to the Finder to Force Quit. I’ve had to Restart several times now, and this damn project needs to be done tonight.

    Saving often and drinking heavily are probably my only options at this point.

  6. I am getting this on my work laptop which is at 10.3.9 so it’s not related to the Tiger upgrade (Tiger has some different problems of its own). Maybe the 10.3.8 upgrade because I’ve had it for a few months. Hasn’t bugged me enough to spend time researching solutions, but now my curiosity is piqued.

  7. Turning off Version Cue seemed to do the trick for me — it’s rather annoying to have to do that, but that was saving snapshots of variations of my designs as temp files to come back to… annoying.

  8. I’m pretty sure this problem is down to Spotlight. What happens is when you save a file from Illustrator, it creates a temporary file in the folder you’re in and then deletes it when you’re done saving.

    However, Spotlight tries to index the temporary file, Illustrator thinks the file is in use and can’t delete it.

    The Solution:
    Add the folder you’re saving to to Spotlight’s “Privacy” list in the Spotlight prefpane.

  9. Ok, I tried turning off Version Cue and it didn’t do much for me. Perhaps I got fewer back up copies, but I still got them. I’ve tried Nick’s Spotlight trick and will be testing it to see if it works. Fingers and toes are crossed. I’m regarding this as a half empty situation…these are weeds as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for the help!