AI Workshop: Error 16 – What To Do About It?


Illustrator workshop header

Yesterday I got to experience something new today in Adobe Illustrator CC (2014). An error 16 configuration error. Sounds redundant? It might be. But it kept me from opening my copy of Illustrator on my iMac.

The Roots of the Problem

Personally, this started out with an article I read on on how a white-hat hacker from Sweden found a major vulnerability in the “Yosemite” version of Mac OS X. Somehow, you can manipulate the OS into creating a shell account on a with root privileges. The article doesn’t say if this can be done remotely or not. I’m personally leaning towards the hacker having to be physically on the Mac to do this. That’s the way most Mac exploits work.

One of the ways to prevent this exploit is to create a user account without administrator privileges and use it instead of the default admin account. I’m pretty lazy at times, and I hate having to make my computing experience more difficult than it needs to be. Plus I constantly back up my Mac. That said, I decided to take the “high road” and created a new admin account for installing software and modifying my system. Then I removed my current account’s administrative privileges. Now I’m finally safe from hackers and whatever. (I guess.)

That morning, I decided to work on an ebook cover in Illustrator. Clicked its icon in the dock, and before I even got a glimpse of AI’s start screen or interface, I got this fun little error:

Configuration error 16 dialogue box that appears in Mac OS X in a User account

I just assumed that some settings or preference file got corrupt, and this was AI’s way of vomiting it up. It does that ever so often, and I’ll have to hold down ControlOptionCommand to get it working again.

“I’ll just reboot my machine, and I’ll be back to work.” Well, I was wrong. The other funny thing was that my Creative Cloud menu was displaying “Free Trial” buttons next to my copies of AI. That made me quickly paranoid. I began to wonder if my credit card blasted through its limit or if it simply was rejected by Adobe for whatever reason. I brought up my Abode CC account, and everything was hunky-dory. No issues with payment.

As you can see in the screen shot above, I took Adobe’s advice and uninstalled and reinstalled Illustrator. That did nothing. Then I researched this issue on Google and Bing. I found an Adobe help page that claims that you need to adjust the permissions to specific folders. But the permissions to both  my SLStore folder and Adobe PCD folder in my system were already set correctly.

Then I had to think bad to the things I had done recently on this computer. The reason why I developed this habit was due to my experiences with “extension conflicts” in Mac OS 9 and earlier versions. Extensions back in per-OS X operating systems were much like plug-ins in PhotoShop. Often times extensions had a tendency of conflicting with each other or the system itself. This often caused all sorts of annoying problems or just simply brought down the system. I remembered that I had taken away the admin privileges from my current account. So I restored them and magically Illustrator worked like it should.

But It Wasn’t Over Just Yet

This morning, my copy of PhotoShop gave me the same grief. (Another freakin’ Error 16 dialogue box.) I own a version from one of the older CS families. I’m not sure why that made a difference, but I had to get  this resolved ASAP.

I had done more research via Google this time. I found a thread on the Apple Support forums discussing this issue. Scroll down four boxes. A person named Nobby66 gave the suggestion to set all of the permissions to the Adobe PCD folder to Read & Write. Here are the steps:

  1. Use the Finder to navigate to Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PCD.
  2. Then select the Adobe PCD folder and use the keystroke CommandI to Get Info on the folder.
  3. Go to the Sharing & Permissions panel and click on the lock in the bottom-right-hand corner.
  4. The Finder will ask for an administrator login and password. Enter that.
  5. Click in the Privilege side of the panel and set every user to have Read & Write access. It should look like this below: Get Info box for Adobe PCD folder
  6. Click the Sprocket button, which resides next to the minus button along the bottom of the Sharing & Permissions panel. That will bring up a small menu, and you will select, “Apply to enclosed items…” That will set the permissions for all files and folders within the Adobe PCD folder to what has been selected within the Sharing & Permissions panel.
  7. You’re done!


 Are We Done Yet?

I think we are. I don’t know if the same resolution will work in Windows. Adobe gives the same remedy for Windows users experiencing a Configuration Error 16. You may want to play around with either opening your Adobe app under an admin account and/or tweaking your permissions the same way I did under Mac OS X. For Windows users please take these suggestions with the proper caution. I have no idea if tweaking permissions will cause any issues in Windows.

  • Tatiana Henriquez

    This is making me crazy, I’ve done everything people say but still doesn’t work! 🙁

    • Hendrik Bagger

      I have got the same problem here to. Im working in Spain for the next two weeks and I need to get it working or I have a big problem…

  • disqus_FaMjhT1DL2

    Fixed it! You’re a lifesaver!!

  • Cary Sandra Molyneux

    Worked for InDesign as well.