OS X 10.9 Mavericks: Will Adobe software work?

OS X 10.9 logo, courtesy Apple Inc.

Now that OS X 10.9 Mavericks is available from the Mac App Store for free (no refunds!), you’re probably wondering how well your Adobe software and other Mac apps will run on it. Below is a summary of various reports I’ve read on Adobe.com and around the web. I will continue to update this article as I find out more.

Adobe FAQs: Adobe has published a tech note, OS Compatibility and FAQs for Mac OS Mavericks (v10.9). It contains links to additional information, so be sure to expand each of the FAQ questions on that page to get to the links for important information about Flash Player and sandbox restrictions, an “incompatible software” error you might get with the Creative Cloud desktop application, and a problem viewing Adobe PDF files in Safari.

In that FAQ, Adobe claims:

“All Adobe CC and CS6 products are compatible, but a few products require updates to the latest builds to work properly. Adobe Photoshop® CS5, CS4 and CS3 were also tested with Mac OS X Mavericks and there are currently no major issues known.”

I’ve been able to install and run some Creative Cloud and older Creative Suite apps on Mavericks, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Photoshop CS3 and CS4 installed and started up successfully, but I didn’t work in them intensively. (Note that CS2 applications, including Photoshop, were written for Macs with PowerPC CPUs. Mavericks only runs Intel CPU-compatible software, so Mavericks will not allow CS2 to run or install.)

While the Adobe FAQ says there are “no major issues known” with CS3 through CS6, there seem to be a few that are at least minor. I cover some in the rest of this article, and there are also discussions happening on Adobe forums and blogs (a good one is Creative Cloud, Creative Suite 6, and Mavericks (10.9)). If you find a repeatable problem, you can send it in using the official Adobe Feature Request/Bug Report Form, but it’s always a good idea to first check the Adobe Community forum for the software in case it’s already being discussed.

An application won’t start: The two most common reasons for pre-CC versions to not launch in Mavericks are Java not being available, and having non-Adobe plug-ins that aren’t compatible with Mavericks. See the topics Java requirement and Plug-ins below.

Photoshop: Menus may appear blank. This is not happening to everyone, but there is a long thread on the official Photoshop forum about it: Drop Down Menus in Photoshop CS 6 Goes Blank In MavericksUpdate: This was caused by a bug in OS X, which Apple fixed in OS X 10.9.3. If you are running an earlier version of OS X you can download an Adobe plug-in to work around the problem.

Mac Performance Guide reports that the App Nap feature in Mavericks may slow down Photoshop scripts, but Adobe claims to have worked around this in Photoshop CC 14.2.

An Apple bug in OS X 10.9.2 driver software for OpenCL running on AMD/ATI GPU hardware caused crashes in some features in Photoshop if OpenCL is enabled, and can reportedly affect performance on the 2013 Mac Pro. Apple fixed their bug in OS X 10.9.3, so make sure you’re up to date.

Lightroom: For Mavericks compatibility, make sure you have upgraded to Lightroom 5.2. This version resolves a Mavericks-related issue involving sliders. Lightroom Queen Victoria Bampton has her own tech note that covers a few other minor Mavericks issues: Is Lightroom compatible with OS X Mavericks?

Premiere Pro: Users are reporting some issues, Adobe is investigating according to their Oct 23, 2013 blog post: Premiere Pro and Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks)

After Effects: If you’re crashing, get the After Effects 12.1 update. If you can’t reassign keyboard shortcuts by using TextEdit to edit the shortcuts file, you need to turn off the default TextEdit behavior in Mavericks that turns on Smart Quotes.

Java requirement: When launching some older Adobe software for the first time in OS X, OS X may say that a Java runtime needs to be installed. If a button is provided, click it; if not, download the latest Java from Apple and install that. Some users have reported that the Adobe launch issue is not fixed until you reboot a second time after the Java installation.

Some are wary of Java security issues, but OS X won’t let some Adobe applications launch without it. In the case of Photoshop, Adobe says Photoshop doesn’t need Java at all, but OS X puts up the message anyway.

Plug-ins: If you rely on any non-Adobe plug-ins, make sure those plug-ins are compatible with Mavericks. A plug-in that is not compatible with Mavericks may prevent its host Adobe app from starting up.

Multiple displays: If you put panels (including the Tools panel) on a secondary display and then switch applications, those panels may snap back to the primary display when you switch back. To avoid this, open System Preferences, click Mission Control, and turn off Displays Have Separate Spaces. Mavericks ships with that option on, so if you want to position Adobe application panels and windows on multiple displays you should turn off that option. The Lightroom secondary display panel seems to work fine either way though.

Displays Have Separate Spaces system preference in Mavericks

Another reason (this applies to all Mac apps) why you might want to turn off Displays Have Separate Spaces is that if it’s on, you can’t span a window across two displays. What’s a reason to turn it on? There are at least three: If you want Spaces to switch on only the display you’re using (the one with the pointer), if you want to see the menu bar on all displays, and if you want to be able to see more than one application when using OS X full screen mode with multiple displays.

Photoshop CC seems to work properly with panels and windows spread across two monitors, including a single window extended across two monitors, as long as the Displays Have Separate Spaces option is turned off.

Open/Save dialog box CoverFlow crash: If an application crashes when you’re using the CoverFlow view in the Open/Save dialog box, this looks like a bug observed in Mavericks. Adobe has a tech note about it: Freeze or Crash when using Open or Save dialog box.

OS X Gatekeeper may prevent older Adobe software from starting: Gatekeeper is an Apple security feature (added in Mountain Lion) that helps protect you from running malicious applications. If you run Adobe software released before Gatekeeper, you should know what to do if Gatekeeper prevents Adobe software from starting. Adobe covers that in this tech note: Error “has not been signed by a recognized distributor” | Launch Adobe applications | Mac OS. The short answer is to bypass the error by right-clicking the application icon, then choose Open from the context menu.

Adobe software released after Gatekeeper was introduced properly conforms to Gatekeeper requirements, so no adjustments are needed for them.

Old Adobe software part II: Intel compatibility required: If your Adobe software is earlier than CS5, to run under Mavericks at all it must support Intel processors. After Apple switched to Intel-based Macs, Apple started phasing out support for running software based on the older PowerPC processors. Starting with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Mac OS X no longer runs PowerPC-based software. You’ll have to check compatibility for each of the Adobe applications you want to run; for example, Photoshop CS3 was the first version of Photoshop that ran on Intel-based Macs. But even if your software older than CS5 runs on Mavericks, it may still have other issues because OS X has changed a lot since then.

Upgrading from Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier: You may also want to read my blog post “Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: Will Adobe apps and other software work?”, so that you can also be up to date on the more dramatic changes that were introduced in Lion, such as the end of OS X support for PowerPC-based software.

To learn about OS X software compatibility of Mac software in general, a great resource is the Roaring Apps database. It lists OS X software and its reported compatibility with the last few versions of OS X. For mission-critical software, you should also check each company’s support website to verify that it works.

Wondering what Mavericks is all about? For the most in-depth Mavericks review you’ll probably find anywhere, read John Siracusa’s review at Ars Technica. As with every major release of OS X, Siracusa not only reviews the visible features that Apple promotes, but goes under the surface to explain changes to some of the underlying technologies in OS X and how they affect your Mac experience.

Full screen mode on multiple monitors: In Lion and Mountain Lion, if an application used the OS X native full screen mode, all other monitors would display only the gray linen background pattern, preventing you from seeing any other applications. Mavericks finally fixes this; I can now put an application into OS X full screen mode and continue to see other applications on other monitors. However, to achieve this the Displays Have Separate Spaces option must be turned on. But as discussed earlier in this article, you want to turn off that option if you want to be able to keep Adobe windows and panels on another monitor and not lose those positions when switching applications.

Adobe continues to use the traditional Adobe full screen modes in their apps such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator instead of the OS X-native full screen mode. It’s still unclear whether Adobe will adopt OS X full screen mode, but I don’t necessarily mind, because Adobe continues to offer more and sometimes more practical full screen modes than Apple does. Adobe applications were free of the full screen limitations of Lion and Mountain Lion because they don’t use OS X full screen mode.

10-bit video displays: Photoshop users and other graphics professionals have wanted proper support for 10-bits-per-channel video displays on Macs. (This isn’t about the file format, but the data path to the video monitor.) While 10-bit-capable displays, graphics cards, cables, and software (such as Photoshop) have been ready for some time, Apple has not provided the necessary APIs to complete the chain. I had not heard that this is changing in Mavericks, but a reader sent me a link to an article on Native Digital that indicates possible support for 10-bit video. (Update: The linked article now says it was a false alarm; still no 10-bit support in Mavericks.) If you know any more about this, please post in the comments.

83 comments

  1. I just upgraded to Mavericks and wham, none of my CS3 programs will launch. I downloaded old upgrades for the CS3 programs, looked around blogs, and nothing seems to work. Any help would be appreciated.

    I was running the Adobe programs this very day, minutes before the upgrade without problems. The minute the update completed and the computer restarted, my Adobe suite is inaccessible.

    1. How are they not launching? Do they display a crash or another alert message from OS X or Adobe, or do they just do nothing?

      Also, which Adobe apps are they, and which OS were you running before?

      I haven’t tried to install or run CS3 on Mavericks, but if certain messages pop up they might indicate what’s holding up the launches. If I don’t have an answer, providing additional info might help other readers figure it out.

      1. I was previously running Mountain Lion without any problems.

        What happens now is that I will click in the Illustrator or Photoshop app icon and nothing happens period. No jumping, hopping, or even crashing. Nothing.

        I’ve tried opening it from various sources, clicking directly on files, nothing happens. Not even my Flash CS5 works. My Ai and Ps are CS3.

    1. Unfortunately I don’t have a quick answer as to why, but if it has something to do with OS X Gatekeeper I updated the post with a new section about that.

  2. At first I was also scared but wait a while and it’ll lunch after some time. Indexing or something is going on. But finally my cs5 has started to work ;)

    1. qurarra,
      have you tried InDesign CS5, does it launch and work properly?
      I do have Adobe CC apps, but I have one plugin for InDesign CS5, which I need from time to time, haven’t upgraded that yet for CC. And can’t upgrade it yet, so need to work with InDesign CS5 a bit.

    1. Scott, thanks for asking. There is a strange interaction between Photoshop CC and OS X Spaces/Mission Control; see the paragraph I added above about Photoshop CC. I undocked panels from the application frame and put them on the secondary monitor, but they didn’t stay in place the way Mavericks is set up by default. But if I turned off the Mission Control setting “Displays Have Separate Spaces,” I could have the application frame on one monitor and panels on another and they would stay in place.

      Of course if you want displays to maintain separate spaces, then Photoshop CC won’t work as desired.

  3. AHHHH! All my premiere CS6 files wont open – “Sorry, a serious error has occurred that requires Adobe Premiere Pro to shut down. We will attempt to save your current project.”
    Any ideas?

    1. Try switching to List or Icon view in the File > Open dialog. There seems to be an issue with the Cover Flow view (the one that looks like iTunes album covers).

    1. Your Mac should prompt you to upgrade to Java 6 SE runtime. This should fix the problem. I didn’t see the box because it was buried under all the windows I have open.

    2. alexandr, do you use any non-Adobe plug-ins with Illustrator? Some users are finding that non-Adobe plug-ins (like Vectorscribe) prevent Illustrator from starting until they are removed and updated for Mavericks.

  4. You cannot open Premiere or After Effect CS6 files from the finder nor preview MP4′s, MOV’s, or other movie files from finder as well. PSDs seem to be ok previewed and open straight into Photoshop (CS6)

  5. I have just upgraded and all my CS6 is running except Illustrator…I can’t do my job without the entire suite working…any suggestions?

    1. William, do you use any non-Adobe plug-ins with Illustrator? Some users are finding that non-Adobe plug-ins (like Vectorscribe) prevent Illustrator from starting until they are removed and updated for Mavericks.

  6. Hello. I just installed Mavericks today and am having problems with Flash Player on Firefox. I use my webcam on a chat site, it worked just fine when I was still on Mountain Lion, but now it just blocks the navigator after about 5 minutes and I’m obliged to force Firefox to quit. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling and get the same behavior. Any ideas about what to do? Thanks!

    1. Also, will disabling Gatekeeper allow CS3 to work again even if it was installed prior? (i.e. CS3 was already installed and working fine when I upgraded to Maverick…what steps should I take to make CS3 work again?) Feeling mad at myself that I jumped into this upgrade so quickly…something I’ve never done before (note to self…)

  7. Is there a way to uninstall Maverick and go back to our previous system software? I’m not a happy camper and need all of my CS3 programs to work!

  8. I called AppleCare about how to uninstall Maverick and discovered there is no easy way to do this. However, she did help me try to fix the problem with my CS3 and we discovered that all I had to do was upgrade Java and now it all works! Yay, for AppleCare!

  9. Since I downloaded the new Apple Maverick’s system, I am not able to use my Photoshop CS5 or CS4 application. Does anyone know how to solve this problem. I am currently looking for updated downloads and hoping I will find something.

  10. I Having a problem with opening files in Photoshop and Illustrator .. I get this (Could not complete your request because of a program error.) ever time.

    1. In the File > Open dialog, switch from Cover Flow view to Icon, List, or Column view (icons appear at the top-left of the dialog). (This will apply to multiple applications, including Safari.)

  11. Very helpful article although the link to the Adobe compatibility page (OS Compatibility and FAQs for Mac OS Mavericks (v10.9)) above returns an error, “page not found”.
    I was hoping to read that before jumping into Mavericks. I’m still running CS5.5 and haven’t updated to the Creative Cloud yet, still a bit undecided about that though.

  12. I install my CS5 Design Premium after a clean OS X 10.9 installation. All Adobe apps works except Bridge: when I try to open it a window alerts me that Power PC software can’t work on Maverick. but I use it also with Lion and Mountain Lion too! Is it normal? I don’t know ho to do it! Please, someone can help me? Thanks a lot to everyone.

    1. Did somebody else get the same issue?
      I work on CS5 Design Premium too and I need Bridge everyday. I stuccoed on 10.7 because I read about issues in Illustrator on 10.8. Now it would be nice to install an actual OS on my mac…

  13. I hope this gets fixed soon in CS5.5 Production premium. It has been a headache for me. photoshop file error 1 encore. Then it acts abnormally. Have searched in google in case someone has an answer for it.

  14. We have a software called PDF Studio which is an alternative to Adobe Acrobat. It can annotate, markup text, fill forms, assemble, edit content and OCR PDFs. It is more affordable than Acrobat (Pro version is at $120) and the same license key allows installing on Mac but also Windows or Linux. Many users are running it on Mac 10.9 Mavericks and so far everything seems to work fine for them. There were some glitches at first (with a needed update for Java), but this seems resolved now. Like Acrobat, upon installation, PDF Studio will prompt you to install Java if you have not installed it yet.

  15. I reloaded Premiere Pro and it fixed it. I didn’t uninstall first, I just reloaded premiere on top of the old one. Don’t forget to restart after.

  16. Illustrator CS3 freezes then crashes when prompted to print. Worked perfectly in Snow Leopard, and I installed the prompted JAVA update. Any suggestions?

  17. FWIW I was having trouble running CS5–Photoshop and Illustrator worked, but InDesign and Fireworks would unexpectedly quit as they were starting up. This was after installing java runtime. Uninstalling CS5 and reinstalling worked for me. Everything works now.

    1. So .. just to confirm, you were able to get Fireworks CS5 to run under Mavericks? Has it been stable? Have you noticed any unusual issues? I am still reluctant to upgrade as I have FW CS5 and use it on a daily basis.

  18. Conrad, this is a very thorough and useful compendium of matters and issues related to migrating to Mavericks using Adobe software. There’s one thing I’d like to offer as an emendation to your excellent compilation specifically regarding Lightroom 5. Thanks so much for the pointer to the Mission Control settings. Turning off the separate spaces for monitors cured a very slight but annoying problem in Lightroom 5 (5.2 to be precise). My secondary monitor is smaller in area and resolution than the primary monitor. Opening “secondary monitor” in Lightroom opened the second window all right, but it showed as an overlay to the primary image. I had to slide the window over to the secondary display, where it fit properly as to the size alloted under the secondary menu bar of this additional space in the OS. On quitting and rebooting LR, however, the secondary display window would again appear as an overlay of the primary and required movement to place. Toggling off “separate spaces” in Mission Control corrected this behavior. Thanks again. I hope Adobe (or Apple) correct this minor anomaly in a follow-on release.

  19. Hi everyone,

    Since installing Maverick, I noticed some minor issues with Photoshop CS5 (opening and saving window was blank). A few restarts, seems to have rectified that somewhat, there is a noticable delay when the window appears to open or save files.

    However, my major concern is, Dreamweaver CS5, it’s totally dead. I tried launching it and it kept on quitting. I Uninstalled and then re-installed, now I get an error message..

    “Unable to find file MultiscreenPreview.htm in the Configuration/Floters directory. The floater will not be shown.”

    Then it quits.. Any help out there folks.. many thanks

      1. Hello Charles, JP,
        I experienced the same problem but could solve it with this:

        Issue

        Dreamweaver CS5 crashes when you try to start it on Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks).
        To the top
        Solution

        Clear your Dreamweaver CS5 preferences by performing the following steps:

        Important: By deleting preferences, you lose all the custom (user-specified) settings in Preferences, such as custom snippets, extensions, and changes to keyboard shortcuts.

        Open Finder and press Command + shift + G to open the Go To The Folder dialog box.

        Type ~/Library and click Go.

        Note:

        If the Library folder is hidden, perform the steps outlined in this article to unhide the files.

        Navigate to the Application Support/Adobe/ folder, and perform the following steps:
        Locate the folder Dreamweaver CS5 and delete the folder.
        Locate the Preferences folder and delete the Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 Prefs file.

        Launch Dreamweaver.

        Do not expand the Adobe BrowserLab panel. Close the panel and then begin to use Dreamweaver. To close the panel, click the pop-out menu at the upper-right corner and click Close Tab Group.

        Note: Even to customize the workspace, ensure that you first close the Adobe BrowserLab panel and then begin to move and dock panels.

        To the top
        Additional information

        Adobe BrowserLab on Dreamweaver CS5 is not supported on Mac OS 10.9.

        Good luck!

    1. hello jp, did you find a solution for
      “Unable to find file MultiscreenPreview.htm in the Configuration/Floters directory. The floater will not be shown.”
      i have the same problem.
      please need some help.

      1. Hey Charles,

        Nothing, I uninstalled the program and reinstalled hoping things would improve.There was even a Dreamweaver CS5 software update, which I installed. The only difference is the error message no longer appears, however, once the application loads, it quits.

        I have some immediate projects and needed to use Dreamweaver, so I had to download CC and use the trial version. When that’s over, I have no idea what to do. I may have to uninstall all my adobe software, both CC and CS5 versions and just reinstall my CS5 Suite. Hopefully, things function better, but that’s a hope. I’ll keep looking around to see if anything pops up though.

        As for my Photoshop (opening and saving window was blank), I’ve just seen this thread http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1320946 which I will read, because I am still experiencing this issue and it’s quite annoying.

    2. Hi jp
      my configuration is a imac 27 2012, whit second monitor. I am like you using cs6 trial to get by. I just installed dreamweaver cs5 on the laptop of my brother who as mavericks and it was fine. So maybe problem whit second monitor. Do you have dual monitors?I really need my dreamweaver for my project! I will keep you posted on my progress.

      1. No dual monitor set up yet, though.. but still trying to get by with the trial CC version. I hope Adobe has an answer shortly. Keep me posted.. cheers

    3. Hello jp
      now i have it working. after desinstalling cs5 dreamweaver, i unplugged my second monitors and in system preferences in mission control i unchecked the last check box(les écrans disposent d’espaces distincts). My system is in french. Hope it works for you

      1. Just wanted to clarify for English readers that the Mission Control preference in English OS X is “Displays have separate Spaces,” which I mentioned in the article. Merci Charles!

    1. HI Greg, I came across this article that talks about the status of several color management applications under Mavericks. (It was the last link in the article, though I had linked to it in the context of 10-bit color.)

      http://nativedigital.co.uk/site/2013/10/os-x-mavericks-compatibility-is-10-bit-finally-here-for-the-mac/

      It lists a few color management applications that are ready, and a few others that have updates you must download for compatibility.

      I use a ColorMunki and it works fine under Mavericks. The Native Digital article talks about a dual display profiling problem but the link to the info doesn’t work; I found the info here:

      http://www.xrite.com/product_overview.aspx?ID=1513&Action=support&SupportID=5727

    1. Hi, it is impossible to make CS2 applications work on Mavericks because CS2 was written for PowerPC processors (the Mac used PowerPC before it switched to Intel processors). But Apple stopped supporting PowerPC software and will not run PowerPC code in Mavericks.

  20. Anybody having truble with Photoshop CS5 in Mavericks – If I am using adjust layer eg exposure – as soon as I eg touch fill light – it returns to 0 ?

    1. Hi Modulex, there is a long thread at Adobe Forums about that type of problem, but I haven’t seen it myself. When you get to the second page of the thread it looks like Nik Software plug-ins may be causing the problem, but you might want to jump in and discuss it with them to make sure.

      Adobe Forums: Exposure slider jumps back

      http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1326441

  21. Has anyone noticed that Bridge is not displaying the thumbnails correctly? It displays images as if all the settings are set at 0. Completely flat/no contrast/no black, etc. But if you open the image in camera raw Command R, then the image shows up w/ all the settings. Any help?

    1. Hi Philicia, I’m not sure exactly what the problem is, but you might want to check how Bridge is set to read thumbnails. It can be set to initially read images using the embedded preview or the high-quality preview based on Camera Raw settings. It’s controlled by the unlabeled icons to the left of the star icon; here is a picture:

  22. Hi Conrad,

    On my iMac installed in January 2014. Photoshop CS5 keeps crashing after opening the printer dialogue and than either print/cancel > photoshop quits ‘unexpectedly’ all latest software is update also for the EPSON Stylus photo R2880. InDesign and Acrobat are fine printing and my 3 year old iMac also running Mavericks doesn’t have this problem. Any idea at all what the problem can be?

    1. Hmm…I’m really not sure what might be causing that crash in just Photoshop. I hate to be the one that says “try reinstalling Photoshop” because I like to find an easier solution, but I don’t have a better idea at the moment. If I think of something I’ll post it here.

      1. Thank you for you quick response. It’s not as bad as “try restarting your computer”. Unfortunately re-installing Photoshop didn’t do the trick either. I’m totally lost on the next step, but understand you don’t have any ideas either. Thanks anyway.

      2. ok, I painfully have to admit CS5 was not updated to the latest version. Reason: apple software updater does not work for adobe anymore. also when installing CS5 on the iMac in maverick, it’s own updater is nowhere to be found anymore. In case there’s more people like me: go to “help” in any adobe program and choose “updates”, it will generate the updates you need… for photoshop CS5 the latest is 12.04.
        I did not have this problem on the MacBookPro as that was already -automatically- updated a long time ago

  23. Problems with CS4 after installing Mavericks! Photoshop won’r open and Acrobat Pro gives and error message and won’t work. It’s going to take me hours to revert to the old OS and reinstall all my software.

  24. Has anyone found a solution for the Encore issue when trying to author a BluRay? I keep getting photoshop error -1. Haven’t had any luck searching google and Adobe’s community forums are down right now.

  25. I think I may have answered my own question just in case anyone else is struggling with this as well. It has to do with the text in Photoshop (I think) so I rasterized everything and it seems to be working now. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed myself!

    1. McKenzie!!!!!! YOU ARE A LIFE SAVER!!!!!!! I have been searching for an answer and trying combinations of things for HOURS and that was it!! Rasterize the text LMFAO! THANK YOU!!

  26. About a month ago I upgraded from Leopard to Maverick and my 2008 Macbook Pro became unusable due to long response times. 2-3 minutes for just a mouse click. After many hours of tracking this down (Apple support was very patient and helpful) in the end uninstalling CS4 fixed the issue and my computer is faster than ever – probably faster because of all the clean up we did during all of this. So I’ve got my computer back but cannot user CS4 on it.

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