macOS 13 Ventura: Will Adobe software work?

With the release of macOS 13 Ventura, you’re probably wondering if your Adobe software will work in this major upgrade to macOS. We don’t usually know everything right away; that information emerges over time as Apple, Adobe, and other software developers test with the final public release and produce updates with fixes. I’ll update this article as new information comes out.

The good news: If you’re upgrading from macOS 11 Big Sur or later, the differences between that and macOS 13 Ventura are relatively minor. But if you’re upgrading from macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, Apple changed macOS in ways that may prevent older applications from running in macOS 13 Ventura. If you have applications you must use, but you have older versions that aren’t compatible with macOS 13 and you choose not to upgrade them to current versions, you should delay upgrading to Ventura. If you decide to upgrade to Ventura, expect to run the most recent versions of software including Adobe Creative Cloud applications.

If you’re upgrading from an Intel Mac to a Apple Silicon Mac, there are a few more things to think about. You might not need to upgrade Intel versions of applications right away if your current software versions actually run on macOS 13 Ventura. However, eventually you’ll want to replace all of your Intel-only software with Apple Silicon compatible versions, for two reasons: If you bought an Apple Silicon Mac because you wanted the best possible performance and battery life at the price you paid, then you’ll get that performance only if you upgrade applications to the latest Apple Silicon compatible version. And, eventually Apple will discontinue the Rosetta translation environment that lets Intel software run on Apple Silicon, so one day you will have no choice but to modernize your applications.

For more details, or if you have questions about Adobe Creative Suite (CS) software, read on…

What’s covered in this article

I focus on information that’s direct from Adobe, and on verified reports. To make the best use of your time and mine, I don’t repeat rumors and random anecdotes. But I may mention my own experiences.

Here are the major sections of this article relating to Adobe applications and macOS 13 Ventura:

Official Adobe statements for current Creative Cloud software

Adobe Creative Suite 3 through 6 (CS3–CS6)

Adobe Creative Suite 2 (CS2)

What’s new in macOS 13 Ventura?

For an in-depth review of Ventura, read the macOS 13 Ventura review at Ars Technica. As with every major release of the Mac operating system, the Ars Technica review not only evaluates the visible features that Apple promotes, but goes under the surface to explain changes to some of the underlying technologies in macOS and how they affect your Mac experience.

If you’ve been affected by Apple bugs in macOS 12 Monterey, if they’re fixed in macOS 13 Ventura that can be a reason to upgrade. Howard Oakley’s article Fixes and flaws in Ventura 13.0 describes some macOS 12 Monterey bugs that Apple fixed in macOS 13 Ventura, and also some bugs that are still not fixed.

Do not upgrade until everything you use is ready

Caution: If you are upgrading from macOS 10.14 or earlier, it’s particularly important that you research which applications you have on your Mac before you click that Upgrade button. The more years you’ve been using the same Mac, the trickier the macOS 13 Ventura upgrade may be, because major changes by Apple will block a lot of older software from working.

For almost any system upgrade, whether it’s for Macs, Windows PCs, or mobile devices, certain principles are true, and definitely apply to the macOS 13 Ventura upgrade:

  • Be prepared. If you use your Mac to run a business or another activity where you can’t afford to lose productivity, do not upgrade to macOS 13 Ventura until you’ve made plans to fully recover your previous configuration if things don’t work out. For example, have a complete system backup that you know how to restore in as little time as possible. See “Getting ready to upgrade” below.
  • Check all of the hardware and software you rely on. Before you upgrade, remember to check compatibility for everything installed on or connected to your computer. Especially anything that depends on driver software being compatible. That could include printers, graphics tablets, scanners, cameras, networking equipment, calibration equipment, backup software, diagnostic software, adapters, hubs, docks, and so on.
  • Test your complete workflow. Published compatibility reports may be on test systems that don’t have the same hardware and software you use. If you must ensure complete compatibility with everything you use, run your own tests with macOS 13 Ventura on a separate system, such as an external drive with a Ventura test system installed.
  • Current versions will be the most compatible. You can expect that current versions of Mac software will be updated for full compatibility with macOS 13 Ventura, but previous versions probably won’t. For Adobe applications, that means you can expect the most recent Creative Cloud (CC) versions to be either already compatible or will be updated eventually. But if you use an older version such as CS6 or earlier that Adobe no longer updates, any issues with macOS 13 Ventura will not be fixed. We all want to avoid paying for software as much as possible, but even though a major OS update might be free, there are sometimes unavoidable associated costs when that OS upgrade makes it necessary to pay for software or hardware upgrades too.

Every year, the website Ars Technica publishes an in-depth review of the newest version of macOS. As I write this that review is not yet published (and won’t be until macOS 13 Ventura is released to the general public. But when it appears, it is worth the read. The Ars Technica review not only evaluates the visible features that Apple promotes, but goes under the surface to explain changes to some of the underlying technologies in macOS and how they affect your Mac experience.

Howard Oakley’s blog electiclight.co is a rich source of deep information about macOS. Howard has been writing about the Ventura beta versions, so his blog is a great place to get advance notice of things that are changing in macOS 13 Ventura.

Official Adobe statements for Creative Cloud software

For macOS 13 Ventura, Adobe published Ventura compatibility information a little sooner than they typically do, so this year there’s more info than there usually is the day Apple releases a major macOS upgrade. I add info here as I find out about it. So, watch this space!

As far as system requirements go, some, but not all, Creative Cloud applications have updated their system requirements to include macOS 13 Ventura.

Also, you may be able to learn about and discuss emerging issues in the Adobe Community user-to-user discussion for the software you use.

Creative Cloud compatibility summary

Adobe has posted the tech article Can I run my Adobe apps in macOS 13 Ventura? It’s got a handy table of applications, the version of each application that’s compatible with Ventura, and known issues. Adobe has not always done this, but if they consistently update that article for future macOS upgrades, I might not have to keep updating the list of links below every year!

Adobe Creative Cloud desktop app

The Adobe help article Why is file sync not working or appears stuck for Creative Cloud on macOS? has a note saying there may be issues in Ventura if the Creative Cloud desktop app is not set to load at login. This is covered more specifically in the Adobe help article Fix login item issues for Adobe Creative Cloud | macOS Ventura. These issues may also affect your ability to use Creative Cloud apps in offline mode, according to the Adobe help article Internet connectivity, offline grace period, and reminders.

Adobe Photoshop

The Adobe help article Photoshop and Ventura | macOS 13 provides some background, but at the time I updated this article, it didn’t provide much information other than version compatibility. It actually reads like it isn’t completely written yet.

Lightroom Classic

The Adobe help article Known issues in Lightroom Classic includes a heading, Known Issues on macOS Ventura. Several issues are now listed in that article. There is also an discussion on Adobe Community (Ventura Known Issues – Please read before you upgrade your OS), where an Adobe employee is responding.

Adobe InDesign

The Adobe help article Fixed Issues in InDesign lists a problem with panels sliding from right to left that was observed in the macOS Ventura beta. It is not clear if this still happens in the final release of macOS 13, but the article says the issue is resolved in InDesign 2023 (version 18), which was released at Adobe MAX in October 2022.

Adobe Bridge

The Adobe help article Bridge and macOS Ventura lists no issues so far with Bridge 2023 (version 13), but if you’re still using Bridge 2022 (version 12) you may encounter issues listed in the article.

If you’re using an Apple Silicon Mac, Bridge 2023 is now Apple Silicon native. But if you’ve used Bridge for many years and are upgrading to Bridge 2023, beware: The user experience has been rebuilt; in particular the panel arrangement model and shortcuts are now consistent with Creative Cloud professional video and audio applications. If you were used to Bridge 2022 and earlier, your muscle memory might not transfer to Bridge 2023. If this is a big change for you, you’ll want to review the current help files regarding how to arrange, dock, group, and maximize panels.

Adobe Acrobat

The Adobe help article Fix issues for Acrobat Refresh Manager | macOS 13 Ventura describes potential issues with auto-updating Acrobat software.

Adobe Fonts syncing

There may be issues with font sync in Ventura, according to the Adobe help articles Using Adobe Fonts in Creative Cloud apps, Known issues in Premiere Pro and Known issues in After Effects. The font syncing issue is apparently related to the first issue above; font syncing requires that the Creative Cloud desktop app loads at login.

Getting ready to upgrade

If you’re upgrading from a stable macOS 12 Monterey system, and staying on the same processor (Intel or Apple Silicon), chances are that the macOS 13 Ventura upgrade will be relatively smooth, and things will probably run more or less as you expect.

But if you’re upgrading from macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, the macOS 13 Ventura upgrade may be more challenging. The more major versions of macOS that you are jumping to get to macOS 13 Ventura, the more I recommend that you:

  • Make a complete backup of your current Mac system, and keep that unchanged until you are satisfied that macOS 13 Ventura is working properly. Start your backups of macOS 13 Ventura on new media. This is so that if you have to retrieve software, documents, or settings from your old system, or completely revert to it, its backup still exists.
  • Plan and budget in case you need to upgrade other software that you use, because Apple has changed so much about how macOS works that fewer old applications will run properly, or run at all.
  • Start over and install applications and files from scratch on Ventura, to avoid unanticipated incompatibilities. Upgrading an older macOS version or using Apple Migration Assistant is likely to work, but older software may not migrate properly since so much has changed. A clean install is also a good idea if you want to make sure you don’t carry forward any software or orphaned settings files that won’t work in macOS 13 Ventura.

Only the most recent Adobe applications will be supported

Adobe supports only the current major version of its Creative Cloud applications plus one version back. For example, as I write this the current version of Photoshop is Photoshop 2023 (version 24), so Adobe supports that and Photoshop 2022 (version 23). This policy defines the versions you can install from the Creative Cloud desktop application, so currently you can install those two versions of Photoshop and the minor updates in between. This is likely to change at the Adobe MAX conference in late October 2023, because every year at that conference, Adobe announces the next year’s versions and moves the support up a year…so it is almost certain that at MAX 2023, support for Photoshop 2022 (version 24) will end.

This is important if you need to keep using a version older than the last two. If you are a Creative Cloud member with a fresh installation of macOS 13 Ventura and now need to install applications, you will be able to install the two most recent versions of Adobe applications, but nothing earlier. Also, if Adobe follows the pattern they’ve established for past recent macOS releases, only the most recent version will get compatibility updates for macOS 13 Ventura. Therefore, for full Ventura compatibility, expect to run only the most current version of the Adobe applications you use. (Links to installers for some older versions of Creative Cloud applications may be found on the Downloads page at ProDesignTools.com.)

Older versions of Adobe software (CS3–CS6)

Already officially unsupported, Adobe Creative Suite 3 through 6 applications cannot be installed or used on macOS 13 Ventura because of many incompatibilities. Some do not the requirement for 64-bit code, others are too old to meet current Apple requirements for code security or compatibility, or other technical reasons.

Many of those versions already have significant issues running in macOS 10.14 Mojave, and they cannot run on Apple Silicon Macs. CS3–CS5 applications are now well over 10 years old. It is time to upgrade…or, if you must continue to use them, you can keep an older Mac that can run an older versions of macOS/Mac OS X.

InDesign Secrets reports that Adobe InDesign CS6 and earlier are 32-bit code and will not run in Catalina and later (see macOS Catalina is Incompatible with InDesign CS6 and Earlier).

Even if you have the installers for CS2/CS3 applications, Adobe has “retired” the activation servers for those versions, so you can no longer activate them even on older versions of Mac OS X/macOS.

Adobe Creative Suite 2 (CS2) compatibility

There is no way to run Adobe CS2 Mac software on macOS 13 Ventura. There are too many incompatibilities with current Macs and versions of macOS, and they cannot be fixed. The only option is to use a current version of the software.

The question of CS2 compatibility comes up during every Mac system upgrade. Some users moving up from older Macs running 10.6.8 or earlier to new Macs with the latest OS version may still be using the Creative Suite 2 (CS2) version of Adobe software, such as Adobe Photoshop CS2.

As with the last several major Mac system upgrades, macOS 13 Ventura requires that software be written for the Intel processors that have been running Macs for over 15 years, and now the new Apple Silicon processors. But CS2 applications were written for the PowerPC processors that ran older Macs. The last version of Mac OS X to run PowerPC software was OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard.

What I’m doing

I rely on my Mac to pay my bills, so I can’t afford for it to be out of service because of a major software problem. So, as with every major release of macOS, I won’t install macOS 13 Ventura on my production Mac on the day it is released. I will wait, possibly for several months, through the inevitable series of early bug-fix updates for macOS 13 to settle down and become more reliable. I will also wait until fully Ventura-compatible versions are released of Adobe software and all of the other applications and utilities that I rely on to get things done.

For the last few macOS upgrades, I often did not upgrade until 6 to 9 months after release. It is possible that I won’t upgrade my Mac to macOS 13 Ventura until some time in 2023.

This article was originally published on October 24, 2022 and will be updated as new information emerges.

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