Apple

OS X 10.11 El Capitan: Will Adobe software work?

OS X 10.11 desktop, courtesy Apple Inc.

With OS X 10.11 El Capitan now available as a free download from the Mac App Store, you’re probably wondering how well your Adobe software and other Mac apps will run on it. Upgrading to El Capitan seems to go relatively smoothly for most software. The biggest problems with compatibility and stability were with the first release of El Capitan (OS X 10.11.0); many of those problems were fixed in OS X 10.11.1. Here’s what I know so far about the state of Adobe software in El Capitan.

(more…)

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: Will Adobe software work?

OS X 10.10 desktop, courtesy Apple Inc.

Now that OS X 10.10 Yosemite is available as a free upgrade from the Mac App Store, 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’ll continue to update this article as I find out more. The good news is that upgrading to Yosemite seems to cause fewer compatibility challenges than some earlier OS X upgrades did.

Yosemite and current versions of Adobe software

Adobe FAQs: Adobe has published a tech note, Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10) compatibility FAQs. It contains links to additional information, so be sure to expand each of the FAQ questions there. On that page Adobe says “The latest versions of all Adobe CC products are compatible” and that no updates are required to run Adobe CC products on OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

The Adobe FAQ says “In our testing we have found no other significant issues with running Creative Cloud products with OS X Yosemite,” but with every OS X release things have turned up. I add them to this article as I come across them.

Lightroom 5: The Maps module may load slowly, or fail to load completely. According to an Adobe statement at Photoshop.com (Lightroom: Issue with Map module in OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)), the problem is apparently related to an Apple change in Yosemite that interferes with retrieving map data from Google Maps. [Update: Apple fixed their bug in OS X 10.10.2 which is now available. After you install OS X 10.10.2, the Lightroom Maps module should work properly.]

Lightroom Maps module with missing map sections in Yosemite

InDesign: InDesign generally seems to run fine on Yosemite, but some users have seen a crash in Open/Save/Export dialog boxes. While speculation in that linked forum discussion suspects a Finder plug-in installed by Dropbox, it could be related to the Default Folder utility (see below). [Update: Dropbox has notified customers that OS X 10.10 has a crashing bug that affects Dropbox integration with Open/Save dialog boxes. They say Apple fixed this bug in the OS X 10.10.1 update.]

After Effects: The After Effects team has also published a blog post about Yosemite compatibility, After Effects good to go with Mac OSX v10.10 (Yosemite). In it they say that they tested After Effects CS6 through After Effects CC, and while those versions mostly run fine, a few minor issues are listed at the end of the article including a long first-time startup for Adobe Media Encoder.

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

Default Folder: While this very useful utility is not by Adobe it modifies the Open/Save dialog boxes, and the release notes for version 4.6.11 say “Fixed a problem that could cause Carbon applications to crash on some machines running Yosemite. This included Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office applications, among others.” If you use Default Folder, run the updater from Default Folder preferences or download the latest version from the St. Clair Software web site.

Upgrading to Yosemite with older Adobe software or from earlier versions of OS X

If you’re upgrading from OS X 10.9 Mavericks or OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion you probably won’t run into problems. But if you’re making a bigger jump from an earlier version of OS X, or from Adobe software earlier than CS6, you may find issues that affect your migration. In many cases you can clear up problems by reinstalling the Adobe software.

Note that CS2 applications, including Photoshop, were written for Macs with PowerPC CPUs. OS X 10.10 Yosemite only runs Intel CPU-compatible software, so Yosemite will not allow CS2 to run or install. Adobe CS3–CS5 applications may run but Adobe did not test them extensively on Yosemite.

Photoshop: The Photoshop team has published their own blog post about the OS X upgrade, Photoshop & Mac OSX 10.10 (Yosemite). In it they say that they tested Photoshop CS6 through Photoshop CC and found no issues. However, the comments section of that post contains a lively discussion of issues some users are running into. For example, it has been discovered that the Yosemite installer might corrupt an existing Photoshop CS5 installation; if this happens reinstall Photoshop CS5 and then it should work.

In Photoshop CS6 in OS X 10.8 through 10.10, if you are having problems with keyboard shortcuts or brushes, including lags when painting, and especially with a Wacom tablet connected, you may need to install the “white window workaround” plug-in and try updating your Wacom driver. Adobe is reportedly working with Apple and Wacom on the problem.

Although Photoshop CS3, CS4, and CS5 were not extensively tested on Yosemite by Adobe, I upgraded a test Mac to Yosemite with those versions of Photoshop already installed and have been able to run them. License activation and deactivation work fine. However, I have not had time to try printing or serious editing with them.

Photoshop CS3 working in OS X Yosemite.

Photoshop CS3 is the oldest version that works in OS X Yosemite.

Update from reports in the comments, also reported at the official Photoshop Feedback site: Photoshop CS5 will crash if you try to create a custom paper size in the Print dialog box. A workaround is to create the custom paper size in any other program in Yosemite, and then go back to Photoshop CS5 and choose the custom paper size.

Photoshop Elements 11 or 12 may slow down or become unresponsive in Yosemite. In the tech note Photoshop Elements stops responding after Mac OS update to Yosemite, Adobe says this is a problem related to the trackpad and can be worked around by using a mouse. Apparently this is not a problem in the current version, Photoshop Elements 13.

Illustrator: There are some reports that the Type menu font previews in Illustrator may not appear in Yosemite. The reported workaround is to go into the Accessibility pane of System Preferences and select Reduce Transparency. It wasn’t clear which versions of Illustrator are affected.

Illustrator CS4 seems to have problems loading the Photoshop format import/export plug-ins in Yosemite.

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

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 Java installer from the Java for OS X 2015-001 page at Apple Support and install that. Note: Sometimes when you visit that link to Java for OS X, you get a blank page. If you see this in the Safari web browser, try opening Safari preferences, click the Advanced tab, and turn off the “Never use font sizes smaller than…” option. If that doesn’t work, try this direct download link: Java for OS X 2015-001 download

Install legacy Java SE 6 runtime

Some users have reported that the Adobe launch issue is not fixed until you reboot a second time after the Java installation. Also, some report that earlier versions such as CS3 are not working with the latest version of Java (currently Java 8), but it does work if they install Java 6, which is provided by Apple in the link above.

It’s understandable that some people avoid installing Java because to its 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.

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.

Intel compatibility required: If your Adobe software is earlier than CS5, to run under Yosemite 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 Yosemite, 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.

General compatibility and other info

To learn about OS X software compatibility of Mac software in general, one resource is the Roaring Apps database. It lists OS X software and its reported compatibility with the last few versions of OS X, and it’s crowdsourced from user reports which are said to vary in reliability. As always, for any software that you cannot afford to be without, you should do two things: Check that company’s support website to verify compatibility, and also set up a test installation of Yosemite on a separate volume (like a spare hard drive or even a large enough USB flash drive) to run tests with your own files, peripherals, and workflows.

Wondering what Yosemite is all about? For the most in-depth Yosemite 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.

TRIM support for third-party SSDs: If you replaced your Mac’s original internal drive with a solid state drive (SSD), depending on the brand it may be a good idea to enable a feature called TRIM for better long-term performance. However, due to changes Apple made in Yosemite to increase the security of OS X, you can’t enable TRIM in Yosemite without compromising certain aspects of OS X security. For the details, see Trim Enabler and Yosemite by Cindori Software, creator of the Trim Enabler utility.

10-bit video displays: For many years, 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. As far as I know, there is nothing in Yosemite or even the new Retina iMac to indicate that this has changed.

Photoshop crash in OS X 10.9.2 may be Apple bug with OpenCL

Photoshop CC iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

If you use Photoshop CC on a Mac and it crashes when using GPU-assisted features like Smart Sharpen, you may need to turn off OpenCL support in Photoshop until the problem is fixed. Reports point to a possible bug in the Apple graphics driver for AMD/ATI GPUs in OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks. (Which means this crash may only apply to you if your Mac has that type of GPU in that version of OS X.)

[Update: This did turn out to be an Apple bug. Apple fixed it in OS X 10.9.3. If you are running 10.9.3 or later you do not need to perform the steps listed below; you can leave OpenCL turned on in Photoshop. This also means that if Photoshop is crashing and you are using OS X 10.9.3 or later, the cause is probably not related to this problem.]

The official Adobe help page for this issue walks you through the steps to disable OpenCL support in Photoshop:

Photoshop Help / Crash | Smart Sharpen

Here’s a picture of the option, since the Adobe help page doesn’t include one (click to enlarge):

Use OpenCL preference in Adobe Photoshop CC

This bug has also been discussed in posts in the Adobe Community forum for Photoshop (such as Crashes with PS CC on Mac OS 10.9.2), and on the Mac Performance Guide blog (2013 Mac Pro: Photoshop CC Filter Crashes Appear to be Due to Apple Graphics Drivers). The MPG article also refers to OS X 10.9.2 issues with with some external monitors such as the NEC PA series; I’ve also seen these problems.

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.