Mac

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 Creative Cloud, current versions: It isn’t possible to install or run these on Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks. As of 2019, the only versions of Creative Cloud applications available for installation are the current version and one previous major version, and those won’t work because support for Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks was dropped several years ago. If you want to know the current system requirements, look them up for the specific Adobe application you would like to use.

[Note: The rest of this section was originally written about the Adobe software available at the time Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks was released.]

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 see, 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 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.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: Will Adobe software work?

Now that OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is available from the Mac App Store for a mere USD$19.99, 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.

Adobe Creative Cloud, current versions: It isn’t possible to install or run these on Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. As of 2019, the only versions of Creative Cloud applications available for installation are the current version and one previous major version, and those won’t work because support for Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was dropped several years ago. If you want to know the current system requirements, look them up for the specific Adobe application you would like to use.

[Note: The rest of this section was originally written about the Adobe software available at the time Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was released.]

Adobe FAQ: Adobe had published a Mountain Lion FAQ when this post was originally written, but it seems to have been replaced with a new document after the Creative Cloud launch in May 2013. The former Mountain Lion FAQ said:

At this time, none of the CS5, 5.5 or CS6 applications require updates to be compatible with Mountain Lion. However, we do recommend that all users download the latest version of the Adobe Flash® Player runtime…In our testing we have found no significant issues with running CS5, 5.5, CS6 or Acrobat products with Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

A post at the Photoshop.com blog does talk about Creative Suite versions and Lion, and says:

We have worked closely with Apple to review Adobe Creative Suite 5, 5.5 and CS6 editions and individual products for impact on reliability, performance and user experience. Earlier versions of Adobe Photoshop® (CS3 and CS4), Lightroom 4.1, 4.0 and earlier software were also tested and there are currently no known issues.

If your Adobe software is earlier than CS5, to run under Mountain Lion 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, so Mountain Lion will not allow Photoshop CS2 to run or even install. But even if your software older than CS5 runs on Mountain Lion, it may still have other issues because OS X has changed a lot since then.

Flash: Apple has changed how Adobe Flash Player is allowed to work in OS X. If you aren’t on the latest version of Flash, OS X may display a “Blocked Plug-in” message because Apple wants you to have the latest Flash security fixes. All you have to do is go into the Flash Player system preference and update it from there, or download the latest version of Flash from the link above and run the installer. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to view Flash content again.

Flash Player system preference

Premiere Pro: John Nack of Adobe, whose blog clued me in to the Adobe FAQ for Mountain Lion, reports that according to Adobe Premiere Pro team member Todd Kopriva:

Mountain Lion (Mac OS v10.8) upgrade improves performance and stability with Premiere Pro.

I’m guessing that this may be because of new code in Mountain Lion that Premiere Pro can take advantage of, because this isn’t the first time that happened: Premiere Pro also ran better after Apple added OpenCL improvements to the OS X 10.7.4 update.

Update: Adobe has posted a Premiere Pro tech note about AVCHD video issues related to a change Apple made in Mountain Lion.

OS X Gatekeeper and older Adobe software: Gatekeeper is a new security feature Apple added in Mountain Lion that helps make sure that you aren’t running malicious applications. In the Mountain Lion FAQ linked above, Adobe says:

Adobe has added the Gatekeeper signing requirements to our currently shipping applications. However, our legacy products created before Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper feature was available are not signed. If you download one of those legacy (unsigned) applications, the Gatekeeper security feature may pop-up a security dialog…

Because Adobe only updated currently shipping software for Gatekeeper, if you run older versions of Adobe software you should review that section of the FAQ.

Full-screen mode on multiple monitors: Since Lion, when a Mac application goes into the OS-native full-screen mode, all other connected monitors go blank, displaying only the gray “linen” desktop so that you can’t see your other apps. No one is able to explain why this is a good thing. The only change in Mountain Lion is that you can display the active application on any connected display…but you still can’t see any other apps.

Adobe continues to use the traditional Adobe full screen modes in their apps such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator. While some Mac users might complain that the Adobe way makes those apps “non-standard,” as a long-time Mac user trying to get things done with multiple apps on multiple monitors I find the Adobe full screen mode to be much more productive than the OS X implementation.

(If you want to turn on the Adobe full screen mode, in OS X or Windows press the F key…just the letter F, not a function key. That shortcut will cycle through the View > Screen Mode commands in Photoshop, the Window > Screen Mode commands in Lightroom, and the Change Screen Mode button in Illustrator. Adobe full screen mode is available in some, but not all, Adobe software.)

Note: In OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple is changing how full screen apps work on multiple monitors. This may solve the current issues.

10-bit video displays: Photoshop users and other graphics professionals have been interested in properly supporting 10-bits-per-channel video displays on Macs. (This isn’t about the file format, but the data path to the video monitor. Most displays support 8 bits per channel of color, but some high-end monitors support 10 bits per pixel for smoother gradations and better color accuracy.) To support 10-bit video requires an unbroken chain of components: The monitor, the graphics card, the cable, the application, and the operating system and its graphics driver software. If any part of the chain doesn’t support 10-bit video, it won’t work. And it might not work on the Mac any time soon, due to Apple’s continuing lack of 10-bit video APIs in OS X. The displays are ready, the graphics cards are ready, compatible DisplayPort cables are ready, Photoshop is ready…OS X remains the one broken link in the chain.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display [updated August 29, 2012]: Adobe has published a list of the first wave of their software that will support the high resolution of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display “over the next few months;” you can read about it in an Adobe blog post. Photoshop and Lightroom are both on that list. Presumably, the rest will follow a little later.

Update: Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6 received Retina Display support in the update released December 11, 2012. Run Adobe Updater to get them (choose Help > Updates in the 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 OS X 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Mountain Lion. For mission-critical software, you should also check each company’s support website to verify that it works.

If you’re updating 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 support for PowerPC-based software.

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

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: Will Adobe apps and other software work?

Lion iconIf you’ve got a fast Internet connection, a recent Mac, and US$29, what’s stopping you from downloading the just-released 10.7 Lion upgrade to Mac OS X? For many people, what stops them is being unsure whether the software they have is still going to work. In this article I’ve collected various reports I’ve run into around the web.

(more…)

MacBook: Won’t start, flashing sleep light

If you turn on a MacBook when it’s completely powered off (not sleeping), and instead of starting up, the screen remains dark and the sleep light is blinking, the MacBook’s RAM might not be installed properly or might have worked loose. I found this out when re-seating the RAM of a friend’s MacBook to try and fix a problem. I thought I had pushed the RAM modules far enough into their slots, but after the MacBook failed to start up I took another look and found out that you really do have to push firmly and carefully past some initial resistance until the RAM goes in all the way. You may have to push harder than you think is normal, but seriously, you have to push pretty hard.

If your MacBook has metal levers near the RAM, don’t use the levers to do this. The levers are only for popping out the RAM, not inserting it.

I wasn’t able to find a tech note at the Apple site about this, and that’s why this entry exists. In case it helps someone.

(Update: It seems like this applies to newer Macs such as the unibody aluminum MacBook Pro line and the iMac, although I haven’t tried it myself. However, it won’t work with a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro with Retina Display, because on those models the RAM is permanently soldered to the motherboard.)