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Thursday, 20 February 2020


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My uninformed guess is that any Mac user who wants to keep using CS6 in perpetuity should dedicate a machine to it that has the latest operating system installed that runs 32 bit programs, and then never connect it to the internet because it will slowly become less and less secure. The other option of course is to bite the subscription bullet and get an upgraded program with some features you likely don't care about for $10 a month.

Mike CS6 is a 64-bit program. From Adobe:

Photoshop CS6 and CC only install a 64-bit version on Mac OS.

Photoshop CS5 installs a version that can launch in either 32 bit or 64 bit when you install on a 64-bit version of Mac OS (Mac OS X 10.5 or later). If you are using Mac OS X 10.4 or earlier, then Photoshop only installs the 32-bit version.

Photoshop CS4 installs a 32-bit version only.

I use CS5 on a 64-bit WIN 7 computer. Good luck sorting this out.

The only constant is change.

Apple kills Aperture with the new release, too.

If I upgrade, I won't have any usable photo software, save Apple's "Photos" app, which is horrid.

At the end of the eighties, early nineties, the presence of cadminum was the reason for various photographic paper manufacturers to adapt their production to the new environmental requirements. For that reason, various warmtone photographic paper types [e.g. AGFA Portriga-Rapid and AGFA Record-Rapid] were not available for a long time. The renewed papers were not appreciated by everyone at the time. Perhaps cadminum is not good for the environment, but it did create a 'beautiful' feeling.

Catalina’s new architecture breaks lots of stuff.


I share your annoyance. My new MacBook 16 runs Cat but I see no real practical benefits compared to Mojave. In my office I feel like a grizzled homesteader protecting my beloved 2010 Mac Pro system from the inevitable encroachments of “progress” . It was an expensive system that has been dead-ended by Cat. (There may be a renegade work-around, but...)

The info I see on the I-net is that CS 6 will NOT work with Catalina. Seems to be an issue w/ all Photoshop versions for the time being.

Why I’m holding off buying a new Apple to run Photoshop/ DNG converter until I hear the problem’s fixed (which also means no new Fuji for now—my current DNG converter won’t work on XPro3 or XT-4 files...)

If I’m wrong, I ‘d be happy to be told so....

I don’t have PS6 installed anymore. The application portion of the System report should tell you.

It might be in the same boat as LR. LR6 itself is 64-bit, but the installer and manager are all 32-bit. According to the internet (and you know it’s always accurate), that means an upgrade to Catalina will still work, as it’s already installed. But if you get a new machine with Catalina on it, you won’t be able to install LR6.

Why upgrade to Catalina now? Does it have some killer feature that you need? Stay with Mojave until your needed tools won't work in it. Having said that, no PS CS6 won't run in Catalina, however a quick Google search revealed at least 6 YouTube videos demonstrating how to make it work in Catalina.

If it is 32 bit, it will not work on Catalina.
You do not have to upgrade to Catalina.

It is not an arbitrary move by Apple, they have been telling us it would happen when they moved to a 64 bit only OS.
The new architecture has allowed their new computers to make a performance leap—-no more 16 go ram ceiling on the MBP.

I’ve been an Aperture user since inception, Aperture will not run on Catalina.
What I have done, is to freeze my 2017 MBP Retina at Sierra where Aperture works fine. The latest version of Capture One ( where I will eventually be moving everything) , won’t run on Sierra. So I just purchased a new 16” MBP, Maxed out with 64 Gb RAM, Graphics card, and an 8 TB internal SSD.
At some point I’ll add an Eizo display.

This will allow me to make the painful transition over time and at my own pace.
As an aside, after years if using Migration Assistant to move from old to new computers there were 144 incompatible Applications on the move to Catalina, including everything Adobe (in my case CS 5 & Lightroom 6)
These all still work on the older machine, so I’ll have time to decide if I need new versions of any of them.

I’m a Windows guy, so I don’t know if this might somehow apply to the Apple universe, but when I went to Win 10 CS6 would install from the disk, but the last upgrade would not. But there is a way to make Win 10 emulate earlier versions. When I did that the update installed.

As much as I dislike it, I've "bitten the bullet" and subscribed to Photoshop/Lightroom for $9.99/month.

I don't find the need for any Plug-ins for Photoshop, so that's not an issue for me, but... I'm always up to date.

The sad part is that Adobe has done very little the past few years to significantly improve Photoshop, so I don't feel that I'm getting my money's worth. But... Photoshop is THE standard, and does virtually everything I need to do, so I don't see much choice unfortunately.

Adobe says it won't work. https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/photoshop-and-macos-catalina.html

But how is this Adobe taking away your CS6? This is plainly Apple breaking your CS6. And all you have to do prevent this is not upgrade your OS.

I have a work laptop on 10.14 which keeps bugging me to upgrade to Catalina. I think IT finally stopped forbidding people from upgrading, but I have heard enough horror stories, and will hold off until 10.16. It looks like Apple has good OS versions and bad OS versions like Microsoft.

I have not upgraded to Catalina yet. I did some testing of Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CS6 on my system running Mojave. There is a way to boot the system so that 32-bit apps will not run. It's a good test before upgrading to see what breaks.

I was able to get Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CS6 to run with caveats. The software that checks the license is 32 bit and will not run. The slide show in Lr6 is 32 bit. Same issue. I simply removed these and a few other 32-bit components and was able to get both Lr6 and PsCS6 to run with almost all functionality.

Running CS6 in a virtual machine will work however it will consider the virtual machine to be a "new computer" and will need re-licensing.

TL;DR: don't upgrade.

I hope these help:



Capture One is an excellent alternative to Lightroom, and there are stripped down free versions for Sony and Fujifilm camera users.

I have heard Affinity Photo is a well-liked Photoshop alternative that doesn’t use a subscription model.

Nik has been revived by DxO and is now in 64 bit, but at cost again.

I was in the same boat as you... Hanging onto my copy of CS6, because I hate the software rental model when the product can simply stop working for you if your license expires.

Eventually, I broke down and tried upgrading to the new Adobe programs on the Creative Cloud. It was an AWFUL experience. Could not get the licensing to work, and I'm no luddite after having used computers since 1980. Their licensing schema is broken. Oh, also Lightroom randomly was missing images on import.

So, I've dumped Adobe, pretty much entirely. I *love* Pixelmator Pro. Workflows are a little different, but it seems to work rather well. It is also fast, and is NOT a subscription model.

In a word, no. CS 6 will not even launch in Catalina nor will any 32bit program

Look at Affinity Photo If you're tired of photoshop.
Also Nik was bought by DXO and you can purchase updated version that works with stuff up to Mac OS Mojave.
Old Nik plugins by Google are problematic...there are fixes. Do a web search
Computers are stupid machines. Subscription software is scam. Only good for maintaining good looks on a P&L sheet for investors.

"My Nik plugins are already broken."

Hmm, mine are still working fine with Photoshop 21.1.0, although I am using the 2018 NIK collection. They introduced their update right after I had purchased this version and damned if I was going to update so soon.

So, maybe your problem may be with NIK rather than Adobe?

Apple has warned users since at least last year that the latest MacOS update will NOT support 32-bit apps. Carl Weese and I had a brief chat about this late last year and he was able to find solutions by either updating his apps or finding some alternatives.
Sadly, you may have to "bite the bullet" and join Adobe's "pay 'til you die" plan or find alternatives.
Tired of paying them, I've been using Affinity Photo and other various inexpensive apps that do at least 90% of what Adobe's apps do and the pain wasn't as bad as I've thought.
Also, there are a series of articles online of ways to use NIK software without Photoshop. Just don't delete any copies of the NIK installer you currently have until you read those articles! Best of luck!

Hi Mike. I'm resisting the 'upgrade' to Catalina too. I use Lightroom 5 (which is just fine for my cameras). This is a 64 bit application which should run on Catalina. The installer, though, is 32 bit and will not run; if I ever had to delete and reinstall Lightroom I'd be left stuck.
My Mac is old enough not to get any real benefits from upgrading, so Mojave it is for the foreseeable future.

Hi Mike,

one easy solution would be to clone your boot disk to an external TB or USB C SSD. You can then boot from that disk when connected by using CMD R and selecting the disk. Don't ever allow that disk/OS version to be updated. You should be able to keep running CS6 and and other 32 bit programs that way. Then you could allow your normal boot disk and OS to be updated to Catalina.

Or you can just get a new mac, maybe a mini and leave this one on the current OS.

Unless you have to have Catalina, why update ?

I bid adieu to Adobe when they so regrettably migrated to the subscription model....haven't missed them and am quite content climbing the steep GIMP learning curve.

Adobe says not: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/photoshop-and-macos-catalina.html. Workarounds may become available.

Me, I'm in the process of switching to non-rental software, but I have years of work in Lightroom that I have to figure how to preserve.


I used a free app called Go64 (https://www.stclairsoft.com/Go64/) to scan my computer for non-64 bit apps before upgrading to Catalina. It warned that Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5 were only partly Catalina-compatible, so I decided to buy the "Photography Plan" from Adobe for $10 per month: Lightroom Classic and Photoshop Desktop. Got rid of Acrobat. I just checked, and Photoshop CS6 is still there ... but doesn't run. Tried cleaning out some of the 32-bit components identified by Go64, and decided that would not be an avenue worth pursuing.

Bottom line: no-go for Photoshop CS6 on Catalina, at least for me.

Your post re: CS6 aging out reminds of a thought that's been rolling around in my brain for a couple of years now. It goes like this: Divorce my digital photo processing world from the internet. Have a stand-alone computer/monitor that is dedicated only to processing photos. This means that one would need to either freeze camera purchases to current technology if RAW processing is required. If JPEGs are good enough (my preference), then future cameras and their jpeg files would likely still be welcome on this stand-alone platform.

I'd move all my internet-related activity on a separate relatively inexpensive (and thus replaceable when system upgrades demand it) laptop.

The short answer is yes.

The runtime in macOS shifted to 64 bit by default several years to a decade ago.

Maintaining support for both is a drag on resources so they have been warning that the 32 bit hammer was going to come down for the past several years.

In 10.15 it finally happened.

Hold up. Photoshop CS6 itself appears to be a 64 bit app. But some of its helpers might not be.

Sorry for the confusion. I would assume that the main application is fine. But some other bits and pieces might stop working.

Still, I would assume that it's going to break, if not now then later.


The answer is “Yes”. Catalina does not support 32-bit apps.

There are ways around this. The main one seems to be to install Parallels (or VMWare) and use that to run an older version of MacOS, then move all your 32-bit stuff into that virtual machine. There are several well-illustrated web sites that will tell you how to do this, but it all looks like a faff*. And it will cost you money.

Two other options present themselves. One would be to not upgrade to Catalina. The other would simply be to subscribe to Adobe’s Photography Plan, for $9.99 a month.

* Faff: An English word. Here’s a definition: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/faff-about-around

It is possible to get Photoshop CS6 to launch under Catalina through some roundabout methods (as the app itself is 64bit) but it has some 32 bit dependencies (helper apps) which won’t run, nor will the licensing agent or installer (need to upgrade with CS6 installed). Finally, those who have launched and started using the app have encountered numerous crashes and shutdowns using common app features. Adobe wont be going back to resolve these issues, it is assured. CS6 is a discontinued and no longer marketed product and the costs involved would be high.

Catalina is the end of the line for Adobe CS6.

It’s not all bad. Apple’s more aggressive stance (relative to, say, Microsoft) about deprecating support for “legacy” capabilities, however frustrating and annoying, plays a very significant role in performance and security. Even if it means headaches for folks who are clubbed upside the head along the way.

I held off on upgrading because even the current version of Lightroom Classic CC was giving people headaches at the time of launch.

The short answer is who knows? Computers and it's software is extremely complex and it might continue to work or it might not. The only sure way is not to upgrade until the hardware fails.

But, if you're not a fan of subscription services for software - the literal Holly Grail for software companies - there are many options without Adobe. A few are even free.

Personally, I don't mind subscription and as I write this I'm updating PS 2020 which now occurs on a regular basis instead of every year or two. I also still have a version of PS6 on my work supercomputer. It's a Windows 10 based system and it still has a mix of plug-ins that have never been upgraded to work with newer versions of PS. The world of image editing has never been stronger and is now seemingly embedded with "AI" to make editing magic without you having to decide anything.

If you have the luxury of multiple computers and need to keep PS6 working, take it off line.

32 but apps will fail to run. It’s time to update your software stack.

oddly appropriate timing.


Is Catalina going to break my CS6?

In a word, yes.

I gave up my CS4 when I installed Catalina, although I had to find a download that re-installed my old Wacom tablet, allowing it to work.

I now have Photoshop Elements 2020 as my image processing program on my Mac and it actually does some things better than the old CS4, but I also have an old Windows XP PC with CS5 for intensive work (although it isn't connected to the internet, I have use SD cards to transfer files!)

Here's a link that might help: https://www.danrodney.com/blog/adobe-cs6-does-not-run-on-macos-catalina/

It sounds like the Photoshop part of the Creative Suite 6 will still run. InDesign and Illustrator will not. I don't think you need the "manager" thingy if you only want to run Photoshop.

I Held onto my old CS6 which was the last version you could buy and own. Unfortunately, by the time I relinquish my subscription to the current suite, I'll have been totally spoiled.

There are other ways to get stuff done and competitors making it affordable. But you know, it's hard to imagine no Photoshop.

Of course you can just avoid upgrading to Catalina.

I made the choice to stay with 10.14.4 on my iMac. I like my software and much of it won't run in 64 bit.

To check what you'll lose, go to About This Mac -> System Report. Then scroll down and click on applications. Once it opens mine shows a list of all apps with a column for 64 bit. The 'no' apps are the ones that will stop working should you upgrade.

Here's Apple's explanation: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208436

If you have 32 bit software - and you may have more than your think, you can determine that too - use the "System Report" method here: https://www.macworld.com/article/3393161/how-to-find-out-if-your-mac-software-is-32-or-64-bit.html

To preserve the ability to run 32 bit software, turn off auto updates - that requires establishing with version of OSX you have first.

I lost the use of a lot of my software when I recently bought an iMac with Catalina installed. I didn't mind the games, etc., but Capture NX-D and Fuji's X Raw Studio stopped working correctly. Those two companies fixed the problem as soon as they could, but Apple updated Catalina again and X Raw Studio once again became useless. Everything is fine now, but what a hassle.
I read there are ways to get 32-bit software to work on Catalina, but it involves drive partitions, second installations, and so on. More trouble than it's worth. I don't think I would upgrade to Catalina if I had the choice.

I for one will not stop reading your blog regardless of what you are doing photographically. Life is short, seek joy. If you think film is it, go forth, young man!

We live in stressful, uncertain times. I know many people with the same vague malaise you describe. Sounds like you may have an inkling as to your path out of it. It's worth remembering (as a good friend of mine is fond of saying,) "Life is not a dress rehearsal."

Mike, I don't know nuthin' 'bout no Apple products but I'm sure you've seen this:


You wouldn't have these issues if you'd simply shoot black 'n white film... ;-)

Just sayin'.


No, you can't run PS CS6 with Catalina.

Developers have known for several years that support for 32 bit apps will end. Developers have responded in a variety of ways. Some have updated their apps and issued free upgrades. Some have abandoned their apps. Others have issued paid updates.

Adobe's used the move to 64 bit as a way to bolster its switch to subscription software. It didn't update purchased 32 bit apps, but keeps its subscription software in sync with new developments.

I'm not against subscription software. Developers need to make a living. If you bought an older car without airbags, would you expect a free upgrade to airbags when newer models are introduced?

Since you use a Mac, you can continue to use your CS6 software and move on to Catalina, but it isn't seamless. Buy a fast SSD external drive. Install OSX Mojave and your 32 bit apps on the external drive. When you want to use 32 bit apps, reboot your computer and select the external drive. Not hard to set up.

I use the Adobe photography subscription plan. It isn't any more expensive than the old upgrade every two years model, and the updates are well tested, not rushed out the door to make the next release date.

I moved to Affinity Photo that you can buy, not subscription, for 50 bucks. I had to learn new things but it works well. I use it to PS things. I passed to Capture one for my professional editing in a big scale several years ago. I used to print with Oriental and the deep blacks of RC papers were incredible. Then I had some love hate with Forte Fiber paper. The warm tone with warm developers from AGFA were very beautiful. Tricky to print but beautiful when well done. Things move. Heraclitus said centuries ago. You never bath in the same river.

I'm sticking with Mojave for the time being on account of a computer controlled Fender guitar amplifier (!) that is built in Microsoft silverlight of all things and took a fair amount of hackery to make work in Mojave. There are also a lot of other old utilities that run on old versions of Mac and windows and even amiga that I use virtual machines for.
That said, I'm staying away from Catalina as long as I can, and so far I haven't seen any compelling reason to update but lots of reasons not to.

CS6 appears to have a 64bit Mac version so you can continue to use it: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/64-bit-os-benefits-limitations.html

The answer for me is apple's Photos and https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/

Simplest solution? Buy Parallels and run Mojave in it.

It's a fact that Apple has never cared about backward compatibility.

It doesn't sell new computers.

Especially now, since they are not even really a computer company anymore.

To answer your question, Photoshop CS6 does not run under Catalina. For some odd reason, Bridge CS6 does run but that's not very useful.

I was in your same boat. I stopped at CS6 because I didn't want to participate in the subscription model. However, I use a 2013 Mac Pro that is getting really long in the tooth and you can't buy a new Mac that isn't on Catalina. I tried a number of the programs that are being touted as an alternative to Photoshop but really couldn't make headway with any of them. I started using Photoshop in September of 1990 and for the next 25 years used it every day as part of my job. I still use it on a personal level and I guess it's just the Old Dog/New Tricks thing. Photoshop 2020 is free to try and two months ago I bit the bullet and signed up for the free trial. There were some minor hiccups such as having to figure out how to import my work spaces and how to undo the change that Adobe made to how Command-Z works. (A second Command-Z doesn't redo the action but does another undo? Seriously?) After using the current version of Photoshop for a couple of days I said, the heck with it and signed up for a subscription. It works well, has a bunch of new stuff in it and I know how to use it. Files saved from it work with CS6 in case I have some need to go back but I don't see why I would. The $10 a month is on my credit card so I don't see it and in any event, that cost is half the cost of my Tidal Music subscription which is much less important to me than Photoshop. If you like Photoshop, give the 30 day free trial a run and see what you think.

Mike, it's time you ditched Mac's and use a Windows PC. These kind of things don't happen. Windows 10 has all sorts of backward compatibility modes. I use CS6, Nik, and many other (vintage) plug-in accessories. I use Quicken 2010 (yes, 2010) with no plans or necessity to upgrade. Same with CS6.

It's a bit ironic that while Apple does both their operating systems and computer hardware, Windows nowadays has clearly better backward compatibility. Apple has taken a line where they only support features for a certain amount of time, providing no recourse to run older software with current systems. The future looks increasingly challenging in this regard.

don't update to catalina is your only solution.

Whether or not you *have* to upgrade can depend on your various devices. For example, if you use Apple Reminders a lot then if you have a phone/iPad with iOS 13 then Mojave won’t sync with them if on the same Apple ID. My experience was that Mail also didn’t sync properly until I’d upgraded to Catalina.

Sometimes the march of progress stomps all over you. My two main computers are currently stuck on High Sierra and Mojave respectively. One because of incompatibility with the graphics card the other with an audio interface. Since I do the bulk of my work on these machines I wont upgrade the OS on them for the remainder of their days - which I hope is a long time. The silver lining is that, contrary to Moore's law, as technology advances the rate of change appears to be slowing down so I don't expect this to have a serious impact on the work I need to do.


If you don't want to rent the latest version of Photoshop for $120 per year, you might be able to get by with the latest version of Photoshop Elements. It costs $100.00 to own.
There is a "free" trial edition you can download. It doesn't cost money but you do have to give Adobe some personal data.

It is certainly not Adobe's fault that 8-year old software (which is outside of their support window) does not work on the newest version of Apple's OS. No software is ever supported forever unless somebody pays for the ongoing maintenance of it. Case in point, banking software written in COBOL going back to the 70s.

Microsoft goes to great lengths make sure old software runs on new OSes. They famously made sure that Sim City 2000 ran on Windows 95 even though the program had a bug that depended on a bug inside of Windows 3.1! https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/05/24/strategy-letter-ii-chicken-and-egg-problems/ Linus Torvalds has a mantra for Linux: "Don't break userland!" Apple? My way or the highway.

Funny story, once in college I wanted to play Oregon Trail, an old Apple IIe game. The solution? Run a Windows emulator to run an Apple IIe emulator to run Oregon trail.

(Also, apparently Typepad has a bug where if one comment has an opening <i> tag and doesn't close it, it goes on to italicize the rest of the comments. I threw in a closing tag at the top of my comment to see if that helps my comment be in roman.)

A smorgasbord of free and open source software is here: https://pixls.us/software/

Programs with Apple versions have a little gray apple beside them. I don't know for certain, but the vast majority is likely to be 64 bit.

I've been using linux for photography (and all my computing) since 2005 and never missed the pay to play, pay to upgrade cycle, and never felt like I was missing out. Even under Windows before that I collected a stack of unopened Adobe software CDs that came with printers, graphics cards, etc. On Windows I used Picture Window, written by Jonathan Sachs, now available for free from Digital Light and Color (no Apple version).

Most folks would likely start with darktable (no caps) or RawTherapee.

You'll need to give up your Adobe muscle memory.

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