Photoshop CS5 – The Good and the Big Brother

Works better but someone is always watching.

Adobe had a deal, upgrade to CS5 by November 30th via their online store and get $50 off (25%.) I took the bait and just before midnight on Tuesday downloaded my copy.

I had been in no rush to upgrade from CS4 to CS5. On the one hand Adobe had dropped the ball with the prior upgrades to Photoshop and GoLive. Horribly handled online transactions and prior releases with little new (for what I do) scared me off. On the other hand I should have been looking for a way out. Photoshop CS4 has never run well on my Mac Pro or on my MacBook Pro. Stability was lost somewhere in the CS upgrades and my confidence in Adobe along with it.

My Mac Pro was four years old this past October. There is no way I can know how much is Adobe and how much is a computer pushed to its limits. Regardless, the Mac Pro was bought on the high end of features; a quad (dual dual-core) with a top of the line video card and 12gb of ram. Four years later it’s far from current but it’s no slouch either.

Long story short, working in Photoshop CS4 had become a chore. At this point the initial heavy lifting on all files can be done by Aperture but I still go to Photoshop for final custom file work. Working in 16-bit with 1Ds Mark III files, the first layer starts at 120mb but get up past 5-6-7 layers and you are quickly at 1gb or higher. Once I got above 500mb CS4 would crash at any moment. Other issues included Photoshop CS4 often telling me that I was out of memory and/or refusing to save a file because the file was “open.”

I am happy to report that Photoshop CS5 has fixed all of those. I worked on a file on Wednesday that needed a lot of work.  Multiple layers brought it to 2gb in size and Photoshop did not crash once. Along with that saves are faster and tools are much more responsive than in CS4.

I assume that a large part of this is Photoshop now being 64-bit. This means it can address and use a lot more memory (along with other features.) Whether it’s that or better coding, or both, – either way I am happy. It’s nice to know I can work again without it crashing at the drop of a hat.

One thing to note about 64-bit is that most Photoshop plug-ins are 32-bit. Not only will they not run when Photoshop is in 64-bit mode, they aren’t recognized, and they do not appear in Photoshop’s menus. There is a work-around which is to relaunch Photoshop in 32-bit mode. It is easily done via Mac OS Info window for Photoshop (select the PS icon, hit command-I, select 32-bit.)

The other thing to note is… big brother. As in Adobe. During the upgrade Adobe asks if you want to opt to have Photoshop constantly send Adobe information about how well it is running on your system. That’s up to you but what they don’t tell you is that they are installing third-party software on your system or that they are adding a background process which will appear in your menu bar.

First up was Growl which I became aware of after a window appeared on my screen prompting me to upgrade it. From the looks of it, Growl is not happy about how Adobe handled this and Adobe has been taken to task for installing this on people’s systems. To remove Growl follow the same link.

Second up is Adobe Application Manager which is part of the install package. Maybe it was in CS4 too but with CS5 it turned itself on when I booted up two days later and placed info in my menu bar. There does not seem to be a way to turn it off (it’s an auto update tool for Photoshop and its supporting software) but you can change its preferences so that it will not appear in the menu bar. It, also, has an option to send or not send Adobe information.