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macOS Catalina is the End of the Road for InDesign CS6


As the saying goes, time waits for no one. Nor does it wait for our favorite software programs. This week, Apple is released macOS Catalina (10.15), which fully ends support for 32-bit apps like InDesign CS6. So if you’re one of the folks holding on to CS6 (or any earlier version of InDesign) to avoid becoming a Creative Cloud subscriber, it’s essential that you do not upgrade to Catalina.

CS6 is CS sunk

If you need to keep CS6 running on a Mac, you should probably double-check your Software Update settings in System Preferences. Be sure that nothing is set to automatically update the OS. Then cross your fingers that your hardware doesn’t give out any time soon.

Personally, I find it very helpful to keep a copy of CS6 on one of my computers for reference when InDesign is acting strangely to see if the behavior I’m seeing is new or not.
You can read this post by Steve Werner for more details on Catalina ending support for 32-bit apps.

Editor in Chief of CreativePro. Instructor at LinkedIn Learning with courses on InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, GIMP, Inkscape, and Affinity Publisher. Co-author of The Photoshop Visual Quickstart Guide with Nigel French.
  • I’m a CC subscriber, so this isn’t an issue with me. But II’ve had so many problems with 10.14 that I’m going to wait a while before upgrading to 10.15. To fix those issues, which eventually rendered my Mac almost unworkable, I ended up buying a new SSD, formatting it, and doing a restore via Carbon Copy Cloner. Fortunately, CCC kept the problem, which seemed to be linked to runaway Time Machine snapshots, from infecting my backup drive.
    Three cheers for Carbon Copy Cloner. Three loud boos to Apple for creating issues that its Disk Utility can detect but not fix.

  • David Blatner says:

    Here’s an article I wrote a couple years back on the subject of “Should you upgrade?” It’s a good one to review from time to time.

    • Marcie Dove says:

      Thank you! Good article! In my experience it comes down to cost and the Cloud is so very expensive for individuals and businesses.

  • Paul Chadha says:

    I’d like to add a note about macOS 10.15 (Catalina). macOS 10.15 requires 3rd party software that are obtained outside of the Mac App store to be notarized by Apple (basically Apple puts the 3rd party software installer/application into a database that says its okay to be installed without a fuss); otherwise 10.15 can block a software from being installed (although its straight-forward to get around the prevention). However, the elevated security changes of 10.15 may break older 3rd party software.

  • David Henry says:

    Also keep a copy of the install file of the old operating system. I just went through this. They can be hard to find.

  • Candy says:

    This is why 20 years ago I went with PC.

  • Sally G says:

    I went through this some time ago, as my InDesign work is stand-alone (no need to share files in progress with others) and unpaid—my MacBookPro with 10,8.5 holds my copy of CS4. OperatorHeadgap sells many old Macintoshes, generations back; should hardware failure be a problem, I will turn to them.

  • Janet M says:

    The problem (besides extreme cost) with the subscription is that it requires near-constant upgrades of system, which then renders other software inoperable. I work with small presses, and their equipment is often many generations behind compatibility with Adobe CC. The frequent upgrades are not a feature for my work, but a bug.
    I guess I’ll get an older laptop and house my design work there.

    • w.m. bravenboer says:

      For us this is also an issue, although costs are perhaps less so, we have arrived at a situation that all our Mac run Sierra, updating will disable several programs we need. My issue is mostly we have paid for several plugins and applications we use every day, and Apple and/or Adobe ‘forces’ us to constantly upgrade. A lot of smaller producers of programs can not alway stay up to date, or went to the subscription system; of which I am a strong opponent. If only Adobe did it, ok, but all major graphic applications (Enfocus for instance) are jumping on the bandwagon.
      Upgrading to Catalina takes not only time, but we need to be sure everything stays working. So when CC 2020 comes out, we probably cannot update, and we pay subscription… Of course there will be a moment for us to upgrade but not for now.

  • Steve Werner says:

    Often working with an older computer (as long as you can keep it running) or running an older OS in a different partition is the answer to running old software, or running essential drivers, plug-ins, etc. which don’t get updated. Good luck!

  • Bart Van de Wiele says:

    Well that’s the thing with perpetual software, in this case CS6. The fact that the license (which only refers to the right to use a piece of software, not the guarantee that it will be supported forever) is perpetual, the software itself will eventually stop working because the eco system in which it lives (OS, hardware, drivers) will change.
    The only way to keep using perpetual licenses is by living in a time bubble.

  • James DeMayo says:

    For what it’s worth: I’ve been using Mac computers on my life, I posted a question on Adobe- titled 32 to 64 .
    A couple of days later someone from Adobe sent me an email and told me I could update my software InDesign CS6 & Acrobat DC Pro for Mac. $650.00. I am not a computer geek, by any means and they took over my computer cleaned out the old Adobe software and then installed the software on my computer. It took probably 45 minutes to an hour. I just sat back and watched. The only reason I needed Adobe in design was I started a book some years ago and I wanted to finish it at some time.
    They also assured me if I bought a new computer, they would do the same thing again at no additional cost.
    They told me the licenses are everlasting! I’m 76 years old and that my age the learning curve is not easy.
    One thing I found out that it’s only for CS6 and does not let do things with any later versions of InDesign, but the Acrobat is current.
    I am trying to relearn InDesign so I joined in design secrets because they told me the there were old magazine articles here, within InDesign secrets from years ago.
    In the good old days, you would buy a desk pop in the computer and off you go!
    Good luck to all.

    • Barb says:

      I am 74 and have signed up for an InDesign class at my university. I get a reduced rate for seniors. Most states have this program. Check with AARP to find out what your state offers. Also, is on our library website and I do all kinds of free classes there. You just have to have a library card to access. Good luck to you.

    • Daniel says:

      Adobe does not offer the service you described. Your personal information may be at risk.

  • Robbo Ferris says:

    OK, took the plunge and upgraded, its only been 3 days, business as usual so far for the Adobe package

  • Nye Hughes says:

    I think I’m right in saying that InDesign CS6 was the last version that will open PageMaker files, so bear that in mind if you have an achieve of old projects you may need retain access to.

  • Robert Scott says:

    I had the impression that InDesign CS6 was a 64 bit app and that is why I upgraded. Not so. InDesign CS6 turned out to be the last perpetual license version of InDesign. I have been avoiding subscribing to Creative Cloud by staying with my CS6 apps. I always thought that Apple would end support for my Adobe CS6 apps by transitioning their entire Mac product line from Intel-based chips to ARM chips. Now they are doing it with a simple operating system upgrade. Photoshop CS6 is 64bit compatible but, InDesign is the hub of my creative work flow.

    • Ronnie Sugarloaf says:

      I don’t know that it’s complete fair to blame Apple for this “upgrade”. They started the 64 bit transition over 10 years ago. First was wit 64 bit compatible chips, then they started up slowly update software to transition to 64 bit. The last few OS from Apple have supported both. So it’s not like this was a “surprise” moment. It’s not like the software companies haven’t known this transition was coming. I think MANY of the software companies have either been lazy, or in some cases (Adobe imho) saw this road map long ago and seized on an opportunity to force customers to switch over to the subscription based model. Think about it – I can pay once for Adobe Suite and use it the next 6 to 10 years. Or – I can subscribe to the “cloud” (with all those WONDERFUL advertised features I personally don’t need or want) and basically pay for the software in full every two to three years. So now – in a 10 year period, I no longer by the software once – I’m buying it three times.
      We are the golden eggs – because they know we’ve been backed into a corner as users. I’d sacrifice 10 to 15% of my customer base if I know I’m going to be able to almost triple my revenue stream.
      Don’t get me wrong – Adobe makes GREAT products! I love their stuff – but think they also take advantage of their customers because they have such a strong foot-hold in the market place.
      If we’re really being honest – all of these companies know where technology is heading and their road maps are planned accordingly.
      Is Apple partially to blame? Possibly.
      Does Adobe have clean hands in this? Doubtful.
      But that’s just my opinion…

      • Ronnie Sugarloaf says:

        My apologies – I do know how to speak properly – I”m trying to get use to this new keyboard and have a cover on it – sentence structure is completely my fault. I’ll take more time in typing out my thoughts next time.
        My apologies.
        Ron S

  • B Morgan says:

    I have about given up on Mac and Adobe even though I’ve been using those since the early 90s. The cost per month for Adobe is excessive for an individual doing freelance graphic design work. I am using CS6 on an old laptop and am still using Mac OS X El Capitan. If I upgrade my Mac OS I will have to start paying for, not only the Adobe subscription, but also the MS Office suite subscription. I only use Office occasionally for Word or Excel (to work with my clients files), so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to subscribe and pay for it on a monthly basis… but Mac wants to force me to do just that! I think I may start looking into alternative software and PCs even if it isn’t my first choice!

    • Robert Scott says:

      B Morgan, I think Apple knows that Adobe CC is hindering freelance designers from moving foreword with new Mac hardware and that is why Apple has been helping Affinity with their development of Affinity Designer, Affinity Publisher, and Affinity Photo. This software is still in the rudimentary stages of development but, when all three of these apps get to version 2 or version 3 in development, they will be solid alternatives to Adobe CS and CC and, they will be optimized to take advantage of the latest Mac Hardware. I would not be surprised to see third party software companies come out with compatibility utilities that will allow you to convert Adobe InDesign documents, from your job archives, into working Affinity Publisher documents.

      • Ann Camilla says:

        I can hardly wait for Affinity to take over my CS6 suite as I’d really love to update my old iMac running Mavericks, and also because I’m sick of Chrome and Safari telling me they’re no longer supporting Mavericks, let alone Amazon Prime refusing to run in ‘old’ Chrome!!! Trouble is, I’m nearly 80 and am wondering how long I can continue working for a book publisher (as one of their typesetters). So happy to read Robert Scott’s entry above where he says that Apple is helping Affinity. Yay! High 5!!

  • Charles Atkins says:

    At work I use a PC for graphic design and illustration. It’s got a fast processor a 1T hard drive with multiple server storage access and 2 27″ monitors. I’ve got a full subscription to Adobe and Adobe Stock so I’m set up pretty well. A couple of months ago I bought an Imac 27″ desktop with 24gb RAM, fast processor and 1T hard drive. I added a 1T solid state drive, DVD RW drive and a second 24′ monitor. This system should work well for many years for my own design, illustration and fine art projects. I have a subscription to the Adobe suite and love the software but the cost is a little bit much and although I have a regular job now that makes that a minimal consideration I will most likely be retiring in the next year. When that happens that $50+ dollars a month off the top will become a much more important issue. In reaction to this I have purchased the entire Affinity Suite and am going through the tutorials. They seem to work well but having used Adobe since the very beginning it takes a little getting used to the new thinking. My experience with Catalina is nonexistent so I can’t comment on its issues other than I’ve tried to upgrade twice and both times it failed to complete the process. I believe that is because I live a bit off the grid and only have access to high speed data through a moderate speed satellite link. Also my monthly allotment is only 10gb and the upgrade is more than 8gb so I have to let it run during free time in the a.m.. But that access fluctuates with use I believe and that is what is causing the error. So I may be using the current OS for awhile unless I want to bump up my data plan (already over $150 a month with phone and computer} So you can see the costs add up and with TV and software its over $300. For a freelancer that is tough to overcome and we all know how clients and jobs fluctuate. Not sure what the point of this is but maybe just to state the frustration of escalating costs to just run a computer and be linked in to the net.

    • Lindsey Martin says:

      Charles, quite a few other folks have had trouble upgrading to Catalina (see the discussion at TidBITS) and the Catalina Supplemental Update is supposed to have fixed this. I have not tested. LIndsey

  • Volker Beckmann says:

    I am a very similar situation. Am a free lance designer in a semi retired mode a 70 years of age. I’m still using my 2012 iMac with OS10.10 and Adobe CS6 apps. Only work about 10-20 hours a week for existing customers and often pro bono work for my community.
    I have a new iMac with OS10.14. Don’t think CS6 will work on it. I will not subscribe to CC for what it costs monthly. What happens when CS6 no longer works for me? What will replace Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator CS6? Anyone have any suggestions, please? And Thank you!

    • Ross says:

      The cheapest as of now are Affinity Photo, Publisher, and Designer. They’re at in their early stages and can’t be compared to Adobe.

  • Maurice Pam says:

    I have OS 10.14.6 CS6 works fine

  • MM says:

    I weep and am relieved at the same time. Ditto to everything anyone said.
    I just got off the phone with a “Senior Advisor for ‘Apple Creative Media’ After many hours to get to this particular conversation pinnacle. The guy just did. not . want . to . hear . it.
    What was it that he did not want to hear??
    Me saying that, ‘after all this if I were to sieve out the final end product my solution is ‘spend more money at Apple (and/or Adobe)’.
    WE (aging designers) KEPT THESE PEOPLE IN BUSINESS FOR DECADES WHEN NO ONE ELSE WOULD LOOK AT THEM. WE want to age safely and contentedly – yet these people to whom we have been loyal, have NO qualms about having the money flow only one way (NOT capitalism). I feel our pain – may we find a way to make said pain belong to ‘them’.
    Interestingly enough, there was no way for me to forward this to said ‘senior advisor’ so that HE could put his 2 cents in to his superiors re our sentiment. They ‘can’t receive emails from customers.’ So then it falls to us – and it is THEIR JOB to make OUR experience WHAT WE WANT.
    I end with a quote from MacRumors that says it better than I ever could:
    If Apple could write a decent OS that isn’t fundamentally flawed and forced the users to upgrade just to get a working OS then we wouldn’t have an issue.
    I am so glad that you have a bucket of money and can splash it around to keep paying Adobe for the updates that will never get used.
    I have already paid the thousands for CS3, CS4, CS5 and finished with CS6 with no real need to go beyond that. The Photoshop works with my Camera and I have no need to upgrade that hardware. The Illustrator does all that I need it to do. My terrific designer is still using CS4 with his MBP 2008 and produces superb work. I designed my web site just fine with DreamWeaver. I have no need to spend more money to gain nothing.
    The problem is not really Adobe, but Apple for
    1. Forcing everyone to upgrade to newer versions of OSX as since the death of Steve, the QC has been non existant
    2. Not fixing the bugs that you have in your past OS rather rely that everyone will move to the next itteration
    3. Not supporting the past software such as Java6 because of the prior two points in the current OS
    In solidarity,
    Macs since the Lisa (and other stuff before then)

    • MM says:

      P.S. Adobe is just as bad. Bait and switch.
      Thank you all SO much for the heads up about the new baby software. I will happily go to it as soon as possible.
      xo to all for the beauty you have created in your years in Graphics.

  • OhioWordguy says:

    Hey, I’m late to this discussion but I loathe Adobe for pushing us all to subscriptions. Now, as CS6 reaches its end of life for Mac OS, it really leaves a lot of people in a bind.
    I can completely identify with the solo practitioners or small design firms out there that simply don’t have the budget for these monthly fees. (BTW: Adobe can rent their software to students for half the price, so…) There are a lot of small print shops out there that will never, ever upgrade to 2020-level computers and/or software, and even though I don’t deal with them much anymore, I totally get it.
    Even some larger commercial printers don’t upgrade for years at a time. You’d be surprised! When they find a stable platform they keep it, rather than dealing with endless bugs and patches that cause them to experience downtime.
    But as MM said above, it was people like us who kept Apple in particular alive back in the 90s — we believed in them when virtually NO ONE else did.
    I, too, have spent the thousands of dollars on software over the years and I simply refuse, at this point, to go to Adobe CC.
    Parting shot: I may be a dinosaur in some respects but I still use QuarkXPress (2019 version). For books and magazines, which is what I publish, there is no equal. I use InDesign for some ads, and single-page documents, but when it comes to long-form publishing you truly couldn’t pay me enough to switch to ID.

    • Barry Murray says:

      I agree with the frustration of trying to stay alive on an Apple machine… which I have not changed platforms since 1985 upgraded to in 1985… as that is one way to go backward in the “desktop publishing business” I have been in since being a beta tester for PhotoShop used with Pagemaker. Then to Quark, and onto InDesign.
      My first trouble with Apple and Abobe software being in conflict happened after abandoning a Kaypro C/PM desktop for a MacPlus, and LaserWriter which could output useable “cold type” provided you purchased a complete Postscript Font Family, as the Minnion family with many of the extras, as Swash letter you have to search for today.
      Then, trying to bring my multimedia side together from a Macromedia Director package for a Mac, which came bundled with Premier which was in conflict with the early Apple Final Cut to the point that Mr. Pepsi Cola dropped HyperCard (a really beautiful OOP programmable database? (which easily could have been the “Home Application” of an easier Internet browser, which couldn’t import Adobe Illustrator88 Graphics, let alone PowerPoint “cards”, until InDesign / Adobe Acrobat came along.
      The loss of years learning HyperTalk (I was awarded an Apple Hero Award for an education “stack’… is almost equaled by Macromedia Flash (a part of the “DirHead” package that Apple turned down) by going to Adobe, which allowed me to put up some of the first QuickTime movies on the Internet when placed in a DreamWeaver upload. I now am having to go back to my to revamp a lot of wasted time in trying to build out a travel empire of all 50 states having a uniform format of… … which really will work best in a viewable Acrobat PDF.
      Sorry for complaining, as all of this has been an exciting escape from a 1960 high tech printshop where I actually set type out of a chase, and hand flashed a photo halftone dot in a lithographic camera.
      Yeah… I am rambling as on my next birthday I will be 81, which means I am running out of energy making work.. and if anyone smart enough to be complaining in the forum wants to partner-in, well E-mail me at my business … so named as an ampersand & is a web illegal character shackling a Macintosh computer to a wee Murray lad.

  • Back10YRS says:

    Echo to above comments: Mac and Adobe built and then destroyed functional software. I still use old equipment and found this article as I want to get another old Madbook Pro as a CS6 backup. For 2020. What a bummer this is. Upgrades waste more time! Am I that old? Is pushing 40 old? I loathe the word APP. Truly awful for freelancers and I’ll add I still have 2 iPod nano’s 2nd generation. What a nice product that was.
    I don’t know what to do for book formatting. I can get by without the full suite but 3 programs I need for work projects. I love my old MacBook Pro and CS6. I thought I was one of the few using a 9 year old computer but obviously it’s a gift to still have. Well, at least there are a few who will remember great technology. These companies used to have integrity and quality. No more. I’m so mad.

  • Geoffrey Howard says:

    Catalina has wrecked my Macbook Pro, I am now in a situation where my business is going to go fully Windows and dump two dozen Macs, Apple has made a massive mistake in what they have done, they would have been better off simply ensuring the system was safe and stable instead of releasing a system that is hugely unstable and unsafe.

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