Three Tips to Survive With Photoshop CS6 in 2018

Three Tips to Survive With Photoshop CS6 in 2018

Though Adobe Photoshop CS6 came out more than six years ago, there are a good many people still using it in 2018. Some don’t need to upgrade, others can’t afford the monthly fee, and still others refuse to buy into the software as a service model.

I’m in a different position in that I split my time in two places with two desktop computers and one laptop that all have photo needs. I’m a Creative Cloud subscriber, but that unfortunately only lets me install the software on two computers. That means my third computer, one of the desktops, soldiers on with my previously paid-for version of Photoshop CS6, as it doesn’t make sense to pay for another full license on an occasionally used machine.

As software grows stale though, it gets harder to run on newer machines and software, and so if you’ve got a shiny new Mac but no reason to upgrade to CC, here’s how you can eke a little more life out of your current version of Photoshop.

Make Use of Adobe’s DNG Converter

Adobe stopped updating Camera Raw for CS6 three years ago, at version 9.1.1. That means many newer cameras, such as Canon’s 80D or 5D Mark IV, aren’t supported and you won’t be able to natively open raw files from newer cameras in the older version of Photoshop. That’s where Adobe’s DNG converter comes in. You can drop your camera’s raw files into the DNG converter and convert them into the digital negative standard, which is still able to be read by Photoshop CS6. This does add an extra step in the process to opening your photos, but that’s the price of hanging on to older software.

I found that Adobe’s automatic updates on CS6 weren’t working in the move to macOS High Sierra, and so I had to download Camera Raw 9.1.1 manually to get it working.

Update Your Plugins

I’m a heavy user of the Nik Collection, but found that in High Sierra that it was constantly crashing. While there are some workarounds to keep it going, it sometimes pays to pay, and the one-time charge ($69) for the new version gets you service and support and more compatibility than the neglected old free version (now called Nik Collection 2012) from when Google owned the software. If your plugins aren’t working, check if there’s an upgrade available.

Think Before Upgrading Your OS

My laptop is my main workhorse machine for my business. It’s a version behind on software, running macOS Sierra. This isn’t laziness. I need it working more than I need the latest macOS, and so my last piece of advice is the timeless “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. If CS6 and your current operating system are working, and you don’t need to upgrade, why tempt fate?

All of this said, if you’re still running CS6 out of a refusal to buy into the Cloud, you’re missing out on a lot of features that have been added since 2012, especially if you’re a 360 content creator or running a newer camera. If photography is your business, the expense of Creative Cloud is worth the upgrade just so you don’t have to rely on workarounds to keep your software running, or add an extra conversion step before being able to access your photos.

How many people are still running CS6, or have you upgraded to the cloud?

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31 Comments

The cost of ownership for the Creative Cloud is prohibitive. I don't need Lightroom (I use CaptureOne) but I need Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Bridge (not the castrated form that exists now), occasionally After Effects/Premiere. I upgraded on a 3-4 cycle, so it works out more expensive to be on the CC subscription and being held to ransom for any price increases Adobe does let alone the diabolically bad customer service. I used to get the Master Suite for the £800 upgrade fee (going by a fuzzy memory), so I'm actually down cash every three years which a subscription costs £600 a year.

This is also a key advantage of Windows, you don't have to worry about the OS being incompatible as CS 6 works perfectly fine on it (sometimes better due to the multi-core and RAM optimisations).

Michael Jin's picture

I don't know if I would call it "prohibitive". It's a $13/week business expense and that's assuming that you actually need the entire collection. Yes, it might be more expensive depending on your upgrade cycle previously, but either way, it's really not that expensive for something that your entire business revolves around.

My other point I alluded to is that Adobe has actively removed features from Bridge that I use. So, yes it's prohibitive. A S/W company shouldn't yank features without a structured fallback The loss of dual panel support, exporting PDFs and other minor features cripples my workflow which is heavily automated (another bug bear in that Adobe broke several of my scripts that have worked happily since CS 4). So why should I have to worry every time there's a new version of CC out which has been to be a bug ridden mess multiple times. Adobe support basically told me there's no alternative to those features, so have a nice day that's why I returned to CS 6.

The cost isn't just the monthly fee, but the additional cost of learning software changes and breakage in workflow. Sure I had this problem before but it was on a controlled cycle of three years which the software could be phased in.

Michael Jin's picture

The fact that Adobe definitely needs to do better quality control before releasing patches is truth. Obviously I don't know what kind of work you're doing, but if you say that it's costing you money and there's no real work around, I imagine that's got to be rather frustrating. :/

As for Bridge, I've never been one to use it so I can't comment on it one way or another.

Jen Photographs's picture

It's prohibitive if you're a hobbyist.

Michael Jin's picture

This is true, but you also have to realize that these are professional grade tools. There are more affordable (and sometimes free) alternatives to most of this software out there (ones that aren't subscription based either) for the hobbyist budget.

Industry standard software in just about any creative field is expensive. Being a hobbyist means sometimes you need to settle for something lower and within your budget. Then again, some hobbyists out there have more money than working professionals so there's that, too.

I'm not sure of any repercussions but you can have it installed on more than two computers and when you run it on the third computer, it informs you it's already signed in on two other computers and gives you the option to sign out of the others. Again, I don't know if they complain after a certain number of such shell games. I've never had a problem doing that but I don't use it on a third computer very often.

Spy Black's picture

Tip #4: Get yourself a copy of Affinity Photo for fifty bucks...

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I did, but for some reason I can never process my photos with it to look as good as I can with Adobe Photoshop. Any tips would be appreciated! I have years of Photoshop under my belt so it's probably my own muscle memory.

Michael Jin's picture

Funny that people say the same thing about Capture One and Lightroom. In theory, this shouldn't be the case, but it does make me wonder...

Wasim Ahmad's picture

It could just be the way it handles raw conversion - for instance, with a Canon camera, you get slightly better raw conversion on their Digital Photo Professional software than Adobe, though at the cost of a lot of usability when it comes to the software.

Spy Black's picture

I'm not sure why, but it probably just comes down to learning the app. I recently got a copy and I'm pretty green to it myself, but I haven't as of yet seen any real problems. Post some stuff up on their forum and see if you can get some feedback that may be of help.

Michael Breitung's picture

I have win7 and Photoshop CS6 and a perfectly smooth workflow as of now :-) It's not always necessary to use the latest software, have the latest hardware and so on. As the saying goes: never change a running system. My PC is also around 5 years old.

Simon Patterson's picture

I have win 10 on 3 machines and no probs with CS6 on all of them. The OS issue with CS6 is probably only a Mac issue.

Mark James's picture

I always upgraded LR with each new version and PS was every other version. As all of their products are now cloud based, they will never see any more of my money. I assume I'm in the minority based on their huge profits, but I don't care. We put solar on our house. Not because we will save money, but to eliminate yet another monthly bill. I hope to be prepared for retirement, and monthly fees are not on the path I plan to be on.

Simon Patterson's picture

That's a smart approach. As the saying goes, rent money is dead money.

Jen Photographs's picture

I asked elsewhere on a different forum, but didn't get a solid answer. If I make a preset or action on PS6, is it forward-compatible? Can I use the same one in the CC?

I don't plan on subscribing to CC anytime soon, but the info would be nice to know for the future.

I haven't tried it but I believe that actions etc. would be forward compatible, given that CC can (allegedly) do everything that CS6 can do and more.
I don't think though, that the reverse is true. In other words, actions etc. created using CC won't work using CS6.
Of curse, I could be completely wrong!

You can save your actions on your hardrive before upgrading. I have always retain my actions through several versions, plugins are a different story.

Jen Photographs's picture

Yeah I think plugins are proprietary. But good to know about actions!

user-189304's picture

I still run CS2, and feel absolutely no need to upgrade.

Spy Black's picture

"All of this said, if you’re still running CS6 out of a refusal to buy into the Cloud, you’re missing out on a lot of features that have been added since 2012..."

It depends on what you're doing. For the vast majority of retouching, pretty much any image editor from Photoshop 5.5 to GIMP will work. Retouching is my stock in trade, and the majority of catalog and web work I do I could easily do in Photoshop 5.5 (no, not CS5 :-) ) and, if I knew it better, probably GIMP. Unless you absolutely need some modern process, if you're on CS6, you're already ahead.

The only time you need a modern version of Photoshop is if you need to pick up on someone elses work or work with companies using more recent versions of the app. Otherwise don't sweat it.

Simon Patterson's picture

I agree. I had CC until late 2017, but realised that none of the new features were worth the hundreds of dollars per year. So I went back to CS6 and have not missed CC at all.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

The one killer new feature for me is the ability to edit 360 stuff. It's been a nice addition to some of the work I do for clients.

Spy Black's picture

Are you referring to 360 plates for doing the kind of crap you see on fb at a higher res? :-)

Wasim Ahmad's picture

The stuff on FB is usually people doing it on their phones and flinging it online, but I'm talking files with actual 360 cameras can be edited very easily on CC with special features just for that. Here's an example of one I did for a facility that Hofstra wanted me to shoot: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hofstrauniversity/27850111938

Spy Black's picture

Well, that MAY be something that becomes more popular and mainstream as time goes by, but it's really not something that most people are doing, and secondary in the overall use of Photoshop.

Also, chances are there are apps out there that are probably better suited for that kind of work as well, and you may actually be better off with them if you do that kind of work regularly. I regularly shoot image stacks, and although I can stack in Photoshop, I use a dedicated program for stacking, because it much better suited to the task...

...and therein lies another serious problem with Photoshop beyond the whole subscription fiasco. Adobe keeps adding all these wiz-bang features to Photoshop to try to make it the be-all end-all image processing app, while ignoring bugs and other dysfunctional aspects of the program. I'd rather have a stripped-down functonal Photoshop than the bloated bug box it has become.

Jozef Povazan's picture

No CC or LR for me, switched to C1 and CS5 combo. Adobe does not get a cent from me on subscription nonsense ! :)

Paulo Macedo's picture

CS6 here, on Windows 10 machine upgraded this year.
No issues whatsoever. For what I do, freequency separation et all, it is still amazing.
Lightroom 4 also.
Don't like the subscription model, either I buy the whole software or it is a no go.

As a hobbyist I have no problem paying $10/month for PS/LR. It seems like a reasonable cost to learn the industry standard for photo editing. I've tried two other competitor products that boast not having the subscription. Neither replaced the workflow of LR or the capability of Photoshop. I've stopped being seduced by cheaper alternatives. However, the Photography CC is where I draw the line. For video editing I refuse to pay an extra $20/month for Premiere. Nor will I buy all of it to get AE. As a hobbyist videographer there are plenty of low cost products that do what I want/need just fine, not to mention Resolve being free. So I understand why some would be put off buying the subscription of Photography CC when something like ON1 does all the editing just fine. As much as I can't imagine not using LR if they bump much past $10/month I'll be looking at alternatives as well.

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