Adobe created a panic among Mac-based designers and Web creators by posting a note that its Creative Suite 3 set of applications - including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Illustrator, and Flash - were "not supported" under the new Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard that ships tomorrow.

As you would imagine, this created an Internet panic attack, with people reading the statement to mean that CS3 apps would not run on Snow Leopard. Given how many Macs are used by designers and Web producers, and how fundamental Adobe products are to their work, you can understand the panic.

We know Adobe CS4 works with Snow Leopard. But will Adobe CS3 work on Snow Leopard? Will Adobe CS2 work on Snow Leopard? Will Adobe CS1 work on Snow Leopard?


In my beta testing of Mac OS X Snow Leopard, I had no issues with Creative Suite 3 (released in April 2007). But just to be sure, I installed the suite on a fresh copy of Snow Leopard today and ran a variety of tasks in the main CS3 apps just to be sure.

Which apps don't work with Snow Leopard?

Adobe Photoshop CS3 review

You can relax: I've yet to encounter any issues, not even with Adobe's alternative file manager, Version Cue, which mucks around the Mac OS's innards a bit.

The installer worked. The Adobe Updater worked - though some updates won't install unless you have Mac OS X's Rosetta capability turned on.

Apple Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard review

Rosetta lets Intel-based Macs run apps designed for the PowerPC-only versions of Mac OS X from the early and mid-2000s.

In Snow Leopard, Rosetta is no longer turned on by default (saving system resources), so older apps can crash, not run, or give out error messages when they assume Rosetta is available, but it is not.

Fortunately, Adobe Updater checks to see if Rosetta is enabled; if it's needed but not enabled, it provides a dialog box to turn Rosetta on, then continues its updating - easy.

Users of the first version of Adobe Creative Suite (CS or CS1) will need to install Rosetta, as it is not a Universal application but one built specifically for PowerPC Macs. If you later try to launch a PowerPC app, Snow Leopard will pop up a window to explain that you need Rosetta and offer to install it for you (via Apple's Software Update utility).

The CS3 versions of Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Flash, Bridge, and Media Encoder all worked as well. Of course, I didn't test every possible function, so there may be some incompatibilities.

Which is what I think Adobe was really trying to say: The company notes it has not tested CS3 on Snow Leopard (and doesn't intend to), so it's not guaranteeing - "supporting" - CS3 on Snow Leopard. Adobe could have chosen better wording.

That is, unless the idea was to panic people into buying a CS4 upgrade. Ironically, Adobe lists several incompatibilities between CS4 and Snow Leopard, such as with Version Cue CS4.

If you think you need to upgrade to CS4 because you plan to upgrade to Snow Leopard, think again.