Running Adobe CS 4 Suite in VM, so that I can finally update OS X from Sierra to a supported Mac OS Verson?

Hi folks,

Nice to finally be here. Long time Lurker, and so I’m so happy for TidBits continues their legacy online. Former Macintouch Forums Lurker finally makes it to Tibits… :sweat_smile:

I hope the Title is self-explanatory. I’m hoping that I can keep my old Phototshop, Illustrator and Indesign running Via a Virtual Machine on my 2017 27" iMac with Fusion Drive.

Can I install CS 4 on a VM and then update the main Operating system to the latest version of Mac OS X? or at lest a version that has support to keep security updates current?

Any pointers very much appreciated,
Thank you kindly


To heck with Adobe and their subscription service, they have to be shaking in their boots because of the following. Try looking at the Affinity Apps, Affinity – Professional Creative Software , purchase here Affinity – Purchase options and pricing You buy, don’t rent, all three for $169, and that includes iPad versions (and {sick} Windows versions too). They replace Illustrator, Indesign, and PhotoShop (and I believe Acrobat Pro too, at least for me). I was kind of in your same shoes, still on Mojave til Nov '22, when I read about a few Monterey features I couldn’t resist. These apps were recently reviewed here on TidBits*. I recently did some editing of a PDF in Acrobat Pro (using new trial version), and it was extremely painful. Did similar with Affinity Publisher, and it was a breeze, and I am NOT talking relative to Acrobat!

The two things I am missing is that in filling objects, there are not the common hash, dots, and other patterns available, but I don’t think they are available in Illustrator either. And when I go to edit some fields (like the size of a image in pixels, it acts kind weird, like it swallows the first couple of numbers typed. See below to link to discussions, one person lamented on the lack of scripting.

Some of the real neat things I have found. In Designer you can enter sizes in factions, like 5/16. And in Photos, you can set the crop tool to a ratio, like 8:10, and then constrain it to that ratio as you change the size of crop marks. These might be available in recent Adobe app versions, they certainly were not at first, I lamented on the lack of crop ratio capabilities in Photoshop in the 90’s.

I’ve been using them for about two months, and certainly have NOT found a need to look back. They have an active forum, and loads of tutorials. Canvas Draw still has some neat features that Designer does not have for technical drawings (including different hash fill patterns standards for glass, aluminum cork, etc.), and last week I found you could replace a line segment in a shape with different functions, like a sin pattern where you specify the number of cycles (1/2 is available) and amplitude.

*tidbits review: Consider Switching from Creative Cloud to Affinity V2 - TidBITS and discussion Consider Switching from Creative Cloud to Affinity V2


Is is correct that Affinity still does not have the ability to export to epub format?

I don’t think so, attached is the export choose menu.

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Phillman5, I have the same sentiments about the subscription based service, and I like that you’ve mentioned the Affinity Suite. I purchased their previous version of the Affinity suite a awhile back and gave it a serious run in my work flow. But I wasn’t able to spend the time needed to become as efficient as I am in CS 4 when it came to keeping my deadlines. Which means that I need to make more time to utilize the tutorials available for the Affinity Suite. That will happen at some point, but I’m not doing much work in that field of work anymore and I still need the capability I have in CS 4 for the sudden unexpected projects that might come up in the current line of work I’m in.

I’m just looking for a way to keep the most efficient way I can currently work when it come to a sudden rushed project. The idea of losing all the capabilities that I have in the old CS suite, and having to relearn it all in a different environment presents more of a challenge than I have the time for. Keeping a VM image for doing the occasional quickie (offline, if possible) work project is ideal for my situation. I would rather spend the time that it would take to relearn and regain my CS 4 skill set within the Affinity Suite doing the more tangible, boots on the ground, “real world” harm reduction work I do helping the homeless and otherwise disadvantaged to survive.

Thanks for sharing your suggestions!

(In the meantime, in my spare time, I will follow up on the Affinity Suite topics available in the TidBits articles and discussion, 8-) )

I also have a 2017 iMac running Sierra as my main OS as I want to keep CS5 running as long as possible. I have macos Monterey installed on an external SSD (EVO drive in a USB enclosure) for the times I need to run the latest software, though I mainly use it to get familiar with Affinity software, which is what I’ll eventually be using as a Creative Suite replacement.

It’s not ideal, of course, as I can’t run both at the same time, but it’s fast and stable.

I’ve heard Parallels Desktop works fine with a Sierra virtual machine, but I haven’t tried it myself, and there may be some hoops to jump through to get Creative Suite to run.

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If you are going to create stuff that will be sent to an imagesetter, you will be most likely out of luck because just about all of them will only accept Adobe files. IIRC, I don’t think Affinity has any prepress proofing features. Affinity apps don’t usually translate into Adobe formats well, so even though you can save as .pdf, it is still not a good option for printing.

You can also save Illustrator and InDesign documents as .html, and edit them from there. And Adobe offers accessibility features; I’m not sure that Affinity does. IMHO, the only advantage Affinity has is its pricing, which is an exceptionally big advantage. If you are not concerned about anything I mentioned, then I think Affinity would certainly be the way to go.

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Also be aware that the latest versions of macos need the disk to be reformatted to APFS, which may cause problems with a fusion drive. Again, I don’t have direct experience of this but it’s worth doing some research in advance to avoid headaches.

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only advantage Affinity has is its pricing, which is an exceptionally big advantage.

But is it really an advantage over a couple or more years…Adobe subs keep you up to date on versions and Affinity will hit you for another purchase every year or so. If you’re making money with it the price of Adobe sub is decimal dust… and if not it’s a couple lattes from Starbucks a month, at least for the photo plan. And…speaking of Affinity, does it offer the catalog and management capabilities of Lightroom? I’ve got well over 100K photos and managing them with Finder isn’t feasible.


I would also argue (and I realize that there are always going to be counterexamples) that if you simply need an editor for personal/amateur use, you don’t need the power of CS.

I’ve been running Photoshop Elements ($100 perpetual license) for quite a long time. It has a surprisingly large feature set for what is considered their low-end product.

And there’s no need to upgrade every year. I’ve found that, for the most part, it keeps on running just fine years after Adobe stops issuing updates, even in the face of macOS updates. Over the past 20 years, I’ve been able to do everything I need with very few upgrades:

  • Version 2. Free (bundled with my scanner)
  • Version 3. Paid upgrade, because I wanted the update
  • Version 10. Required after Apple dropped PowerPC app support
  • Version “2021”. Required after Apple dropped 32-bit Intel app support

I am expecting my installation of 2021 to keep working until some point in the future when Apple drops Intel app support (and I upgrade my hardware to Apple Silicon).


I swapped out my Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Affinity Photo last year; and I must echo phillman5’s comments on Affinity – though I can only speak for the Affinity Photo app.

Background: I’ve been using Photoshop CS6 since it came out in 2012; it was my first pixel image tool, and I pretty much learned how to do everything the Photoshop Way. It was a long learning curve, and I worked hard to keep CS6 alive on my Mac. However, the life support / licensing headaches finally got too extreme, and I had to go elsewhere.

I was very leery of switching to another application – I didn’t want to have to relearn how to do the things I did with Photoshop over again. (And Adobe’s extremely expensive subscription fees just weren’t worth it.)

Anyway, Affinity Photo really surprised me. It has been very easy to use it – specifically, to use the program in the same way I used Photoshop. Yes, I have had to relearn some things; however, most of it is apples-to-apples – e.g., the same basic tool is in Affinity Photo, just possibly in a different location on the tool. The learning curve has been much simpler than I expected. The bonus is that there are often features to the tools (e.g., Liquify) that make them much easier to use than they were in Photoshop.

Disclaimer: To put things in perspective, I’ve used Photoshop and Affinity Photo in an amateur sense – I am not in any way a design professional; I use the tool on a weekly, not a daily, basis. If you’re planning to use the Affinity tools on a daily basis, my insights on Affinity Photo may be inadequate for your use model.

tl:dr: Affinity Photo is a great replacement for Adobe Photoshop, and the transition to the app is much easier than you might think.

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I bought Affinity Photo in early 2016. I received numerous updates over the years. If I remember right, I originally got it on sale. I never had to pay another penny until they finally got to version 2.0 earlier this year.


I bought Affinity Photo in early 2016. I received numerous updates over
the years. If I remember right, I originally got it on sale. I never
had to pay another penny until they finally got to version 2.0 earlier
this year.

And since the earlier version still works fine on ios 16.3, there’s no need to upgrade unless you need the new features. For Mac I’m not sure–catalina is the highest I have, and it’s obviously still fine there. I mostly use Photo for focus stacking, so haven’t bothered updating.

When the new affinity versions came out, they were roughly half the new regular price for a week or two. Fortunately, not all companies are as dreadful as the biggies (until they become a biggie–growling at capture one dang 'em).

Exactly! Us mere amateurs have the time to adjust a little**, aren’t sending files to image setters*, not depending on scripts, and can NOT justify Adobe’s subscription costs for occasional use. It’s sort of the app suite ‘for the rest of us’.

*I recently got an Epson 8550 photo printer, replaced an Epson 2200 Stylus Photo as I couldn’t get/find cartridges (can you say $$$$) anymore. I just think the 8550 is FANTASTIC. Faster than H E double toothpick (8x10 on normal quality is about 5-10 seconds, but I haven’t timed it), and seemingly cheaper as it uses refillable tanks, not cartridges. The 8550 is a dye not a pigment (and I have little knowledge exactly what that means in particular) but it has text black, photo black, grey, magenta, cyan, and yellow tanks. No light magenta nor light cyan needed. (the 2200 you had to swipe the text black and photo black cartridges, I never did) The prints really are ‘lab quality’! And it does double sided, can print direct from your phone, has an e-mail address so its easy for relatives to send print jobs, takes loads of different paper sizes, and prints on CD/DVD/BluRay directly. I did a 13 x 19, and it centered it VERY well, leaving a 2-3 mm boarder all around, also did a boarderless print. Doing that same 13x19 on the 2200 took for ever to get the paper in just the correct amount in the manual feed slot. And it comes with a built in 8.5x14 scanner.
**not trying to belittle anybody, but if you are jammed for time, why not spend one or two overtime nights and just cram and learn a new tool? It just might help the log jam! Been there and done that, hard to justify the time on something that might not work out, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Then you are left in the dust as technology slowly passes you by.
*** and are not .eps files accepted? These apps can create .eps.

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Not sure exactly what you mean, but it lets you know about unavailable fonts when importing, gives list of assets used linked to, and has a PreFlight document check, and you can save the file as a package.

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Preflight is very different than prepress, and they are equally important when sending out for professional printing:

Affinity sounds like a good service if you are not involved in professional print production.

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if you simply need an editor for personal/amateur use, you don’t need the power of CS.

Technically you’re right from a capability standpoint…and I rarely use the Photoshop part of the sub…but Lightroom’s catalog feature was about the only game in town outside of Photos until ON1 or whoever it is came along with their asset manager…and it’s lousy. But at the price…the Adobe sub is cheap…even for people on a budget. I realize everyone’s finances are different…but it’s the price of a meal a month from Burger King…or a couple lattes or even a pizza. Some may not agree…but even if I was on a limited income that’s pretty small potatoes spending wise.

And upgrading annually isn’t required…but most of the time a user, even a casual one…is gonna want those new features.

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The last Epson printer I had (ink jet) had the bad habit of running through a “clear nozzle” cycle every time I wanted to print, which wasted ink like crazy. Currently have a Canon, but would like the larger print format your Epson offers. How long does the ink/dye last? Can you use regular photo paper, or are special coatings needed?

I didn’t, have not looked at the archive period. Can use just about anything, no special coated papers, and they can be up to 1.3 mm thick. I have some T-Shirt transfer paper and I’ll try that sometime soon.

I’ll quote an old friend: “Free beats cheap”. Or more accurately: “Paying a small bit once every 5-6 years beats a small payment every month”.

My personal philosophy here is that if I need something, I am willing to pay quite a bit for it. But if I don’t feel I need it, I will begrudge even a trivial cost.