Affordable Mac alternatives for Adobe CS5

Apple Online Store“About half of Adobe’s revenue comes from Mac users who feel taxed to death by frequent and expensive Adobe Creative Suite updates, many of which feel foreign, are crash prone, and full of bugs that take forever to get fixed. Creative Suite 5 is waiting at the door,” Bambi Brannan writes for Mac360. “Are there competent alternatives?”

“Adobe. Listen up,” Brannan writes. “You have some great stuff, but increasingly, your sweet suites are bloated, crash happy, expensive, and sometimes don’t behave like a good Mac app citizen.”

Brannan wonders, “Are there alternatives to Photoshop for those who cannot afford the upgrade cost in real world dollars, let alone the assortment of Dummies and Idiots books, and multiple, back-to-back semesters in a University new media course?”

Full article, in which Brannan covers GraphicConverter, Pixelmator, and lazy ingrate Adobe’s own Photoshop Elements, here.

Note to advertisers: (including those who advertise via third-party ad networks and become, in effect, our advertisers): Your Flash-based ads are no longer reaching the most well-heeled customers online: 50+ million iPhone owners. They’re also not hitting brand new iPad users or 35+ million iPod touch users. If you care about reaching people with discretionary income, you might want to consider dumping your flash-based ads and moving to a more open format that people with money and the will to spend it can actually see.

Help kill Adobe’s Flash:
• Ask MarketWatch to offer HTML5 video via the customer support web form here.
• Ask CNBC to offer HTML5 video via the customer support web form here.
• Contact Hulu and ask them to offer HTML5 video via email:
• Ask ESPN360 to offer HTML5 video instead Flash via their feedback page here.
• Join YouTube’s HTML5 beta here.
• On Vimeo, click the “Switch to HTML5 player” link below any video.

By the way, do not buy Adobe’s Photoshop Elements until you have tried Pixelmator’s free 30-day trial. We use Pixelmator daily.


  1. “Adobe Creative Suite updates, … are crash prone, and full of bugs that take forever to get fixed.”

    The simple truth is that Adobe has stopped releasing fixes. If there is a bug in your favorite CSx program, you’ll have wait for, and buy, the next release. Adobe just doesn’t waste it’s time with unpaid bug fixes.

  2. While there are some very good Photoshop alternatives, until Illustrator and InDesign alternatives reach the same level, it will be hard to ignore Adobe’s Creative Suite. All in due time, I’m sure – but for now as a design professional I’m pretty much stuck.

  3. I’ve been looking or Aldus Pagemaker circa 1990 for a while now. It’s a shame Adobe bought to & then killed it. For simple fliers/dtp stuff there doesn’t seem to be anything out there that isn’t super bloated. Any thoughts??

  4. @Chris

    “for simple flyers” – you could try these free alternatives: Scribus for DTP, Inkscape for vectors and Gimp for image editing – not perfect, but for the price (free) you can do quite a lot, even if they are as polished as fully-native Mac apps

  5. Let’s get real. Thousands of punters like me have years of training invested in adobe and while we can deal with out flash on a phone, CS will be essential for as long as they keep it relevant.

  6. @Dotar Sojat: Well Illustrator’s useability has been taking the same trajectory as Motorola’s cell phone sales. At the current rate Illustrator 8 will be surpassing the current version any moment now.

  7. Hell, I even pulled up the Quark site last night.

    I use to be the biggest Quark lover out there.

    Then finally switch to InDesign with CS2.

    After looking at Quark last night, I just couldn’t fool myself into thinking it was a plausible alternative to ID.

    I need ID, PS and IL. No if and or buts about it.

    I am stuck with Adobe.

  8. @Chris: Perhaps the DTP functions in Pages will eventually mature enough to fill that niche.

    I got CS3 a few years back (on academic pricing) but about all I use is Photoshop; I could uninstall everything else for now and reclaim some HD space.

  9. @Chris

    PageMaker sucked. That’s why Quark became the industry standard for a decade or more. Probably only Apple could create a desktop publishing app to overtake inDesign. Maybe a small developer could create a simple app and Apple could buy them and build on it.

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