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Consider Switching from Creative Cloud to Affinity V2

Earlier this year, I stopped subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud, saving myself $54 per month. I had no particular complaints about the software, nor did I have any troubles with Adobe. The decision was purely financial—$54 per month works out to nearly $650 per year, which was far too much for the value I derived from InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, and Photoshop, without even considering the other 15 or so Creative Cloud apps that I never installed.

Things had changed. I first purchased Adobe InDesign in 2003 to write iPhoto 2: Visual QuickStart Guide for Peachpit Press, switching from QuarkXPress because of the move to Mac OS X. I then used InDesign to write and edit at least 14 books over the next few years. I got pretty good with InDesign and enjoyed using it.

After the Take Control-related books we published with Peachpit around 2007, my reliance on InDesign fell off. Acrobat Pro remained essential for Take Control’s workflow through 2017, and in 2016, I started using InDesign and Illustrator to create posters, sign-up sheets, and similar print collateral for the Finger Lakes Runners Club. My fingers remembered InDesign’s keyboard modifiers and shortcuts from nearly a decade earlier, and I enjoyed setting up proper documents with carefully designed master pages, character and paragraph styles, and more. And while my abilities with Illustrator are minimal at best (Photoshop completely confounds me), I appreciated being able to use it to collaborate more fluidly with designers and production systems. The price was high, but I felt it was worthwhile for the print work I was doing and to maintain my familiarity with that part of the industry.

By 2020, however, the running club was producing fewer print pieces—everything had moved online—and that $54 per month was starting to grate. Entire months would go by without me even launching one of the Adobe Creative Cloud apps. I was unenthused about the time and effort involved in learning another app and redoing my moderately complex documents, so I kept subscribing despite my increasingly dysfunctional relationship with Adobe’s suite.

The event that started to dissolve Adobe’s grip was a sale that Serif, makers of the so-called “Affinity trinity” of Affinity Publisher, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Photo, held during the early days of the pandemic. I had played with the beta of Affinity Publisher when it first came out in 2019, and while promising, it was too rough and didn’t compare sufficiently favorably with InDesign. For $25, I figured it was worth a shot to give the release version of Affinity Publisher a try, and I also decided to pick up Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo for another $50.

Between the pandemic and being busy with other things, I didn’t use the apps that much right away, and it wasn’t until I needed to do more print pieces in 2021 that I dove in. Even as I built new documents in Affinity Publisher and discovered that I could export my InDesign files to IDML and open them in Affinity Publisher, I kept subscribing to Creative Cloud, just in case. Did I mention that the relationship was dysfunctional? Finally, in April 2022, I went on a conversion spree, exporting all my InDesign documents to IDML even when I didn’t anticipate using them again. Affinity Designer could open all my Illustrator files with no further fiddling, so that was all set too. Then I canceled Creative Cloud. Phew!

I’m embarrassed that I haven’t written much about the Affinity suite before, partly because I can’t believe I kept subscribing to Creative Cloud for so long and partly because I feel like a bit of an imposter. I may know how to do document setup and page layout in InDesign and Affinity Publisher, but I’m a fluent user, not a graphic designer who does this for a living. Similarly, while I can monkey around in Illustrator and Affinity Designer, my skills are weak. As with Photoshop, I seldom even launch Affinity Photo, and whenever I need image manipulation features, I immediately resort to searching for tutorials. Most of the time, I still fail to accomplish whatever I’m trying to do, but that’s on me, not Affinity Photo or Photoshop.

Along with feeling generally inadequate to review the Affinity apps, I was also aware that they’re sufficiently deep and powerful that it would be impossible to predict whether my needs match yours. Multi-chapter books in Affinity Publisher with exports to PDF and EPUB? I have no idea how one would set them up—I don’t do that sort of production anymore. Database-driven publishing? Affinity Publisher can merge data into a document, and I did it once, but are there gotchas if that’s what you do every day? I don’t know. And I can’t even begin to guess how you might use Illustrator and Photoshop and if you could replicate those tasks in Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo.

So, apart from a little public therapy session, why am I writing about the Affinity apps now? Serif just released version 2 of all three apps, and while there’s no upgrade pricing, the company is having a V2 launch sale through 14 December 2022. The 40% discount drops the price of any one of the apps to $40.99 (the list price is now $69.99), and a new Universal License gets you all three apps for macOS, iPadOS, and Windows for $99.99. That’s a one-time charge and still costs less than 2 months of Creative Cloud. Serif also offers multi-user business licenses and educational licenses.

Although I’ve been happy with the current 1.x versions of the Affinity apps, I’ve just purchased the Universal License to get the V2 apps. Although I have no plans to write another book in the near future, Affinity Publisher 2 now lets you combine separate documents as chapters. Styles sync between chapters, page numbers count up properly, and you can build a unified table of contents and index using the individual files. Affinity Publisher 2 also supports footnotes, endnotes, and sidenotes.

All this is by way of saying that if you are paying Adobe monthly for apps that you don’t use sufficiently, like I was, I encourage you to give the Affinity V2 apps a try. For my purposes, they were entirely adequate replacements for InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, and maybe they would be for you as well. For $99.99 or less, it’s worth giving the Affinity alternatives a try. I could have saved many hundreds of dollars by switching sooner.

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Comments About Consider Switching from Creative Cloud to Affinity V2

Notable Replies

  1. The Affinity suite are definitely worth a try but come up short in some areas. They also have a ‘quirky’ interface where long time InDesign users will be constantly searching for fairly basic things. Yes, it’s just a matter of learning new ways, but it’s almost like they went out of their way to make it hard to learn.

    The key failure for me is (lack of) scripting. Without it there’s no way we could change - we are incredibly reliant on automation to get work done. There’s talk it’s coming but they said that 4 years ago…

    At the discounted price for the universal license it’s a steal.

  2. I switched from Photoship CS6 (v13.0.6) to Affinity Photo a year or so ago when going from OS10 to OS12 broke PShop Cs6.

    As soon as Affinity released Photo 2.0 in early November, I upgraded. I found the transition from from PS to AP quite easy. So far, I’ve found Affinity Photo able to do just about anything I was doing with Photoshop.

    I have not tried either of the other two members of the Affinity trinity but Affinity Publisher may come in handy for a future project.

  3. I wholeheartedly endorse the Affinity suite. Being unable to continue using CS6 on upgrading to a newer Mac, even within Parallels (Adobe decided my legitimate licence was a copy), I decided to abandon Adobe and switched to Affinity 1. It’s clearly very powerful, but finding tools or finding out how to do a task that used to be clear in CS6 can be a challenge. Some features I need (such as flowing tables over multiple pages in Publisher) are still lacking in Affinity 2, though I suspect they’ll be added over time. But the results I can produce are excellent, and the price (and lack of a subscription) is a bargain.

  4. Thanks for the mention of this package @ace Adam! I have a similarly dysfunctional relationship with Adobe that stretches back decades, when I purchased my first scanner and found it was bundled with Photoshop. Prior to that, I was happily using the usual suspects—PageMaker, FreeHand, and whatever photo utility I could scrounge. I did a sidegrade for InDesign when it first came out around the turn of the century (!), and considered myself at expert level. I used Photoshop often, and hated-but-used Illustrator. I had the CS6 bundle, but unlike you did not subscribe when Adobe went down that road.

    The Affinity suite is much closer in concept to the professional-level tools of the Creative Cloud suite. What it’s missing seems due more to the unwillingness of Serif to invest in areas that would only benefit a niche segment of their user base. (I especially dislike that I can’t script Publisher or take advantage of the wide range of import filters that InDesign provides, but them’s the breaks.) What I like is that the Affinity teams don’t seem to be at war amongst themselves about a common interface. I laugh until I’m ready to throw up when I hear Adobe talking about the “common interface” shared by Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign—their teams have never been able to agree about anything from menu elements to keyboard shortcuts, and it is cringey to me that in 2022 Illustrator still uses a slew of vector tools where FreeHand used one to accomplish the same task.

    I’ve been using the Affinity 2 suite since it was made available, and it appears that Serif continues to respond to the many requests it receives for enhancements and refinements. It is well worth the bundle price for the introductory universal license.

  5. Ken

    I have the Adobe subscription for Lightroom and Photoshop. They have me captive as I started with iPhoto, then transferred my library to Aperture and then to Lightroom. Each time I lost most or all of the editing. I don’t want to do it again, so I basically need something that converts from Lightroom and I don’t think there is. I really don’t use Photoshop, but there is a plan, then I will be totally captive by Adobe. At least the subscription for those two isn’t that expensive.

  6. Photo is a great substitute for Photoshop. Publisher we are tying in the office as we are changing all PCs to Macs. No Microsoft Publisher for Macs., of course.

  7. Affinity Photo and Designer are great apps. Scripting and exporting are very basic, though. As developer I need to export practically all files in 2 sizes. I have a very clunky RetroBatch script for the task. I also want to export multiple layers at once.

    Unfortunately, the new versions of the apps have zero improvements for scripting/exporting.

  8. The fundamental shortcoming of Designer for me has always been the lack of vector pattern fills. This is a fundamental capability and it is shocking to me that such a major upgrade has not remedied this omission.

    There is no good way of having hatched areas and the like without vector fills, and for things like building design and mapping you need this capability.

    There is an immensely long post on their forum about the lack of this basic feature but it is still missing! Crazy…

  9. There are more problems with Adobe and InDesign than just the price. I use it since 20 years or so and I’m rather dissatisfied. I’m glad that Affinity came along.

    The latest Adobe annoyance is that they drop support for Type 1 fonts. What is the need for that?

    Freehand was a great product.

    Affinity Publisher does not have cross references I think. The only thing that bothers me a little.

  10. Ken, I was in the same boat as you, but I made the jump. There are three hurdles to get over:

    1. Your old photos. I chose to assume I had made all the edits I would want to do and exported all of them as full-size high quality JPGs. An alternative would be to keep them in LR and rely on Adobe’s promise that you can always access them, but cannot edit further. I actually wanted all Adobe stuff off my machine as it was hogging the CPU and making things hot with some versions. Plus, if I stopped paying the monthly ransome, would I be able to update to new versions to stay compatible with Apple’s OS changes? I didn’t want to risk it. Nothing to stop you doing both things though.
    2. You need a DAM, and Affinity doesn’t seem interested in making one. I worked with NeoFinder for a bit, and it does support Affinity’s layered files (.afphoto, like PS’s .psd). But I found it clunky and ended up doing something a bit crazy - using Photos! There is no support for .afphoto files, but I never used to save .psd files either when I had LR and PS. Photos happily ingests all kinds of RAW photos, but mostly all I want is big TIFFs that I get from scanning negatives, the ability to adjust them and the ability to export them for printing, mailing, web posts etc. I can do a lot of basic editing in Photos, and it does support the Nik collection. The tricky bit is the next bit
    3. Those clever things that LR lets you do with next to no effort? You begin to understand how clever they are when you have to do all the steps yourself in Affinity Photo (‘AP’). Local adjustments, gradients, even dust spotting - all possible, but you will have to learn some basic skills with layers and masks. I learned most of it from a YT channel called Affinity Revolution, and even bought one of their video courses. It’s pretty much the same as using PS. Having done what I can in AP, I save a copy in Photos as a large JPG. I can keep the original file, or discard it to save space if I’m sure I won’t want to do a different version.

    I have no regrets about making the change, and have updated to v2 of AP.

  11. Ken,

    Not related to Affinity, but ON1 Photo RAW has a nice Lightroom Migration Assistant.

  12. If you are working on something to be handed off to be printed on an imagesetter, you could be courting a major, and very expensive, disaster. Unless things have drastically changed, Affinity’s preflighting isn’t in the same ballpark as Adobe’s. If you are just printing from a desktop, there probably won’t be a problem.

  13. As others have noted, the way things are done in the Affinity programs are often frustratingly different from the way they’re done in the corresponding Adobe programs. So switching requires some relearning. I bought Affinity Photo when my nonsubscription Photoshop finally stopped working. After decades of being rather a Photoshop whiz it took some time to get used to Photo, but I’ve been happy with it. (I no longer have the kind of work that can justify maintaining the Adobe subscriptions. I still use CS6 Indesign (still clinging to Mojave) for most of my publishing work and subscribe for a newer version only as needed.)

    One preference to turn OFF in Affinity Photo: “Enable canvas rotation with ⌘+scroll wheel”. Otherwise the rotation easily occurs by accident, and it can’t be undone or reset.

    I also have Affinity Designer, which I delved into recently for a big job. Again, very satisfied. I had quoted the cost of an Illustrator subscription but found that I didn’t need it.

    No experience with Publisher, which I fear would come up short for complex book work. When I have to upgrade from Mojave, I will definitely buy the package of all 3 version 2’s.

    In the QuarkXPress Facebook group, VectorStyler, Inkscape, and Pixelmator Pro have been praised as well.

  14. Now they just need to add a practical replacement for Acrobat Pro and I’ll remove the last Adobe subscription.

    I’ve tried others (PDFpen, PDF Expert) but when I have a funky PDF, need to do some redaction on that funky PDF or need to compress one down without an apparent loss of quality, the alternatives leave a bit (sometimes much) to be desired.


  15. I think you can buy a nonsubscription copy of Acrobat Pro.

  16. Loving these comments, folks, and they confirm my belief that everyone’s needs are quite different. Scripting has never been an issue for me, for instance, but it clearly is for others.

    I’m hesitant to criticize Affinity for how the apps are different from Creative Cloud apps because some things are annoying and others are better. For instance, I dislike how you have to double-click on pages in the navigator in Affinity Publisher to switch to them—a single click selects but doesn’t bring it into view. I can’t check in InDesign anymore, but I think it’s far more fluid there.

    In contrast, I really like the export capabilities in Affinity Designer—I found Illustrator completely obtuse and annoying, whereas the interact is much easier in Affinity Designer. (I use Affinity Designer to create the banner ads for the TidBITS site so I’m always exporting.)

  17. Image compression in PDF can be done very easily and to any degree you want, with all sorts of colour accuracy, rendering intent etc., by using ColorSync Utility to make a Quartz Filter, then simply running it as a Finder Service, via Automator. Once done, it’s a 2-finger tap away from one or batch files. (If you’d like to know more, let me know).

  18. I tried switching from Illustrator to Affinity last year and it was a disaster. It was like trying to use Numbers instead of Excel. Converted files weren’t editable or didn’t display properly. And features that I used regularly weren’t available (others have commented on issues with object fills).

    The Affinity apps are probably fine if you’re starting a new project from scratch, but I wouldn’t rely on them to be able to edit older files made with the Adobe suite.

  19. A good description of why I walked away, when Adobe introduced their subscription service. It was written on the wall.

  20. I’d agree with this if you’re expecting to be able to open an old file, make a small change, and export/print it again with no other work.

    However, nearly all of my old documents are more the sort of thing that I use as starting points for new versions. I had a full-page race calendar, for instance, that needs to be updated every year. Exporting it to IDML in InDesign, then opening in Affinity Publisher gave me a document where the previous years weren’t perfect, but it was much easier to create a new year’s page from the old data.

    Similarly, when I converted my TidBITS banner ad files from Illustrator to Affinity Designer, I had to do a little work to get the various layers I use for different portions of the ad to work right after the initial conversion, but it was much easier than setting things up from scratch.

  21. Perhaps this would be perfect for a TidBITS article rather than burying it in a discussion thread.

    I’ve experimented with various Quartz filter settings over the years but haven’t been able to match what I get from Acrobat Pro’s Save As Reduced Size PDF without any real “work” other than choosing a version for compatibility purposes.

    So, yes, please, I’d like to know more.

  22. I’d be game for publishing such an article!

  23. Affinity’s applications have their place but as far as I’m concerned, for photographers, nothing* compares to Lightroom for the vast majority of photo editing; and LR comes with PS for a monthly fee in the UK of just under £10 (which includes everything necessary for me to generate a fairly crude web site for showing my photography as well). Those with other needs may differ.

    * apart, I’m told by aficionados, from Capture One, but I haven’t managed to love it; and including offerings from Luminar and ON.

  24. I was in the beta program for Lightroom but have never actually used a production version. At the time of Lightroom’s release I had adopted Aperture which I genuinely loved.

    Once Aperture was ‘stolen’ from us by Apple I swapped to CaptureOne. It’s extremely capable but there’s a decent learning curve and there’s times where I get frustrated with it. My intention was to stick with C1 going forward but they’ve just announced a new licensing system which could see me change again. I would miss the DAM functionality - particularly Sessions which is how I work.

    I’m not sure if a DAM is in Affinity’s roadmap but if they built a half decent one it would make my decision easy - Affinity DAM and Affinity Suite.

  25. I have all the Affinity products. RE: the PS/LR combo, unfortunately Affinity has

    1. no DAM
    2. many plugins/scripts/actions/extensions won’t work.


  26. The problem I have with Acrobat is that once in a while publishers send me page proofs for an article I’ve written, and I have to mark changes. The Reader version of Acrobat is very clunky, and it’s hard to mark up the proofs digitally. Some editors send me PDFs set to allow more editing, but others don’t – or perhaps I do something that loses the permission to do the extra editing. Lately I have only been getting a few of these a year, so I don’t want to subscribe to Acrobat Pro, and I can’t find any non-subscription edition at Adobe’s site. Does anybody know an alternative that just allows this kind of editing? Sometimes it’s simpler for me to print a copy of the file and mark it up by hand, but that makes it hard for editors who have to try to read my handwriting.

  27. Yes and no. I’ve done way more than my share of producing type and graphics for imagesetters, and I find the Affinity suite frustrating for that purpose. They’ve gotten quite a bit closer in the v.2 suite, but ultimately Serif does not provide the level of control or even previewing that you get with the Adobe tools.

    Specifically, they are content to give you all the controls for process color, spot colors, spreading and choking, and overprinting; but then to depend on PDF as the final output from their software. The idea there is you then hand that off to a prepress operator to do separations and plate work. If they know their job, you’ll be fine.

    Adobe can print seps right from the software, and I always thought I was gaining something there because I could see what the prepress operator would see.

    But when I think about it, it is a useless function for my end of the work, as I don’t make negatives or plates anyway.

    A prepress house should be providing a proof on high-stakes work in any case, so I feel like I’m covered there. And the preflighting has been beefed up, though as you say not yet on a par with Adobe.

  28. I have used an app called ‘PDFKey Pro’ that unlocks all sort of parts of a PDF, like copying, printing, etc. I found it maybe a little on the ‘thief’ or ‘illegal’ side, but very useful. I went through several versions over several years, but have no idea if its still being maintained. I see it is 64 bit so should work in latest Mac OS versions. The version I have is dated Sept 2017, (c) Bitgamma, version 4.3.9.

  29. Gosh Matt, I thought I was the only one that thought this way! Are you by chance left handed? I was kind of in charge of all the Macs for a group at a Gov’t Installation, we had about 8 Mac users in the early 90’s. I had a limited budget, so I used some sort of license sharing program that allowed everyone to have all apps installed although we only had a few licensed versions of some; it let only that many people run that app simultaneously. I don’t think we ever ran into conflicts. We had both FreeHand and Illustrator, and by far FreeHand was more powerful, gave better results, and EASIER to use. I guess the money was just too good for them to sell out (I think the developers are now doing DiskWarrior, at least it’s the same name). But these comments let me know I am not the only ‘retired’ person that can’t justify the Adobe Suite monthly dues due to only occasional use. One program I have seen, I think a database app, only charges you during actual use, seemingly a better subscription model, but the learning time could be expensive. I too never went down the subscription rat hole of expense, especially since I had a fully paid for version already, why rent? I differ, I think, from most here in that as I sit, I have both a Mac IIsi (with a 68040 daughter card), and a G5 tower, at arms reach, both fully functional, so yes I still have a working copy of FreeHand, and typing on a 2015 MBP, the wife unit one room over has a M2 MacAir. My MBP has the SS-HD partitioned, with a small one being Mojave with mostly just the Adobe Suite. That IIsi also has a copy of Full Impact, a spreadsheet program developed by Aston Tate that I thought much better than Excel. It had 3D plotting capabilities that you could rotate (before Excel even had 3D looking 2D plots), I think the first app ever (on Macs or dos/Windoze) to have a ‘ribbon’ or tool bar (all editable), a separate scripting language that was close to Pascal instead of lines of the script being in cells, and a formula format that was readable and concise, like =A&B instead of Excel’s =AND(A,B) (and I think the program fit on a single 1.2 M floppy!)*. Sadly Ashton Tate sold out to Borland, all for the dBase family of products, all other Ashton Tate products were shelved and not sold off to others that wanted to buy them. So with this Affinity family, and Apple bring out FileMaker again at an affordable price, I think there is hope for amateurs, with limited budgets, in this microcomputer world.

    *When IBM came out with the IBM PC, using DOS, I thought it set the microcomputer industry back at least 5 years, as there were much better OS’s out there (OS 9 comes to mind, a UNIX clone), how the suits at IBM let some young Gates, with little formal training, do their OS beats the heck out me (I’ve heard the stories, but there must be more to it). This Word and Excel @%^$ team that put much better products on shelves sealed my thinking. I’ve never touched DOS or Windoze unless I actually had to, and only by force (my dead fingers?). As I got use to Macs, in the lab where we had DOS computers, I, one time, accidentally put a space in a file name, and had a heck of time correcting that mistake as no DOS utility would/could ‘see’ the file. I actually had to use a disk editing program to change the 20 hex byte written in the directory sector to an editable/seeable character of the OS. Ever come to think, as the Apple II was out before the IBM PC, why those users never had to worry about Y2K, ever hear of lack of forward thinking at Microsoft?

  30. Not surprised @ace that the article has such a lively and deep response, image editing applications, perhaps only exceeded by text editors and word processors, are the fundamental applications we first turned to using computers for. The history is long and Adobe won the early wars and pushed what was possible technically, the suite is superb, surpassing most users needs. They are arguably unassailable.

    The chink in their armor is the subscription model. That and the formidable nature of the software. Affinity and others (Pixelmator Pro needs a shoutout here, Acorn too) have entered the fray and are stepping up.

    I have a work supplied Adobe license but I don’t use it. I am a Capture One user since Aperture days. As a photographer it answers all my needs. I view applications like Photoshop and Affinity Photo as more useful for collage or compositing, graphics or other image-editing needs where a heavier hand is needed. But as a photographer, Capture One manages my files, and edits them superbly. By the way they didn’t change their licensing model, they extended it, you can either subscribe or buy outright and upgrade as before.

    I’ve online students and have negotiated College supplied licenses for them to install Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher. More than adequate for their needs and frankly I see them taking them up after graduation.

  31. They’ve changed it in as far as you get no new features without a paid upgrade, only bug fixes. In the past you could get new features which appeared between major releases.
    I’m also concerned about there being no upgrade policy with no details on their ‘loyalty’ program until next year. It’s probably the most expensive software I use so I wouldn’t be happy if I have to pay full price every time a new version arrives, In fact it would absolutely mean I don’t upgrade or I move to something else.

    1. New perpetual licenses will include updates with bug fixes until the next version, but new features released after purchase will not be included.
    2. Upgrade pricing will no longer be available and will be replaced with a new loyalty scheme. More details will be announced on February 1, 2023.
  32. I hadn’t seen the loyalty program news, thanks for the heads up.

    Can’t see myself switching though.

    I have noted with some despair the separate subscription add-on for iPad OS version and the ‘Live’ version which has some free applications. I’ve taken on the iPad one but a tad grumpily, 60 bucks a year.

  33. Go to the All Products page at and it’s Acrobat Pro 2020 that you can buy (“perpetual license”). It’s US$538.80 + tax but should be good for many years (I’m still using Acrobat Pro XI from 2013).

  34. Yeah, I’ve been fascinated to hear all the different perspectives, which reinforces my belief that I was right to avoid trying to review the Affinity apps in any formal way—it’s just impossible to guess what’s important to any given person. And we all have to remember that our must-have feature is likely completely irrelevant to many others.

    I’m just happy that Affinity Publisher and Affinity Designer can do everything I want to so I don’t have to spend $650 per year on Creative Cloud.

  35. Thanks, but that’s very pricey for a product that I might use maybe half a dozen times a year for an hour at a time.

  36. When Designer was first released, importing IDML was problematic. However, when I ordered my Mac Studio, I saved off all my ID files as IDML. I haven’t tested all of them (many probably will never be needed again), but those I have used have had very few issues, all minor. The most common issue is non-printing, invisible objects, that occasionally get in the way.

  37. ColorSync Utility (CSU) is a curious little app. It has been fundamental to the Mac’s colour management for so many years and yet is so arcane, essentially because Apple has never actually explained everything it does, but trial and error will do for this.
    (DuckDuck - ColorSync Utility User Guide - and it will walk you through various processes).

    I used it 12, maybe 15 years ago to reduce PDF file sizes for emailing. But really, if you don’t need the big file sizes, then they can mount up pretty fast if you use a lot of PDFs, so it’s worth the time generally IMHO.

    The crux for CSU is to make Custom Filters. If you don’t do this, it’ll probably never work for you. The Builtin Filters are really just examples, to help you make your own. N.B. You can go pretty deep into PDFs for repro.

    In CSU select Filters, then…
    1/ Add a Custom Filter and give it a name
    2/ Configure / Add Image Effects Component / Image Compression - jpeg

    I have 3 Custom Filters for this. Large/Med/Small, which covers all I need really.

    3/ Create an Automator Workflow - Service. Workflow receives current - PDF files
    4/ Add the action - Apply Quartz Filter to PDF Documents
    5/ Select your Custom Filter from the drop-down

    This Automator Service will now show up via the Contextual Menu when you select a PDF in the Finder. You can add apps for it to also show up in, although I’ve found this be a bit quirky in the past.

  38. When Apple released ColorSync to the world it was a universe changer, not just a game changer. Developing, setting up, managing and using color profiles was something that was universally assumed that desktop computers could never ever, ever, ever manage to do.

    If you worked in the print publishing industry it was, and still is, manna from heaven. I was at a Seybold conference when ColorSync had just been introduced, color profiling, and especially ICC Color Profiles. This was something that took years for Windows to develop technology advanced enough that could run an equivalent version, which to date is still considered more problematic and difficult than ColorSync.

    Those were the days, long ago in the past, when Apple and Adobe were still joined at the hip. ColorSync was just one example of what was then a marriage made in heaven.

  39. Yes, and the export capabilities in Designer are identical to those in Photo and Publisher—they share the code rather than reinventing it for each separate app. I have to grab a stock photo once a week, correct it for my application, and then export it in two different sizes in two different formats. What I do not have to do is remember how exporting in Photo is different from exporting in Designer (which I use for large-format banners, for example)—the options are exactly the same and they work exactly the same.

    The last time I did this in Illustrator it reminded me of Mac System 7.5. Anybody’s guess as to whether I was going to get what I wanted, and I used to do this professionally.

  40. Maybe conceptually, who knows?

    Yes, AltSys licensed FreeHand to Aldus (publishers of PageMaker), but my recollection is that when Adobe swallowed Aldus, Adobe intended to continue offering FreeHand but their internal politics eventually smothered it. They wouldn’t relinquish the rights, which is how FreeHand disappeared early on and PageMaker ended up as a classic competitor to MS Publisher on Windows platforms.

    I believe you’re talking about PanoramaX. I bought some credits about 15 months ago, and it’s basically if you use it during a given month you get charged for the month. Otherwise the license is dormant. I think it is a different animal from an Adobe subscription, which runs whether or not you are actually using the software.

    In general I’ve used many of those same packages, enough so that I’ve forgotten many of the details now!

    Yes. Relentless focus on corporate “fleets” of computers and how they can become profit engines for large developers has nearly crushed the small user market. But I’d suggest that if you are a TidBITs member (and you should be!), take a look at the benefits list. There are many smaller developers offering useful and affordable products on that list, and they offer discounts for TidBITs members.

  41. Doing just that, checking out the discounts given TidBits members. I read TidBits often back long ago when I managed 8 Macs. But then my scientific/engineering career took off for two decades, started a small company to commercialize tech two of us developed and tested working for the Air Force and wanted world wide but only about 10 customers. Spent 3 winters in Northern Norway (island off Tromso). Retired now and reading TidBits again. I do remember a spreadsheet program called Full Impact that was by far better than Excel in many ways (ask and I WILL list). It was by Ashton-Tate. But Borland bought them out to get dBase, and Full Impact was shelved and not sold to many that wanted it, including the main author. I did get the Affinity suit, and have posted some ‘bugs’ I’ve experienced on their forums. Did a group of disgusted Adobe engineers leave and start it? Affinity Design seems to have many of the neat/useful CAD aspects of Canvas.

  42. Island off Tromso… ooh, that’s cold. I have a pal in Tromso, long on my wish list, as is Svalbard.

    Serif impress, they have worked steadily and constantly improving the suite. They’re based in the UK and were formed back in the day, late Eighties. I think they were Windows originally. The Designer tool is new to me, the other two, Photo and Publisher being more akin to my work. I have many image editors and Photo is not my go to but I do value having it as an alternative to Photoshop. I have dropped InDesign almost completely for Publisher.

    I heard an interesting categorisation of cameras recently, on the BH Photography podcast, while a particular body was referred to as an entry-level camera, it also could be termed an exit-level camera. Once the professional life is done, no need to carry the best around, they are frequently the biggest and heaviest.

  43. I’ve been meaning to download the Affinity for vector (to replace Illustrator), but last week I was asked to quickly create an ad with pictures and text. I used to sell computer systems and was in user groups in the 80s and 90s, and remember those oh-so-magical days of placing text in Pagemaker and having it just flow around photos.

    Illustrator wasn’t designed for this but it’s what I’m most familiar with these days. So I gave it a try, figuring I could work in blocks but still wasn’t happy with text paragraphs, or lack thereof, so I quickly downloaded Affinity Publisher. Not bad! It’s more Illustrator-like than I expected despite it not being the design program.

    Two things I noticed - I could never get distribute objects to work correctly, not even close. And when I exported to a PDF for pre-press, I was able to open in Illustrator, it did not convert to curves (which I what I wanted), but all my text blocks became single lines instead of paragraphs (probably an Illy thing).

    I will eventually download Design and give it a shot!


  44. The thing I really like about the suite is that each can assume the “persona” of the other two apps. Publisher adopts Design or Photo personas directly. Designer can adopt Pixel editing or Export personas. Photo has a set of personas related to the kind of artwork you’re doing, which I think does not relate directly to the other apps.

    You end up seeing sets of tools that provide a subset of abilities from the other two apps. That might be helpful in the end.

    I see what you’re seeing as far as distribution (which Publisher calls “spacing”). I experimented with rectangular objects, and if the objects are identical, Publisher will space them identically. If they are different sizes, it appears to be spacing them proportionally, somehow. There are a few things like this that Serif might consider to be features rather than bugs, and if this is how they’re thinking about it, it would take considerable user pressure to get them to change their thinking. If you want equidistant white space between all the objects, you’re not going to get that with the built-in routine, I fear.

  45. Annddd…right after I published my first reply, it hit me what’s going on.

    Just like Illustrator and other drawing programs, you can set a point of origin for transforms on individual objects. So if you want equidistant spacing, you need to set the point of origin as “center of the object.”

    The upper row still doesn’t align with the lower row, but it shouldn’t. The objects in the upper row now have equal amounts of white space between them after applying the horizontal spacing transform.

    When you select a group, this shows up in the Toolbar:

    Or, you can use the Transform panel to get the same result:


    (I don’t think the white square in the upper left corner of the control means anything other than “this block is where you select an origin point”.)

    Hope this helps!

  46. Illustrator has a feature called “Distribute Objects” and I was thinking that because I had a photo box with a couple of text boxes, that it didn’t understand it. But I think you proved that theory wrong with your boxes. What I would normally do is place the top and bottom images exactly where I want them, then I want the middle image(s) equidistant between them. Ideally this would give identical white space between objects. BTW I am on CS6 so I’m not sure if that has changed over the years.

    I just saw your second email and I’ll have to try that. It’s pretty seamless in Illy, I’m either doing a vertical or horizontal distribute.


  47. Seems to me that is how distribute SHOULD work. We are just so use to the old wrong way!

  48. Geez Diane, what you are trying to do was simple in FreeHand, and that was eons ago.

  49. haha I know! I no longer have any page layout programs.


  50. Right, it makes complete sense, I just don’t think I had to think about it in Illy. I’ll see if I can do some testing in the next week.


  51. Thanks to this thread, I changed my license from Photo only to a universal version. I’ve been watching my wife struggle with her Christmas letter using Pages, which didn’t go any better than it used to do with Word. Now I’ve slipped a copy of Publisher 2 onto her MBA so that in future she should find the process a little less insane.

  52. I hardly ever use my Canon 5D (first affordable full frame sensor, doesn’t do video) any more, though that coupled with a 100 - 400 zoom with sun shade attached is impressive in crowds. I recently got a Panasonic point and shoot size but with all the manual adjustments available with a Leica lens is my go to now. Only downside is although it has a built in mini flash (horrible for group shots) it has no hot shoe or flash socket for a separate flash, so I built a unit to hold the camera and separate flash, with the flash fired by it coupled to a photo diode pointed at the mini flash.

  53. Not really. Being surrounded by ocean it hardly ever got below 32 F. Now the blowing dry powdery snow is a different story. We had a 1 mile dirt road to travel to the observatory we worked at. They had a farm tractor with snowblowers on front and back, and cleared the road in the morning, evening, and when needed during the day. But if we decided to call it a night say at 7 am, before the morning tractor run, the road would be impassable, with 4 foot drifts, that dry snow blew constantly. We often just parked 1/2 up the mountain, often crawling on all fours (each limb sinks less that way) up the snow covered road to the top, such is the life of a scientist.

    P.S. The northern lights (the reason for our research, to measure remotely the changes in the magnetic field at 90Km during them) were fantastic.

  54. That sounds great @phillman5 I would love to see that.

    The only remote observatory I’ve visited was a week long stay at Paranal, the ESO in Chile, high in the Atacama desert in Chile. Quite something, a lifetime experience. The nights were cold but perfectly clear, the southern skies startlingly different.

  55. I recently upgraded to v2 of all the Affinity apps too, and am liking them so far. Still have my CC subscription though, as I haven’t yet found a suitable replacement for Lightroom.

  56. I was a long-time Illustrator user, and have been stumped in my attempts to do a lot of the same things in Designer. I used ‘Illy’ to design leaded glass windows and 3D objects I made out of leaded glass, as well as to do fairly basic graphic design projects. The basic shape tools and how they work in Designer are so different from Illy that I get lost trying to do pretty basic stuff.

    Do any of you know of any tutorials that compare how things are done in Illy with how to do the same things in Designer?

  57. The excuse Adobe offers is that Type 1 fonts are not supported by some web browsers. IMHO, the reality is that they want to sell more fonts and subscriptions.

  58. I just got rid of my last portions of CC. If you go to Activity Monitor, especially after a reboot, there are several Adobe processes, like about 8 - 10. Some do quit after they do their ‘thing’, but some take minutes, slowing down your boot process, as they call home and check with Adobe servers. I used the ‘delete’ apps to delete most stuff, but still there were a few processes hanging round, most in Library/Application Support/Adobe The last one, AdobeGCClient, checks integrity of Adobe apps, mostly CC apps, and right now after some quick research, Acrobat DC, might need it to run, I am not sure. I am keeping Acrobat DC around to sign PDFs electronically. From my research AdobeGCClient runs at boot. So I renamed the folder and the app by appending an X to the end. So now it is not loaded at boot. I am leaving the Adobe Updater process. But this sweep eliminated 8 - 10 Adobe processes from running all the time.

  59. Maybe I don’t understand what you mean by “sign electronically”?
    Why do you need Acrobat? You can sign documents with Preview. I’ve done that for years.

  60. Nope, see Conrad Hirano’s reply, he explained better than I did in a hurry. I.e. “signing with a digital signature, one that’s associated with a digital certificate.”

  61. This is definitely a superior feature of Acrobat but I can honestly say I have never had a circumstance where this has been requested. I typically use Preview with a simple signature - even for things like tax and other government departments.

  62. Correct. I use Preview too, Although not requested, but before Preview had that capability to add an image of your signature, I used Acrobat where a signature was requested, and that did seemed to be accepted. And you never know with some idiot is going to require the ceritified signature. Gov’t is one thing, business is another, especially purchasing real estate.

  63. I was supervising a small staff (14 people) during the pandemic, and I signed off on their time sheets electronically using the facsimile signature in Preview. Saved me printing out, signing, and scanning the signed documents back in.

    Generally I am a consumer of docs that need to be signed, and DocuSign seems to have worked past their trouble with scammers sending faked documents for dubious action.

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