Information on Apple Silicon / UXP

This page is designed to help answer questions about the Apple hardware transition to "Apple Silicon" and related questions about Adobe UXP panels.

If you're already using Apple Silicon and just looking to launch Photoshop with full support for all plugins (such as Lumenzia):

  • Right-click Photoshop in the finder and select Get Info, then check Open in Rosetta.
  • This setting tells your computer to run Photoshop with the Rosetta2 emulation mode. Photoshop will still run very fast, and you will have access to all of your extension panels, etc.
  • You can run the application as normal after changing this setting. You will notice that the first launch will be a little slower due to some optimizations, but then future launches will start up quickly as normal.

Q: What is "Apple Silicon"?

A: Apple has started to replace the use of Intel chips with their own custom chips. These are actually much more than just the traditional CPU and incorporate RAM, graphics, and other functions which have traditionally been separate chips. The end result is a massive improvement in both battery life and performance, and we are likely to see some other unique Apple-only benefits over time.

These new chips are ARM-based, which means that there will be a transition period for several years until all Mac software is written natively for Apple Silicon. However, this transition appears to be relatively smooth with Apple's "Rosetta2" emulation software, which allows you to run software written for Intel. This emulation is extremely efficient, with many apps showing better performance on the new M1 Apple Silicon chip under emulation than they did under previous Intel chips.

Q: Should I update to "Apple Silicon"?

A: While the early reviews of the M1 chip in the MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro are very encouraging, I strongly recommend holding off for now. These laptops will likely be superseded by much faster pro models within a year, have small screens, support limited RAM, only support 1 external monitor, and only have 2 ports. Photographers will be much better served by models expected to be released in the second half of 2021. Additionally, software support for Apple Silicon should be MUCH better at that point as bugs are worked out, apps are recompiled for Apple Silicon, etc.

Similarly, I recommend holding off on buying an Intel-based Apple computer at this time as well if you can wait. The early performance of the low end Apple Silicon devices is very exciting. The Intel chips may be quickly surpassed and resale value of Intel-based computers will drop quite a bit by 2022. However, if you cannot wait a year, these are still great machines and will work just fine with Intel-based apps for the useful life of the computer, so there is no reason to wait if your current machine is damaged or well below your needs. This just isn't a great time to upgrade for more minor reasons.

Q: What are "UXP" panels?

A: This is a new Adobe standard for extension panels. Please see this post where I wrote about it in detail. It is of of significance for early adopters of Apple Silicon, as the vast majority of extension panels are not currently (and some will never) be available as UXP panels. This is no problem, as you can simply run Photoshop under Rosetta2 using the steps outline above. With it, you will have access to all your extension panels on any new Mac and continue to experience great performance.

Note that if you run Photoshop without Rosetta2 (ie, the version built for Silicon), you will currently experience a loss of a variety of features and plugins. In the long term, this will be the preferred solution to gain some additional performance, but it will probably take years before this is the best option for most advanced Photoshop users.

Q: What does this mean for 3rd-party plugins like Nik?

A: (TBD at this time. mixed context possible or both PS and plugin need to use same approach ?????)

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