Downgrade Me, Please.

I use a 2.6 MacBook Pro with 4 Gig of RAM every day. Everything on this machine runs beautifully, and I rarely, if ever, experience enough lag in any app to become frustrated.

Photoshop CS4 is the only exception.

Extremely frustrating problems include:

  • up to 10 second pause before refresh when zooming in and out.
  • 5 to 20 second pauses when selecting/deselecting layers.
  • stuttering and crippling lag when dragging an image around, especially when zoomed in.
  • unresponsive reactions to layer nudging.
  • anywhere from 10 second to 5 minute (not an exaggeration) pause while saving for web, accompanied by frequent crashes.
  • all of the above problems are completely random and not consistently reproduceable, though they occur very regularly.

As a professional designer, I’ve been used to ignoring Photoshop CS3 and concentrating on the work I was doing. This is exactly how a good tool should function. With Photoshop CS4 I spend far more time frustrated and conscious of the unresponsive & clumsy tool than I do paying attention to what I’m trying to do. Apart from being constantly and unbelievably frustrating, it’s costing me time, and therefore money, and affecting the quality of my work.

Dear Adobe, you should be very worried. I have spent a great deal of energy lately wishing for an alternative to Photoshop. Having customers whose loyalty is based on nothing more than a lack of viable alternatives to your product is a perfect opportunity for a competitor to drink your milkshake, and earn the gratitude of customers like myself. You, the creators of the Quark killer InDesign, should know that very well.

The first Photoshop CS4 update, 11.0.1, solved none of my problems. As a customer who bought CS4 new, and not as an upgrade, I don’t have the option of downgrading to CS3, although I would dearly love to. Providing me with a free downgrade wouldn’t really solve my problem – Photoshop CS4 would still be painfully slow – but at least I could work in peace again.

How about it Adobe?

Are you a designer using Photoshop CS4? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.


  1. maurice says:

    moin chef!

    my PS CS4 created a beautiful picture on my desktop the other day: looks really cool, maybe i should put it into a frame and call it “computer-generated art”, but still it is not what i wanted to do, which was downsizing a batch of ca. 40 pics with a simple batch action:

    cheers to the aussie front!


  2. ruebiwalter says:

    hey matt,

    i would say::: youre just getting old 🙂

    ive got the save to web problem on cs 3 to :::::

    ive got an mini mac with cs 4 beta at home ::::: works alright ::: sometimes a little bit slow :::: but not as slow as you describe:::::

    i really like the kind of windows backround ::::: the tooly feeling to the whole app ::: it feels more like ONE program compared to cs3 :::::: the intelligent transform tool could work perfekt for wide teaser pics ::: im wasting ages on work – to broaden visuals for horizontal teasers.

    another difference for me is ::: on cs4 at home – i just play around a bit on weekends ::: i dont have to:::: just fun

    on cs3 i have to work ::::: thats no fun at all 🙂 just boring shit for boring companies :::: when ive got involved in the internet kind of 15 years ago:::: it was at least a little bit exiting ::: now its more like sewing swastika flags 🙂 naaaa just jokin

    hope to see you soon in hh ::: ruebi

  3. Thomas says:

    This is why I do not update many of my tools, if I am happy with them. And I avoid the top-most version of any tool, and let other guys do the “public beta” of that version.

    I have some tools that are 10, even 15 years old and still work perfectly, and with an amazing speed on current hardware (which I do not update too much, either).

  4. Simon says:

    17″ Macbook Pro duo 2.93 intel. 4G ram. Leopard. Latest updates of everything. Scratch disk is external FW800 raid. Editing a 300 dpi 8×10″ image is painful after a few minutes. I edit a layer mask and everything goes well *until* I take the pen off the tablet – it’s as if PS will only let me do one thing, then it has to stop and think about it for 30 seconds before I can do anything else. The weird thing is, if I apple+tab, change to finder, then back, PS seems to sort of click back into gear (sometimes).
    Looking at activity monitor, PS goes to 99.4% when ever I do *anything*. One single action, eraser, clone, pen etc. and up goes the CPU. Wait 30 secs and back down to 6%.
    very frustrating indeed, esp when Adobe seem to be ignoring the issue.
    Luckily I still have CS2 on a powerbook, so I can still get on.

  5. Shaddam IV says:

    Maybe, just maybe this is where the magic of repairing one’s permission could help, this once. Whyntcha give it a try?

  6. Serge says:

    Hi Matt! We`ve got such a problem with delays zooming or just with windows by Ctrl + L or Ctrl + B. This problem only occurs when OpenGL is disable and a lot ot images are loaded. When I load 80 images – CS4 feel bad, but when you work with one loaded photo of even 2Gb – there is no problem. I mailed question to adobe support about work with big amount of photos and waiting for answer.

    I work in photo laboratary and such perfomance is very critical for us. If it unsolve – we will think about downgrade to cs3.

    You posted May. 12th, 2009. May be you solve the problem?

  7. Serge says:

    I`ve just install update and CS4 now flying!!! Try it!
    For mac:

    …sorry for my english

  8. Ben says:

    I absolutely agree! And do, it’s not bloody permissions, scratch disk, RAM or some other painfully obvious thing as suggested by the adobe forum users.

    When it’s got to the stage of saving before exporting – and having a heart attack when you realise you haven’t saved – you know something is wrong!

    CS3 had it’s tantrums but by the end it was pretty stable!


  9. Bruce says:

    Actually – its almost a relief to hear of other people getting the same problems (2-3 min pause during save to web, painful crashes on save etc).

    I initially thought it must have been my hardware related. Alas not so – my new Macbook pro suffers the same fate as the desktop. Very nasty indeed.

    So yes Matt, well said… Bring on some healthy competition, should sort out these excessive prices too. What planet are these monkeys on? Charging like a wounded bull doesnt make sense. People would surely upgrade more often if it didnt rip the bank account to shreds.

    Competition is good….