Step by Step Mac High Sierra Update if You Use Photoshop CS5

If you’re using Photoshop CS5, and want to preserve it’s functionality, Mac OS High Sierra is the latest software you can safely upgrade to.

High Sierra and Mojave are the last versions of Mac OS that support 32 bit software. Newer versions only support 64-bit. Photoshop CS5 is 32-bit.

Is My OS and Adobe CS Compatible?

I’m usually of the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school when it comes to upgrades, but I’ve learned through experience at some point you have to bite the bullet and upgrade. 

Because Mac OS runs everything from the Safari browser to the system software, if you skip system upgrades you can’t selectively update Safari or any other functionality of the OS. It all has to be upgraded at once. 

Unusually my iMac had been stored for almost a year from spring 2018-2019. When I started using it again I noticed I couldn’t manually update the system software and the automatic upgrade wasn’t working either. 

But before upgrading the Mac OS on my iMac, I wanted to double check it would still be compatible with my older version of Photoshop CS5.

Why I Upgraded to High Sierra

While my iMac had been in storage, I’d bought a Macbook Air at Best Buy which came with High Sierra already pre-installed.

Since I use Photoshop a lot, it was one of the first programs I wanted to install on the Macbook. It took a call to Adobe to get a link sent that would allow me to install my previously purchased copy of Adobe Creative Suite. At the time I didn’t even consider compatibility. 

Whew! I got lucky.

I installed Creative Suite without any problem. There is a small glitch that happens when you shut down Photoshop. A message pops up that says “Photoshop has quit unexpectedly”. But other than that it seems to work as usual.

Meanwhile, my stored iMac has continued to run on El Capitan 10.11.6 since I took it out of storage in early 2019.

At that time I quickly realized the system software was out of the update loop so I contacted Apple to get a link to the latest OS which was Mojave at the time. Then I put off using it because I was worried about compatibility with Photoshop.

All this time, I’ve been using Photoshop CS5 on the iMac with no trouble at all and didn’t want to fix what wasn’t broken. But… 

For some reason, I decided it was time to look into updating again. Perhaps because Safari was starting to act up.  Also remembering my previous laptop, a Macbook Pro, eventually had to be scrapped because I’d left it too long to update.

I really don’t want to give up on Photoshop CS5. I use it more than any other program, it works well for what I need it to do and I didn’t want to get into a subscription model of paying for a program I already own.

Ready to Upgrade to High Sierra

I felt fairly confident in upgrading from El Capitan to High Sierra since I knew Photoshop CS5 would run after my experience with my Macbook. 

I researched again to see if there were any other issues to be aware of.

I found out Adobe is currently asking Photoshop and Lightroom users to avoid upgrading to OS Catalina. Until they work out some issues, it’s not safe to upgrade. However I couldn’t find any reason not to upgrade to High Sierra.

Remember if you’re running a 32-bit program like Photoshop CS5 or Creative Suite CS, then you’ll have to stick with an OS that supports 32-bit. Mojave is rumored to be the latest OS that may support 32-bit but I didn’t want to take the chance. Catalina is definitely not compatible as it only supports 64-bit software programs. 

This OS installation assumes you already have Photoshop CS5 installed on your Mac.

Here’s the steps I took to download and install High Sierra on my iMac.

Upgrading to High Sierra from El Capitan

According to Apple, you can upgrade to High Sierra from OS X Mountain Lion or later. You’ll need at least 2 GB of memory and 14.3 GB available storage.

Allow an hour or two to backup your files plus download the update.

Step One

Before installing new system software, it’s a good idea to back up your computer. Apple recommends it’s built in back up software, Time Machine. This works fine if you have an external disk or drive to copy files to. 

As I didn’t have an external disk and I didn’t want to buy one, I looked for an alternative. As most of my working files are in folders on my desktop, I didn’t feel I needed to back up my whole system. Instead I used a 32 GB USB memory stick I had in a drawer to copy the folders I wanted to backup.

Because those little USB drives aren’t the fastest, it took almost an hour to copy all the files onto the USB flash drive. 

Once all the folders copied over to the memory stick, I clicked on the stick icon on my desktop, then went to File > Eject.

At this point it’s always a good idea to close any other open software on the  iMac before installing new software. 

Then I was ready to download High Sierra. You’ll need to be eligible for a free OS upgrade for this link to work.

Step Two

Download High Sierra from here – scroll to #4 and then click on the link for High Sierra

Step Three

Wait for the download to start and complete, It may take up to an hour to download depending on your internet speed.

Follow the prompts as the installation starts. The default installation destination is your hard drive. I have mine named “Tessa’s HD” so I always know for sure.

Step Four 

When installation is nearly complete, you’ll get a message saying you need to update Java. Click yes and then click the blue Download button. Once the installer is finished it will ask you if you want to trash it (the installer). Click yes.

Once the Java installer is finished, let the installation of High Sierra finish. 

Step Five

After the High Sierra installation is finished, your screen and desktop should revert to looking exactly as it was before. You may be prompted to activate Siri depending on which software you’ve upgraded from. 

That’s it! I’ve been using Photoshop since upgrading with no discernible problems. 

Does Photoshop CS5 Work on Mojave?

Theoretically CS5 should work on Mojave since Mojave still semi supports 32-bit software. However if you’ve already upgraded to Mojave and CS5 isn’t working, then try this workaround.

  1. Go to Apple > System Preferences…
  2. Click Security & Privacy
  3. Select the Privacy tab at top right
  4. In the lefthand pane select the Accessibility option
  5. Make sure the padlock is unlocked (you may have to enter your system password)
  6. On the right-hand side window, make sure Photoshop is ticked
  7. If Photoshop isn’t listed, click on the + button under the list and navigate to the CS5 app to select and add to the list. Then repeat Step 6
  8. Be sure you lock the padlock icon again when you’re finished.
  9. If Photoshop CS5 was already open, quit and restart. You’ve just allowed it to control your Mac. 

Try running Photoshop CS5 to see if it works now. This should also fix any other apps that don’t work in Mojave if you add them to the Accessibility list.

The Most Recent Mac OS Versions

To find what version OS (operating software) your Mac is using, go to the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your desktop. Click it and go to About this Mac. A window like the one below will open and show which OS version is installed.

Apple OS Cost | Release Date
macOS Big Sur 11.0 Free – in beta
macOS Catalina 10.15Free – October 2019
macOS Mojave 10.14Free – September 2018
macOS High Sierra 10.13Free – September 2017
macOS Sierra 10.12Free – September 2016
OS X El Capitan 10.11Free – September 2015
OS X Yosemite 10.10Free – October 2014
OS X Mavericks 10.9Free – October 2013
OS X Mountain Lion 10.8 Requires purchase – July 2012

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