The Wait Is Over

Apple has spent the last four years promoting Mac OS X as the future of the Macintosh--that Apple's existence hinges on the public's adoption of the new operating system is not an overstatement. And yet, for many Mac users, moving to OS X has been contingent on a factor that Apple can't control: the availability of an OS X-native version of Adobe Photoshop.

With Adobe's announcement of Photoshop 7.0 for OS X, the wait is finally over.

But OS X compatibility isn't Photoshop's only new feature. Building on the improvements in previous versions--which saw the introduction of the History palette, editable text, layer effects, vector-based drawing, and a host of Web tools--Adobe (800/833-6687, www.adobe.com) offers several innovative new tools designed to make graphics professionals more productive, whether they spend their time painting, retouching, sorting through large image collections, or building rollover effects for the Web.

Adobe says it will ship Photoshop 7 this spring. Since the program is still a beta, we can't yet test it for speed or reliability. But we can give you an in-depth sneak peek at one of this year's most anticipated software releases.

OS X Native

In addition to running on OS 9.1 and 9.2, Photoshop 7 is fully compatible with OS X 10.1.1 and higher. This is good news for designers, photographers, and prepress professionals who have been cautiously waiting for Adobe before making the transition to OS X.

An OS X version of Photoshop fills the last remaining gap in Adobe's suite of graphics and publishing tools (OS X versions of InDesign and Illustrator are already on store shelves) and affirms the company's commitment to Apple's new operating system. But don't expect any OS X-only features. As with Adobe's other OS X applications, Photoshop 7 offers the same features and functionality on both operating systems. However, the move to OS X does mean that Photoshop, notorious for hogging system resources, can now take advantage of OS X's inherent strengths, such as protected memory and preemptive multitasking.

One problem Photoshop 7 users may face in OS X is a lack of plug-in support; plug-ins have yet to run natively in OS X (see "The Waiting Game" later in this story). But according to Adobe, most Photoshop 6 plug-ins will work with version 7 in OS 9 or in OS X's Classic mode. However, plug-ins that require direct access to SCSI devices, such as scanners and printers, may not work even in Classic. Therefore, if you depend on a third-party plug-in for your day-to-day work, you should find out whether the manufacturer has plans to update it.

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