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Mac OS Sierra Might Break Compatibility With Lightroom & Photoshop

By Justin Heyes on September 24th 2016

Apple’s newest operating system was released a few days ago. While the temptation to immediately update is significant, especially given the breadth of new features in Sierra, there may be a compatibility problem. As with any release of new software, there is a question of how nice all other applications will play with it, and the question right now for photographers should be about macOs Sierra’s compatibility with our most used applications, Lightroom and Photoshop.

Now, I am one to download the newest release of anything, usually at the cost of stability of my system, but I have stayed away from Sierra for now at least. Apple users braver than I have tested the system with Adobe’s media suit and have found work-arounds for legacy products. However, Adobe has released statements for Photoshop and Lightroom, and basically if you’re running an earlier version of Lightroom on Sierra, you’re going to run into issues:

Known Issues For Lightroom

Versions affected Lightroom CC 2015.6.1/Lightroom 6.6.1 or earlier
Operating system macOS 10.12 Sierra

Adobe has discovered the compatibility issues listed below when running Lightroom CC 2015.6.1/Lightroom 6.6.1 and earlier on macOS 10.12 (Sierra).

    • Lightroom 3-5: Canon, Nikon and Leica tethering do not work.
    • Lightroom 3-6.6.1:The Import dialog doesn’t display Apply During Import and Destination options.
      Note: This issue persists if you update to Lightroom CC 2015.7/Lightroom 6.7 from the previous version already running on macOS Sierra. Right-click the Apply During Imports panel and select the Apply During Import and Destination options to make them visible in Lightroom CC 2015.7/Lightroom 6.7.
    • Lightroom 2-6.6.1: The message Modify Exposure with +/- keys is displayed every time Lightroom is launched
    • Right-clicking a panel and choosing the option to show/hide the panels displays an error message. This issue can occur in all the Lightroom modules.
    • In the Library module, clicking the Make or Model fields in the Metadata panel throws an error message, which may cause Lightroom to crash.
    • Lightroom 3: Direct camera connections not detected by Import dialog (workaround – use a card reader)
    • Lightroom 1-5: Cosmetic sliders issues


To avoid these compatibility issues on macOS 10.12 (Sierra):

    • Update to Lightroom 2015.7/Lightroom 6.7, or
    • Remain on your current Mac OS X version and do NOT update to macOS 10.12 (Sierra) if you are running Lightroom 5 or earlier.

Known Issues For Photoshop

Versions affected Photoshop CC 2015.5 or earlier
Operating system macOS 10.12 Sierra
Adobe has discovered the compatibility issues listed below when running Photoshop CC 2015.5 and earlier on macOS 10.12 (Sierra).

  • The Cmd+Space keyboard shortcut in macOS Sierra launches both Siri and the Zoom In tool
    • Solution: Change the keyboard shortcut for Siri.
  • User Interface redraw issue when dragging the scroll bars in dialogs and panels
    • Workaround: Hover over the scrollable area and use the mousewheel or trackpad gesture to scroll the panel instead of clicking on the scroll bar and dragging it up and down.

Adobe: “Our engineers are working on a complete solution for a future update.”

Apple can change macOS’ code all the way up to the point that it release in the App Store, and even then first day patches are not unheard of. While it is frustrating when your favorite programs are not exactly compatible with the newest provided by Apple or Microsoft, Adobe and many other companies prefer to wait until they have successfully tested their software. They advise their users to do the same.


The good news is that Lightroom CC 2015.7 and Lightroom 6.7, which are available now, do work on Sierra. It is possible for minor bugs to still popup, but it has been extensively tested, and all known issues have been fixed. Adobe recommends that customers update Lightroom to the current version before updating macOS Sierra.

[Rewind:New Lightroom Update With Canon 5D IV Support, & Adobe Releases Stock Contributor Site ]

Adobe software older than the CC variant versions are not officially supported on macOS 10.12, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work, it just means that if those old versions have any new issues, there won’t be any updates to address them (you’re on your own).


One of the newest features in macOs Sierra is the newly introduced Apple File System (APFS) which is designed around security, reliability, and the ability to work across all the products in the Apple ecosystem. APFS will replace HFS+ as the default file system. From an Adobe user point of view, APFS is interesting in that it is case-sensitive only. Adobe Creative Cloud applications cannot be installed on case-sensitive file systems o Mac currently. It is not clear how much of an issue this will be, as Apple is expecting the APFS file system to be the default some time by 2017.

As with any update to your phone, computer, or camera, it is a good idea to wait a few days or weeks after a firmware release has been made for and bugs to be fixed that may occur. I have been burned a few times with the promises of new features at the cost of stability and compatibility.

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Vadim Lebedev

    how to live? gpu errors!!!

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  2. Rob Levandowski

    Sierra’s APFS support is a non-issue for Lightroom and Photoshop users today. While Sierra contains a “developer preview” of APFS that does not yet have a complete feature set, you have to jump through a lot of hoops to create an APFS volume. You can’t do it from Disk Utility; you have to use UNIX commands from the command line. You can’t boot from an APFS volume yet. You can’t use Time Machine to back up an APFS volume yet. You can’t encrypt an APFS volume yet. You can’t create an APFS volume from a Fusion Drive yet.

    The reason why Apple put this very early version of APFS into Sierra was to make it easy for developers like Adobe to get their feet wet with the new filesystem and start looking for potential issues with their code. By the time APFS becomes the preferred disk format, developers should have had plenty of time to make any needed changes. And it’s highly unlikely that Apple will invoke the utility that will change your HFS+ disk to APFS without your express consent.

    Apple hasn’t actually said whether the final version of APFS will support case-insensitive volumes. If it does not, well, it’s been many years since Apple started offering case-insensitive HFS as an option. Adobe has had quite some time to figure out where their programmers have been sloppy about using consistent case in naming files their programs need; they have squandered a lot of that time. Hopefully they’re working on it now. They can certainly do it; Windows and traditional UNIX have been case-sensitive for a long, long time.

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  3. Mike Burnside


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  4. Pye Jirsa

    Great catch and post Justin

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