Apple Silicon M1 Macs finally getting Adobe Photoshop — what to know and what's missing

Apple Silicon M1 Macs finally getting Adobe Photoshop — what to know and what's missing
(Image credit: Adobe)

Apple Silicon M1 Macs are finally getting Adobe Photoshop, one of the most important programs in the Mac ecosystem. Today, Adobe announced that its flagship image editing software will now run natively on the latest Macs.

Apple M1 chip-based Macs came out in November, but many popular apps needed time to fully convert to Apple's new ARM-based chips (programs were written for the x86-based Intel processors). This meant that many apps, including Photoshop, were running through emulation via Apple's Rosetta 2 technology. Now it's possible to use Photoshop without resorting to emulation, and Adobe is promising big gains in this conversion, which, based on our testing, the new Macs could definitely use.

In its announcement post, Adobe noted that its "internal tests show a wide range of features running an average of 1.5X the speed of similarly configured previous generation systems." These performance gains should assuage users concerns if they've been wondering if now is the right time to buy, or if they need to wait for the MacBook Pro 2021.

Adobe based its tests on "a broad scope of activities, including opening and saving files, running filters, and compute-heavy operations." It notes that tasks such as Content-Aware Fill and Select Subject "feel noticeably faster." So it sounds like you won't need a stop watch, you'll be able to visually see the difference.

The post, written by Pam Clark, vice president of Photoshop Product Management & Product Strategy, even teased that "You might miss the splash screen launching…" if you blink. Photoshop vets are probably chuckling, as Adobe's loading screens have have become synonymous with the program.

Adobe credited the success of its new version to the public beta testing, which started around the launch of the Apple Silicon Macs. 

Photoshop had room to improve on M1 Macs

In our MacBook Pro with M1 review, we noted that the PugetBench Photoshop test gave the MacBook Pro a score of 576.6, which placed it below the 588 from the Dell XPS 13 and the 743 from the Asus ZenBook 13. 

This was based on the emulated version of Photoshop running in Rosetta 2, so this new version should bring the M1 Macs to closer parity with its PC counterparts.

Photoshop on M1 Macs: What's missing

The post admits, though, that the Photoshop isn't completely there yet on M1 Macs. Two features — Invite to Edit Cloud Documents and Preset Syncing — were called out as in absentia. 

The post notes that Adobe did not wait because "performance gains across the rest of the application were so great." We shouldn't need to wait too much longer, as Adobe notes that its team is wrapping up work on these features. 

Users will have an option to "switch back to [the] Rosetta 2" build of Photoshop if necessary. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.