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I have a working copy of Photoshop CS3 on a 2011 MacBook Pro. I would like to put it and an older OS on a bootable partition so I can use the CS3 occasionally and not have to pay monthly fees to Adobe. I am getting a new Mac soon, probably a MacBook Pro, and will want to use the partition with it since the CS3 will not run with newer systems.

I have the DVD's for CS3 and an install DVD for OS 10.5 from the 2011 machine. How do I make sure it is bootable and this system works? Can I use Time Machine to move the CS3 from the 2011 machine or should I use the install disk? Since the OS disk came with a specific laptop, will it work with a new machine as a bootable partition?

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Macs very rarely support booting versions of macOS older than the one they shipped with—exceptions are few and far between, and never more than a year's release. This means that, at least on a new machine, partitioning and installing an older version on bare metal is out of the question.

Though CS3 does support Intel Macs without Rosetta, and in theory, the binaries should launch on modern versions of macOS, compatibility with newer versions is... mediocre... at best. There's some info floating around about it, but nothing is really guarenteed to work.

As it stands, your options are basically as follows:

  • Try to get CS3 (or if you want to up your odds, CS6) to work on a modern version of macOS
  • Continue using your old MacBook Pro (or another Mac) exclusively for CS3
  • Run an older version of macOS in a VM and deal with the potential slowdowns/issues associated with it (macOS isn't usually the happiest about running in a VM compared to other OSs.)
  • Use a Photoshop alternative (e.g. Affinity Photo, Pixelmator, etc.)
  • Bite the bullet and pay for CC

I understand that none of these options are really that great; it's something I've struggled with too, personally. However, Adobe gives no other option really.

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Just another answer to add to the list of options.

You could install a Virtual Machine on your new Mac with the appropriate version of macOS and Adobe Photoshop. In terms of virtual machines you have both free and paid options, the best of which are:

When visiting the above pages the focus is primarily on running Windows on your Mac, but many people use virtual machines to install other versions of macOS as well. This is perfectly okay with Apple so long as the hardware itself is a Mac. In your case you'd be installing an older version of macOS on a virtual machine on your new Mac, and therefore this will not be breaching the software license agreement.

In summary, you would create a Mac virtual machine, install the old version of Mac OS X onto that, and then install Photoshop CS3 etc within that. Then, whenever you wanted to use the software, you would just launch the virtual machine.

If you've never used a virtual machine before, I'd probably recommend you try Parallels Desktop Lite as that will probably be easier to set up than VirtualBox.

  • Ahhhh, I literally just thought of running a VM! You beat me by literal seconds :( – JMY1000 Dec 17 '18 at 2:35
  • One thing to note, if they plan to use macOS 10.5 they will need the server edition (or a VM software that doesn't care about the difference, or a method to bypass detection). macOS 10.7 was the first version to permit virtualization of the non-server versions. – Alexander O'Mara Dec 17 '18 at 2:51

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