Products I Couldn’t Live Without: Adobe

As a designer – especially a freelancer – there are many products and softwares I use on a daily basis that I couldn’t function as well without. This post is part of a series ̛I’m doing on products I couldn’t live without. I’ll be talking about things I love about the product, why I couldn’t live without it, as well as things I dislike or think could be improved.



Talk to any graphic designer and they will tell you that they simply couldn’t function without Adobe. It’s true. Anything I create usually starts out in Adobe Illustrator. If I’m working on a printed material, I’ll work simultaneously in Adobe InDesign to lay out the design, switching between Illustrator and Photoshop if I need graphics or photos. If I’m working on a website, I always design it in Illustrator before I even open a web browser to get started in WordPress or another web platform. Lightroom is priceless when it comes to editing RAW photos (always shoot in RAW by the way), I use Dreamweaver from time to time when clients need special customization that can’t be accomplished with WordPress, I use AfterEffects with working with motion graphics… The truth is there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have at least one of Adobe’s creative suite programs open on my laptop.

What I love about Adobe

Adobe allows me to do my job and do it well. I very rarely need to contact support (I think I’ve only contacted Adobe support twice in the past five years). Problems I experience can typically be solved by downgrading to the previous version. If I can’t figure out how to do something, there’s bound to be an online tutorial somewhere where someone has done what I’m attempting.

The programs correspond easily with each other. I can design stuff in Illustrator and it transfers seamlessly to AfterEffects for animating. Or I can create smart layers in Photoshop that are editable in Illustrator. Vector objects in Illustrator can easily be input into layouts in InDesign… The potential of these programs is endless. There isn’t anything they can’t do. But if you do happen think of something they can’t do, you can suggest it. Adobe listens and works to get those ideas integrated into future updates.

One great thing about cloud-based software is the updates. New features and bug fixes… Cloud-based software is the way the world is going and while there will always be cons, the constant updates and improvements are a huge pro!

What I don’t love about Adobe

Although there’s a seamless transition between the programs, there are some weird anomalies across the various Adobe programs that can be quite frustrating. For instance, why does Command+E (export) work in InDesign, but not Illustrator? Why does Command+F pastes in place in Illustrator, but opens a search and find box in InDesign? Those are the two that come to mind immediately, but I encounter little incompatibilities such as these quite often. I wish the software developers for the different programs would actually get their heads together and work out those kinks – but they probably never will.

I wouldn’t be an honest reviewer if I didn’t also address the cons of the cloud-based software. Paying $50+ a month for the tools of their trade can be frustrating. Ten years ago, you purchased the Adobe software and you owned it and that was that. Think about it this way. A plumber doesn’t rent his tools from the manufacturer every time he does a plumbing job. A construction company doesn’t rent their equipment from the dealership. While there’s a greater up front cost involved, these people own the tools that are required to practice their trade. Now I understand that for large design firms the cost of an Adobe subscription can go largely unnoticed, but for young designers and freelancers, that cost is a big deal. And there are also smaller firms that require their designers to purchase their own subscriptions, so that’s automatically $50+ a month off the top of a good paycheck. Adobe knows designers couldn’t live without their product and the price of their product reflects that. Unfortunately, there is no valid competition with Adobe in the design industry. Since their software is the industry standard, they can charge pretty much whatever they want.

Another cloud con is updates. Yes, that’s also a pro, but I often end up downgrading back to the previous version because a bug was introduced and then I wait for a few weeks to re-update the software.

Overall, I think Adobe is a wonderful necessary evil. I wish I could live without it, but I can’t. (A long, long time ago, I used open source Inkscape and GIMP – I liked the price tag a lot better). I’ll maintain my love/hate relationship with the software, complaining about the quirks and anomalies while simultaneously recommending Adobe to anyone with an interest in design.

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