macOS Catalina compatibility

3 minute read • Last updated 2020-09-03

The advice on this page has been updated 23 October 2019 following extended test and feedback based on the final release of macOS Catalina.

What Astute Graphics software is compatible with Catalina?

The Astute Manager (released 27 September 2019) and all subsequent versions are fully Catalina compatible. This includes all the subscription plugins deployed by the Astute Manager.

If you are on the subscription, simply ensure you are using the latest Astute Manager to install the current plugins.

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I'm not on the subscription, am I compatible with macOS Catalina (10.15)?

Unfortunately, Apple has broken compatibility for legacy plugins (those developed before the release of macOS Catalina). Therefore, non-subscription customers should avoid upgrading to Catalina.

This is a major issue for the industry and at the time of writing, Adobe also recommend avoiding Catalina for Photoshop and Lightroom users. There are also growing reports of Illustrator users experiencing issues when operating on Catalina including inability to save files.

Why are legacy plugins not compatible with Catalina?

Apple has increased the security threshold of their Gatekeeper mechanism in their latest desktop operating system.

Many software products created prior to the release of Catalina (early October 2019) require additional integrated security steps to install on Catalina ("notarization").

Due to the Astute Graphics plugins for Adobe Illustrator being installed via the Astute Manager, significant additional development was required to ensure that the deployment services catered for Catalina's Gatekeeper.

The Unified Installer, which deploys legacy plugins, was developed many years ago and could not be prepared for Catalina’s changes as it operates in a very different manner to the more modern Astute Manager.

It’s also emerged since Catalina’s initial release that it’s not only macOS Gatekeeper posing an issue, but also file management (which may be related to the issues Adobe is also having with Photoshop and what Illustrator users are reporting). This means that users of legacy licenses on Catalina are unable to apply their license keys to fully activate the plugin(s). It may not affect those who upgraded to Catalina from a previous macOS an operating system where keys were already applied, but there’s no future guarantee of this as Apple continuously updates its operating system.

What are my options?

For customers who aren't on the subscription, the options are:

  1. Remain with macOS 10.10 to 10.14 (for which the last plugins before the change to our licensing system was developed for) or if already upgraded, downgrade to macOS 10.14.
  2. Upgrade to the subscription.

We previously reported an unsupported method to bypass Gatekeeper. But in light of recent feedback and further tests, it appears that this does not solve the issue to being unable to store license keys necessary for the activation of legacy plugins.


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