Dead Hack: Adobe CS Preference Copying

The Dead Hack series of posts is devoted to design techniques that, while clever, are now officially useless because they have been replaced with tools that achieve the same effect or the technique itself has been made irrelevant. Only true design nerds should continue from this point.

cc_unificationCongratulations, Adobe, it only took you a couple of decades to add a basic feature that pretty much every other software suite has been doing since day 1: honor settings from older versions of your software. Don’t get me wrong, I’m relieved that my trusty design apps will finally start remembering the preferences that I’ve been using with almost no variation since 1995, and I appreciate that you took the behavior one step further by extending that capability to any workstation that I login with. But it’s hard to forget that I’ve used almost a dozen major iterations of Photoshop before this point and have had to either reestablish those same settings each time by hand or by using the following kludgy workaround: copying the settings files from the old app folder to the new one. 

This action varied between the pre– and post-​​OS X eras (hmmm… I wonder if I should dig up some System 7 hacks to show the baby designers how lucky you are), but the action was essentially the same. Further evidence that the actual code for those settings was identical between application upgrades — and that Adobe had no excuse for not bothering to have the software look for an older settings file during the installation process — was the fact that this trick worked every single time.

The hack in question is just this simple: find the old app settings folder, such as
~/​Library/​Application Support/​Adobe/​Flash CS5

…and copy its contents to
~/​Library/​Application Support/​Adobe/​Flash CS6

Voila! All of your carefully crafted Flash Professional settings from CS5 now appear in Flash CS6. Certainly better than having to recreate all of that crap by flipping back and forth between the two versions, or worse yet, from memory.

However, the problem with this practice is twofold:

1. I shouldn’t have to do it, it’s wasting my time and leaving less tech-​​savvy designers without any solution at all.
2. It risks glitches in the behavior of my apps, since it could cause a glitch or two where an old setting is incompatible with a new one.

So here again, we come back to Adobe’s historical refusal to help us with this process, even though they could have done so fairly easily and much more cleanly. I have always found that stance disrespectful for those of us who really know their software backward and frontward. My assumption is that we power users just don’t represent the “monetary majority,” and money talks. But finally our plea has been heard. Thanks, Adobe. (grumble, grumble…)

by Whit

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