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Are Your Editing Apps Safe After the Big Sur Upgrade?

Are Your Editing Apps Safe After the Big Sur Upgrade?

I don't know about you, but many of us, your humble author included, had a pretty horrific upgrade to Big Sur, the latest and apparently, not the greatest OS from Apple. 

After trying to install it about a dozen times and getting errors, I gave up for a while, only to find that thousands upon thousands of people around the world were having issues. It turns out that there were some server and permissions problems at Apple, and eventually, things settled down for most of us. As if the OS install issues weren't enough, Apple messaging, Apple Pay, and some other services went south, making the Apple mantra of "it just works" feeling a little thin of late.

Nevertheless, once I got it installed, I was anxious to see how my photo apps were working. 


I'm glad to report that Adobe has been on the case since the Big Sur betas started making the rounds. Adobe says the latest Lightroom Classic works fine with Big Sur and I saw no issues with Lightroom Classic, Photoshop 2021, or Bridge. Adobe says there are some small issues with Bridge, but so far I haven't seen them. Still, be cautious.

Adobe says Lightroom will also work now on the new ARM-based Macs, with the rest of the Adobe apps following next year.


My NIK tools worked fine, as did my Topaz apps, including Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Extensions like the recently reviewed Pro Panel and AstroPanel also were stable.


The Affinity apps like Affinity Photo were updated in late summer and are said to work fine on Big Sur.


DXO PhotoLab 4 is said to be fine with Big Sur and it was stable in my use of it. 


The Skylum apps weren't quite ready for Big Sur but are mostly catching up. Luminar 4 was failing on export under Big Sur. Same for Aurora, the HDR tool. The company offered a hot fix for Luminar 4 on November 17. I think they should have been ready to go when Big Sur launched. Aurora was updated for Big Sur but still has some issues. After combining multiple images and trying to open the finished image in Luminar, it goes to the Skylum web page instead of their app.

The beta of Luminar AI was finally updated on the 19th. A quick fix for all the current Luminar apps was to turn off the graphic processor option in preferences, letting it work reliably. That's not needed with the new updates. Hopefully, stable fixes for all the Luminar apps, including Aurora, will be coming quickly.


Another downer. Drobo storage users are finding any of their widely loved backup systems that connect with Thunderbolt 3 won't work. I discovered this by accident after my upgrade when I could not see the Drobo disc icon on my desktop, and Drobo is aware of it. Happily, if you disconnect the ThunderBolt 3 cable and substitute a UBC-C cable, your Drobo will reappear. I've heard some other Thunderbolt 3 devices are having issues too. 

Final Thoughts

Don't rush into software updates from Apple, Microsoft, or anyone else. Determine if your apps will work first, then hold your breath for fixes for the apps that aren't ready to go. 

There's plenty of blame to go around. Apple hasn't been a paragon of reliability in the last few years, and some app developers aren't taking these updates seriously enough. 

So, look before you leap, and hopefully, this article will be of some help. If you have experience, good or bad, with other photo apps and Big Sur, share what you've found in the comments. 

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Michael Comeau's picture

It's downright crazy to update to a new operating system right away.

Always wait 30+ days and let everyone else be the beta testers. Then, just Google around to see if people are having problems.

Matt Williams's picture

I just updated to Catalina like two weeks ago. I'm never in a rush to update programs - especially an OS. Just way too many issues, especially given the types of software I use - and I can't afford for those to not be usable or have bugs just because I couldn't wait to update.

Travis Lawton's picture

I had a horrendous time trying to upgrade. I decided to install on an external and it got all sorts of messed up. After two days of monkeying with it, the biggest issue I had ran into was that apparently with my (USB) Drobo plugged into the computer, the computer wouldn't mount any external hard drives on system start so then my system would revert to the internal HD instead. So I could never finish the install after it needed to restart because it would boot into my old OS. So many restarts, so many attempted installs, so many times booting into recovery mode, so many pram and smc resets.....finally got it to work with Catalina again (after many attempts also). I'm sticking here for a bit lol.

Anyone else experienced this issue with the Drobo blocking externals from loading on initial boot? This is happening now too with Catalina on the external. I literally have to unplug the Drobo from the computer, start the computer, then plug the Drobo back in :\

Sanjay Gohil's picture

Looks like I got lucky on both my 2019 iMac and 2013 MacBook Air

I’ve tested the following and they work fine

Lightroom classic
Photo mechanic 6 (even though their site says it’s not supported)
Pfixer (for lightroom)

The only issue I found was that big due duplicates my contracts but it was an easy fix to get the duplicates removed.

After I installed, I found start up to be a bit sluggish and desktop icons didn’t load up as fast so I did a PRAM reset and now it’s fine

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I think I'll stick with Catalina for now. Everything is working just the way I like it.

In the last four years of upgrading, the only thing I've noticed:
-- Pro - The network connection with my PC, main machine, has become stable and consistent.
-- Con - Boot up time became very long. About 2 mins.
-- Misc - Battery life still sucks. No system performance gains.

Ended up doing a fresh install. Connection to PC is good so I'm leaving it the hell alone.

Jim Tincher's picture

Why would anyone that relies on their computer for critical work or work that produces their revenue streams update to the latest and greatest without first verifying; 1. compatibility. 2. there's a benefit.

Regardless of the operating system most upgrades will be slower than the current version that you are on. It's doubtful the OS update will improve your workflow.

Tony Clark's picture

I updated the evening of its release and have had no issues with C1v12, Photoshop or my basic word processor and spreadsheets.

Martin Stokic's picture

I made a full external backup of Catalina and started BigSur from scratch.

Everything fresh, no backups, mere copying of apps and the key settings over manually to keep all my panels, templates, actions and similar from Adobe.

NikCollection worked all except the Sharpner which is fine now. Topaz Jpeg to RAW does not work still but will soon.

I can say that CaptureOne 21 Beta 5 is working ok.

Synology Drive Client app works but you need to start it manually - and not over the App in applications folder but over this path: ~ /Users/CurrentUser/.SynologyDrive/

Working with that you can even get it to autostart.

LittleSnitch needs upgrade just as Bartender to new paid version.

I still keep my Catalina backup just in case I forgot to transfer something but it has been a few days of struggles for sure.

Looking that I didn't install a fresh OS in 7 years, I can take it this time around.


Richard Kralicek's picture

No problems here, everything worked well, CaptureOne Pro 12 works as usual, can't speak about newer versions. C1 always says: Please wait, we're testing.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

C1 says they're testing every time you launch it?

Richard Kralicek's picture

Haha, no, but each time Apple releases a new OS, they're testing and collecting information from beta testers. I guess it's a pretty normal procedure.

Fred Teifeld's picture

I'm going to assume that its those methods which are the reason why Capture One Pro is so robust. They tend to not wait for something to break. Being one who uses it on almost all of my commercial shoots, its never crashed on me.

Richard Kralicek's picture

Indeed. They once had issues with tethering after an update, 2 years ago or so, when Apple changed it's system severely. That was the only time I read about a problem.
I'm just an amateur, but it makes post production so easy and consistent.

Rhonald Rose's picture

Thankfully everything went smooth for me.

Fred Teifeld's picture

For those of us who use Capture One Pro, they always recommend holding off of any major OS version update as it almost always breaks something.

Mark Smith's picture

Even though the Luminar 4 updates were to address the upgrade to Big Sur, I'm hoping that now Luminar 4 actually works as it ought to on my Mac Book Pro. Because Luminar AI is not something I will be purchasing.

chris bryant's picture

I did not experience any problems or issues, either with the install or any apps.

Mark Guinn's picture

I've had no issues with the OS or anything by Adobe. Luminar 4, though, has been / is still being a real pain. L4 won't export to .jpg. And I'm typing this while waiting for L4 to export a file back into Lightroom... it's been "processing" for around 20 minutes now. Apparently the more layers you add, the more likely it is to lock up. Ugh.

Mutley Dastardly's picture

I'm not a believer in this way of upgrading, it should be a rolling release mechanism - without all the compatibility hassle, that's being friendly towards your users. Lots have tried - lots have failed.