Migrating Photoshop to a New Computer

Over the past three years or so, I’ve had several people ask me about what’s involved in migrating from one installation of Photoshop to another, or what’s involved in moving from an old system to a new system.  With Photoshop, it’s just not as easy as it is with other applications for a number of reasons:

1.  Dependencies – While Photoshop is insanely popular, this popularity has spawned an entire industry of third party applications called plug-ins that get installed into Photoshop.  If you simply remove Photoshop without considering these 3rd party “apps”, you could lose their functionality.  There are also other things that become part of your work flow in Photoshop that you may want to save too, including actions, scripts, font folders, brushes, and much more.

2.  Licensing – Because it’s not a cheap application, Adobe has to carefully manage licensing, which means that any serial number can only be activated twice before it gets “locked”.  This allows you to have an installation on a desktop and a laptop, or a work computer and a home computer.  Well, if you go an just un-install or delete the files for Photoshop, you may find yourself unable to activate again should you re-install on a new computer.  The way to avoid this is to ensure you de-authorize (or deactivate) before uninstalling.  This will free up the license for use again.

3.  Other add-ons – Photoshop also has other add-in elements like automation tasks you may have added over time.  I have a few from On One, Topaz Labs, and a few others that I’ve gathered over time.  Make sure you check to make sure these don’t have installers with licensing too, because that can also be problematic for a software migration.

4.  System settings – Unlike e-mail, some settings and preferences don’t stay with you during the course of a migration.  So, it’s often helpful to grab screen captures of various setup windows so that you can get things configured just right once you get in your new digs!  Here are the 11 screens you may want to capture before un-installing off any computer:

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

PS Preferences

As you can tell, there’s a lot to consider.  And, given the length of this post already with the included screen captures, to make things easier in terms of reference information, I’ve put together a step-by-step procedure to migrate Photoshop from one computer to another that you can download for free!  Enjoy!

Migrating Photoshop

Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

Ammo in the armaments

Last night the DALPUG (Denver Area Lightroom Users Group) had their bi-monthly meeting and host Brian Reyman walked us through some of the features of the Lightroom 3 Beta.  It was a gret seminar and offered an opportunity for many to get an idea of what to expect.  I had not realized that there are many work flow options out there because when queried, the audience responded with quite the variety of software approaches.  We didn’t officially count votes, but it seemed roughly along these lines:

40% Lightroom 2

40% Photoshop CS (no query here on version #)

10% Aperture

10% Elements or some other platform, including GIMP, Corel, and others…

If you think about it – the first software platform you learn for editing photos is usually the one where you really cut your teeth, grind your fingers to the bones, and once you know it, you just know it.  So, for a new software application to come out and challenge the fact that you have this established work flow, suggesting that there is a better way can often be both disheartening and somewhat defeating.  After all, some of us can even remember dodging and burning negatives in a dark room not too long ago.

It was quite an epiphany though to see people from such a wide variety of backgrounds – some younger than me (in their 20’s), many in my age range (30’s – 40’s), and others even senior to me (50’s and up) coming out to learn about this new-fangled technology of Lightroom 3.

What it brought to mind for me was a fundamental dichotomy in the way photography has transformed us.  We have learned so much and in such a little time frame, yet there are always barriers to learning more, not the least of which is our own prejudices.  We learn something, we know something inside and out, and then something new comes along that changes the paradigm.  It’s no wonder there is still so much confusion over what “the best” way to work through images is.

One the one hand, if you have a flow, and it works – why change something that does what you want it to do, and it’s something you not only know, but are reasonably good at?  Meanwhile, on the other – what if you are spending countless hours doing something much slower than you wish it could be and this new carrot is being dangled?  Do you stick to your guns or do you lay that gun down and find a new one that fires better?

It’s a struggle to be sure, and while sticking to your guns can be a good thing in the face of a changing technology, for those of us that stick too long, we can ultimately find ourselves actually staring down the barrel of a gun.  It’s all ammo in the armaments and the important lesson I learned is that while the principles may not change the tools to flex those principles are always changing.

So, the answer for me is to stick to my guns in principle, but be ready for a new rifle and prepare to adapt to meet the needs of that new tool, because odds are, the new one will ultimately do it better, faster, and cleaner than anything that came before it….eventually!

Sort of a philosophical musing for today, but nonetheless one I wanted to share, and hopefully get some feedback on.  Are you an early adopter?  Do you come out guns blazing with new technology whenever it becomes available, or do you stick with the rounds that you know how to fire until the proven replacement has been demonstrated and taught?  Sound off in the comments, and come on back tomorrow for yet another round! 🙂

Adobe’s DNG Converter

For many of us, an upgrade of one element in our tool kit comes with many unforeseen consequences and additional expenditures.  Just as a new camera body can necesitate the need for larger memory cards, hardware upgrades can also come with software upgrades.  The reason?  Camera file formats!  As camera vendors develop new proprietary formats for their raw file formats (CR2 for Canon and NEF for Nikon as the two predominant players in the game), the need has always existed to update your software to accommodate the new formats for body upgrades.

The best example of this was when I did my upgrade of the Canon XT to the Canon 40D just last year (or was it two years ago now?)…at the time I was using Adobe Photoshop CS2 to process my files.  Well CS2 development stopped as CS3 development started.  My Canon 40D was stuck in between application life cycles, and as a result, I was no longer able to process my CR2 files from the 40D natively in CS2.  Granted, I did upgrade to CS3 because of my interest in the field, but for those that either may not be interested in the software upgrade, or cannot afford to upgrade, there is a free alternative from Adobe – the Adobe DNG converter.

This is a really cool utility and it gets updated on the same schedule as the Adobe Camera Raw utility that is unique to the image-editing applications of all Photoshop applications (CS4, LR, etc.).  The Adobe DNG stands for a Digital NeGative so it may help to think of this as a way of preserving your original data, yet still making it accessible, regardless of what other developments happen in the software world down the road.  I know, we all think that Adobe will be around forever, but the same was also thought of Kodak 20 years ago – and now those Kodak CD’s are becoming difficult to manage.  With that little nugget, it may be useful to consider the Adobe DNG option.  Additionally, the Adobe DNG negative has been submitted to the ISO standards setting organization for acceptance as a universal conversion utility, and are releasing it under the GNU licensing, so it will hopefully always be available for anyone.

With the stage set then,  for those who are not able to or not interested in upgrading, here is a brief tutorial of the Adobe DNG converter (in it’s current iteration as of 4/27/09), with screenshots.  If your folders of images look like this:

Adobe DNG Converter

Then the Adobe DNG Conversion Utility may be for you.  It starts pretty easily…you can download the Windows or Mac versions of it from here:

Windows DNG Converter

Mac DNG Converter

Once you download and install this utility (did I mention it’s free?), start the application to get this screen:

Adobe DNG COnverter

First off, specify the path where the images are that you want to encapsulate into the DNG format.  You can specify one folder, or you can specifiy a folder and all its sub-folders (in case you want to convert an entire library or set of images at once).  Then specify the output folder and naming convention you want to use.  Once that’s been decided, it’s time to select your preferences for how you convert your images.


Click on the “Preferences button” to specify how you want to conversion to occur:  Do you want full size conversions or do you want to reduce the image resolution sizes for smaller storage requirements?  (I always choose full size for maximum flexibility.)  What about compression?  Adding compression can further reduce the footprint that each DNG file has on your hard drive.  (It’s a judgement call, but I choose not to compress, again to maximize flexibility down the road.)  What about conversion methods?  You can convert to a linear format, but I don’t like this option because it’s a one-way street (you can’t go back).  Last but not least, what about inclusion of the original raw file?  In most cases I would actually recommend that.  It may increase file size, but this way you have access to the original raw date if your software needs ever change and you have access to software that can better handle the raw data you currently may not be able to manage.  All these are things to consider.  Hopefully, this short explanation of your options and the pros/cons will help in deciding how to proceed.

From here it’s pretty straightforward – you’ve specified everything from your input folder to your output folder, naming conventions, and conversion preferences, so now, simply click the button on the lower right to start the conversion process.  You will get a dialog window showing you the progress:


If you like, you can always click the button in the lower left to stop or abort the conversion process in case you specify the wrong folder or for some other reason.  Once the process is complete, the window will show all converted images.  Simply click “OK” to close the DNG converter utility from that window, as shown below:


Finally, open the destination folder, and voila!  Your image files will now have thumbnail previews again:


There you have it, your files are now prepped for one of the easiest, simplest, and most cost effective ways (did I mention this is free?) for both management, archiving, and accessibility – 3 very important things to consider in your image management workflow.

Granted, as with anything else, the Adobe DNG converter utility is not for everyone, as we all have work flows that call for different approaches.  So, what approaches do you use?  Feel free to share your own thoughts, processes, and suc in the comments or via email.  Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!