OK fellow designers, it’s finally happened and Pantone swatches are no longer available in the latest 2024 Adobe software releases.
Instead, they're selling their Pantone Connect Adobe extension, but have seriously missed a trick with their marketing and really haven’t communicated this change very well. I should be feeling excited to explore (and pay) for thousands of gorgeous new colours, rather than feel like I'm being mugged. I haven't seen any comms explaining the benefits of using this new plug-in, I only remember dismissing a blue panel which popped up at the bottom of my CC app, or was that about Postscript fonts again?
After updating to Adobe CC 2024, I’m sure I’m not the only one who started angrily looking for alternatives to Pantone, stubbornly refusing to be held to ransom by their attempt to increase revenue (I understand why, but when it affects my processes directly I like to ignore the strategy behind the disruption).
Sadly, my research into alternative colour matching systems took me way out of my depth. It’s a world of spectrophotometers, tolerances and acronyms. Perhaps this is why Pantone feel they can justify charging designers for what they used to give away. Simplifying the process of selecting colours beyond the limits of CMYK and specifying them to printers using Pantone Connect is still likely to be more cost-effective than hours of scientific research and difficult proofing conversations. £90 per year, per user, or a monthly subscription of £15 per user may not sound like much (although bear in mind that figure has almost tripled in little over a year) until you compare it to the price of the complete and all-powerful Adobe Photoshop at just £28 per month. And Pantone Connect is certainly not a hit, today this rather expensive colour palette gets a damning 1-star rating from 95% of its users.
That subscription fee will at least ensure all of the latest Pantone colours are available to you, including the ones Pantone have created since they stopped adding new colours for Adobe users way back in 2005 (who knew?). But if you’re not ready to give in to Pantone’s demands and want to continue working with the limited set of Pantone colours in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop, there’s a simple fix: Locate the .acb files found in a 2023 application’s Presets > Swatch Libraries folder, copy them and store them somewhere safe, and add them to the 2024 version’s equivalent folder – they’ll load just as they used to.
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