Adobe’s new icons

My dock, loaded with new Adobe icons on the old programs

For the photographers out there and pushers of pixels, you likely heard that Adobe released a beta of Photoshop right before the new year.

Its biggest feature is that it runs natively on Intel Macs. The other major change is that it sports a new application icon. (Seriously, if you want to see what else is new, these videos provide some insight.)

Let’s get back to that application icon though. See, it’s part of a much bigger scheme to play across the entire Adobe family—every app gets two letters and a color code (see right). This is a big shift for Adobe which traditionally associated applications with abstract representations like eyeballs, feathers, and shells.

As I write this, I realize how completely uninteresting this topic may seem.

It’s all been explained, praised, and detracted with mucho gusto over on this blog of an Adobe worker. I read through the comments (they’re spicy like a presidential election), and I can’t help but ponder how to define success with something is so divisive. When the backing argument resorts to “at the end of the day, there’s no arguing with taste” you have to wonder. I miss the Adobe that was mysterious and quiet. Darn you corporate ‘blogs and the new transparency!

So I’m trying to wrestle with my thoughts on the topic, because, well, that’s what I do, and if I have an emotional attachment to software, it would certainly be Super Mario Brothers, and then Photoshop.

My knee-jerk reaction after installing the beta? Ew, that temporary icon must go. Then I added this new system of icons to the old Macromedia programs I currently use daily to make the picture more complete.

And what did I find out after using this icon language for several weeks?
They work great.

Yup, they perform just as I would imagine. Clicking on an icon opens the program, dragging a file over the generous hit area works too. I’m not colorblind so finding the right application is a breeze. It’s uncanny.

And yet, I still don’t like them. (Well, Adobe Reader I like all around, but that’s not the issue).

So I’m left to toil using something that works perfectly fine, but feels empty. I’d create an analogy to GM cars, but I loved my Geo Metro.

Bonus current music video link: Patti LaBelle “New Attitude” on YouTube


  1. I think they’re fine and said so on JSM’s post that spawned a debate. I think more will be revealed and maybe make sense when all the new product packaging gets released. Maybe.
    But this leads me to another observation that has had me vexed for some time. It seems Mac users are really into icons – they post blog entries about icon sets for sale, they like to change them from the defaults, they seem to freak when a new icon is released for a favorite app that they hate (BBEdit come to mind)…
    I’ve never felt the need to buy more icons or change the default icon for a particular app. I just want the app to open and get to work… I’m a Windows user usually and I’m not trying to fuel the old debate, really, I’m not (I have and can work on Macs). Just an observation. Carry on…

  2. I’m with ya Dean… I prefer to keep icons in their default state. In fact, I like most things to be in their default state, so I have less fiddling to do through an upgrade or computer switch.
    I got over the BBEdit icon, and I’m sure I’ll get over these Adobe icons. They really do work extremely well, and honestly, that’s the most important thing. They’re a big upgrade over the old Macromedia spheres, so it’s moving in the right direction.

  3. Hrm, the new icons are definitely uninspired and yawn worthy. However, they are a tad more intuitive than say butterfly, feather and flower.

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