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How is Photoshop on the new Apple M1 Macbook Pro 13″?

Apple M1 Macbook pro tested until failure with Photoshop

I have been testing the new Apple M1 Macbook pro with Photoshop and other applications.

I have to say I’m actually shocked by the performance on this little laptop.

I have been testing the base version with 8Gb of ram. You would think you can barely even run Photoshop with 8 gigs, but this little beast beat out the loaded 16″ MacBook pro with 64Gb of ram in some of my tests. I have been using the native M1 version of Photoshop ARM, as well as Photoshop 2021, and I give you the results of all those tests.

It struggles when I throw a huge 20k 64 layer file at it. But shockingly it is able to process this file. Check out my video reviews to see these different tests and my recommendations.


Jan 2021 Update on Photoshop Beta on M1

Adobe has released a public beta of the ARM version of Photoshop. It does have some features that are missing, and under development right now, they are.

(I have updated this list with features that are now working in the January 2021 release of Photoshop ARM Beta. I have indicated these with a (working) tag.


Known Issues:

  • Many features are still not available in this version of Photoshop, and some features may experience slow performance. Please refer to the following known issues before submitting feedback.
    • (working) Camera RAW
    • (working) Select Sky/Sky Replacement
    • (working) Refine Hair (in Select and Mask)
    • (working) Liquify Filter: Face Aware features
    • OilPaint filter
    • (working) Video timeline and file format support
    • All CEP-based Panels (CC Libraries panel, 3rd party extensions)
    • Adaptive Wide Angle
    • Shake Reduction
    • Face Detection underlying Color Range skin tones and Content Aware Move functions
    • Match Font/Font Similarity
    • Rich Tooltips, Coach marks for Discovery Panel tutorials
    • Microsoft Dial support
    • (working) File Info Panel
    • Layer > Smart Objects > Stack Mode menu item disabled
    • Content Aware Fill
    • Content Aware Scale
    • Content Aware Move
    • Focus Area
    • Auto-Blend Layers
    • (working) Photomerge
    • (working) Spot Healing Brush
    • (working) Patch Tool
    • Healing brush
    • Some File formats not supported:
  • Features present, but with limitations or bugs:
    • Import from Lightroom Photos via the home screen does not work
    • Filter Gallery functions may seem to hang but will eventually succeed
    • All 3D-related functions are limited; either very slow or not fully rendering 3D content; includes 3D printing, 360 panorama editing, normal and bump map filters, Lighting Effects
    • Scrubby Zoom behavior is erratic
    • Changing stroke pixel size not working as expected
    • Opening hundreds of files could cause a crash
    • Several features are running slower on M1 native devices; these will be optimized over time:
      • Select Subject (may have bugs due to misclassification)
      • Object Aware Matting (in Select and Mask)
      • Object Selection
      • Preserve Details 2.0 Upscale (Image Size dialog box

In my tests, Photoshop 2021 is running fine under Rosetta 2, but not quite getting the speed it will under native M1.

I will be testing Lightroom soon and posting the results, as well as comparing the 16Gb version. This new direction for Apple is game changing. We haven’t see this type of performance increase before. On top of that, the way it manages power is something. It has 8 cores, 4 are for performance, and 4 for efficiency. As a result, I found the battery life amazing, more than twice the useable time as any laptop I’ve ever used. To top it off, the machine stayed very cool through all my tests.

My suggestion is if you need a laptop right now and don’t mind waiting for the native versions of your favorite apps, go ahead and by it, its a great machine. (But first make sure the apps you need will run on this M1).

If you are patient and have a little time, I’d wait for the apps to be running natively, as well as the next Gen. Yes, the next version is alway going to better, no matter when you buy. However, we will see more options in the future including iMac and MacBook Pros with larger screen as well as the Mac Pro eventually running apple silicon. For Pros with heavy lifting, you might wait for a 32 or 64Gb versions, or even the M2. Also I suspect that apple with be redesigning the MacBook pro pretty soon around this chip. Having said that, the design of the current model is very good, with a nice bright retina display and the scissor keyboard (thankfully not the butterfly design which I really dislike).


20 responses to “How is Photoshop on the new Apple M1 Macbook Pro 13″?”

  1. Just what I have been looking for. My 13” Macbook Air is now seven years old with 8GB RAM. Yes it is limping along, especially when I throw in 3D and rendering. So a new Mac is needed, and the M1 looks inviting. I suppose I will hang on for Apple to come out with the m2 with additional memory.


  2. I just ordered the M1 and I’d like to know how Photoshop 2021 works on it. And if OnOne and Nik plug-ins will work with it. I’m holding my breath until I get my new laptop and can take it for a test run. Meanwhile, thanks for this video about it.

  3. I use Photoshop extensively — and especially the healing brush and spot healing brsh a ai am a photographer lovingly restoring my photo archive. I’m getting the new M! macbook pro – 16 instead of 8 — however -are you saying i sho wait for the M@ so that it works with photoshop- because i wont survive with a laptop that doesn’t let me use those 2 features in photoshop!! I can still postpone the arrival of my new order — unless you are saying hold on – adobe will have a fix for this -so the M1 is still viable. And Thank you so much for your research!

    • You can get your work done, however it will be on Photoshop 2021 through Rosetta, which runs fine, but once Adobe updates the beta with these features it will work better.

  4. hey hey
    so wat do you think, i mostly work with 30cm x 30cm or a4 documents in a 300dpi resolution
    i typicly have between 50 and 250 layers
    will the 8 gig models handel that ?


    • Yes it will, Im testing the 16 right now, and Ill have a video up comparing the 8 and 16 soon, By end of weekend at latest

  5. For the record Im experiencing a lot of problems with photoshop on my m1 machine. I would hold on to my intel MacBook for a few months, to see if this gets sorted out with the new native photoshop. Right now it is not very usable. I see spinning beach balls in quantities I never saw before.

  6. its been months since apple officially released m1. And developers like ADOBE get it sooner. WHY is it taking them so long this is ridiculous.

  7. I am interested in the 13″, M1, 16GB, 1TB……but I use photoshop plugins (3rd party purchased actions and presets) extensively. Do you happen to know if those are working with M1? (I have several, but mostly use ones by Summerana)

  8. has anyone had issues with their Photoshop running 3rd party purchased actions, brushes and presets (Summerana specifically) using the new MacBook Pro 13″, M1 chip, 16GB, 1TB? I am looking to upgrade my HP envy and seriously considering the MacBook 13″ with the M1 chip. I know they came out with new native Photoshop for this, and people say it’s working great, BUT I want to make sure my Summerana actions would work with this as well

  9. I’m a professional photographer and use Photoshop as my main platform together with a few other apps like Nikon NX Studio, Capture One and Photomatix Pro to name a few. I still use an old MacPro 2013 as my main machine, but got the MacMini with 16GB for a few months now, in order to test the new Apple chip. Most of the apps run very smoothly, some blistering fast, even though some of my plugins do not work anymore. I would highly recommend the M1 series to most users, except for those working with heavy files such as multiple 16 bit layers in Photoshop. In those cases, it becomes almost impossible to work on the MacMini, even with 16GB of RAM. I know other M1 machines include cooling, but that’s not going to be enough. The main problem right now is the fact that you cannot upgrade these machines to higher specs. Many serious photographers will need 32 – 64GB RAM, or they might want to upgrade the GPU after 3-4 years instead of the buying a brand new machine. The recently announced iMacs have very little to offer apart from fancy colours – I’ll be very curious to see what kind of technology Apple will come up with for their next top-of-the-line machines.

  10. Hello Colin
    I am experiencing problems with 3D filters in latest (Adobe calls it Native) version of Photoshop on my brand new Mac mini M1. Practically those filters do not work with or without Rosetta. What is a bit scary that ones in wile 3D engine works for very short time and then quit! Do you any useful tips to deal with that issue? Do you know if Adobe aware of it and will fix it? I am graphic artist and and 3D filters are very important for me! Thank you for an advise!!!

    • Its going to take time for everything to work on M1, that why I said in my review, people should wait, of course I got attacked for saying that 🙂

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