Plugin is now required to use most Pantone colors in Adobe products

Image credit: Adobe, Pantone

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Pantone now requires designers to use the Pantone Connect plugin if they want to access specific Pantone colors in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign – and the experience is less than stellar.

Adobe has started removing Pantone swatches, a set of swatches included in Adobe color libraries. The company announced in July that they would phase out Color Books in software updates released after August 16, 2022.

The change happens because “Pantone’s license with Adobe” has changed, according to the FAQ for the topic.

This change will also affect projects that have already been created with “legacy” shades. If you open a Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign file that uses a dropped color, it will be filled with black and you will receive an error prompting you to download a plugin to fix it.

Not all Pantone Color swatches have been removed – CYMK Coated, CYMK uncoated and Metallic Coated will remain.

However, if you want the entire library, you will need to download Pantone connection through Adobe Exchange.

Pantone Connect is an Adobe plugin that works with Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. It requires you to create a free account with Pantone to use it.

The plugin says Pantone Connect Basic gives you access to 15,000 colors, search, selection, and measurement tools, and gives you the ability to save up to 10 palettes on the web.

For $15 a month, users can upgrade to Pantone Connect Premium, which adds “a dozen additional tools to create smarter, more impactful palettes,” reads the plugin’s page. “Premium also lets you save and share UNLIMITED palettes to work in all your Adobe design programs.”

There is also a bit of a blocker for Mac users – the plugin does not support M1 Mac. Instead, you’ll need to be running an “Intel Emulated” version of whatever software you want, which you can do through the Creative Cloud app.

The experience isn’t highly rated either – the plugin currently has a 1.6 out of 5 on Adobe Exchange. Additionally, many users note how the plugin is difficult to use, does not support M1, and is often prone to glitches or crashes.

Some users also note that even after installing Pantone Connect and purchasing a subscription, old design files are still rendered without the correct colors.

Several reviewers mention how they paid for physical color books, only to be forced to pay for digital books as well.

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