Surprise! Your App Has Been Updated

This is a view of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from my campsite on an Arctic Ocean sand spit looking across to Brooks Mountains. © Bernard P. Friel
This is a view of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from my campsite on an Arctic Ocean sand spit looking across to Brooks Mountains. © Bernard P. Friel

By Bernard P. Friel

Have you ever had your day ruined by an update to an app or to your operating system that was automatically installed, without you even being aware? It happens, and sometimes it’s not pretty.

Picture this: You fire up your computer and suddenly learn that all the work you did on over 4,000 images—key wording and some preliminary editing—will have to be redone, from the beginning, because those precocious technicians at the software company have automatically updated your image-processing program, and the update will not accommodate the preliminary editing you have already completed. Frustrated? Well, that’s not the whole of it.

As you more closely examine the updated software, you find it is totally different! You can’t find the tools you customarily use or, if you do find one, it has been relocated, or sometimes relocated and combined with some other tool! Oh, and all your presets have vanished. And your workflow goes right out the window! You have been victimized by an automatic update.

Your first thought is “how do I revert back to the version I was working with before?” But those precocious technicians have neither provided that information, nor any instructive information on using the updated software.

OK, your next thought is call your tech support.  After explaining your dilemma to them you make a remote connection. Eventually, after lengthy searches they advise that, to roll back to your prior version, you must trash the new version and then reinstall the prior version. So, that is what you do after wasting a half day of your time and several expensive hours with tech support.

Unfortunately, this kind of frustration is not unique to one company or one product. It recently happened to me with an automatic Adobe Camera Raw update but is an irresponsible sickness that seems to infect every program, app, and technical device. Often it seems like nothing more than an updating for the sake of updating. Maybe it’s a new way to perform an old task that provides no particular advantage, but comes with the burden, delay and frustration of learning the new method. And, to top it all off, it’s buggy! This is the kind of foolish conduct that can eventually result in customers abandoning a company, regulation that no one wants, and litigation on the way to regulation.

From southern Utah into Monument Valley, showing Stagecoach Butte and Bear and Rabbit and Castle Rock. © Bernard P. Friel
From southern Utah into Monument Valley, showing Stagecoach Butte, Bear and Rabbit, and Castle Rock. © Bernard P. Friel

To be fair, Adobe’s recent update to ACR is not one of those updates just for the sake of updating. It does provide some valuable new tools, but is also, I would argue, an example of fixing something that was not broken. The changes rendered some of my hard-earned postprocessing skills obsolete. More importantly, it feels irresponsible to impose a new system on users and customers via an automatic update without warning or explanation. Even if I, the customer, initiated an update of this magnitude, it ought to have been accompanied by a cautionary message and explanation. Don’t spring a surprise like this on me with no warning!

A little internet searching provided some level of comfort in numbers, for I found many other ACR users were sharing my frustration and irritation here and here. There I also found information on how to re-install the previous version of ACR.

So, how does one avoid this? One way to prevent unwanted and unexpected updates is to ALWAYS turn your auto updates off. Many users like me also refuse most of the periodic updates I am regularly offered. It is a pain to go through the almost daily process of declining, but a small price to pay for avoiding that big unwelcome surprise.

To turn off Adobe's Auto Update on a Mac, open Creative Cloud, click on the gear (1) and turn off Auto Update (2).  Screen shot.
To turn off Adobe’s Auto Update on a Mac, open Creative Cloud, click on the gear (1) and turn off Auto Update (2). Screen shot.

If you share this frustration, the way to avoid future updates of ACR or any of the Adobe products is go to Adobe Creative Cloud and, from the menu select Preferences, click on the Apps and disable the slider that says “Auto Update”.

How do you know when an update is safe to install, not crashing other apps, and has all the bugs worked out? For photographers, the Photo Taco podcast has an updates page where they keep an eye on updates from Adobe, Apple and Microsoft Windows and provide recommendations on whether or not each update is safe to install. When major updates are released, they’ll also record an episode describing the new features and how to use them.

While this may make me sound like a curmudgeonly Luddite, resisting any changes, I’m really not. I’m all for new tools and techniques that will help me and my workflow. I just want to be in charge of when to install them. Now I’ll just go back to working with that “old” ACR that is familiar, friendly and fast.

Bernard Friel is a Charter and Life Member of NANPA. He served on NANPA’s board, as its President (2000-2001) and its Treasurer, as well as NANPA’s Foundation board. He is a retired lawyer having practiced with the St. Paul firm of Briggs and Morgan P.A. (now Taft) for nearly 60 years with specialties in trial work, nonprofit corporations and municipal bonds. He was the Founder of the National Association of Bond Lawyers and served as its president, and its most prestigious award bears his name.

Bernie’s wildlife and landscape images are widely published and have appeared in many magazines, books, websites and calendars including two covers of National Wildlife. He regularly provides his images to a stock agency under contract.

Bernie is a member of The Explorers Club, the Wilderness Society, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the Sierra Club, Grand Canyon River Guides and numerous conservation organizations.

Bernie is also a featured author in our latest handbook

Prize winning image "Togetherness" by Karen Schuenemann on handbook cover

SNEAK PREVIEW: Contest Secrets

NANPA members can access the latest publication in our free handbook series, Contest Secrets: What to Know Before You Enter a Photo. The handbook features tips and inspiration from winners of prestigious photo competitions, a sampling of judges’ comments on winning prize-images, and suggestions and warnings about contest rules from a retired attorney. The handbook will be publicly available on Aug. 13. It’s available now to members in the Members Area.