Image credit: Adobe, Pantone

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Pantone now requires designers to use the Pantone Connect plug-in if they want to access specific Pantone colors in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign—and the experience isn’t all that great.

Adobe has begun removing Pantone Color books, a set of swatches included in Adobe’s color libraries. The the company announced in July that they will phase out color books in software updates released after August 16, 2022.

The change is happening because “Pantone’s licensing with Adobe” has changed, according to the FAQ on the subject.

This change will also affect projects already created with “legacy” templates. If you open a Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign file that uses stripped color, it will be filled with black and you’ll get an error message directing you to download a plug-in to resolve it.

Not all Pantone color books have been removed — CYMK Coated, CYMK Uncoated and Metallic Coated will remain.

However, if you want the entire library, you’ll need to download it Pantone Connect via Adobe Exchange.

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

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

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

There’s a bit of a break for Mac users as well — the plugin doesn’t have any support for M1 Macs. Instead, you’ll need to run an “Intel Emulated” version of the software you want, which you can do via the Creative Cloud app.

The experience isn’t very highly rated either — the plugin currently has a 1.6 out of 5 on Adobe Exchange. In addition, many users note that the plugin is difficult to use, lacks M1 support, and is often prone to malfunctioning or crashing.

Some users have also noted that even after installing Pantone Connect and paying for a subscription, old design files still render without the appropriate colors.

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