Adobe to Remove PANTONE Color Libraries

Effects on design and print workflow



Johnny Shell


In what appears to be a significant development, a statement published on Adobe’s helpdesk forum carries broad ramifications:

“In March 2022, the PANTONE Color Libraries that are pre-loaded in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe Color, and Adobe Capture will be removed from future software updates. To minimize the impact of this change, we are working on an alternative solution for the affected products. Stay tuned for updates.”


PANTONE color libraries have been an important part of the Adobe print workflow for over 30 years, but digital printing is removing the need for “spot color” inks. Still, there are sectors of print and design (e.g., Screen printed apparel) that use PANTONE colors in much of their work, not to mention the impact on their clients who may use PANTONE in their corporate color schemes.


It is also puzzling that Adobe would make this announcement by way of an ambiguous boxout on their helpdesk that gives users a mere four-month notice. Speculation as to the cause of the discord between Adobe and PANTONE seems to point to PANTONE licensing and the enormous fees charged to Adobe for its users. Added to this is the fact that PANTONE launched PANTONE Connect, a digital platform for designers that streamlines their color decision-making and communication, in June 2020. 


With the ongoing digital evolution of design workflows, there has been an increasing need to close the gap between the physical and digital for designers. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these challenges by rapidly replacing the collaborative, light-filled, and resourceful design studio with virtual chats at living room tables. Communicating color intent as part of design is a familiar pain point under normal circumstances, but it becomes far more of a challenge in these remote settings.


PANTONE Connect is the only way to access all 15,000 market-relevant PANTONE colors found in over a dozen PANTONE libraries. Over 5,600 PANTONE colors are missing from the PANTONE Color Libraries in Adobe CC, including 826 PANTONE Matching System (PMS) colors and all the fashion, home + interior system colors. The interface is currently compatible with Creative Cloud, but it’s also available as an iOS and Android app for mobile use, and it appears that users of Adobe Creative Cloud will need to access PANTONE libraries through the PANTONE Connect plug-in.


PANTONE Connect Feature Comparison by Subscription
Feature Basic Premium


PANTONE Color Reference Number
Palettes Up to 10 Unlimited
Share       Unlimited      Unlimited
Trending Colors
Color Story  
Formula, Hex, RGB, L*a*b*  
Analyze Color
(luminance, color blindness, light & dark modes)
Cross Reference  
Cost Free $7.99 USD/Month


This is a perplexing example of two graphic arts industry giants not supporting said industry. For those in print production, files that contained named PANTONE colors have already been RIP’d into CMYK data, so there shouldn’t be any issues. But what is the effect on designers who have historically specified PANTONE colors in their art files? I think they are left holding the bag and will be forced to open their wallets to gain access to PANTONE. I’m curious to know how everyone in the print industry is preparing for this…


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