Freehand Anonymous

My name is Michael Johnson… and I use Freehand

freehand_5_0.jpg - Freehand Anonymous - 11

I discovered recently that this (allegedly) high-tech industry of ours is populated by a whole tranche of designers who are quietly hanging on to an old, obsolete piece of drawing software.

UPDATE: All is not lost. Read about the latest developments in the legal case to Free FreeHand here

They know they shouldn’t, they get ridiculed for it, but they can’t help it. A piece of software that has been ever-present for decades has proved a tough habit to crack. Like the beginning of an aa meeting where people stand and admit that they’re hardened drinkers, it’s time to stand up and say that “my name is Michael and yes, I do still use Freehand”.

At this point readers will be experi­encing mixed emotions – some will be thinking ‘what an old saddo’. Younger ones will be asking ‘what’s Freehand?’. But, especially in the UK, it seems that a lot of people will be quietly nodding their heads.

Little things started to give it away. I asked Michael C Place for some text from a D&AD project recently and his answer was in the affirmative “as long as I didn’t mind getting it in Freehand”. We discovered recently that Dixon Baxi were still advocates. Some quiet digging revealed a vast array of design studios still using it: Neville Brody, Why Not Associates, Spin, to name a few. The Designers Republic were committed fans and we  know there are users at Barnbrook Design, maybe even at North too.

Mr Place declined to contribute to this piece, not wanting to get involved in a discussion about a piece of software, and he has a point. But it seems the choice to use, and continue to use this programme is more than just geekery. If Quark users have to migrate to InDesign, at least they’re moving to something on a par, and in some cases better. Just ten minutes with Keynote persuades most people to happily drop Powerpoint like a stone, such is the gulf in quality. But Freehand users are coping with a transition to some­thing they see as a step sideways, often backwards.

It was one of the great, original debates of the graphic design business – ‘which programme do you use to draw?’ Battle lines were drawn early between the intuitive, easy-to-learn Aldus Freehand and Adobe’s more technical Illustrator. Malcolm Garrett remembers it well. “There was a sense that if you required a particular kind of precision then Illustrator was the way to go, in the same way that XPress won out over PageMaker. The clue is in the ordinariness of the names, Freehand and PageMaker, they just don’t say ‘professional’.

I remember Erik Spiekermann once saying he disliked Freehand, because it was too, er, ‘freehand’.” He thinks that “designers who felt they were more ‘expressive’ liked the basic feel of Freehand, which allowed them to create in a welcoming environ­­ment, more akin to art studio than drawing office. For some reason Illustrator gave the impression that it was more technical and thus less expressive somehow.”

Garrett feels the differences are minimal but hardened users jump straight to its defence. “It’s intuitive and fast,” says Aporva Baxi from Dixon Baxi, still determinedly delivering artwork to printers in Freehand, despite the protests. “We just feel at home and can work very fast using it, allowing us to concentrate on the creative. The fact that you can drag any number of pages around, create a full book, guidelines or presentation whilst still being able to design freely is liberating.”

For Spin’s Tony Brook it was love at first sight. “I went from a complete computer virgin, to a happy clapping convert in a matter of hours. I have met so many passionate advocates of Freehand, it is like a badge of honour, whereas your common or garden Illustrator disciple just mumbles and calls me old, which may be true, but if that’s the best they can do….” Why Not Associates’ Andy Altmann reveals that it “was great for designing all the typographic layouts for the environmental projects we have collaborated on with artist Gordon Young. The typographic trees in Crawley [see p22], the entire 320m of the typographic pavement in Morecambe – it would have been really painful to have done it in anything else.” Amazingly, Altmann also admits that all the artwork for the seminal book Typography Now was done as 200 individual pages in the programme.

Nearly all of its adher­ents know the writing has been on the wall ever since Adobe acquired Macro­media in 2005, getting their hands on the crown jewel, Flash. The 2007 announcement that Freehand wouldn’t be updated came as no surprise, and Adobe’s position on this is clear: “Adobe has no plans to initiate development to add new features. While we recognise it has a loyal customer base, we encourage users to migrate to the new Adobe Illustrator….” To Adobe, bouncing a bunch of ‘has-beens’ into switching makes logical sense, and without any apparent fan-base in the States (a US source could only think of one designer they knew still using it) they faced no significant backlash there.

But its impending demise will feel like amputation to some. “For me it basically feels like an additional limb used purely for design, a third arm that understands and knows what I want,” says Nick Hard in Neville Brody’s Research Studios. Baxi admits they “quietly dread the day we have to install a system update to osx that suddenly conflicts with it”. Tony Brook reveals that “Adobe has finally beaten me into submission. This Christmas I did a day’s course on Illustrator. I still don’t get it.”

For this writer, once a Freehand beta-tester, it’s been ever-present on a 20-year journey. But now my copy won’t let me print out anything containing fonts (bit of a drawback), and regularly needs re-booting/re-installing (not ideal). Garrett criticises this as an inherent inability to embrace change, a sort of ‘I know what I like, and I like what I know’ culture.

He’s right of course, and the news that The Designers Republic has folded should perhaps be the death-knell for their favourite piece of software too. Its central place in British graphic design for 20 years  is coming to an end.

At least there’s a glimmer of hope. It seems that Adobe has (finally) acknowledged that Illustrator could do with some of Freehand’s best bits (like multiple, different-sized pages in a document, and even simple old ‘paste-inside’). Perhaps they’ll send me a copy of cs4 and I’ll be a (slightly late) beta-tester? But in the meantime, I have a logo to do by this afternoon,
I think I’ll just knock out a few quick ideas in a programme I know well….

Michael Johnson is design director of johnsonbanks and editor of the johnson-banks Thought for the week blog

  • swissbird

    I, too, use Freehand, and have since 1988! That is, until last week when a client said “Why don’t you upgrade your Acrobat Reader?”. I did, and that was the END of being able to export my FH files as PDFs or TIFFs or anything else for sending drawings to clients. Yes, I have FH MX and Adobe Illustrator on another machine, and hate, hate, HATE those. I can’t even tell you how many FH programs I’ve PURCHASED, beginning with Aldus Freehand in 1988. I bought nearly all the upgrades over the years. It does seem as though every time I upgraded, there were changes that I disliked (for instance, instead of a quick copy from one document and pasting into another, there are now at least 4 extra clicks involved). I’ve just downloaded 10.0.1 update and that didn’t fix the problem.

  • colbull

    I would like to mention that 20 yrs ago I excitedly unpacked my first mac, assorted fonts and software (£12k), and within a couple of hours, using Freehand, I had produced my first paying job. Since that day I must have looked at the Freehand manual maybe a handful of times. Everything is so intuiative the manual is hardly needed. Indeed it took years before you could actually see what you were designing in illustrator everything being in outline mode!!!!

    For me, the difference between Illustrator and Freehand is Freehand could one way or another do everything required of it, illustrator couldn’t.

    If illustrator does introduce paste inside and multiple pages then maybe I will start to migrate to it more often, until then I will use it only as a bridging programme.

  • Joe

    There are many Freehand lovers in the U.S.!

  • I struggle with Illustrator. Can’t get anything done with it! Så I cheet and use my old FreeHand all the time.

  • I thought I was completely alone. I’m so happy. (Sniff!)

    Freehand rules.

  • Sefik

    I’m from Turkey and I love too much freehand as a design software…

  • metaline

    We’re diehard FH8 fans here. Began with Aldus FreeHand 1.1 about 19 yars ago. Got almost every upgrade and loved them all until MX. We have MX but we hate the Illustrator-like pallets, and we still love FH8. I don’t care if Adobe doesn’t want to develop FreeHand further – it’s almost perfect anyway, and we’re not looking for new developments! The only thing I want from them is to make it work under the current operating systems, and update the import filters so we can open files we receive.

    We’re being crippled by needing OS9 to run FH8, and when we switch to MX under OSX we have major font issues, import issues, export issues, and system crashes. Not good for a production environment.

    We have Illustrator CS2 on another machine and one of our younger staff is comfortable with that, but the rest of us are almost in mourning over the the possibility of leaving our beloved FH8 behind. Especially with 19 years of artwork that needs to be accessed.

    Maybe with CS4 allowing multiple pages we might grudgingly look in that direction. But if we have to make our move from FreeHand, it will be kicking and screaming all the way!

    And to those who think it’s a resistance to change – think again. We looked forward to each new version of FreeHand for years (until MX) and were more than willing to learn how to use the new features which were always well thought out and productive. It’s not about not wanting to try something new. We’ve seen how Illustrator does the things that Freehand does and we like the way FreeHand does it better. It’s called being efficient and productive.

    I’m thoroughly disgusted by Adobe’s stance on this.

  • I have eighteen years of archived projects in Freehand, and as a brand identity designer, I’m going gray(er) at the prospect of not being able to continue using my beloved Freehand and positively mortified to think that I will not be able to use my files for reprints/ revisions. C’mon you gods of software development, don’t you know how hard it is already to be profitable in this business without this kind of spanner in the works?

    Oh my,


  • Zoltan von Bujdoss

    Googling ‘Anyone still use Freehand?’ led me to this site. Oh what a relief I feel! I agree so much with all who have commented. Why fix something that isn’t broken? I feel an awkwardness about InDesign when tweeking text after converting to outlines. How do you draw a star in InDesign? Freehand is so dexterous! I will not, cannot let it go. Can we form a lobby/support group to protect this valued species? But above all, I am so glad I am not alone! I am still able to use Freehand MX with OS X 10.4.5 and write PDF files in Acrobat 7.

  • freda

    It is great to hear that so many people still support the use of Freehand.

    I am also resisting the move to Illustrator, although I originally trained in that programme (UK) worked in it for most of my career (AUS), and only moved to Freehand when I came to live in South Africa 5 years ago. I now prefer Freehand over Illustrator anyday. Adobe will have to fix so many things before Illustrator will have the same agility that Freehand has. Especially for us all round designers who have the need of a programme that can multi-task.


  • Resist, resist, resist…. someone will surely resurrect it…. Quark – its just wrong!

  • I used Freehand for the first 10 years of my career. Its increasing instability led me to begrudgingly switch to Adobe’s Ugly Child Of The CS Family – why are it’s line drawing and editing tools so awful? Photoshop’s path tool is simplicity itself by comparison.

    Reading this reminded me what it was like to work with an application that was so easy to use, intuitive and which allowed me to work how I wanted rather than making me work its (very odd) way. I really miss that fluidity, and keep an old copy of FH10 going for times when Illustrator just can’t do the job (click and drag perspective path transformations anyone?).

    I’ve been working with Illustrator for around 5 years and still mostly hate it – everything is a struggle. Click… Click… Just nudge that point… Oh… Not like that… Click… Not the whole path… That point… Click… Click… Oh it’s started a new path… etc… and don’t even get me started on ‘clipping masks’… Bah!

    another vision

  • Still using it everyday, happy to see I’m not alone.

    “I don’t use Illustrator because it usually has to go make a cup of tea and have smoke before it decides to turn up to work. Looking at the stats it’s no wonder. It sits on my desktop hogging almost 800MB of office/desktop space. If my Mac were an office block, Illustrator would take up an entire floor and have a dedicated elevator to Photoshop and InDesign on the floors above.”
    See full article here:

  • I, too, still use Freehand (I don’t mind MX at all; I’ve been using it since it came out). I even purchased the AI-CS3 a couple of hears ago, thinking that soon my FH program won’t be compatible with my vendors for much longer, but it still works just fine. I can’t understand why someone doesn’t just come out with a new upgrade to Freehand. Is it impossible/illagal to recreate the program? There are so many loyal folowers that as long as it still did everything it does now — but better and with better export and import features — they would make a mint! (that is the one place where FH is lacking; I have a hard time opening PDFs in it and memory problems when I import or export large files, even though my computer is huge). My biggest complaint with Illustrator (I do open PDFs in there, so it hasn’t been a complete waste of money — then I copy the art and paste it into Freehand) is that the vectors are so intertwined. I have to “ungroup” and “release mask” a bunch of times before I can get that one shape I need. A shaded box, which in Freehand is one item, suddenly becomes thousands of items in Illustrator. Each gradient becoming its own vector image. And what is with this “no multiple pages” junk??? I can set up a customer’s entire stationery order within one freehand file — several different page sizes, all where I can see them on the pasteboard. I love it! I am so angry with Adobe that they are being so ridiculous about Freehand. It’s a superior program and yet much more simple. I can create complex posters and simple logos. I can’t understand why they just don’t upgrade and sell both FH and AI. Or sell Freehand to some techie capable of upgrading it and getting it going again. I would buy it!!

  • Bora

    Freehand is still the most intuitive and the fastest vector editing software of all times..and it let’s you experiment easily way more than Adobe Illustrator.

  • Hello, Michael:

    I’m very pleased to find this thread. Thanks for keeping the flame burning.

    My name is Andy Markley… and I use FreeHand. I began using FreeHand on a Mac with its initial release in the late 1980s. I currently use FreeHand MX 11.0.2 (Build 92) on an Intel Mac running OSX 10.5.7.

    Adobe is determined to kill FreeHand… a sad, money-grubbing, corporate mistake. FreeHand is easily a better vector art program. It runs circles around Adobe Illustrator… always did, always will.

    Art, like morality and corporate profit, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

  • Dan

    I have to use Illustrator due to upgrades, but I have sorely missed Freehand. It was definitely more intuitive, and had features that are still lacking in Illustrator, like Freehand 3D rotate – i remember what it did, better than what it was called :)

    I’d love for Adobe to include those features and streamline the interface. I’d also like for Illustrator to handle pictures and multiple layers without me having to take a nap, jog around the block and wait some more.

  • Hernan Cortes

    I´m from Mexico, and my name is Hernánl and yes, I do still use Freehand, Is very easy to work in this software, tools like paste inside, aligne this objects, collect for uotput is to convenient, copy pages in the same file, text boxes, it’s to easy and fast trace vectors, you can do small magazines, anyway. I think than the important thing is what is happening in your brain, i mean, your ideas, what you are thinking. So Freehand let you desing very fast and very easy. I hope a new version could appera early. (aha!) (My english is to bad, sorry!)

  • Steve

    I’ve been trying to work in Illustrator for years, but I always go back to Freehand to get the real work done. With so many Freehand fans out there, why doesn’t someone buy the rights from Adobe? If they were to market the software again, I’d buy it!

  • Have used illustrator since v3.2, after inking on a drawing board, then had to use Freehand but got to like it. MAINLY the way the bezier pen is used.

    I have gone back to illustrator but too many options, not user friendly, no multipage option (plug-in), no paste inside. Freehand has got a few bugs but worksarounds are easy.

    Drawing beziers is much better with Freehand.
    For example, if I draw a line then a point and don’t like the point I press delete and continue drawing. If I do that in illustrator, I have to click on the last point again.

    Also, when pasting vectors from illustrator to flash 10 years ago, the shades were not correct. Yet my older version of freehand worked fine.

  • Roger

    I have a Mac running OS 10.5, Photoshop CS and Freehand 10. As any computer-based graphic artist knows, it’s not so much what version of the software you have, it’s what you can do with it, artistically, that matters most. I’m doing the same caliber work as many others, and yet I do not use the latest versions of my software.

    Which brings me to Freehand. I, too, still have my Aldus Freehand version 1 disks, from back in my Mac Plus years. I have always preferred Freehand, largely because of the text capabilities it had, years ahead of Illustrator. Years ago it’d become my tool of choice, for brochures, ads, you name it. If I’m working on a document over four pages I will use InDesign, but for anything under, it’s FH.

    I was very disappointed when Adobe acquired it and shut it down, and I continue to resist the pressure to switch to Illustrator. I know that I’ll eventually have to cave, but for now I will continue to use FH.

  • Yes… I read these comments and fully agree… by force of habit and long-term use, I also am a die-hard Freehand user and thus find Illustrator a continues pain in the ass… although I have to admit that Illustrator does have many, many brilliant and spectacularly useful aspects. But ultimately Illustrator is lacking the intuitive aspects of Freehand.

    In the mean time, Freehand has sadly become a very outdated and poorly piece of neglected software comparatively. And yet I too find my self working initially in old Freehand only to finally paste in to Illustrator in order to get the benefits of both.

    If only Adobe would combine the intuitive and oh-so-useful aspects of Freehand (CS4 perhaps?) to create a hybrid of the two, I’m sure the (design) world would awake to a brighter day each morning… well, at least I would!

    Although… reading my own comments back just now, perhaps we should just grow up, move with the times and un-learn old tricks to make room for new… Yeah, right!

    I WANT MY FREEHAND BACK!!!!! (but with the good bits of Illustrator for sure!)

  • It is still simple: Freehand for designers. Illustrator for technical work. Sadly Adobe still doesn’t get it. Until they do, I will keep Freehand alive somehow and get work done. Now if I could just get all the new fonts to work with it!

    Indesign seems to be pretty good stuff. Maybe Adobe could just add Freehand’s illustrative tools and path tools to Indesign, then we’d quite trying to use illustrator for design. Wow, wouldn’t that be sweet!?

  • Gerard Owmby

    According to this and other forums, almost everyone who doesn’t like Illustrator started out on Freehand and couldn’t adjust. That’s what they are used to. I started with Illustrator 88 and only tried Freehand recently. I found it far more difficult to use than Illustrator. So perhaps it’s just what you already know. Illustrator CS4 seems to have fixed everything else Freehanders liked.

  • I was asked by students what I use as a drawing programme now that Freehand was put out to greener pastures and I said, When I was forced to migrated to Illustrator, I was baffled at the amount of pen tools I had to switch to do a drawing besides 2 selection tools. Six in total! I immediately opened FontLab where I had only two, one pen and one selection tool to the same work with! With ultra high pression because it work in PostScript lines and gives me oblique guides and tools you can only dream of in Vector art programmes. Then copy and paste into Illustrator to complete the job to save a lot of frustration.

    I also miss the ease of adding multiple pages, paste inside and join.

    Jan Erasmus

  • I’m an illustrator & I still use FreeHand. I’m running FreeHand 11.02 on an Intel Mac with OS10.5.7, never have any problems with compatibility, never crashes. I also have CS 3 but still can’t get things done as quickly or as accurately in Illustrator as I can in FreeHand, so I use both. FreeHand to create in & any effects/gradients etc are done later in Illustrator, seems to keep my clients happy & have never had printing issues. I have just read that FreeHand won’t work in OS10.6 Snow Leopard update! Is this the beginning of the end?

  • andrea Rosellini

    FH’s able to work on Snow Leopard. Providing you choose to install Rosetta as well….

  • Barry Goyette

    I’m a photographer in the US who designs, and I have used Freehand since the Aldus days. I still find it amazing that Adobe couldn’t find a place to put freehand ( this is the third time they’ve owned the program…the previous two times they dumped it off only to see it continue as a competitor). What truly seems amazing is that most of us would be happy if they just left it alone…we’d pay for updates that merely allowed it to function well with the OS and with photoshop (hard to imaging the crashing of PS cs3 by freehand eps files was an accident on adobe’s part — if we all weren’t so old and feeble…I think there’s a class action in that one). They still haven’t caught Illustrator up to where freehand was when it was stranded 5 years ago, so they still have a viable product with an installed base of customers willing to pay for it, they don’t even need to print a box…just make it a download and charge my card…..please.

    It’s just bad business. But I guess bad business is good business when you have a monopoly.

    On the snow leopard thing, Mick….there seems to be some anecdotal evidence that freehand will work, but it take some jiggering to get it there.;jsessionid=1F39A7E777989269B033124D4DF50F0E.node0

  • I am also a long time Freehand user. My dirty little secret is that I use it for architectural drawings. It works like a triangle and “T” square and is amazingly accurate. i am surprised when I hear people talking about Illustrator being for technical drawing- you can’t draw to scale in it! In freehand you can draw to scale so accurately that you can have a scale drawing printed at life size and it is dead on. Illustrator lacks that so I can’t use it.

  • I could say a lot more about Freehand being good, and easy to use (I have run teams of folks and we had to train them up… FH-MX was a snap to get even non-designers trained on).

    But here’s one big fact: Just last week I published an update of my mobile design templates. We’re starting to switch to InDesign, but this was still drawn in FH-MX. So I posted it as a PDF, and the Freehand files. Hundreds of downloads… fully a quarter in Freehand. There IS a solid following still, hiding from the roving gangs of Illustrator fanbois.

    (If anyone wants to see the file, it’s at this post:


    It doesn’t need to be updated or advanced or changed or anything. It just needs to continue to be the amazing application it has been since the 1980’s. Adobe apparently thinks it is worthless, so they should be pleased to get money for something they’re not using. Illustrator and InDesign add extra steps to everything and are STILL not nearly as intuitive or easy to use as the 2004 version of FreeHand I’m using. Those apps just do not cut it.

    I am a design professional and I use FreeHand every single day. Of course, for print jobs I have to export everything to Illustrator then open and check it there so the printer can use the files. So annoying. Just update it already!

  • Chris Vane

    My name is Chris Vane.. and I use Freehand as well

  • Vitor

    I also use Freehand since 3.1! I love Freehand!

    I work with an Imac with Freehand Mx also have CS3 that i only use to open jobs.
    Illustrator as a lot of filters that a lot off postcript machines can’t print correctly. What was Adobe thinking?!! That people change expensive riping machines???

    I work in a Flexo (overprints, trappings, etc) environment and designers are using lots off illustrator filters that make my life a living hell because i can’t print them and i can’t export them to Freehand.

    There are a number off sites and one of them is trying to make a petition (, clients of Freehand should be more united.

  • Mikael G

    I have been using Freehand since 3.1. And I am still using it. Mostly FH10 on Tiger, but sometimes MX.

    I have tried Illustrator so many many times, but I still don’t get it. It is slow, akward, clumsy and frustrating. Freehand is so much better and much much faster.

    One of the funny things about Freehand is, that I continue to find new ways to things – and to survive in this Adobe CS environment. The other day I discovered thar I could export an entire website made in Freehand as PSD-files including all layers including layers for text. How great is that???

    And I have discovered a thousand ways to convert Ill. CS4, Ill. CS3, Indesign, PDf, Coreldraw etc. to Freehand MX.

    Cause Freehand is just and simple the best graphic program. PERIOD.

    Keep the program alive, and @Adobe: Wake up. Please.

    Mikael, Denmark

  • I have used Freehand since version 2. Then, Illustrator 88 only worked in outline mode, in Freehand you could work in preview mode. No contest. I now continue to use MX on OS X 10.5. It just works for me. I can’t beleive Adobe were not forced to sell it when they purchased Macromedia. Please lord of all things graphic, allow Freehand to keep working with Snow Leopard and beyond.


  • I’m hanging on too – but with the new macs and operating software it’s getting beyond F L A K E Y. The end is nigh I’m afraid.

    Getting to grips with Illustrator isn’t easy due to time constraints.

    All very annoying.

  • Hello FreeHand Community,

    It is great to see that there is still a love and passion for FreeHand! I too still would rather launch my old version of FreeHand before I launch Illustrator and sad to see it being neglected for all of these years.

    I would love to see FreeHand go open source and see what would happen with features and most importantly forward compatibility with future OS updates. Glad to have dodged, with some effort, the Snow Leopard incompatibility.

    Warm Regards,
    John J Nosal
    Former Sr. Support Engineer for FreeHand

  • Daniel Hoogendoorn

    Freehand users since version 3, made lots of straatmaps (still do) in Freehand. Recently tried to convert a map to CS3/4……..bummer to see I have to create my map almost from scratch and all the functions I’m missing too!
    Please let Freehand become open source!!

  • Okay. Here we are in the final stretch of 2009. This workstation runs Illy CS4 and the whole CS4 pile. But the money is made when running fast in FreeHand 11.02
    Illustrator is much better now, but still asks for too many sub-selectors and jumping around for colors. It is also so off putting to be asked repeatedly how you wish to save the file, and why can’t it remember to do EVERYTHING in 300 dpi CMYK only? FreeHand simply remembers how I like to work. So it goes that Freehand is the best tool in the box…period. Like many of you good people my use of FH goes back to version 5. Don’t get me wrong, I keep up to date on everything for the studio with software upgrades yearly to Dreamweaver, Fireworks, InDesign, Photoshop and Flash. But more than anything else, it would be grand to finally upgrade the trusty steed named FreeHand. Cheers, Jeffery

  • Hello FreeHand Friends.
    I am the initiator behind FREEFREEHAND, together with Jabez Palmer from Seattle, we want to start the biggest FreeHand community ever, to give FreeHand Users a voice Adobe can not ignore.

    Help us. Join


  • Teo

    Hi freehand fellows!

    this is Teo from Italy, I still use Freehand too and I’m very very happy to find so many people like me.
    two words over all: simple and fast.

    no frills.

    Love, Teo

  • Chris

    I am a graphics professional with 25 years experience and use Freehand often over Illustrator.

    Freehand simply does more, better, faster.

    Freehand is as intuative as the Mac OS while Illustrator is as large a mess as Windows.

  • I remain an unashamed user of Freehand. I can use Illustrator, but I find even the latest CS4 interface isn’t as good. Freehand remains a much easier program to use and always had better features, often removing the need for a program such as InDesign. I’ve designed and printed 98-page magazines in Freehand, I wouldn’t even attempt anything multipage in Illustrator without using InDesign alongside it: but why take two bottles into the shower?

    The only problem I’m now getting with old versions of Freehand is they don’t export gradients, overprints and greyscale objects to PDF properly. But there are ways around that and I’m used to dealing with minor issues so they don’t slow me down at all.

    I’d be amazed if Adobe released the code for Freehand, but it’s nice to see there is still a demand for the program.

  • Fritz

    I use Illustrator now out of necessity, but it routinely makes me want to put my fist through a wall. Good to see there’re other FH diehards out there.

  • Gerhard

    Freehand MX is a industry standard and will always be that.

    If Adobe is not brave enough to release the code they should develop it themselves and let us the users decide. Is that not how is should work in a free market system.

    Come Adobe to the right thing, show the users that you really have their needs in mind.

    Viva! Freehand ! Viva! from a South-African user

  • Illustcrapor

    [The clue is in the ordinariness of the names, Freehand and PageMaker, they just don’t say ‘professional’.]

    Ahh… yes… “Illustrator”… Such a word to mean pure technicism, professionality, and so…

    Adobe, who you think you’re dealing with?

    As what for me respects, I wont be upgrading OSX anymore in my daily machine. It works like a rocket since it came right out the box… I dont mind on nything else than getting the job done fine…
    So, here’s a point on Apple… they could negotiate whit Adobe, the same way they did with Premiere…

    ’nuff said…

  • paidinfull

    I always get to a point when this discussion arrives…

    How many of people using Freehand have purchased it?

    Just a thought… but probably it has some to do on the Adobe’s decision to discontinue FHMX.
    It is true (or -at least- it should) that most of renamed studios own a paid license, but…
    Let me at least have my point of doubt…


  • i hope that if freehand be freed from adobe that it will remain a free owner program. If you have ever used freehand and had to migrate to illustrator… its total hell. Drawing is not as fun as using freehand. Finally in CS4 they support multiple pages, but what an ordeal to set up…. nothing like illustrator. I have always thought that Softpress makers of Freeway a mac web design program try to buy freehand and that would compliment there offerings since Freeway works similar. One can only wish.

  • Vito Positano

    I guess one of the reasons why I use a vector program less and less and making do with Photoshop is because Illustrator seems clunky compared to Freehand. I hate the two or even more selection tools in Illustrator where Freehand had just one. Loved that elegance. WTF? Adobe should indeed free up Freehand. When will it do this?

    I am still waiting for the OSX version of Stryder’s TypeStyler. Release Typestyler too. *S*

  • Rand Careaga

    I’m a longtime Illustrator user myself–starting with v. 1 just about this time in 1987, when the product shipped on two 400K floppies–and it’s been at the core of my livelihood ever since. I’ve used every iteration since then with the exception of the first two “Creative Suites,” which had started to outrun the capabilities of a 1999 B&W G3-based system. After 22 years of daily use I’m comfortable with the software, and am probably not even aware of of those elements that strike longtime Freehand users as outrageous quirks and intolerable limitations. I also count myself fortunate to have come in, so to speak, at the beginning of the movie: I’d hate to imagine trying to master Illustrator CS4 from scratch today, particularly since the loathsome marketers and bean-counters who run Adobe today no longer see fit to include printed documentation with their products.

    I knew designers back in the day who were mad for FreeHand. I never used it myself, but I watched it in action over a few shoulders, and recall being impressed with some of its capabilities, particularly in text handling (you don’t wan’t to know what was involved in simulating text on a path in the early versions of AI, and you flat-out wouldn’t believe me if I told you what was involved for simple text entry in Illustrator 1). Having recently been obliged to began the transition from GoLive, which I’ve been using since before Adobe devoured it, to Dreamweaver, I think I can understand your pain, if not the acrimony (Illuscraptor? C’mon. Freehand may be the right tool for you, but that doesn’t mean Illustrator is wrong for its partisans).

    You know, FreeHand dodged Adobe’s bullet back in 1994 when Aldus was eaten up. Under terms of Aldus’ licensing agreement, publishing rights for Freehand reverted to Altsys, the original developer. Altsys was then acquired outight by Macromedia the following year and a decade later…you know the rest.

    Anyway, although I’m comfortable with AI, I would not wish on any designer a forced march from his accustomed bread-and-butter creative environment, and send best wishes for the success of the “Free FreeHand” movement. I think you might have a better chance were Adobe still being run by its founders, who were engineers and gentlemen, and not the aforementioned marketing vermin who’ll provide printed documentation for the “Creative Suite” only upon tender of an additional $250-$500 per package, depending on configuration.

    John Gruber nailed these guys four years ago.

  • Marcos Herasme

    In Dominican Republic freehand still rules. The illustrator way It’s to dificult.
    I wish the comback of freehand, if only with less bugs.

  • RealityChecker

    Freehand user’s collective voices were heard loud and clear as far as Macromedia was concerned, and that was too few upgrades to justify further development. PERIOD.
    If the program was such a hit AND you were all willing to upgrade, then Illustrator would have been killed instead. MONEY TALKS, BS WALKS.

    To the others saying Adobe should give away the code or allow others to develop it, there are two problems;
    1. Adobe does not own Freehand outright. In any complex and mature application, there are many elements or libraries (sometimes several thousand) that are licensed from third parties. Simply removing these would cripple the complete application.
    2. Adobe would be encouraging (read conflict of interest) the development of a competing application. I highly doubt the Adobe board of directors would unanimously pass this proposition.

    Go ahead and gather together as a group to make a change but be realistic; Adobe already has a challenge trying to find enough customers will to buy applications other than Photoshop and Acrobat, so thinking that they would invest millions of dollars and years of continued development to keep Freehand going is a pipe dream for sure. So fill that pipe with crack and inhale deeply ’cause Freehand is as dead as this thread!

  • Freehand really gives you the flow to experiment, it does everything except exporting into the adobe world… CS4 is making it easier to migrate but still i feel crippled in illustrator… adobe is evil!

    Want i want is a opensource freehand!!!
    or clone build upon freehand 8 with all needed updates in terms of funktionality…

  • Átila

    Adobe Illustrator CS4 is still years-light behind FreeHand. Ever tried to control the overprinting properties of an object? Or use Object Styles? It is a nightmare, with an insulting user interface. And if you finish with a document linking to a dozen or more hi-res photos, you’re stuck with exporting to PDF. No packaging to a service provider.
    In my book, that’s insanity.

  • I use Freehand everyday for almost 20 years. I had to buy Illustrator to share layered Illustrator files with another designer, but I friggin hate it.

    It still runs even on Snow Leopard, but barely.

    Damn you Adobe!


  • Avon Xzavia

    I don’t care what anyone says Illustrator is a memory hogging dumb piece of CRAP ! and massively over priced to boot…

    I create mostly architectural roughs and visuals in something that gets the job done Today Not next week… …FREEHAND…

    I refuse to give 1 cent more to ADOBE. unless they relinquish Freehand …And perhaps admit the truth.. that is was the embarrassment that Freehand being So much Better than illustrator caused them over the years that led to them slowly and maliciously asphyxiate it…

    Also for the Americans amongst us, What rhymes with: RealityChecker ?

    P _ _ _ _ r

  • Danielle Robb

    I started my Maclife using PageMaker and Illustrator, back in 1985. In 1990 I discovered an unopened Freehand program at work (there was an overactive purchasing department) and during a quiet afternoon unwrapped it and tried the tutorial. I didn’t really get it, so I went through it again. BOING!! Lightbulbs flashed! Freehand could do on its own what I had needed both of the others to do together. Illustrator 88 was consigned to the shelf. PageMaker languished unused in the applications folder. I never went back, and when I started my own studio in 1996, I purchased my very own Freehand and upgraded excitedly every time, up to 11.0.2. I use only Freehand and Photoshop, to this day. I can’t go back to Illustrator now. I won’t.

    And as for RealityChecker’s comments (above), who says we didn’t want upgrades???
    How can it be a conflict of interest for Adobe to continue Freehand AND Illustrator? Surely it’s better to have 2 products instead of 1? And it doesn’t require millions of dollars to be developed – it’s already BEEN developed.

  • Arthur Achatus

    I don`t read all the comments before.

    Freehand was and is the best vektor-draw and illustration program for me.
    It is clearly and not so overload as Illustrator. Nevertheless it owns the full range of functions.

    Really, it would be great – Freehand as opensource. I hope it`s possible!!!


  • Cecilia Gabatel

    My name is Cecilia, and I’m a FH10 fan!!! Luv it luv it! I use it everyday and I’ve never complained about it.

    I’ve just joined FREEFREEHAND.ORG….. We are not alone!

  • t elder

    The (almost) loss of Freehand is indeed lamented in the US. I, for instance, have been a devoted Freehand user since the late 80’s. There are so many reasons to recommend Freehand, but my favorite is that in Freehand, you could lay out almost any project in just one file.

    Here’s something to ponder. I work at a large university and we regularly have interns from the graphic design program. All the kids are able to buy Adobe products (through a campus license) for virtually nothing. They are all Adobe converts consequently. (Sucks for them since we also use Quark – but that’s another story.) I can’t remember the last time a new intern listed Illustrator as one of the programs they “know” best. The reason is obvious – Illustrator is a marginal program at best. Time was you could practically survive as a designer using Freehand alone. I guess I’ll just have to pine away for the good ole days…

  • M Morrow

    There is no justifiable reason for Freehand to be dumped as a legitimate tool of the trade. Its redundancy was obviously a forced one. The possible reasons would be that Adobe has decided to concentrate application developments that lean more toward what are seen as “cutting-edge” (and often fleeting) design trends as opposed to sustaining software utilities with long-term and practical applications in the mainstay areas of print and publication.

    I’ve road-tested Illustrator 4 in the hope that Adobe would have seen the light and integrated the key features of Freehand that AI has repeatedly lacked. I was disappointed.

    I see no logical reason NOT to improve Illustrator to the point that it emulates Freehand, and yet Adobe seems determined to punish those areas of the design industry that have an absolute dependence on the type of precise and perceptive vector tools that Freehand has always provided.

    I have always had Freehand and I have always had the Adobe applications. I love Photoshop, I’m reasonably happy with InDesign (despite its annoying resistance to retro-compatibiliy!), but I rarely use Illustrator, and then only grudgingly. It’s clunky – always has been, and it seems it always will be.

    Long live Freehand.

  • John deBoer

    Freehand is a sportscar compare to Illustrators Fancy Decked out bus.
    From the first time you try to select something to the last scream of frustration as you bail out, Illustrator sucks.

    Why doesn’t Adobe release the code of, or sell, Freehand rather than squatting on it?
    They’re squatting on an entire user base and breeding a lot of bad feeling in the industry they now monopolise.

    The bus is in no way ready to replace the sports car.

  • Anthony

    Like it or hate it, there are still fans of Freehand nationally and internationally. Some of them (like myself) drank the coolaid and did the whole “Freehand to Illustrator” migration only to find the current Adobe offering lacking in many core features. There are numerous users out there that long for the conveniences of not having to choose a color space when they start working on a file, want one contextual object pane to edit properties of an object, appreciate the elegance of paste inside, multiple pages, as well as many other features. The list could go on and on but this isn’t about the features.

    Adobe’s astroturf campaign of systematically converting the Freehand “heathens” has always smacked of arrogance and lack of customer focused leadership. It’s the equivilant to “Your revolution is over, Freehand users. Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a real vector drawing application, sir. The bums will always lose.” My apologies for the blatant Big Lebowski ripoff, but you get my point. Any forced conversion is going to have a backlash. Astroturf is an apt description as it is the antethesis of a true grass roots effort in which people (we as customers), choose what is best for us and aren’t being force fed something we feel is inferior. By allowing Freehand to rot on the vine as Adobe has chosen to do, they are succeeding in their business goal of killing off the competition. The problem is that there are people out there who care deeply about their application and just want it to live. As a company, Adobe is losing the battle on the ground if you treat your customers this way. They are alienating the same people they are trying to convert.

    I’ve spoken to some of the creators of Freehand, who have told me personally that Macromedia had stopped development on Freehand before it was sold to Adobe. My response to this is why not release it to the public then? People still enjoy the product. Adobe needs to do itself a favor and generate some good will for crying out loud. After the recent news that they’re not supporting CS3 in Snow Leopard and forcing people to upgrade to CS4 to get support, they could use some positive PR. But again, I digress. It isn’t about Adobe’s status with Freehand users. To us, they’ve already alienated us by not actively listening to what the community wanted. Sure they talked a good game, put some blogs up like John Nack’s etc., but all we heard was a defense of their decisions. Bottom line was, they were going in a direction already and it didn’t really matter much what supporters wanted.

    The best that Freehand users can hope for at this point is that Adobe release the product and allow a community of open source developers work on it. Chances are, they won’t do that though. After all, this is business. We’re just passionate users. Even after 5 years of development inactivity, lack of intel support and maintenance updates, the application still has it’s place in many a designer’s workflow today.

    Maybe that is why Adobe covets Freehands users. Unfortunately, Adobe has yet to learn that you can’t force someone to love you just because you want them to. And as we all know, if you love someone you must set them free.

    Free Freehand. We don’t belong where we’re not wanted.

  • mart

    i’m a 20 year long user of freehand. without echoing everything that’s been posted above, i just wanted to put in a few personal thoughts on this program. it’s not like i haven’t tried to use illustrator. i’ve had every version of illustrator over the years installed on at least one machine in the office, but anytime i tried to use it i just lost my mind and ran screaming back to FH. i pick up apps very easily, so it’s not like i’m interface-challenged… it’s just that AI SUCKS to use. it’s really just horrible. i am overjoyed to know there are so many others out there like me. i always felt like a loser admitting to people that i loved the FH/PageMaker combo when everyone else seemed to use ILL/Quark. I felt vindicated finally when Quark stumbled and PM turned in the vastly superior InDesign. Photoshop also goes from strength to strength. so why can’t the adobe people see how purely crap AI is and give us what we want.

    bring on an opensource freehand! viva la FH!

  • The reason I became a designer is due to the ease of Freehand. Back in 95 when I bought my first Mac, it was already loaded by the original owner and with a quick introduction I began churning out designs. Apparently they were not half bad because the guy who sold me the computer offered my a job with his new design company and we became partners.
    My favorite tool by far is the Align tool!!! I love balance and nothing is better. Also resizing an object was simplistic. Grab any of the points, hold shift and… Illustrator sucked at that for most of its existence. What about working with multiple layers. Being able to send an element to the back or one layer down is priceless. Change the view to Keyline and being able to zoom into the most miniscule detail made it friggin awesome. Come on yall, take two objects and either group, intersect, punch, divide, union. And the keystrokes were the bomb too. I made my living of of this beautiful software and produced 36 page magazines, calendars, t-shirt designs and many many other designs that I am still proud of after 14 years of graphic design.
    I primarily use a bootleg version of Photoshop CS1 but I happily bought my MX. My entire approach to design in CS1 is based on my experience with FH and when I get stuck and want something to be dead on precise, I load FH and get it done and import it back into CS1. A matter of fact, if I am setting up a 4-up design to be printed by one of my small scale printers, I import a jpeg of my design and create a quick template with custom cut lines.
    I tell you what, Apple should consider buying FH to destroy Ai, like their Final Cut did to Premiere. One of you guys has Jobs on speed dial, lets make this happen.

    Love all of you loyalist out there. Viva La FH!!!

  • Chris

    i’m a professional Freehand user since 10 years and have several years detailed experience in
    Illustrator as well.
    i can only say: in no way Illustrator is able to replace Freehand.

    why? i only give you some of the countless points:

    – multiple artboards don’t replace the multiple pages of Freehand, because
    the numbers cannot be changed afterwards – a desaster for multiple page projects,
    to change them in the PDF.

    – the FH import feature is complete crap; almost all (CE/Cyrillic/Greek/Zapf Dingbats) kind of Fonts
    will be destroyed after converting them to outlines when importing to Illustrator
    (but Adobe claims to keep the layout correct when importing), that’s definitely NOT true

    – although some claim the opposite, it is fact that it is much easier to ‘paste inside’ instead using masks;
    why is easy to explain.
    In FH, you just had to select the object you wanted to paste into and then to paste in – done!
    in Illustrator you first have to 1. create a form 2. fill it with a color 3. put it over the object to trim 4. select both, the mask and the object to trim
    what a joke! and what if the object you want to trim is only slightly bigger then the mask?
    handling will become difficult.

    – the drawing tools in freehand are much more intuitive/easy

    – illustrator is extremely slow

    – illustrator is extremely unstable

    – illustrator creates heavy files

    – you cannot get embedded pictures/files out of the file

    – the texteditor of Illustator is complete crap

    – selecting complex Objects is much more difficult than in Freehand, and you cannot click
    through the layers

    – the clipping masks have a major bug – in many complex layouts, resetting the mask will cause a damage of the complete layout – i have sent several files to adobe, months later they admitted the bugs, but never solved them! the same with the font desaster when importing freehand files !

    – you don’t have the ability of “soft separation” in texts – another very bad fact that causes many errors in printed projects.

    – even within it’s own range, adobe creates a desaster. different shortcuts fom illustrator to indesign,
    you cannot copy paste between illu and indesign.

    i could fill a book with those errors.
    i won’t give up freehand
    Disrespect, Adobe!

  • Marc Morrow

    I’ve been using Freehand since 1993 alongside Photoshop, Illustrator and (due to pressure from outsourced printers) later migrated from Quark Xpress to InDesign 2 when it was released.

    My objective analysis is that Photoshop was and is Adobe’s flagship product, and deservedly so. InDesign is fine, but had (has) few benefits over Quark Xpress other than the promise of full compatibility with other Adobe programs (a promise yet to be fulfilled, by the way, and the fact that it is deliberately programmed to be incompatible with its superceded versions is a very cynical and somewhat sinister ploy on the part of Adobe).

    Illustrator, however, continues to be a poor imitation of the application that defined a benchmark for user-friendly and intuitive vector programs. It is hard to believe that after all this time, Illustrator’s programmers have still not managed to cater to as diverse a range of commercial applications as Freehand does.

    The loss of Freehand is not so much felt in the areas of the design industry to which Adobe caters (new and emerging commercial applications), but it is a loss felt strongly in the long-established and permanent areas of the industry that will always have a need for the unrestricted creativity and flexible press-method adaptability that Freehand has always provided.

    Those who see Freehand as an “old-timer’s application” with no relevance to contemporary design have no doubt only ever used Illustrator, and have never (or hardly) roadtested Freehand’s virtues.

    Like any long-time PC devotee who starts playing a MAC – Once they’ve lived with it for a while, they’d never willingly go back.

  • DeeJay

    I happen to be casually acquainted with the gentleman behind the original development of Freehand. My understanding is that when the ownership of FH was first sold, he retained the right to “recapture” the product should it be discontinued by the purchaser. I believe he has already exercised this option once (which is the reason it went to Macromedia), but I don’t know if he still retains that right, nor if he would still be interested in regaining ownership of the product.

    Based on this, it’s not a forgone conclusion that Freehand will die, provided the recapture provision is still in effect and this person wants (and is able) to keep it alive.

  • paolo degl’innocenti

    Ma puo una societa mettere in vendita un software come Freehand negli anni far apprezzare dalle persone il programma e poi chiuderlo da un giorno all’altro mettendo in seria difficolta il lavoro di tante persone.
    Non è giusto.
    Magari potevano continuare a sviluppare Freehand facendolo ancor più compatibile con Illustrator, non credo che avrebbero perso clienti, ma tutt’altro.

  • I am a die hard FreeHand user. I have Illustrator CS4 on the same machine and I use it for simple type set and as a tool to get documents to production folks in a way their system requires- that’s it.
    If actual design work is to be performed, I do it in FreeHand. There’s just no comparison.
    1) Use FreeHand to design
    2) Export as an Illustrator 7.x document
    3) Open in Illustrator
    4) Save as PDF
    Thank you Adobe for a $600.00 translation tool…

    The most puzzling aspect of Illustrator’s pathetic capabilities and lack of intuitiveness is this product comes from the same company that authors Photo Shop which is a wonderful pieces of software. How does a company that can do that allow Illustrator to be published? Well, I have a theory- Illustrator’s code writers are NOT in fact employed by Adobe. Illustrator is actually written and maintained by Microsoft code writers. Think about it…. it’s as if the designers of the world woke up one day and found out that the Mac OS was dead and all they had left was Windows. It’ll make you lose sleep.

    By the way, ( I’m probably going to reveal my lack of AI experience here so let me know if I’m wrong on these ) why stop at Paste Inside? Why not Clone ( gee, what a novel idea ), how about Duplicate, how ’bout Find and Replace ( color ), the list is pretty endless.

    Lastly, there’s not one of us that is really that committed to FreeHand. What you and I are committed to is a basic-human-INSTINCT: PAIN AVOIDANCE. That all. Not the software. You gotta make money to survive and you can’t do it with a piece of software that make a job that should take 30 minutes take an hour and a half to do.

  • Bert

    @ Buck Wade: Use Illustrator to save in PDF? I do it with Freehand 10 itself, including fonts. The thing is you must use the OS X print as PDF function for it instead of Freehands own PDF export. That way all fonts embed into the PDF nicely too.

  • Alex

    I am a FreeHand user since 3.1 (Aldus, of course). I still use it to get things done. By far, Freehand has a better type management, in fact, if you want, you can even create book with text box linked. Illustrator can´t. Adobe would say “well, use InDesign!”. Of course, can else can they say. But in this new Illustrator era, I have to admit I am using it now, not as well as FH, but there I go. You cannot keep isolated. Yes, we all do work on FH but more and more people is using AI, and you need to work with that too.

    What I don´t like about AI is the amount of memory it takes to run. Feels sometimes heavier than Photoshop!. FreeHand… light, quite light.
    I use AI when I want to use wow effects, which FH lacks. And, finally, despite I am a big fan of FH, the truth is that its Color management is very bad. So hard to really calibrate. If there something FH needs from Adobe, is their Color engine management.
    I will use FH as long as the MacOs can do it 😉

  • I set up a Mac studio in the mid eighties — goodbye drawing table, goodbye rub on lettering, hello FreeHand. Like others, I barely needed the manual to learn it, but I still wondered why it didn’t do some “traditional” things. I called the phone number provided and got the fellow in Richardson,Texas who had written the program! When the next version came out, some of my inquiries had been addressed and implemented. Through all its upgrades (well, maybe not FreeHand 7) it had just gotten better. That is over now. I am so sad. I still work in it as I watch it approaching a slow, painful, death.

    Oh yes, I bought AI at the same time — I tried to use it. I hated the drawing tools. I still loathe them. Alex is correct about the high end special effects and color management. Still, FreeHand remains so much more intuitive, it is difficult not to at least start a project in it. But, at the moment, with PDF’s so suspect out of FH, and service bureaus no longer supporting it, finishing the work in AI seems the only prudent thing to do.

    Almost all of my FreeHand files are multi-page documents. AI has tried to incorporate that feature. Without going on and on about how lame their implementation of this feature is in comparison, one problem I have is that the AI files are huge.

    “Just convert and/or open your FH files in AI” — JOKE! JOKE! JOKE!

    So, I am not only sad, I am angry.

  • Hello Volks,

    see my wörx I created with Freehand!!!!!!!!!!!

    Freehand is the only answer!

    Michael from Germany

  • mark fraser

    It is so frustrating! I want to start using illustrator fully, but like most freehand users migrating to illustrator is just too painful. I just can’t bring myself to leave freehand and all the brilliant little features it offers behind. I just can’t put myself through the torture of having to use a program that oppresses my creativity, speed & efficiency as a graphic designer…
    why can’t adobe just get it right? After all they know how freehand works & what makes it a far superior, less restrictive design tool.
    If adobe introduced the following features to future versions of illustrator life would be fantastic, life would be wonderful… I love what I do, I love being a graphic designer…this could all change soon if adobe don’t do something quick!

    • The most important feature of all is the PASTE INSIDE feature! PLEASE adobe introduce this feature to cs5 and you will probably find 99% of freehand users consider migrating. The way PASTE INSIDE works is far superior to that of clipping masks…being able to PASTE ELEMENTS INSIDE of other shapes which actually retain their appearance is truly a brilliant feature that must someday be adopted by illustrator.

    • Secondly…when an object or objects are grouped, why can’t the visual way it appears when selected change? In freehand this is done simply by changing many points or a text box into 4 simple points, one in each corner…why should we have to read whether something is grouped or not?

    • Thirdly…SELECTING objects is a very longwinded process in illustrator…if I have many elements on my page and only want to select one or two of these with my marquee…then why does it select everything that it touches (ie page borders, and other objects away from the one you actually want)…It seems I spend half my time de-selecting the things we don’t want selected!

    • Fourthly…SELECTING THROUGH OBJECTS…another fantastic feature freehand offers!…by simply holding down the CONTROL KEY selecting invisible objects or text behind other objects or text is done with the click of your mouse…

    and last but not least…some of the other little things that would be brilliant if introduced into illustrator…drawing and changing the appearance of simple things like stars…being able to visually determine how an object is going to look or how many sides it is going to have before you actually draw is very useful…and then being able to alter it’s appearance once drawn is even better…also on a path could be a lot better…

    even one or two of the above features especially PASTE INSIDE would make for a far superior version of ILLUSTRATOR…AND MANY, MANY MORE FREEHAND USERS MIGRATING…

  • Carl Thomas

    Ask any cartographer, FreeHand is the tool of choice, still!

  • Avon Xzavia

    My comment is short and sweet… Boycott Adobe !!!

    I said it in another forum, i will not give those shysters 1 cent more.

    Until or unless they change their pig headed position, OR pass the Ball !

    Adobe, ARE WRONG PERIOD ! and all the Illustrator proponents are clearly masochists ( i have been forced to use it many times so I do know it, and
    it SUCKS !):

    masochist: An individual who gains gratification from pain, deprivation, degradation, etc., inflicted or imposed on oneself, either as a result of one’s own actions or the actions of others, (Adobe) esp. the tendency to seek this form of gratification.

    …OK not so short, Sorry, but I really HATE Adobe !!!

  • caspar

    Save FreeHand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • caspar

    Save FreeHand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Darren Campeau

    I use Freehand….sense my vibe!

  • Living in Canada and using Freehand since version 2. MX still works in OS X (10.5.6) with all problems mentioned in this long thread, but IT WORKS.

  • Always like FreeHand best. I went from Illustrator 1.0 to FreeHand and loved it for years, I wasn’t crazy about the MX upgrades, in my mind FreeHand 8-9 were the best. I am now forced to use Illustrator now (which I don’t hate), it just should be made easier to use. The simple act of selecting a point in a complex drawing can be mind blowing, it should be a simple click as it was in FreeHand. Text on a path – a thing of beauty in FreeHand… ah the good old days.

  • Always like FreeHand best. I went from Illustrator 1.0 to FreeHand and loved it for years, I wasn’t crazy about the MX upgrades, in my mind FreeHand 8-9 were the best. I am now forced to use Illustrator now (which I don’t hate), it just should be made easier to use. The simple act of selecting a point in a complex drawing can be mind blowing, it should be a simple click as it was in FreeHand. Text on a path – a thing of beauty in FreeHand… ah the good old days.

  • Kerry Abramowitz

    I use Freehand MX on OS X 10.5. Have done for many years. Yes, one has to convert type to paths before exporting as PDF. But there are so many other great, easy-to-use features that make it impossible to give Freehand up. Have tried AI, but really do not feel ‘comfortable’ with it. So I continue to use Freehand . . . and hopefully will not be forced to stop. I live in South Africa and I’m delighted and amazed to find so many people from all over the world who feel the same way as I do about Freehand. Long live Freehand!!!!!!!

  • Does anybody else think what’s needed is for Apple to buy the IPR for Freehand from Adobe and bring out their own version? Can anybody think of anyone else who’d have the clout AND the talent to pull it off? I can see it now:
    – 2010: Apple HandFree Pro 1.0
    – 2015: Adobe announces record revenues from Flash. Total revenue from all other products: five figures.
    – 2018: Adobe announces name change to Flash, Inc. Snarky bloggers add “In The Pan” en masse.

  • rick healey

    Freehand smokes illustrator in many areas, despite the extra level of complication that Adobe like to apply to it at every CS version upgrade. Indeed, the more they add to CS, the more they fall away from the quick and simple nature of Freehhand and its elegant simplicity. Just one example…

    If I have a few different vector objects on top of one another and I want to select the one at the bottom despite it being completely overlapped by other objects… which of the following is quicker?…

    A: select each individual object above the item (sometimes many) and lock each one. Then, after you have manipulated the target object you still have to go back and unlock them

    B: Have a simple key combination that when held allows the user to “click through” all the objects in turn almost instantly

    Illustrator is over-complicated and has far too many pallets and sub-pallets that the majority of users would never need anyway. It is also slow, buggy and one hell of a hog on processor power and RAM, awkward to quite garbage..

  • I use Freehand for my creative process. Because it is a speed champ, I can create ideas “on the fly” or produce a myriad of options on logos, mastheads, type design, web mockups, covers, etc. From there, I can pull the artwork into Illustrator for enhancing with special effects or finalizing to PDF.

    The point is, Freehand CAN exist with Illustrator and be a benefit to both. Adobe should recognize that it’s not about one replacing the other for this is only breeding the frustration and ill-will I see here and on many other forums, blogs and websites. I too was hurt when Adobe announced Freehand was discontinued years ago and so I learned Illustrator. But I see it’s weaknesses and now I am an activist for upgrading Freehand!

    I hope that all who have contributed to these comments have gone to the Free Freehand website:

    I also urge you to contact your friends and mates who own, use or converted to Illustrator CS3-4 to go to

    It’s worth it.

  • John Auckland

    I soooo share the views of other Freehand users published here, having used it for over 20 years. Freehand is absolutely core to our business. Always has been. Like a few other programs I can think of – Photoshop, Graphic Convertor etc I cannot see the business functioning efficiently without Freehand. I use it every day. As I am now past the half century, I am beginning to wonder if I can make it to the end of my career without having to get overly involved in that pesky Illustrator.

  • Marc Morrow

    Here’s an example of ILLUSTRATOR’s clumsiness in the real world…

    Many lasercutting and contour-plotting presses require all stroke elements of a vector image to be converted to extended fill. This was a simple process in FREEHAND, but an absolute pain in ILLUSTRATOR.

    Here’s the procedure as I’ve written it for our design crew, outlining the procedure in both programs:


    Firstly, turn the vector object’s stroke and fill to BLACK, then do the following:


    1) Select the TRACE tool from the palette.
    2) Trace a marquee over the entire object.



    1) Select the vector object
    2) Go to OBJECT/RASTERISE (Choose COLOR MODEL: Greyscale).
    3) Click OK.
    5) Ungroup the object
    7) Select the outer marquee strokes and delete (there will be several broken segments)
    8) Select all other strokes one at a time and DELETE (as there will be multiple overlaid strokes. These must be removed before compound paths can be made)
    9) Shift/Select the collective strokes of each element in the object that has transparent sections (e.g: “donut” objects such as “O”s,”A”s and “b”s), then go to OBJECT/COMPOUND PATH/MAKE.
    10) Once all elements have been made into compound paths, select the whole object and GROUP.

    Finally done.

  • number8

    @ Mark
    There’s plenty of other things that Freehand can do a lot quicker than Illustrator. thanks for pointing out another !

    Also, has this blog about Freehand been the most popular one for CR or what? Come on… it must be!

  • pansottin

    Apple Freehand XII would be nice :-)

  • I’m another long time FreeHand and Quark user.
    I made the switch to InDesign after resisting for ages, and now would be reluctant to switch back.
    However, the thing I find most ironic, is that InDesign feels more like FreeHand to me than Illustrator. InDesign, like FreeHand, has a simple keyboard shortcut for selecting down through a stack of objects, and also supports ‘paste inside/into’ – although not as flexible as FreeHand. Grouped objects behave as one would expect. The layer panel is just that, not a bloated object manager. Even InDesigns pen tool feels better than Illustrators.
    For rudimentary vector work I find myself using InDesign (rather than waiting 5 minutes for Illustrator to launch). For more complex projects I’d love to be able to use a fully functioning, OSX native version of FreeHand.

  • mark fraser

    since my last post I have thought about the prospect of adobe continuing to make illustrator more & more like freehand…(maybe I was wrong to request or even think this), after all they have already been trying to do this for years now and are still no further forward in succeeding or solving the fundamental problems that make illustrator such a painful and inefficient application to work with…
    it’s quite simple…there is no solution to this other than redevelopment of freehand itself!



    If you can’t do that then at least give us some HONEST answers and your reasons for not doing so…

    I simply cannot understand why you ADOBE won’t listen to the many numbers of designers still using freehand.
    you have been trying to convert us and make it harder for us to use freehand for years now, and still we decide to use freehand…does this not tell you something about how strongly we as freehand users feel towards this magnificent product?

    You have isolated a large section of designers around the world by trying to force them into using a program that quite simply isn’t good enough yet! the design world would be a much happier place if it were illustrator that had been stopped in it’s prime and freehand had been allowed to grow!

    Believe me, and I think I speak for tens of thousands of fellow designers! illustrator is just not good enough for those of us who like to work creatively and efficiently! so why should we start crawling again…when we had already learned how to run!



    loyal freehand user,

  • I’m another long time FreeHand and Quark user.
    I made the switch to InDesign after resisting for ages, and now would be reluctant to switch back.
    However, the thing I find most ironic, is that InDesign feels more like FreeHand to me than Illustrator. InDesign, like FreeHand, has a simple keyboard shortcut for selecting down through a stack of objects, and also supports ‘paste inside/into’ – although not as flexible as FreeHand. Grouped objects behave as one would expect. The layer panel is just that, not a bloated object manager. Even InDesigns pen tool feels better than Illustrators.
    For rudimentary vector work I find myself using InDesign (rather than waiting 5 minutes for Illustrator to launch). For more complex projects I’d love to be able to use a fully functioning, OSX native version of FreeHand.

  • mark fraser

    since my last post I have thought about the prospect of adobe continuing to make illustrator more & more like freehand…(maybe I was wrong to request or even think this), after all they have already been trying to do this for years now and are still no further forward in succeeding or solving the fundamental problems that make illustrator such a painful and inefficient application to work with…
    it’s quite simple…there is no solution to this other than redevelopment of freehand itself!



    If you can’t do that then at least give us some HONEST answers and your reasons for not doing so…

    I simply cannot understand why you ADOBE won’t listen to the many numbers of designers still using freehand.
    you have been trying to convert us and make it harder for us to use freehand for years now, and still we decide to use freehand…does this not tell you something about how strongly we as freehand users feel towards this magnificent product?

    You have isolated a large section of designers around the world by trying to force them into using a program that quite simply isn’t good enough yet! the design world would be a much happier place if it were illustrator that had been stopped in it’s prime and freehand had been allowed to grow!

    Believe me, and I think I speak for tens of thousands of fellow designers! illustrator is just not good enough for those of us who like to work creatively and efficiently! so why should we start crawling again…when we had already learned how to run!



    loyal freehand user,

  • Nat Harris

    The doomsday bell is tolling …

    By necessity, I was obliged to purchase a new MAC G5 which came bundled with Snow Leopard (OS 10.6.1).

    Tragedy: FREEHAND won’t run!

    Does anyone know a fix to this, or am I doomed to spend the rest of my working days deselecting and reselecting points and guides and objects for the sake of shifting a single element a few millimetres this way or that?

    My last holdout is my Macbook Pro – still on OS 10.4.11. Looks like I’ll be holding onto that for dear life!

  • For the benefit of all those who have commented on this Freehand Anonymous article (written back on February 2009); there is a previous version with earlier comments not shown here; many well-written and insightful thoughts:

    So, besides the 96 comments on this page, there are 66 more comments at the link above.
    As a previous poster said, this has to be one of the most popular CR blogs!

  • Marc Morrow

    On that previous forum, one poster said:

    “According to this and other forums, almost everyone who doesn’t like Illustrator started out on Freehand and couldn’t adjust. That’s what they are used to. I started with Illustrator 88 and only tried Freehand recently. I found it far more difficult to use than Illustrator. So perhaps it’s just what you already know. Illustrator CS4 seems to have fixed everything else Freehanders liked.”

    Sorry, I have to disagree. I’ve run Illustrator and Freehand parallel to each other since ’95. Freehand is superior in execution time due to far less steps required in many of the tasks that both programs are designed to handle. Freehand also has remained more compatible for export to Photoshop and InDesign (go figure!) without the need to tweak document settings prior to exporting, and also more compatible with our studio printers. I’ve run the trial of CS4 and for me at least, Illustrator still has not satisfactorily emulated Freehand enough to warrant the upgrade to CS4 or the surrender of my Freehand licence.

    Illustrator is essentially a work-around program. That is, it “works around” a problem it can’t resolve. Freehand just fixes the problem, full stop!

    …And just for the record, we’re in Australia. So it’s not just Europe that’s a fan of Freehand.

  • mark fraser

    Hi Marc,

    couldn’t agree more! it’s not that we can’t get used to illustrator…it’s cos we don’t want to…after all why should we MAKE DO with a program that is not a patch freehand in terms of speed, efficiency & creative freedom! I don’t think illustrator users understand that all the new features adobe are introducing to TRY and make cs4 better, are all features lifted directly from freehand anyway…i.e. editable gradients, multiple pages, and editable appearance panel…(and they can’t even get those right most of the time)…

    if illustrator is ever going to be a viable alternative to freehand then it is going to take adobe (at the rate they are trying to transform illustrator into freehand now), roughly 5 new versions of illustrator to even vaguely catch up…of course this is what adobe will take time over deliberately. otherwise if adobe achieve their ultimate goal overnight (which is to make illustrator as good as freehand) why would anyone buy illustrator upgrades in the future?

    truth is, it’s going to take years for us real freehand users to even contemplate the switch to illustrator and be happy with it…simply because it’s just not good enough yet!



  • I have used Freehand since the days of Aldus (was that really twenty years ago?). I mainly use it for drawing the artwork required for flags – all the UK’s master flag artwork is in Freehand format! Freehand’s intuitive boolean functions, built-in stars, and the ease of altering a path to follow the edges of a scanned image that is being used as a template all make Freehand an easy winner in the Illustrator/Freehand competition. I also have Illustrator CS4 (CS3, CS2, CS, etc) which I use to read files sent to me and convert into Illustrator 8 so I can open them in Freehand and to open my final Freehand files so that I can create EPS files that will play nicely with the rest of the world.

    What I really want is an Intel version of Freehand that will take full advantage of the new Snow Leopard iMac Quad-core that I want to buy to replace my ageing dual G5 Power Mac.

    I’ve just joined to support their efforts to get Adobe to do something about this.

  • Save Freehand. Sign-up now:


  • Alex

    I’ve joined Free FreeHand org!

  • Freehand beats all the Adobe programs where it has the same features. FH is simpler, easier and just plain superior to Adobe Illustrator (any version).

    I have no trouble creating PDFs with FH as some mentioned. I’m working with MAC OS 10.5.8. After some debugging FH now works perfectly in Leopard (see When I ran it in Tiger there was never any trouble.


  • John

    for all you freehand lovers

  • hi , my name is Kemal , and I am from Turkey
    in Turkey , there is a great number of designers using freehand, (more than illustrator and corel)
    we are very (terribly) unhappy to migrate to ill.

    give our freehand back !

  • Whatever

    I began my graphic designer career in 1999, learning FH and Photoshop.
    For me, vector drawing was a totally new discover, which I really liked. After a few years of hard practicing, I can say that I could master most of FH’s useful features through its intuitive interface.

    I loved its flexibility: apart from bitmap images, I could make all the graphic elements from the very same program: no need to bounce back and forth from the layout app to the drawing one.

    Now… I still use it! Version 11.0.2 keeps working in Snow Leopard, even if with some problems. The bad side is the unreliable pdf export function.
    I rely on InDesign for it, but I still prefer good ol’ Fh to the clumsy and bloated Illustrator for all the vector elements I have to make.

  • FJ van Rensburg

    I had no idea! I moved over to Illustrator a few years back, but only now realize how much i miss Freehand.
    I crave designing something in Freehand so much right now!

    Thank you!

  • Nat

    In a nutshell:

    FREEHAND is that nice simple sable brush that allows creative flourishes with a flick of the wrist.

    ILLUSTRATOR is that bank-counter pen on a short chain.

  • Adobe will only take my freehand copy from my cold dead hands (even if that means not upgrading my computer again)

  • Jerald Small

    Adobe is the reason I haven’t bought a Drawing package since they took over Freehand If I have to deal with a crappy drawing package it won’t be their’s, I’ll buy some other piece of crap and learn to use it.

  • A lot of Freehand Users are thinking that Apple should by Freehand. I think that Apple should by the hole ADOBE. They would have the money anyway…

  • FreeFreeHand
  • Ron Heath

    I’ve designed in Freehand for years. Freehand MX has been working marvelously on my PowerMac G4. Lightening fast very easy. Very elegant. Just bought an IMac all in one with Snow Leopard. It seems I can’t bring my MX into this system. I’ve used Illustrator and have found as a business, that there is no use for the program. It is slow and needlessly complicated. Even if you could charge the client for the clumsy way this program operates, you’d probably jump out a window due to frustration. If there are any Mac pros out there who can tell me how to get MX into Snow Leopard, I’d be in your debt. Otherwise, I’m seriously thinking of bringing this beautiful Mac Bac.

  • Installing Adobe FreeHandMX on Snow Leopard:

  • Gordon G

    Can any individual or company just re-do a Freehand-a-like software? any ex-micromedia emplyees?

    APPLE should write a piece of software like that. please lobby Apple to do one.

    i hate indesign! FXXK!! who in the fucking world design page UNDER another page? we want to lay it all out on the same table, u stupid ADOBE!!!

  • Wendi Dunlap

    Former Aldus employee here who was on the FreeHand support team in 1990-1991. I actually started on Illustrator before I started using FreeHand, back in the earliest Illustrator days. Then FreeHand came around, and it was so much better that I switched and never looked back, and soon managed to get a job at Aldus, too. (I still think PageMaker was better than Quark in many ways — don’t even get me started on that one.)

    Anyway, I’m glad to see that people still love FreeHand. My dream is a proper OS X Intel-native FreeHand with all the modern bells and whistles but still FreeHand and not some bastardized Adobe creation.

  • @Wendi Dunlap
    I still use ALDUS Freehand 3 and consider it the best vector program ever made. It’s a sad state of affairs when Illustrator can’t do things in 2010 that i was able to do in FH3 in 1991!
    I think that Macromedia development didn’t help much the brilliant program and was one of the causes of its demise. Likewise, I dream of a proper Intel native Freehand vector tool . I wonder if some former Aldus developers would be interested in such an enterprise under an independent developer. (or Apple coming to the rescue)

  • Mark W.

    Well, I must say, I didn’t have a chance to read ALL of the posts because I’ve got so much work backed up from having to use Illustrator and Indesign instead of the ONE slick and streamlined program I’ve been used to for the last 18 years. Freehand was the shit. . . Pagemaker and Illustrator in one damn program.

    I’ve been using AI and ID for about a year now and noticed that, for a company that forced used into this crap, converting from Freehand files could have less issues with TIF files shifting around and color swatches and handling being somewhat unpredictable.

    Now, to be fair, the only saving grace is that Adobe had the foresight to take a few pages from Macromedia’s playbook and add decent type tools and multipage capability; because I want to continue to work in ONE program. And, I must say, the trace tools are a bit better in AI.

    On another note: those who say you have to do all page layout in Pagemaker or InDesign and only graphics in Illustrator can bite me. I came into a shop and doubled their speed with Freehand replacing someone bouncing back and forth from one clunky program to another (AI and Quark) At that time, Ai didn’t even have a glimmer of Freehand’s capability.

    I’m AM a former Freehand User and, yes, I’m still a little pissed.

  • Nat

    Oh god, I’m at my wit’s end. Can someone please tell me if Illustrator is capable of changing one swatch colour to another swatch colour in a single move like Freehand, and automatically changing all the relevent elements of a graphic accordingly? Surely there’s a way to do this…?

    At the moment I’m ADDING a colour to the swatch, then trying to select all individual elements of that old colour to click-change to the new colour. That can’t be how Illustrator expects us to do it, surely???

    Please help, guys! My new MAC won’t let me open Freehand, and I have a big job to edit.

  • joana

    I’m not ashamed to say this:

    I’m a designer and I use freehand.

  • Used FreeHand MX since it came out for designing faceplates on desktop communications equipment, and later began using it for digital design for relief (Letterpress) dies. I am happy to report that so far the largest die providers still take FH11 files. And, of course, all the commentary posted here over the last year regarding the innate intuitiveness I can confirm as well. FreeHand is an excellent example of Economy of Motion. It’s hard to give up something you feel so absolutely confident with.

    To be fair, one thing I do like about Illustrator CS4 is it’s LiveTrace feature. I do a lot of .jpg to vector conversions and have been using other venues, but LiveTrace tops them all. And I have discovered that unlike the FH8, FH10, Illistrator 10 and CS2 days, Illustrator will communicate with FreeHand via .pdf. I tried making the two handshake for years with .eps, only to find they don’t do it without confusion. But so far, I’ve been able to do my vector conversions from Illustrator’s LiveTrace, save it as a .pdf file, and happily import it into FreeHand MX for the editing that I can only do on FreeHand . . . not Illustrator.

    I hasten to add that the Cairo pdf file generated by the shareware vector programme InkScape also does a good handshake with FreeHand, and has a surprisingly nice vector engine, actually on par with Vector Magic.

  • Almost everyday we have to think how to acheive something in Illustrator that was second nature and intuitive in freehand. We still use it and it still knocks the socks off CS4. Is this the future for grey designers? Are we destined to forever hark on about the good old days when computers transformed our creativity and opened up new possiblities instead of closing them down?

    I loved it when Apple loved us.. now they are turning into phone dealers.

  • ken Walker


    In illustrator click on the colour in your graphic you want to replace – then go to menu bar – click select – same fill colour (or whatever), that will select all elements of that colour – then replace with new colour in your swatch. Easy really.

  • roger

    All these posts almost warrant a facebook group!!! I’m a die hard freehand fan. I’ll only use illustrator to colour up jobs. i am always transporting back to do tricky illustration jobs. One tool does it all!!!!

    Yes others may frown and look down, but i don’t care i’ll be finished hours before you are!!

  • Craig

    They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our Freehand…

  • Hannah

    My name is Hannah and I’m a freehand user. It’s all I’ve known and I’m actually a young-un! – my art school must have been the last in the country to still be on freehand, and strangely/luckily the agency I went to work at after was freehand too. So I’ve just not had reason to get to grips with AI…and now reading all your comments about how perfect FH is in comparison, I don’t want to! [wail wail].

  • Weef

    This is great news, I don’t feel so old fashioned and more. I did my apprenticeship with Aldus Freehand 3 when mobile phones were the size of breeze blocks and have never looked back. I’ve tried to get on with illustrator but hate that you can’t simple paste an object inside an object.

  • Hi, My name is Joe and I’m a Freehand user and hope I will always be. I started using Freehand back in 1988
    on my Mac Plus when I started my screenprinting shop and have used it ever since. I have tried to use
    Illustrator many times but have always gone back to Freehand. I hope one day Adobe will wake up and start
    to upgrade the program or sell it to a company that will. I still hate Adobe for killing Pagemaker but thats another story.

  • jon

    Hi, My name is Jon and Im a Freehand user. I try and try like Joe and many others to do the things I need to in illustrator but always give up because freehand is just so mush easier, can’t Adobe just copy every function into illustrator that isn’t already there? They own the rights now. I use freehand to create vinyl cutpaths a lot faster than if I was using freehand – even my vinyl cutter likes Freehand better, the curves are smoother!

  • David

    Hi, My name is David and I am a Freehand User, I use it for everything, the AI users can’t understand how i do my work, they are amazed when they see it, cuz they cannot do what I do with their CS4, I really wish and hope that something be done to save FH. I know it’s probably too late but as an artist being forced to use one dumb software is like being told to just use one kind of paintbrush. a very un-inspiring form of creativity.

  • I’ve been doing a twelve page magazine for fifteen years in Freehand. Where on earth I’m going to do it if Freehand is discontinued? Plus printers in Chile works only with Freehand due to a compatibility with the Pantone? We want Freehand updated as soon as possible, if not, at least, provide an everlasting platform for it!!! Like Windows 7, 8, 9, 10, etc.

  • Mike

    I used to love Freehand, both on Mac and PC, and now I have to use Illustrator it’s been like moving from InDesign back to Quark! By this I mean Illustrator and Quark are both clunky, primitive programs with poor user interfaces which have mysteriously become “industry standads”. Good grief, even Corel is easier to draw beziers in than Illustrator!

  • Carlos Greene

    I have been using FreeHand since 1989.
    I still use FreeHand 10, AND Illustrator CS4.
    And I can tell you, no matter what, FreeHand IS WAY BETTER than Illustrator for TECHNICAL DRAWING. Illustrator is such a pain for precise, technical line drawings. I do a lot of package design. Drawing mechanicals for packages, boxes and sorts is easier, faster, and much more accurate than illustrator. Illustrator just doesn’t snap the same way. The snap to point option in FreeHand is beautiful. By comparison, Illustrator’s Smart Guides is confusing and you end up wasting time making thing click together.
    Illustrator is great for, well, illustration work. FreeHand is still an indispensable tool. Try drawing a floor plan in Illustrator, it just doesn’t work the same.

  • DrBobPhD

    I started using both Illustrator & Freehand on my brand new Mac Plus lo these many years and several careers ago. When my first wife and business partner split, I chose to keep Freehand and she got Illustrator. Through working as a University researcher, and now as a physics teacher, I still use Freehand whenever I want to create graphics.
    Question: IS THERE A LEGAL ISSUE HERE? By buying the competing program and then sitting on it rather than either upgrading it or selling it to someone else who will (you still out there Altsys?), Adobe is causing economic harm to designers and artists who have literally decades of work done in Freehand. What would it take to do what the former Freehand engineer, above, suggested – to make Freehand open-source?

  • Harald Krähe

    As a cartographer in Germany I use FreeHand (on Mac) for almoust 20 years, and many other cartographers too. FreeHand seems to be the most suitable software for our purpose, whereas Illustrator (I don’t know it well) seems to be too complicated. The best versions of FreeHand are 7 and 8, whereas versions 10 and MX cause trouble sometimes (by example graphic elements do not return to their layers when they have been copied inside and cut out again, but all go to the current drawing layer; bad display of text; often can’t open old FreeHand 8 files; very strange style format definition in MX).
    Of course, even FreeHand is not perfect and sometimes let us dream of a better cartographic software without bugs. So I wish that somehow Adobe or anyone else could lead FreeHand 8 to a better version which works together well with MacOS X.6 and further coming versions and with Adobe Acrobat, and which wouldn’t destroy files anymore.
    And – by the way: Give us back our FrameMaker as well!

    Harald Krähe

  • Paul Mosley

    I started my career on Freehand, and couldn’t get my head around IIllustrator at all – but then I moved to new design agency that didn’t use Freehand. I was forced to embrace Illustrator, and now I’m not sure I could even remember how to use Freehand.

    But I still miss some of the Freehand functions – Multiple pages! Of different sizes! Of course, I learnt to work with Illustrator and learn the workarounds to annoying quirks of the program, and now it’s second nature.

    Change hurts sometimes, but really in this environment, its adapt or die I’m afraid…

  • dip

    What I don’t get from all that FH / AI blunder is why nobody uses a VM for this? Install an old unpatched WIN- or Apple-OS and use your old FH-tard for as long as you wish. No matter what hardware you use (or OS for that matter).

  • My copy is still ‘just’ working and I use it whenever I need to produce something without thinking too much about the process.

    Especially love the 3d perspective tool.

    Illustrator is not intuitive to my mind

  • Hello FreeHand users at Creative Review-

    As founders of the Free FreeHand Organization, we want you to know that FreeHand MX can have a future, even in light of the arrival of Adobe CS5. Since Free FreeHand’s inception last Fall, our research with design pros, former FH programmers, and anonymous sources has given us a clear picture of the solution that has greatest benefit for Adobe and for FreeHand. It’s Open Source and it has the highest chance of succeeding with Adobe. Here is why:

    If you’re not aware of Adobe management, the man in charge of Adobe’s Creative Business Unit (i.e. Creative Suite CS5) is V.P. John Loiacono. He joined Adobe in 2006 after the Macromedia merger and he oversees FreeHand MX along with the rest of the Creative Suite applications. John came directly from Sun Microsystems which is VERY significant because he was the guy that helped to open-source the Solaris operating system. Not to mention that Sun’s StarOffice is directly linked to OpenOffice and NeoOffice for Mac; both of which are open source. Do a search of his name and “open source” together and notice what pops up.

    Back in 2007, John wrote an Adobe blog post that showed his affinity for open source and the Adobe business model of “integration” that would prevent it. His blog seemed relevant at the time but today, Adobe is trying to keep up with fast moving trends and seems desperate not to be seen as a dinosaur (like with Flash?) While he accepts the Adobe model of integration, he also says of open source,
    “I come from a company that believes strongly in open source . . . in the right circumstances, I absolutely believe in the model.” and he adds, “ … open source software can be a perfect solution. It’s just not right for everything. Or for everyone – like many creative professionals who are on deadline and prefer to innovate vs. integrate.”
    Note that “innovate” refers to open source and “integrate” refers to Adobe’s business model; an interesting distinction. There is more and we suggest reading his blog yourself:

    John Loiacono could be an important key to open up Adobe for testing the open source model and what better program than with FreeHand MX. With an Adobe “sponsored,” open-source FreeHand, they can still protect the FreeHand patents they need for Flash/Fireworks/Illustrator and yet have the innovation that comes from the open-source community. Because Adobe can’t kill FreeHand outright (FTC regulations) they can pull it out of it’s hibernation and put it to good use to test open source. In fact, the Free FreeHand’s MISSION STATEMENT has listed these added benefits for Adobe’s acceptance of an open source FreeHand:

    • Innovations and new approaches to vector programming
    • New features for Adobe Illustrator and InDesign
    • Aura of goodwill and reaching out to customers
    • Direct competition with other open-source apps (Inkscape, Scribus)
    • Creating a new business model for this decade
    • Customer base using both FreeHand and Illustrator
    • Avoiding customer dissatisfaction and activism
    • Alleviate piracy of Illustrator and InDesign
    • Attract new customers from open-source FreeHand to the Creative Suite.

    What does Adobe have to lose? …. Nothing! …. even Illustrator has finally won over the market share of vector artists AND become the industry standard. There is no direct competition remaining. FreeHand can be released from bondage to serve both it’s user base and Adobe’s need for innovation. Open source isn’t simply about free usage of FreeHand MX; it’s a test bed for ideas and features, and for seeking trends in user habits. It’s a give-and-take communication between users and programmers that creates quick development results.

    In short order, the Free FreeHand Organization will be contacting Adobe management with its full Mission Statement and request for negotiations. With that, we want your full and active support to make an impact for an open source FreeHand or, at the very least, to sell it off to another Developer since it’s unlikely that it will ever be considered for the CS lineup. We will need every single one of your signatures and your comments! If you haven’t signed up at do so now and get on the mailing list for your marching orders.

    The enthusiasm and many comments in this CR article are encouraging for FreeHand to have a strong chance for it’s future …if we shout loudly for it.


    The Free FreeHand founders:
    Bez Palmer
    Thü Hürlimann
    Mark Gelotte

  • Wow! What a relief! 😀
    I wondered how many designer still loved FH… and we are LOTS!

    I always loved FH, and always hated AI.
    Recently I even took a course about AI and, well… it has some good points. Nice effects.
    All in all is a powerful program… but with a hideous interface!!!

    So, long live FH! :-)

  • Martin Hanson

    I’m only an amateur, but have used FreeHand since 1990 and find it immeasurably easier to use than Illustrator. In fact, though I have struggled with Illustrator CS3, I’ve made virtually no progress, and do all my illustrations in FH. If I need to send to a publisher, I simply import into Illustrator.
    What really irks me is the cynical, total lack of loyalty to the FH customers. Having secured a near monopoly, Adobe increased their price. Well, I have news for Adobe. Though I have CS3, I will NEVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, upgrade. In fact, if a rival product became available that had all the virtues of FH, I’d be prepared to pay double Adobe’s price – just to spite them. I hope that gives an indication of the venom I feel towards them. Looked at a different way, in the long run, corporations that know the price of everything and the value of nothing, don’t survive. Adobe certainly don’t deserve to, and I look forward to their extinction.

  • Why don’t they [Adobe] simply redesign the Illustrator interface, make it less technical and make users more happy? What have they got to lose, really?

  • Raul

    There’s nothing else to say. I still work with Freehand, draw everything I need and then export the complete design to Illustrator (for re-exporting options, generally). A very ineffective (and unnecessary) process. We need it back, with some lesser improvements. That’s all.

  • me too, still working with freehand much easier than in illustrator, much more control on everything.

  • love freehand, joined the freehand party in 1990. Mainly use CS3 suite now (upgrading to CS5 today) but am still am hooked to the way Freehand works.


  • Martin Hanson

    I will NEVER, repeat NEVER, purchase Illustrator until they stop treating FreeHand users with contempt. If a new software package that was as good as FreeHand emerged to compete with Illustrator, I’d willingly pay DOUBLE the price of the latest Illustrator, JUST TO SPITE THEM. I hope that indicates just how poisonous my feelings are to Adobe, who know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

  • I am a Screen Printer from Australia, I like many started with Illustrator 88 & was so baffled by it I enquired at an Art Design college if they taught Illustrator, Heavens no! they said we use FreeHand when enq
    uireing about a course in FreeHand, they gave me a copy & told me to stay up all night till i’d learnt it, I went to bed at 2am knowing everything about Freehand, I dumped the horrible Illustrator & have been a FreeHand user ever since. I’ve tried different versions of Illustrator since & now have CS3, which was to replace the now almost dead FreeHand, it’s as bad as that 1st version & probably worse, the only thing good i can find is it’s ability to concert pixel files to vector although I would have preferred to have still use an improved Streamline, but Adobe just dumped that too forcing users to use Illustrator.

    The really important FreeHand features for me are the “Insert path” which we use to choke white underbases, The brilliant “Find and Replace” which enables us to simply change colours in files created badly by others. Multiple pages of different sizes, different screen rulings to objects, the Simplistic brilliant colour palette, name all colours & Auto spread when printing. I could go on & on.

    I cannot believe that Adobe just ignores all the thousands of FreeHand users, maybe the Mighty Apple can put some pressure on them as I’m sure Apple is losing computer sales to FreeHand users forced to still use older computers.

  • Jeff

    What’s worse then dumping Freehand is their lack of support to just download the updates. I have a couple marketing people who have licences for Freehand MX. I’ve called Adobe multiple times and had little success being able to at least get them to Freehand MX 10.0.2 so they can have a stable version to run under. Adobe hates Freehand and is trying to do whatever they can to make it die. I know they won the war, but at least provide a way to update from the original CD to the most stable version. The phone number they have on their website is worse then calling the cable company about an issue!

  • Hello everybody…
    check out the copy below…
    this is how ADOBE describe FREEHAND on THEIR website…pretty amazing eh!

    This poses the question to me, why not practice what you preach adobe! why don’t you take a leaf out of your own (or macromedia’s) book?… unbelievable!
    I just find it hilarious how adobe can describe freehand on their website so perfectly and so true to life, i.e brilliant!, but then try to kill it a slow painful death at the same time…


    FreeHand MX at a glance

    The creative design solution for print, Internet, and Adobe Flash
    Realize your creative vision with an unparalleled set of creative design tools. ONLY FreeHand® MX has everything you need to move seamlessly from concept through design, production, and publishing in a streamlined graphics environment — all while working with a single document. Use FreeHand MX for storyboarding, creative design, multipage document production, and editing. Whether you’re designing for print, the Internet, or Adobe® Flash®, you can repurpose your FreeHand MX projects across multiple mediums quickly and efficiently.
    Quickly go from concept to design and publishing in print, Internet, and Flash projects. FreeHand MX provides a streamlined, easy-to-learn graphics environment for designing illustrations, organizing information, laying out storyboards, and developing click-through presentations.
    Enhance productivity with a highly customizable workspace. The Object panel eliminates the need to move between multiple panels to inspect and change object, text, and style properties. Tools panel organization and a streamlined workflow make FreeHand MX easy to learn and use.
    Quickly organize and map navigation, content, components, and data flows. Drag and drop to build persistent relationships between objects — while providing complete editability of stroke styles — with the Connector Lines tool. Achieve maximum editability and reduce production and revision times using master pages and backgrounds, Symbol libraries of data types and navigation components, and the graphics-based Find & Replace panel.
    Produce immersive presentations and click-throughs for proof-of-concept proposals and client approvals. Drag and drop interactivity between objects and pages with the Action tool. Assign ActionScript™ commands in the easy-to-use Navigation panel. Quickly publish to SWF format for easy distribution.
    Rapidly create and edit visually rich designs and illustrations that provide maximum impact. FreeHand MX includes a powerful and flexible set of vector-based tools for designing print layouts, animations in Flash, or application interfaces.
    Layer complex visual appearances on individual vector objects. With multiple attributes you can apply and organize an unlimited number of strokes, fills, and effects on a single object, from a single panel — eliminating the need to keep up with and edit multiple copies of an object for the same visual appearance.
    Easily build rich graphical components for ads, interface objects, and attention-grabbing headlines. Apply path manipulation effects such as bend and transform while maintaining editability of the original shape with live vector effects. Provide high-resolution, realistic appearances — such as drop shadow and bevel — with live raster effects. Create 3D appearances with the Extrude tool.
    Quickly reshape graphic primitives while maintaining editability. Round rectangle corners, turn ovals into arcs, and change the number of points on stars — all within the workspace.

    I wonder how long it is before adobe change the description of freehand on their website??


    mark f

  • Mark


    “The growing battle between Apple and Adobe and the possibilities of extended lawsuits between the two companies has re-invigorated a 5,000-strong group of graphic designers in their fight against Adobe and its shelving of the popular FreeHand vector illustration program.
    Free FreeHand is a growing group of designers who have banded together to try to protect the software they use for their livelihood, FreeHand, from extinction due to Adobe’s tactics. FreeHand is a rival to Adobe Illustrator, but has been owned by Adobe since 2005, and has not been updated since.
    With Adobe’s CS5 just released and millions of Illustrator users, why does Adobe care to suppress FreeHand? A niche user audience of an estimated 20- or 30,000 designers should not be of concern to a corporation like Adobe,” group spokesperson Christine Stepherson told PC Advisor.”—Read more at:

  • Pete

    I, too, loved Freehand. Being “forced” to use Illustrator, well, OK — maybe I don’t know it as well. But how many arrow and pen tools does it take to draw something? I could do it all with one or two in FH. Colors are a pain in the ass (loading libraries and such) and a simple change to a color in the swatch list often doesn’t have the desired effect of changing the color globally (oh yeah, and the “Global” button…).

    I know InDesign very well, yet Illustrator doesn’t even use similar shortcuts or apply the pen tools in the same way. The overall integration and consistency is terrible. And this is progress? Take the best Illustrator user you know, and the best FH user. Sit them down and have them design stuff like logos, or trace stuff. See who is more productive. It won’t be the Illustrator user. I guarantee it.

    Illustrator is a dog.

  • Dan Olsen

    Adding to the Freehand Memorial Wall…. I began using Freehand in the mid 90’s in South Africa and continued after moving to the States. I LOVE and understand Freehand. I tried to learn Illustrator but didn’t get it. It was painful. And now after a 5 or so year lapse away from graphic design I have returned to combine my new trade (Arborist) with my grapic skills. Unfortunately I am discovering that I can’t run Freehand on the $1700 Imac I just purchased. Adobe would get my $ for a Freehand upgrade. PLEASE!!! I have work to do!

  • Phil

    I’m running Freehand MX under snow Leaopard. I get constant ribbing from my work colleagues who are using In-Design, Illustrator and Quark. Freehand could still be a major contender to all th above if someone would just take and develop it!…sure it’s not perfect, but what software is. It just does what it’s meant to do without over complicatying things….long live Freehand

  • mg

    I started making maps in Corel Draw in the mid-90’s, then picked up illustrator 8. Didn’t feel that passionate about either one. My first real job as a cartographer in 2001 my boss introduced me to FH9. I immediately became a convert and learnt the software inside out. FH had a great community back then. I would always test out new versions of illustrator to see what had improved or changed but it never improved enough to warrant switching. That is until Adobe bought Macromedia and announced it would stop development of FH. At that point I was using FHMX sporadically but mostly going back to FH9 as MX was quite unstable on my PC. I started using Illustrator again with the CS version because I saw the writing on the wall. I did not want to end up with an archive of files that would someday become useless. I miss many things about FH. For one thing its pen tool was far superior. My cartography work involves going from PS to Illustrator alot, and that is one thing FH never did well. Illustrator is better integrated with photoshop and getting files that stay registered and don’t shift colors when going from one to the other is a real advantage in my work. Reading some of these posts as made me miss many of FH ‘s better features but overall I’m glad I made the change many years ago as I don’t think about it now and I’ve just adjusted to working with the tools that are being updated. It’s too bad FH never got a chance to migrate to intel macs or be developed by a committed company. Macromedia never really cared about FH.

  • Open Letter to Adobe

    I started the profession of graphic designer in 1977 but I was born as a digital graphic designer with Aldus Freehand in 1990. I don’t remember if it was the version 1 or 2. Compared to FreeHand, Illustrator was unintuitive and complicated. One could only draw in keyline mode and the preview of the illustration was just a preview and one couldn’t intervened directly on the path in this mode of view. It didn’t color the tiff file – black&white (1 bit tff) or in shades of gray (gray tiff) – which Freehand could. It forced the graphic artist to color them in Photoshop and import them already colored in CMYK. This meant that the overall dimensions of the TIFF were dramatically increased in size especially those with a “high resolution”. The already cumbersome images were also not attached but embedded in the files which created Illustrator files of gigantic proportions for the hardware capability of computers available at that time. To help understand the situation better at that time, I had a Macintosh at the top of the range, a 32MHZ (normal computers had 8 or 16 MHZ) with 8 megabytes of RAM (normal computers had 2-4) and 160 megabytes of hard disk (the normal computer had 20-40). You can easly understand that with the files created by and for Illustrator the resources of the computer would soon be insufficient. Illustrator did not have layers. It managed only small blocks of test. There was no way to create more than one page at a time. In fact, it still doesn’t. Moreover Illustrator did not recognize the Quickdraw language of the operating system used to print a draft. To be able to see a color or b&w proof it required specific expensive devices. Illustrator was, as a result, complicated, opulent, redundant and costly.

    Therefore I am grateful and fond of Freehand because it was the intuitive alternative that freed my creativity from the commercial cage that software houses, like Adobe, had already imposed.

    Adobe wants to kill a program that has helped thousands of graphic designers around the world to grow and has produced many beautiful artistic results. Not only this, it was Freehand which forced Adobe to improve Illustrator and over the years it included some features of Freehand but not its ease of use or the ability to manage the layout (a function deliberately left to Indesign, software born after Adobe’s acquisition of Aldus Pagemaker).

    Adobe in this way is only feeding growing resentment in the graphic designer community who grew up with Freehand.

    Adobe’s commercial coercion can force us to buy Illustrator but Adobe will never have my respect until they abandon this destructive monopolistic policy which limits and kills artistic freedom. Above all this narrow-minded marketing strategy doesn’t do it honor. This is not a behaviour of an enterprise which – with the invention of postscript – gave a fundamental, I could even say revolutionary, boost not only to the progress of technology but also to society as a whole.

    I therefore ask Adobe to respect the community of graphic designers, while using much of its software, want to continue to be able to express our artistic inspiration with Freehand. By virtue of this I request to Adobe to resume the development of Freehand keeping its original philosophy of simplicity and intuitiveness leaving unaltered its characteristic of multiuse program. If the company plans make this impossible, leave at least its development to others.

    And I hope too that many other designer will join in this prayer.


    Emo Risaliti

  • Martin

    Me too.

    I have ageing versions of both Freehand and Illustrator. I would upgrade Freehand if it was going anywhere. Illustrator I only use to open other people’s Illustrator files. I never could create anything in it to save my life. It destroys my self-confidence. Yep, I read the “how to” books ‘n all that.

    Adobe? Let them rot. So much for the “free market” promoting customer choice and competition. Stinks.

  • Steven

    I fought the law and the law won.

    I even forced my CD to buy me my own personal copy of Freehand MX right after he hired me years ago. But eventually I was succumbed to the Adobe Underverse.

  • I still use FreeHand on my Mac (Snow Leopard). A lot. I couldn’t do what I do in any other product.

  • Rejoindre absolument cette organisation !! :

  • Jean-Yves

    FREEHAND doit survivre…

    Un logiciel est sur le point de disparaître… cela paraît banal… mais cʼest un vrai outil de
    travail que lʼon va supprimer à de nombreux graphistes à travers le monde.

    Pourquoi va-t-il disparaître ? non-pas parce quʼil est obsolète mais parce quʼune grande
    société lʼa acheté, lʼa absorbé, ne le met plus à jour depuis trois ans et va le supprimer pour garder
    son propre logiciel sans véritable concurrence en face de lui.

    Une communauté sʼest formée pour soutenir FreeHand voici le lien :

    Mon témoignage est celui dʼune petite PME de 25 personnes, spécialisée dans la création
    et lʼimpression dʼétiquettes de vin et autres spiritueux. Nous travaillons dans FreeHand depuis
    1989 et grâce en partie à lui nous avons toujours pu lier créativité, réactivité et production.

    Ce qui est spécifique à notre style dʼimprimerie est le côté complexe de lʼimpression dʼune
    étiquette : papiers haut de gamme, impressions à chaud, vernis gonflant, découpes spéciales,
    sérigraphies et ceci sur des machines qui souvent gèrent 6 à 12 groupes dʼimpression en ligne.

    La gestion des fichiers en amont est tout aussi complexe quant au travail sur les
    surimpressions, les engraissés, les impositions, les formes de découpes spéciales, les
    anamorphoses étc… En bref nous gérons tout cela, de la tablette graphique jusquʼau flashage,
    dans un seul et même logiciel : FreeHand.

    Une autre spécificité dʼune imprimerie dʼétiquettes (et non des moindres) est le côté
    renouvelable de ce produit, cʼest à dire que nous faisons appel en permanence à des fichiers
    réalisés il y a un an, cinq ans ou vingt ans… que vont devenir tout ces fichiers ? Le transfert dans
    le logiciel concurrent est une vraie catastrophe. Il faudra les reprendre à chaque fois. Nous avons
    donc investi dans une formation de huit jours pour passer de FreeHand à cet autre logiciel, ou
    plutôt devrais-je dire à ces autres logiciels, car il en faut trois pour arriver à peine à la cheville de
    FreeHand. Même notre formateur en a été conscient de la difficulté et à beaucoup souffert pour
    monter une étiquette, choisie parmi les plus simples à réaliser.

    Le but nʼest pas de comparer FreeHand à son concurrent direct, mais plutôt de dire que les
    utilisateurs doivent être libres de choisir le logiciel qui leur convient le mieux pour sʼy sentir à lʼaise
    et pour réaliser le meilleur travail et que la concurrence entre logiciels a toujours fait progresser la

    Nous continuons a utiliser FreeHand actuellement, mais pour combien de temps?
    Tôt ou tard une mise à jour du système de notre ordinateur bloquera le fonctionnement de notre
    logiciel favori.

    En conclusion, ceux qui parmi vous se reconnaissent dans ce que je viens de décrire sont
    invités à mener une action, même minime, pour la survie de FreeHand. Le meilleur geste est
    certainement celui de souscrire à la Newsletter de Freefreehand et de faire passer le message,
    ceci, afin de maintenir les mises à jour de ce logiciel pour quʼil reste opérationnel dans un
    environnement informatique en évolution permanente. Ou alors, autre solution, libérer le code
    FreeHand pour en faire un logiciel libre.

    Même si vous nʼêtes pas, ou nʼêtes plus, utilisateur de FreeHand, merci dʼavance.

  • Allan Moverley

    I design alot of brochures for the property market and am constantly drawing detailed maps and site plans. Have used freehand since the early 90’s and always revert back to using it over the clunky Illustrator. If someone were to bring fh back i’d be the first in line to buy it. Its not just me neither, the other guys I work with would still choose fh anyday.

    its the same designing logos. Give me freehand anyday!!!

  • franterse

    This may not be the place, but I need some help and can’t find where to go, so please, either help me, or tell my where I can find some help. Thanks in anticipation.
    I have used Freehand since I started my Graphic Design business, and the program was born in the Aldus stable and upgraded until MX (10.4.9). I have used it for over 20 years (even trained others to use it). And I still use it, nearly every day, even though I am now retired. Recently it has been behaving strangely – I create something, send it through to print and the programme ‘unexpectedly quits’. The job still prints, but the program needs to be relaunched.
    So I thought – reload the software. Trouble is all my software is in the form of an upgrade. So, do I just reload the last upgrade (Freehand MX) and thats it, or do I have to do something else. I really can’t remember what I did last time (2005)!
    I don’t want to totally unpick what I have got at the moment, even though it is not working properly, until I have finished the job I a working on.
    As far as Illustrator goes, I have it. I use it if I have to, usually to open someone elses files. But it’s bad news! I am horrified , but not surprised to learn that Adobe will do their best to scrap it. Like they did to GoLive. They should know better, especially since people are abandoning Quark to use their InDesign (and I am one). Maybe dog eat dog – but it’s high time commonsense prevailed and the pursuit of megabucks got put in perspective. Freehand is an excellent package, it does things other packages does not. Why should we be forced to step backwards? Long Live Freehand

  • Mick Farrell

    For me the key to this whole thread is summed up in the question “Which programme do you use to draw?”.

    With Illustrator I find myself wrestling with a not very compliant piece of software to try and get something close to what I want. With Freehand, I’m just drawing and rarely consider that I am using a programme at all.

    The ultimate goal of any software designer should be that the “interface” becomes totally transparent and Freehand is a good example of getting close to this. I just hope that Adobe isn’t allowed to get its way and finally kill Freehand through willful neglect.

  • snow leopard users, just download from the net, and run it using rosetta, ive been using FH since the early 90’s, never stopped, use it with illustrator. using it on all my macs on various OS.

    Nothing beats it, NOTHING quick, easy intuitive, and combined with ilustrator, unbeatable!!!!!

    for tips on running it on intel macs see here.


  • David

    I used to work as a designer many years ago and I find it heartening that there are so many supporters of Freehand still around. I still have a copy on my home and work computers, version 8 so it is a bit old.

    When Adobe decided to replace PageMaker (which I liked) to InDesign I checked out InDesign. The place I worked bought InDesign shortly afterward. InDesign is a great programme. I’m willing to move with the times and a better programme is better, so you migrate. The same comparison cannot be made between Illustrator and Freehand. Freehand was so superior it just wasn’t funny. More intuitive, more accurate, more flexible. It seems little has changed. What I don’t understand is why Adobe didn’t take the jewel it had acquired and run with it. They should have kept developing Freehand and dumped Illustrator. It would have been easy to migrate users the other way, after all, migration to a superior programme is easy.


  • juan yanez


  • My name is Brewster and I am a Freehand user.
    Always wondered if I was the last … guess not. Fortunately, I work frequently with a print shop that manages to take my large environmental graphic made in Freehand open them in AI and print with relatively few problems.

  • Michelle

    Two words: PASTE INSIDE. THAT’s the feature that has over the year kept my loyalty to Freehand. Oh, and multiple page sizes… Who’s the idiot in Adobe that, for decades, has been denying adding this feature… (I can hear him: “Nah, I don’t think that feature would help anyone.” WTH???)

    Apparently, Freehand is very popular in Spanish-speaking countries. I remember only three people in my Master’s class used it; one from Spain, two Puerto Ricans. We felt like doing a group hug upon realizing we were in Freehand Anonymous. Americans frowned on us upon learning we wre alergic to QuaCKXpress, while we decisevely thought “and why should we, when it’s interface is so disgusting and you can’t even “undo” more than once?”.

    Hi. I’m Michelle Muñoz, and I’m a proud Freehandholic since 1997 (and won’t quit “Freehanding”).

  • JOhn

    FIND & REPLACE, duh! Give me that palette and I’ll shut up.

  • Hi,
    I’m Roland from Germany. I too love FreeHand. I’m using InDesign quite often and I’m opening Illustrator only in a few cases when it’s not to be avoided… Copying data from FreeHand to InDesign works great. Paste inside and multiple pages is also what I’m missing…

    Hope, the “Free FreeHand” initiative will succeed…


  • Jeff

    Another US freehand guy here! 20 years of automotive ads on my hard drive… I can’t imagine trying to “migrate” over where the grass is NOT greener! Currently trying to get it to work on this wonderful 27″ imac… just about there! But I got a feeling I’ll be using 10.6 for the rest of my career.


  • roy

    reading this makes me want to weep… I migrated from AI to FH in 1993 and never looked back but these days I feel so ostracised. Insults from colleagues, boss, incomprehension from clients…but I am sticking to my guns. Frankly because I’m too stupid/old to embrace change, to unless AI dumbs down to FH’s level, I will continue to earn my pay using FH.

    my work flow is now FH to Acrobat Pro to output on the snow leopard.

  • Chris Bayani

    Hi, my name is Chris, I’m from Manila, the Philippines. I’ve been using Freehand way back since i got my first black and white Macintosh Classic, 70-100 mb hard disk, WOW!… got myself an intel based mac and installed Adobe CS. I needed to redraw 4 logo designs on a book project i was doing… tried using adobe illustrator… what a PAIN! I couldn’t even do 1 design right despite the time it took. Finally, exasperated, I looked for my OLD! Freehand MX installer… rumor has it that Freehand MX is not compatible with intel based macs, but i didn’t care, i had to get the project done. Finished all 4 designs in less than a day!!!

    Let’s Get Freehand Back Where It Belongs!
    Chris Bayani

  • For all you FreeHand users, post your exceptional examples of work created in Macromedia Freehand.
    Go to Flickr’s FreeHand Gallery and show the world what is still being done with this program! Don’t let the naysayers, skeptics, and Adobe fan-boys get you down when a worldwide community of friends is nearby:

    (It aint’ over till it’s over and the last act hasn’t even started yet)

    – FFH –

  • Christopher Brown

    FREEHAND ROCKS still got my copy use it often, but Im guessing its been superceeded by ACS Illustrator and many others.

  • I’m still using Freehand on a daily basis because for me, it’s simply a really flexible design tool that runs well on my ageing hardware. I too wish the FreeFreehand venture all the success in the world and I’m not particularly looking forward to the OSX 10.7 transition that if rumours are to be believed, will remove Rosetta from the OS and thus render Freehand unusable :(

    And if you feel compelled, please write to Apple here to request Rosetta be continued or some alternative offered:

  • hexx

    I’ve been using FreeHand for some time, then was ‘forced’ to switch to Illustrator but I just don’t like it. I suggested guys who developed Pixelmator for Mac to have a look at FreeHand and what could they do with it. If anyone I believe it’s these guys who would have talent to bring it back to light of the day in whatever form/name.

  • mfraser

    Hello to all who support the future of freehand…

    this is a HUGE, HUGE THANKYOU! to the guys at FREE FREEHAND who are putting the wheels in motion and making things happen!

    THANKS again…


  • Ben

    Hi everyone. My names Ben and I’m a freehand user.

    Or at least I used to be. I seriously miss Freehand. For the past 5 years I have been forced to use Illustrator and I still can’t get used to it! Back in 2005 when Macromedia was purchased I knew that Freehand was not going to make the cut, but I did think that many of the features in Freehand would make it to Illustrator and that in the long term it Illustrator would become a program that would be greater than Illustrator or Freehand. 6 years later I’m still waiting!!! Quite recently I have been using Illustrator intensively to make patterns that can be used as swatches which means I have to be very accurate. Unfortunately accuracy is something that Illustrator doesn’t do very well. For some reason its quite choose about which guides, points, paths, etc it will snap to. For a program thats 20 years old this is quite a basic function to get wrong. But then again it gets clipping paths wrong, compound paths wrong. In fact theres not much it does do right. Even when it eventually gets a multi page function, it makes it a convoluted process.

    I really hope something comes of the FreeFreehand movement because as everyone know on this site, Freehand was, is, and always shall be, the daddy of all vector programs and if it ever makes it out from the Adobe basement and into the shops, I will be near the front of the queue waiting to buy my copy.

    Vive la Freehand!

  • John M. Masino

    Freehand has been a powerful, creative, acurate and amazing design program for the past 15 years that I’ve been using it. I created an eBook years before they were on the market with Freehand. The one and only thing Illustrator has done worthwhile was when they added the abilty to import a Freehand file. Of course you do all your measuring and design work in Freehand first. I can run circles around an Illustrator user with the power of Freehand. 15 years ago we started importing engineers CAD dxf V12 into Freehand for our design templates for our products. Acrobat Professional has proved to be a program that works well for export from Freehand.And of course Photoshop is the best Bitmap tool. Every Freehand user knows how cumbersome Illustrator is. It’s nearly impossible to do simple drawing tasks. It is one large leap back and still hasn’t caught up to Freehand’s power! As far as Illustrator being a technical tool, it falls flat on it’s face. Freehand is the number one vector graphics program… period. Designers have had Illustrator forced upon us due to Adobe buying Freehand and burying it. They would have been wiser to develop Freehand and name it Illustrator :) FHMX is not going away anytime soon… It’s still the best tool! I continue to use it everyday… John M. Masino

  • Zoltan von Bujdoss

    I would like to know what is the most recent version of Mac Operating system which will support FHMX?
    I am an ardent supporter of and die-hard user of FHMX!

  • Danny

    I am a professional graphic designer and use FHMX everyday. The day I am unable to run FH on a Mac OS is the day I will be forced to retire as the pains of working in Illustrator will kill me.

  • I use FreeHand MX seven days a week. I use legacy Macs to run it, and will not buy a new Mac due to the new OS’s incompatibility with FreeHand. While I will not retire due to Illustrator, when legacy Macs are no longer available, I will return to producing all illustrations by hand, since Illustrator is clearly not made for illustration.

    I have 19 years of FreeHand files, and I cannot expect long-time clients to pay to convert them to an inferior Illustrator file format. We recently had a client specifically request their files be built in FreeHand. When we sent the files to the printer, they replied they could not even open the files to convert them. We had to completely rebuild all of the files in Illustrator. The client still wanted the FreeHand files — not the Illustrator files — because, they said, “We don’t like using Illustrator.”

    Apple ought to buy FreeHand and update it, or just create a new product based on it.

    The only plausible reason Adobe would not sell FreeHand is that they are afraid someone will outdo them once again. In the interest of raising their own game, however, selling FreeHand is precisely what Adobe ought to do. Adobe has done nothing, by killing FreeHand, but prove to the very industry professionals who helped build their name that they do not care one iota about the well-being of the profession. It’s an unattractive display of anti-competitive spirit, more suited to an entirely different type of market than what we have here in the United States (and most of the free world).

    We now build two sets of files at our own expense for anything produced in FreeHand. It could be said this is a waste of time, however the ease of editing in FreeHand is that much greater that it is worth the extra time to keep file format flexibility. Fortunately, FreeHand is quite good at opening Illustrator files.

  • forrest

    Are we not Adobe customers?
    Does that company not depend on each of us to buy their software or suite of software?
    Do they truly think us freehand users will change our mind after 6 years!

    As a UK user, I can finally make my request known after being closed out of Adobe’s feature request page—because we were international;

  • Diego

    i am Diego Andres from Bolivia SouthAmerica and YES, I STILL USE FREEHAND MX TO DRAW AND EDIT BOOKS i know is “bad for illustrator CSs” but i can not leave FREEHAND

  • I’ve tryed Illustrator a lot of times and it is a good vector program but seriously, even ILLUSTRATOR CS5 is still not compared to Freehand MX…Freehand is truly the best vector program ever made!…

  • For anyone else who stumbles across this article and needs advice on how to keep FH running

    November 2011
    iMac 2.7GHz Intel Core i5
    OS X 10.6.8
    Freehand 10.0

    Most importantly: VipRiser to help make postscript files (

    Everything works except the € symbol!

    Slowly migrating to InDesign but what a pain in the arse that program is!
    Don’t get me started about Illustrator . . .

  • Hello there dear brothers, and sisters… my name is narasimhaMurthy Gollapudi from India. And, I am a proud FreeHand user!!

    …. are you kiddin’???… there’s no other program like it. The only one that I have been using since v1 -which Aldus made… and FreeHand is the Best software out there… don’t care what anyone says. So intuitive, decades ahead of all others.

    So glad to see so many here…. which means I m not alone!!!

  • StuartTarbuck

    Unlike most here, I am not a graphics professional, but rather someone who got into dabbling in graphics partly as a result of working for a big graphics supply store in Vancouver, B.C. about 20 years ago. I was able to get a copy of Freehand (and Ready Set Go- anyone old enough to remember that one?) at dealer’s cost. Freehand has served me well ever since. Version 10 still runs well enough on OS 10.5.8 for me to use it for the occasional project. (I used to do prgrammes for a choir I was singing in and I found that Freehand handled text better than Illustrator.) I suppose I’d upgrade to MX if it could be done at nominal cost, but of course greedy Adobe, despite having abandoned it, still want their pound of flesh so I’m sticking with what I have. Pity, though. It’s a very good programme, even at my relatively amateur level.

    Stuart Tarbuck

  • Jane Keegan

    Yes, I agree with everything written here. PLEASE bring back Freehand. PS does anyone know how to increase memory in Freehand MX 11.0.2 running on Mac 10.6.8

  • Wow! I thought I was the last of my species! But I turn around and there are all these beautiful Freehand Users! I’ve used Freehand since Aldus 1.1 as well as some old goats who have posted here and I to think it is a near perfect program Adobe killed. To this day there is no other program that allows you to have different Halftones in a single illustration. Freehand handled this with typical economy of memory and processing. I still do great work on a Mac Clone (PowerPC) worth $25.00, the last of Sonicview’s CRT 19″ monitors (I bought them new for $99 each in their clearance sale). Of course the only way I can network the old machine into the Lion Network is using Chooser and typing in the Server Address (no automatic anything any more even Apple is leaving behind the old and decrepit) and a print server using another old Mac. That sounds like a lot just to use Freehand 9 but with all the Macs whizzing and buzzing under and on the desk at my age I enjoy the warmth all around and I’m too deaf from J Giles and Edgar Winter to hear the buzzing any more. Thanks, Steve!

  • lemi

    i used to have freehand 9 for my vrctor artworks, it’s fast and simple, but now i only use illustrator, every software have its own weakness, but my love for ai is growing bigger! :p

    ps. i also use coreldraw and inkscape sometimes

  • Honestly, I have just spoken to my designer about this great old (but new to me) software and he wasn’t aware. Its a shame really as it seems the designers coming through today are all educated in CS, forgetting what seems to be a much ‘purer’ tool.

    Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

  • Saumy

    freehand is a fantastic tool and even though its development has been stopped, Illustrator, its closest rival, doesnt have the basic features and usability that Freehand always had.

  • Mark
  • I used freehand for creating illustrations and layouts for print or for the web designs and every information provided here is perfect and seems to be so useful.

  • Mat

    attach vector graphics to a path was for a me, a huge loss when I finally had to migrate to illustrator. Also, when typing text around a circle- hit return to continue the from the base of the circle. Why are these excellent features that have been lost is lost on me – bring em back Adobe!

  • cometlinear

    I’m still stubbornly hanging onto Freehand after 11 years.

    We can always run Snow Leopard in a virtual machine, so there’s that. I’m currently doing my drawing on an old mac tower running Leopard.

    I do hope the legal actions yield some change in the status quo.

  • Raneel

    I have over 10 000 files created in FH since 1998, and up to now, there’s certain functionality that just can’t be done in Adobe’s offerings – please can all Freehand users get together and ask Adobe to either support FH (we don’t mind paying) – or give up the code freely for development. It’s an awesome program – please don’t kill it! A lot of designers know how valuable FH is but they don’t voice out that – so we look like we’re a small group of people, but we’re not. Please please everyone – please get involved – thanks

  • Richard

    Call me whatever you like, there is no design program that matches Freehand. Due to circumstances I have had to learn Illustrator, Coreldraw, InDesign etc. Freehand knocks them all for a ball – no question about it. Been using Freehand for 18 years, still the best.

  • Lee

    WOW, I get so much stick for using FH, but like many others comments on here I have been using FH for 20 years. For the type of work I do it works perfectly with the ease of use. I have needed to learn Illustrator and alike, but always come back to FH for certain types of work.

    I will be following this story with great interest, and hi to the rest of us stubborn lot!!!!

  • Sam

    I still use freehand!!!! In fact, I used it to create this up coming compilation cd for Sony: I could not have done it in anything else! As Michael says in his article, it would have been painful!!! I think that I am going to have to get another computer if I want to install anything after snow leopard, and then just email the freehand files to myself as PDFs, man what a pain in the arse!!! Save freehand please!!! What can we do???

  • abhi

    i’m a freehand user in hong kong. don’t think theres any other software which makes translating your
    ideas into reality so easy. keep it simple. free freehand!!

  • After 6 years Freehand still making things easier and intuitive than Illustrator… VIVE LA FREEHAND!

  • After 6 years Freehand still making things easier and intuitive than Illustrator… VIVE LA FREEHAND!

  • siso

    A faithful Freehand user since its early days, I refuse to update to Lion (still on Snow Leopard) in order not to lose the functionality of the best vector-based software….

  • I love freeHand, it’s easy to use and
    I have built a small business around it and now have over 2000 illustrations in MX. I need FHMX to live!


  • Mike

    Nice to see we are not alone ! I’m using FreeHand from early days. At the time, I checked both Illustrator and FreeHand, and chose the most user friendly of them. I had lots of problems with people who had to make films from my files here in Belgium, as they only supported Illustrator. These were they early days of DTP.
    Today, I have to work with Illustrator from time to time an I really hate it. FreeHand that I loved to launch. I could just play with it, it was really fun. I used it a few days ago to make a few icons, and still the pleasure was there, and the job done too fast… FreeHand means freedom.
    I never understood why Adobe didn’t use any of the FH technology to upgrade Illustrator ?
    I also don’t want to upgrade my MacOsX to Lion, partly because of this program. I’ll probably keep a spare hard disk with Snow Leopard, FH and my actual setup, but I know that slowly, it’ll die there.
    But now is there hope for a new life for FreeHand ??? That would be great ! FreeHand reborn !!! I really cross my fingers.

  • Annika

    I been a´user since 1990 and have never stoped using freehand, il tryed Illustrator many times but no,
    its not good at all. I simply cant stop using Freehand. Please someone make it work in the future.

  • Carlo Kaminski

    One of the main reasons why I bought Macintosh (now Apple) back in the day was because of Freehand. I have been an Apple investor for 25 years now. I have my office full of Apple Macs, just sitting there as testimony to my undying support for Apple – and, of course to Adobe and others. While Adobe is the main culprit, I too ask the question: why has Apple – knowing that it has a loyal base, consisting of mostly designers, stretching back years – allowed its Operating system to now not run Freehand? I am aware that the codes are now old, etc, but why no negotiations with Adobe to update it, especially that they knew what was coming for Freehand users. Could not Apple afford to do this? To my mind, both Adobe and Apple have stabbed us in the back. Shareholder dividends and Boardroom bonus negotiations are all that count in this world!


  • Bruce Winslade

    I cannot completely slam Adobe over Illustrator – in many ways it has much more to offer than FreeHand, BUT….

    1. the drawing interface in Illustrator is just simply inferior and harder to use. In a commercial environment that directly relates to more time and less profit.

    2. several of the tools do not work like the same tools in other Adobe programs, which is confusing: e.g. I can’t just select a placed graphic, hold down shift and drag to resize, which just about every other program allows. Now I can (and will) look up how I need to resize, but the lack of intuitive, common controls is a real pain.

    3. as to what the alignment buttons do I can’t say, but they sure don’t work like they do in InDesign! I could go on at length about the various features that work in a clunky fashion, but it’s not just any one feature, it’s the combined lack of thought in feature design that makes Illustrator so inferior, and the stubbornness in not addressing the issue – they’ve had ten years or so to make Illustrator the undisputed king of vector-drawing and they just haven’t bothered. Compare that with InDesign and Photoshop, which rule their areas in the marketplace because of their inherent qualities.

    4. the overall lack of INTUITIVE operation is the big flaw in this ugly child of Adobe. This is what makes Adobe’s position on it incomprehensible – they trot out tired arguments of limited valiidity to defend Illustrator, but it stands out amongst their stable of products as an underworked and flawed product – we need an alternative like FreeHand to handle the simple drawing tasks that graphic design projects need, and Adobe’s (and Apple’s) efforts to kill the FreeHand interface is deeply, deeply resented.

    Bruce Winslade

  • I was heartbroken when Adobe stole my beloved
    She and I had created wondrous worlds together
    We were blessed with delight and grasped glorious visions
    She never failed. Responded to the caress of my figertips
    She never put a foot wrong, she gave love to me
    Oh bring her back to me I pray, Oh bring her back ….

  • LAURA rothwell

    its like a comfy cardi or an old pair of socks its what you get used to and what you can work with x

  • Hola from Baja Mexico everyone!, Its great to know there are a lot of talented creatives still using one of the Greatest Design Programs ever made, hopefully together will bring it back!!

    Thanks to all / gracias a todos!!

  • Ravii Nagadu

    Hi Guys,
    I have used Freehand since 1994. I could not use a computer professionally before that, and my first experience working in a professional design environment, learning to use a Mac, was using Freehand.

    Within a few months I was teaching newer guys entering the industry how to use the software! It was so intuitive, right brained and effortless to use. Other programs like pagemaker, quark and illustrator were also around in the same timeframe, but Freehand ruled, fairly!

    Okay, I have read the blogs, heard the curses illustrator constantly pours on itself and alot of it is true, as I experience it every day with my fellow younger designers who were schooled in Illustrator, but defaulting to Freehand to get the job done.

    Adobe, why don’t you add Freehand as part of your CS suite: and give it the lifeblood it needs? You will definitely earn some good Karma and certainly alot of friends.

    If Adobe does nothing to resurrect Freehand, I would like to be forthwright and challenge Codemasters who created, or know how Freehand works, to please collaborate with some young blood and create a software package that does what Freehand does well. Put it out there for the hundreds of thousands of Freehand cult followers around the world to democratically decide if this is what they want. It is shocking that designers have to be force fed with Illustrator.

    Ravi Nagadu, Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

  • Michael

    I have worked in Repro companies and pre-press since the mid 90’s. I can tell you right now
    there is nothing out there that does the job like Freehand to get artwork print ready.
    Its quick and straight to the point whereas Illustrator is really tedious and tiresome….

    I myself have about 20 years of Freehand files in the system which now is being rendered useless, unless
    I spend the time converting. Adobe being in this industry should know all to well how quick paced the
    printing industry is and we really don’t have the time to sit and convert all day….

    I cannot for the life of me understand why they just don’t develop Freehand under the Adobe
    umbrella and everyone will be happy again.

    Say what you like, but this is a blatant attack on killing Freehand off and having the monopoly.
    As far as I know it’s an illegal practice and I hope you get your ass sued off by the likes of us who now suffer revenue loss and business because of all the redundant files…. Not to mention that we have not been reimbursed by Adobe for removing and making a software package null and void that we have actually purchased.

    MK Wrensch, Cape Town, South Africa.

  • I’ve used Freehand since version 2 on a Mac Plus, 25 years or so ago. All my work over that period is held in Freehand 3.1. Later versions don’t?/didn’t have vertical text. I understand computers compatible with FH 3.1 ended with G3 PowerMac (grey, not blue). Accordingly, I have bought a cheap standby from ebay plus 2 dirt cheap G3 Macbook laptops with Mac OS 9. I’m struggling to load Freehand 3.1 and Freehand 8 into the laptops. Note: My G3 tower uses Mac OS 9.2. Is it possible for Freehand MX or similar to run on my Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) Mac Mini or any recent Mac?
    Note: I produce puzzles with simple graphics like squares and circles. Freehand 3.1 has a vertical text facility for crossword solutions within the grid and for wordsearch puzzles (square of text). Later versions than FH3.1 crash such text to the left, so I export as MacEPS and import that “frozen” file into Freehand 8 for then supplying/printing as PDF or EPS or JPG files. My purpose here is to safeguard future production and usability of a stock of thousands of puzzles created in Freehand 3.1 Can I ever upgrade?

  • Thomas Dew

    I have said this for years…
    Being a Freehand user and trying to use Illustrator is like a concert pianist being forced to play the xylophone.

  • Waseem

    its 2013, and i type in this box with a heavy heart, im all the way from south africa, and here too there is a huge following for the beloved freehand, being in the design industry for the past 7 years, its such a logical program, so well thought out, here too we designers have been pushed to move over to illustrator, but like in most of the above comments, illustrator just doesn’t, and can’t do what freehand can. i know illustrator, how to use it, but it just doesn’t feel logical and so, i still use freehand. its not what you use, its how you use it, it helps bring out my creativity, and i’m sure many other designers will agree, Maybe someday in the future someone will revive freehand.

  • Karla

    My name is Karla, and I still use Freehand MX.

    I earn a living through Freehand. I am not willing to switch to that garbage called Illustrator, even if I did buy it and it’s installed in my computer (it sucks).

    I use Freehand on a daily basis. And I am very frustrated because I can’t use it in my new MacBook Pro with Mountain Lion. I even bought one of the well known virtualization tools and purchased a copy of Snow Leopard Server. I was able to run Freehand but it’s too slow to do any real work. So no luck here.

    I would happily pay a few hundred dollars for a copy of Freehand that runs natively in Intel. Adobe doesn’t really need to change or add anything (other than the nasty habit of Freehand forgetting the location of associated files if you move or rename something), just to rewrite the software so it runs in modern Macs.

  • J R

    My name is J R — and I wish I STILL used FREEHAND !!

    Some like Coca-Cola, and some like Pepsi-Cola, and some one of the other colas.

    Would the U.S. Federal Trade Commission allow the COCA-COLA COMPANY to acquire PEPSICO (to get another of their products) — AND then stop all production of PEPSI-COLA?

    Definitely NOT!!! The Federal Trade Commission would force them to sell it to maintain FAIR competition — like when Adobe acquired ALDUS for PageMaker (Freehand came with the deal, but was forced to sell it to Macromedia), around FH5 I believe(?).

    ADOBE is the “parent” of ILLUSTRATOR (err, Frustrator!) — their creation, albeit a bad seed, but the have to stand by it no matter what. Whereas, FREEHAND is the step-child, they DID NOT create. Which child do they love and support more?

    ADOBE — Put that baby up for ADOPTION for people who will REALLY LOVE IT!!

    — J R

  • Bryan Vollman

    While I have the latest Mac computer at home, I have held on to an acient iMac simply to run Freehand on it. Even without being updated for years, I find it to be vastly superior and easier to use than Adobe Illustrator, which I’ve had to switch to at work. I hate it, but I love working in Freehand!

  • We (graphic designers, teachers etc) are at the mercy of Adobe’s near monopoly of design & media software. There would be very few people like us (graphic designers) who work for Adobe so don’t look for sympathy. For years in the 90s Freehand was quoted as having far superior typographic tools to anything else and was first stop for many designers.

    The powers-that-be in the university I worked in during the 90s, in their infinite wisdom (of financial enticements from Adobe) decided Illustrator was going to be their choice and here in Australia Adobe stole a march on competitors with far noisier and emphatic marketing of their products – to all except the Freehand afficionado’s and die-hards such as yourselves.

    Illustrator, like most of Adobe’s flagship products is (like the pricing) bloatware. Cut out all the crap and it wouldn’t be too bad. But it will never be Freehand, and Adobe will never give a damn. Perhaps what Adobe should look over their shoulder for now is a wave of young software developers who can re-create the golden designers tool set that is Freehand, and a cut back of Photoshop (that is, a designers photoshop – as opposed to a photographers version) and etc and etc.

    Good heavens, someone might even come up with a better Fontographer!

    While I’m on my soapbox – let’s get rid of the cloud – who wants to be paying for bandwidth everytime you need to clock on to work…

  • JDChriss

    I still use Freehand MX on my Windows 8.1 laptop. I create paint designs for command, communications, and broadcast vehicles. I started with Freehand 5 back in the day and used it on both the PC and MAC platforms. There are many high line custom motor homes in the US with Freehand developed custom paint designs. I prefer Freehand for this type of work over any other program I have used.

    As suggested by Danny Burke above maybe someone can develop a Freehand replacement we can enjoy.

  • Mark

    It is April 27th of 2015, and although I am typing this message on an execrable Windoze XP PeeCee. I *still* – happily – use FreeHand 8.x, under OS 9.x. Likewise Fontographer. When something continues to work so very well, why throw it away?

    As long as I have a Mac capable of running OS 9.x, and I do have several safely standing by in reserve, then I will continue to run FreeHand and Fontographer.

    In the meantime, if there is a still-alive FreeHand discussion list, by all means please let me know at markt_a1b at

    Hang in there!

    SW Misery (MO)

  • My FreeHand works great on Windows 10, and the very best part of using it – besides the open-source SDK – is simply not caring what Adobe get up to. There is no greater liberator of the creative mind than that. Here’s to eleven more years of bliss.

    • Jules Jetty Flynn-bobs

      Totally agree, many lost hours in the studio with adobe…. I”m free to carry on working regardless :-)