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Macromedia FreeHand MX box

Macromedia FreeHand MX (release 11) is the last version of FreeHand from Macromedia, before it was acquired by Adobe Systems. It was also packaged with Macromedia Studio MX Plus and Macromedia Studio MX 2004.

Backwards compatibility[]

FreeHand MX can open files from Aldus FreeHand 4 or later. An older version of FreeHand is required to convert files from FreeHand 3 or earlier.[1] FreeHand MX also installs readers for Macromedia Flash MX and Fireworks MX, which allows those applications to import FreeHand MX files.[2]


FreeHand MX was developed in Richardson, Texas by Macromedia's Digital Arts Group, formerly Altsys, the original creators of FreeHand. In 2003, most of the development team in Texas were laid off, with some relocating to Macromedia's main office in San Francisco. Prior to that, the engineers rushed to add many new features to FreeHand MX with the expectation that it might be the last version that they would ever work on.[3][4]

After Macromedia was acquired by Adobe in December 2005,[5] work on maintenance updates was transitioned to Adobe India.[4]


Adobe FreeHand 11 CS3 icon

Adobe FreeHand 11 icon

In May 2007, Adobe announced that FreeHand would no longer be updated. Migration guides and upgrades to Adobe Illustrator CS3 were offered to existing users of FreeHand.[6] Technical support for the last version of FreeHand MX (11.0.2) ended on August 1, 2011. The Mac version of FreeHand MX will not run on OS X 10.7 or later due to its use of legacy PowerPC code.

Federal lawsuit[]

A group of dedicated FreeHand users formed the Free FreeHand Organization (FFO) in an attempt to pressure Adobe Systems to divest FreeHand after its acquisition of Macromedia. In 2011, a civil antitrust case was filed against Adobe. On February 10, 2012, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh dismissed portions of the case, but denied a motion by Adobe to dismiss it in its entirety. Around the time the case entered into final mediation in May 2012, FFO had over 6500 members. Adobe agreed to work with the community to investigate adjustment of Adobe Illustrator's feature set to meet user requests. Members could request discounts for Adobe products. The source code to FreeHand, in Adobe's possession, was never released.[7]

After FreeHand[]

Some FFO members supported a project called Stagestack in the hopes that an open source alternative would be possible.[7][8] However, by 2013, Stagestack developer Quasado determined that continued development was not financially viable.[9]

In 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS6 dropped support for opening FreeHand files.[10] The Tensai FreeHand Plugin can allow Illustrator CS6 through CC 2019 to import files from FreeHand 7 and later.[1]

Legacy activation[]

Adobe Systems, which had acquired Macromedia in December 2005,[5] disabled the activation server for legacy Macromedia products on December 15, 2012.[11] Users who wish to activate FreeHand MX after this date will need to follow this procedure.


  1. 1.0 1.1 FreeHand file conversion service, Tensai AI Plugins. Accessed 2019-10-26.
  2. Macromedia FreeHand MX Release Notes, Macromedia FreeHand Support Center, Adobe. Accessed 2019-10-27.
  3. Macromedia completes acquisition of Altsys by Bloomberg News, The New York Times. 1995-01-25.
  4. 4.0 4.1 R.I.P. FreeHand by Andy Finnell, Safe from the Losing Fight. 2007-05-17.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Adobe Completes Acquisition of Macromedia, Adobe Systems. 2005-12-05. Archived 2005-12-07.
  6. FreeHand no longer updated; moving to Illustrator by John Nack, Adobe Blogs. 2007-05-16.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Freeing FreeHand: the story of grief, revenge and refusal by Alexandre Prokoudine, Libre Graphics World. 2012-08-28.
  8. Meet Stagestack, a new option for FreeHand fans by Mike Rankin, Creative Pro. 2012-08-10.
  9. Stagestack faces dead-end, source code release considered by Alexandre Prokoudine, Libre Graphics World. 2013-01-10.
  10. Open Freehand files with Illustrator CS6 by plug_and_pray, Adobe Support Community. 2014-07-07.
  11. Activation error | Macromedia branded products, Adobe Systems. Archived 2013-10-10.

External links[]

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Macromedia FreeHand
1 · 2 · 3 · 4 | 5 (5.5) · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · MX | 11
Discontinued in May 2007
Macromedia Studio MX
Dreamweaver MX · Fireworks MX · Flash MX · FreeHand 10 · ColdFusion MX Developer Edition (Windows only)
Added in Studio MX Plus: FreeHand MX · Contribute (Windows only) · DevNet Resource Kit Special Edition (Windows only)
Macromedia Studio MX 2004
Dreamweaver MX 2004 · Flash MX 2004 (Professional) · Fireworks MX 2004 · FreeHand MX · ColdFusion MX 6.1 Developer Edition (Windows only)