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Adobe Buying Guide: Creative Cloud (CC) or CS6 – Which to Get?

When Creative Suite 6 arrived in 2012, there came with it a new way to buy Adobe software that the world had not seen before: the Creative Cloud.  Traditionally, most Adobe products had only been sold with “perpetual” licensing that doesn’t expire. The flip side is that these best-in-class tools often come with a steep price tag that is out of reach for many folks – though there have always been substantial discounts when upgrading from recent older releases, plus much lower pricing for some market segments like students and teachers

Trying to Decide Between? Read the Reviews Creative Cloud Has Been Getting from Customers

When Creative Cloud first entered the scene, there was (and still is) some uncertainty about what it meant and where it was going… But despite that skepticism, the Cloud has since gained strong adoption to become the company’s dominant product line with most customers choosing it over CS6, which Adobe still continues to sell for people who want it.  With Creative Cloud you receive the newer “CC” release that succeeds CS6 as the latest and greatest toolset, and generally gets high ratings from users.

Related: Compare Features – What’s New in Adobe CC vs. CS6?

Adobe CC is available only via a subscription model which, yes, is cloud-based in some ways – but the name has been called confusing and misconceptions abound because in fact the major applications are not online or web-based, but still run locally on your computer as before.  What’s more, the company has been clear that powerful tools like Photoshop may add some online capabilities but will never run completely in the cloud.

So at its core, this is primarily a different way of buying and using all the Adobe products you know and love (plus more). Creative Cloud membership is served as an “all-you-can-eat buffet” of the best software out there for any creative purpose, for one affordable monthly price ($29-$49/month standard in the US). The central premise is you can continue to use the same applications and services you always have – plus many more available at your disposal – with a term-based membership that includes ongoing product upgrades and new feature additions over the period.

What’s in Creative Cloud?

Adobe Creative Cloud Growing Fast, Now Millions of Paid Subscribers (Click to Enlarge)

Creative Cloud contains new CC versions of all applications that were part of Creative Suite 6 (effectively the entire Master Collection), as well as others like Lightroom, Adobe Muse, Adobe Edge, plus a host of professional publishing services for getting your work out there.  As noted, most of these components do not run over the network – they download and install on your system desktop just like normal, and only need to be connected to the Internet once every 99 days for annual membership revalidation.

That said, however, there is an online collaborative Cloud component envelop­ing it all which allows easy web-based file storage, sharing, browsing, and syncing between computers and devices. For those who don’t have a paid subscription, there is a free level of Creative Cloud membership that provides the same commu­nity features but with 2GB of free storage instead of 20GB… The best part about this cloud storage is that your colleagues or clients do not need to have any of the actual Adobe tools installed to view or comment on the files you upload.

Special: Legally download dozens of free Adobe books for a limited time!

CC or CS6 – Which Is Right for You?

So there have been a lot of changes in recent years – and with all these developments in mind, how do you decide which one to buy?  The answer depends to a large extent on how you use the software, with these questions to ask:

  • How long will you be using the products?
  • How frequently do you usually [like to] upgrade?
  • Which Adobe programs do you want or need to use now?
  • Which tools would you like to expand to using in the future?
  • How nice is it to always have the latest releases and best features?
  • Do you own a prior product you can upgrade from, or would you buy full?
  • What will your regular annual costs be when comparing the two different options?
  • How important is it for the software that you use to be supported long into the future?

Before we get to some cost comparisons, it’s important to note that it’s not just about price. Adobe says they are supporting CS6 on the current releases of Windows and Mac OS, but do not have plans to support it on the next releases coming out from Microsoft and Apple… In other words, within less than a year it’s likely that CS6 will not be supported to run on newer operating systems. By contrast, Creative Cloud is a service as much as a product and will always be supported and updated for the latest platforms, devices, and technologies.

See Hundreds of Customer Ratings & Reviews for Adobe CC

The cost of Creative Cloud is $US49.99/month for a yearly plan, or $74.99 when purchased month-to-month with the ability to turn it on and off as needed. It’s $29.99 per month for the first year for those upgrading from a prior Creative Suite product with Adobe’s introductory offer, and $19.99/month for current students and teachers. Doing the math that’s about $600/year for regular customers, $360 for CS upgraders, and $240 for education customers… In sum it’s around $1-$2 a day. So when you look at these plans versus the tradi­tional CS6 price sheet or the cost of upgrading your current tools, which is more attractive?

Well, if you’re a solid user of Creative Suite and a happy upgrader, then the Creative Cloud could be a good deal for you. The CS6 Master suite, for example, sells for $2,600 full, or $1,050 to upgrade from CS5 – and that is for an older static version that will never evolve or improve.  So paying $1,200 spread over two years for CC (and $240 less for upgraders) could work out well considering that all upgrades and future support are included, and you can run the latest releases of all the top tools Adobe makes.

Or as Bloomberg Businessweek says, “One benefit is not having to lay out $2,500 every few years. It would take more than four years of monthly $50 subscription fees to reach the cost of an all-at-once software purchase, and the programs will always be up-to-date.”

But what if you don’t want the complete package? If you only use Photoshop (normally US$700-$1000 full, $200 upgrade) and Lightroom ($150 full, $80 upgrade) and don’t see yourself ever growing into other tools like Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Muse, or Acrobat, then there’s another choice: the new Photoshop Photography Bundle which includes both PS + LR for US$9.99 a month.  And if you need any other single standalone application (like, say, After Effects CC), then see the next section below for a final possibility.

The Creative Cloud FAQ: See Your Top 90 Burning Questions Answered

It goes without saying that the Cloud option is absolutely ideal for situa­tional and tempo­rary needs like project-based work, contract employment, freelancing, and so on – you only pay when you need it. It’s even possible to start out with a month-to-month membership if you want to see how you like it, after your 30-day free trial is up.

Single-App Membership – The Lesser-Known Option

If the complete Creative Cloud is too much, there’s an additional choice that many people aren’t aware of – Adobe also offers subscriptions for just a single tool like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat Pro, Premiere, and others for only $14-$19/month, and that low pricing is available to everybody… The sign-up and download is all online so you can get going right away – and all upgrades are included, so you’re always running the latest version.

Any of the new CC tools are available on an annual as well as month-to-month basis (start-and-stop) in all languages for both Windows and Mac together, so pretty flexible. And if you happen to decide later that you want to upgrade to the complete Creative Cloud package to access all applications (at any time), then Adobe will credit back your account for the remaining amount due on your existing membership.

So when you compare that pricing of $19/month versus $1,000 to buy (say) After Effects CS6, it’s definitely worth considering – and you’ll find all the details here:

  » Don’t Need the Full Cloud? Get Any Adobe Product for $9-$19 a Month

Creative Cloud vs. Creative Suite 6 – Pros & Cons

For a complete side-by-side analysis, check out our detailed Adobe CC vs. CS6 Comparison Chart with all the pros and cons to consider for each option.

Do you have any further questions about the comparison or your decision?  Just ask them below and we’ll get you answers fast!

See Also

New Adobe CC 2015 Direct Download Links: All Free Trials

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  1. Kat

    Hello. I’ve had CS6 for a while. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. All of the sudden I couldn’t use it anymore without signing up for a free CC trial. I loaded my CS6 from an old computer to my new one and I couldn’t access photoshop anymore with out this forced “free trial” notice. Finally, I gave up trying to get around it and signed on. Well, now the trial is up and it only gives me the option of signing up for CC or quitting. What happened to my original CS6? Why can’t I get to it? I’m not that savvy. Just want to use my photoshop and illustrator. When I transferred adobe I was prompted to download Adobe Applications manager. That’s the thing that keeps jumping in when I try to open any adobe program.


  2. Fernando Aguirre

    How can I sign up. I tried several months ago. I was supposed to get a month free to try it out. I was never able to use it. My laptop is about a year old and I don’t think that’s the problem.

    Who can I contact so I can try the Creative Cloud? Please reply. I work till 7 p.m. Arizona time. Is there someone I can speak with after 7 p.m.?

    • Hi Fernando, sorry to hear of your difficulty. What exactly was the problem when you say, “I was never able to use it”? Were there any error messages or other information? We’d be happy to help you ourselves, but would need a bit more detail on the issue.

      Also, have you tried getting the software or free trials using the CC 2014 direct download links? Sometimes that works better than Adobe’s standard method.

      In any event, if you want to get in touch with Adobe, then online live chat is usually the fastest/easiest – and it’s 24/7 here:

  3. Mario

    I am cloud subscriber and have all 3 versions of almost all programs of Adobe:
    – CS6
    – CC launch
    – CC 2014.x

    The big differences between versions I noticed on Dreamweaver, but if talk about Photoshop for example. I have also the 3 versions of this.

    What does have Ps CS6 that doesn’t have Ps CC 2104? If you have the last updated version of some Adobe Program CC 2014.x, why should you still use the cs6 or cc launch? With Dreamweaver is a different issue.

    • Hello Mario, historically the newer Adobe releases have not uninstalled the older versions on your computer for various reasons… Primarily, it has to do with ensuring smooth continuity and operation between upgrades as as far as third-party plugin support, access to any discontinued features, coming up to speed on the new release, managing inter-version file compatibility, etc.

      So you can safely remove those older versions from your system if you like, if you are not using them anymore. As for what’s changed and improved for each CC 2014 application since the CS6 release in 2012, there have been many (over 1,000) new features and enhancements added. For more details, see:

      What’s the Difference Between Adobe CC 2014 vs. CS6, CS5, CS4, CS3?

  4. Kristin


    I’m just wondering where you were able to find Acrobat Pro as a single tool app? When I got to the small business buying options page and want to buy by single app (we do not use Photoshop or anything other than acrobat and illustrator); Acrobat is not an option.

    I contacted Adobe and they were not very helpful in what my boss and I are trying to achieve which is wanting to get all of our adobe programs in one invoice and under one renewal package. We want to get Adobe Acrobat for all of our computers (5) (my boss has two computers but really we only have 4 people) and then our Program Manager needs to have Illustrator.

    Do you have any suggestions for how to do this without paying $50/month times 4 people who will not use this daily nor need all the bells and whistles?

    • Hi Kristin, that’s a really good question. We are not sure why the new Acrobat Pro DC version is not appearing available on that page for a Single-App subscription for Teams, while it is definitely showing there as an option for Individuals buying Creative Cloud products…

      However, we have a solution for you. The other way to get where you want to be is to start from the Acrobat pages on Adobe’s site, instead of the CC pages… So you will find options to buy Acrobat DC for volume customers here:

      Adobe Acrobat DC Plans & Pricing for Individuals and Business

      Another possibility would be to buy multiple seats of the Individual product instead – but then you give up some of the benefits and advantages of CC for Teams. If you did that, then you would also probably want to use generic email addresses (like “”, “”, etc.) because CC for Individual licenses are not transferable or reassignable, whereas the seats in CC for Teams are.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Roy

    What is the difference between CLPG 5 and Creative cloud?

  6. Caroline


    What photoshop should I use for rendering architectural buildings.


    • Hey there Caroline, you didn’t really give a lot of information about what you want to do in your workflow – but with respect to AutoCAD (presuming), you could go with either CC or CS6 as there is no difference in handling those files between the two…

      In which case, you’d have to make the decision based on other factors and feature differences between the releases.

  7. Jutan

    I’m a designer currently using CS5 but plan to semi-retire in the next two years, doing just a few jobs each year. I don’t think it makes sense for me to upgrade to CC now unless I can go back to CS5 when I’m only using the programs a few months each year. Will I be able to go back to CS5? Can I still upgrade to CS6 and would that be a better option than moving to CC?


  8. Kelly

    Hello. I found your web site while doing some research on Adobe’s new CC. I have been a CS5 user for many years and before I take on the new CC I would like to ask a couple questions.

    First, I do photo editing on my photography. I normally load my photos from Adobe Camera Raw and then open and finish in CS5. Will I still have access to Camera Raw in CC?

    Second, I installed Imagenomic Portraiture in to my version of CS5 and like camera raw, I use is daily. Will I be able to download that program as a filter as I did in CS6?

  9. Jack

    Imagine that I have a CC package which includes Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Supposing I am paying every month and have been doing some work. Supposing I export my PS work in a .jpg format or for the Illustrator files, in a .pdf format, so they could be opened on other computers. But then I run into money problems, and chose to cancel my CC plan. I know I won’t be able to use Photoshop or Illustrator until I restart my plan. But…

    How do I know that the finished work exported in .jpg or .pdf, won’t be accessed by CC and somehow gets locked? How do I know that an artwork I created using Photoshop, which I then uploaded to websites, like say for example, DeviantArt, PhotoBucket, Facebook, won’t get deleted or locked or anything?

    A bit like I hire a camera, took photos, but when I could not afford the hire costs, I return the camera, but shop that hired out the camera decided since I am not paying the full hire costs, I am not allowed to display my photos?

  10. Jack

    If I buy a boxed version, I know I can use on one machine, and any of us as family, each having our own Windows log-in account, can run any Adobe programs and use it.

    If I pay monthly for Creative Cloud, won’t that mean only I can use the Adobe programs as I can log on, but my family would have to be told, “sorry, you’ll have to stick with Windows Paint”? Do I have to pay payment plan for each of us?

    Also if after many months, I stop paying, I know I will not be able to access the Adobe software until I restart paying, but what will happen to my files? Example: I use Cloud’s Illustrator program to create a poster, save it, but when I stopped payment, I know I won’t be able to open it. If I send the file to someone who have their own copy of Illustrator, will they be able to open it or would my file get locked?

    • Hey Jack, we answered most of your questions above. To add to the response – the new CC works the same as CS6 did, in that you need to log in with your Adobe account to use it… However, also like CS6, it does not care at all about having or using different Windows logon accounts on the same machine. So, no worries there.

  11. jaya

    Hello , I found your web site while doing some research on Adobe’s new CC. I am using the cs6 version of photoshop. Mainly i design mailers, testimonials and website design in photoshop. Before buying Adobe’s new CC, I have few questions like:

    is Adobe’s new cc is similar to cs6, Can i design websites and mailers with CC version of adobe??

  12. ann church

    I just purchased an Adobe CC license through Techsoup. I downloaded Indesign, then went to updates and updated the file. When I go to open the files send to me by a designer using CS6.0, I can’t open the files, saying that the files were saved in a new version of Adobe InDesign (6.0). I thought CC would have the latest version of the programs. How do I get around this?

    • Hello Ann, Adobe CC definitely does give you the latest releases of the programs – which now is CC 2015.

      As a subscriber, you are also allowed to download and use earlier versions as well: CC 2014, CC 2013, and/or CS6.

      However, InDesign 6.0 per your message is actually Adobe CS4 from 2008, and not CS6 from 2012.

      Either way, any recent release of InDesign should be able to open valid files saved from older versions – see:

      Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) File Compatibility Guide

      You can check to see which version(s) you’re running on your computer by selecting Help menu > About or System Info.

  13. Hi,
    Is it a must to save the files created online – or can I save them offline, as it is data that we do not want to share and must be sure that it cannot be accessed from persons not known to us personally.


  14. Mo

    My question is if i even buy the software now and maybe back on the payment for a month or just late in paying. Can i still use the software or does all the services cut off upon non-payment ? I am running a small business (one person) from home which proves that i’m on a little to no budget at all and I wish to purchase but I am having a bit of a problem with the prices. I wanted to get CS6 as i thought it would be cheaper but if i get a laptop upgrade I now see my purchase would be in vain as there will be no support. Could i get some suggestions on what to do?

    • Greetings Mo, thanks for your questions. As of the start of October 2015, Adobe finally removed the online sale of CS6 from their website… The reason is because the software is 3½ years old and increasingly unsupported; they stopped releasing updates for it some time ago as the newer CC quickly grew and took over. With the CS6 software EOL and end of support, there are no updates, no bug fixes, and no guarantees it will run on future operating systems. So at this point we’ve stopped recommending it as a good or viable option going forward.

      But it would not have been cheaper to get started with CS6 anyway, as the price to buy it was many hundreds or thousands of dollars.

      As for the newer CC (Creative Cloud) tools, they are fully supported and ongoing upgrades are always included in your membership. If you were to stop paying or be late, then the software would probably continue running for up to the next month – but in any event, the subscription payments happen regularly and automatically via credit/debit card or PayPal.

      Note there are also different options to choose from, including annual plans, month-to-month plans, and prepaid plans – and each has their own grace period for how long the tools will work without validation.

      Hope that answers some of your questions; feel free to post back if you have others.

  15. Mo


    Thanks for the feedback. I am considering getting the CC version. I have been doing a bit more reading since i commented here, and it seemed to be a good option to invest in.

  16. François


    I am an occasional user of Dreamweaver CS4, under Windows 8.1. As I am to build a few websites with responsive design, I am considering to buy Dreamweaver CS6 or to subscribe to Dreamweaver CC. What do you advise me to choose? A key point for my choice would be the ease of doing fluid grids. Is it really easier and better with Dreamweaver CC than with Dreamweaver CS6? With many thanks in advance.

    • Hey François, CC 2015 is definitely better and more current than CS6 at that, no question… See this comparison of the features in CC vs. CS6:

      What’s the Difference Between Adobe CC 2015 vs. CS6, CS5, CS4, CS3?

      But anyway, the point is somewhat moot because a couple of months ago, Adobe finally removed the online sale of CS6 from their website… The reason is because the software is 3½ years old and increasingly unsupported; they stopped releasing updates for it some time ago. So trying to find or buy CS6 is not a viable or advisable option anymore.

  17. Shawna

    My 9-year-old wants to learn Illustrator. After much fussing with the website to allow me to access a phone number, I called Adobe and was told nope, too young for a student discount for any of the CC applications (which makes zero sense to me). I was thinking maybe CS 6 might be a good option… but apparently, according to your last comment, it won’t be. Do you have any ideas, or know of any sales for my situation? I don’t really want to pay full price just because my kid is too young for a student discount…

  18. cassi


  19. Arntz

    hi, i am planning on moving from CS6 to CC, however i just bought a laptop, and i was wondering if my subscription will be available on both of my computers, my imac and my macbook?

    or do i need 2 different accounts?

    thank you

  20. Cicilie

    Did you fix the issues with CC on macbook pro? The resolution problem? Look at this thread – the last comment is just 3 days ago. From 2013 until now this has been a problem?

  21. François

    Good day,

    I am considering to buy Adobe CS6 Design and Web premium-Full version/ Windows/English version. I attentively read your posts, and I have recently been scared by the fact that one or two of your members suddenly could no longer launch their CS6 software. Launching their CS6 software was systematically prevented by an offer (I guess a pop-up window that automatically appeared on the screen) to subscribe to CC! These stories scare me as Adobe CS6 Design and Web premium-Full version is an expensive software and as I really do not want such a nightmare to happen to me. I prefer to stay away from CC whose monthly rates are too expensive.

    Can you please assure me that I will never be prevented from launching my CS6 software by such unpleasant offers to subscribe to CC?

    With many thanks in advance.

    • Hello again François, we haven’t heard what you’re talking about. You implied that you read that here? Not to our knowledge, and a staff member reads every single comment. But it doesn’t sound true anyway, as Adobe does not intentionally block standalone software.

      However, more importantly, Adobe ceased selling CS6 on their website last year. The reason is because it’s nearly 4 years old now and increasingly unsupported; they stopped releasing updates for it some time ago as the newer CC rapidly grew and took over. With the CS6 software EOL and end of support, there are no updates, no bug fixes, and no guarantees it will run on future operating systems. So at this point we’ve stopped recommending it as a good or viable option going forward.

  22. gaurav

    I am novice to adobe products and have few queries –

    1. Is Creative Cloud a suite like creative suite? if yes, what are the components it includes?

    2. Are ‘Creative Cloud’ and ‘Creative Cloud Desktop Application’ the same products?

    3. Is ‘Incopy’ a component of ‘Indesign’ or any other Adobe suite ?

    4. What is the difference between ‘Creative Cloud for Enterprise’ and ‘Creative Cloud for Teams’?

    Please help me at your earliest convenience.

    Thank you.

    • Welcome Gaurav, thanks for your questions. Here are the answers:

      1. Yes, Creative Cloud is an complete integrated collection of tools and services. The concept is similar to what Creative Suite was, but CC is much more in size and scope of additional components. Here’s a list of everything you get in Creative Cloud. All ongoing updates/upgrades are also included with your subscription. This post will help explain further:

      What Is the Adobe Creative Cloud?

      2. The Creative Cloud includes all of major Adobe Desktop Applications like Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC, as well as key services such as Typekit fonts, Behance portfolios, and online storage & syncing (if desired). To learn more about what it is (and isn’t), check out:

      The 10 Most Common Myths About Adobe’s Creative Cloud (CC)

      3. Both InDesign and InCopy are included in the complete Creative Cloud. These two desktop applications are separate but often go together.

      4. See this article to help compare the different purchase options:

      What’s the Difference Between CC for Individuals, Teams & Enterprise?

      Hope that answers all that you wanted to know! If you have any follow-up questions, just post back.

  23. François


    Good morning,

    thank you for your answer. The comment I was referring to is that of Kat (March 11th, 2015). It looks fairly explicit :

    “Hello. I’ve had CS6 for a while. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. All of the sudden I couldn’t use it anymore without signing up for a free CC trial. I loaded my CS6 from an old computer to my new one and I couldn’t access photoshop anymore with out this forced ‘free trial’ notice. Finally, I gave up trying to get around it and signed on. Well, now the trial is up and it only gives me the option of signing up for CC or quitting. What happened to my original CS6? Why can’t I get to it? I’m not that savvy. Just want to use my photoshop and illustrator. When I transferred adobe I was prompted to download Adobe Applications manager. That’s the thing that keeps jumping in when I try to open any adobe program.

    I guess that you have read it. May be I read it twice.

    Please, could you explain what happened to this person ? It looks very strange and scared me!

    • Oh, that’s an old thing. As explained in our response at that time, the software was not up to date on her computer.

      There used to be a glitch that occasionally happened for some people – but the solution links we provided a year ago fix that. We haven’t heard any other instances, and certainly nothing recently.

  24. kabeer

    I’m just getting started with cc adobe suite, precisely dreamweaver. I have problems testing php files. I need help concerning this. Thank you for your replies.

  25. Roycie

    I purchased cs6 last year and i had a problem with my computer and had to take it back to factory condition, I paid over 700.00 for my cs6, I am disabled and cannot purchase or be out of pocket for the cc version, all I would like to do is get a link where I can re-download my cs6. I am mighty frustrated over this, I have been with adobe since 2006 and now I cant even use the last one I will be able to use, I do graphics with it and it really gives me enjoyment beings I cannot do anything else with my time.. I am basically begging you to help me get my cs6 back, I am about to cry, its all I use my computer for and I paid 1200 for it.. so what a loss I am getting,I am now broke and disabled and well.. depressed to boot.. I think its a shame that the people that have been with you for so long can not use what they want and are used to.. I dont want to be a professional, I just want to enjoy it while I can.. Please help. Roycie..

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