How Many Computers Can You Use Adobe Products (Like CS6) On?
This is one of the most common questions we get, and the answer may pleasantly surprise you… The place to look to find the answer is the Software License Agreement, also called the EULA. This agreement governs the use of your Adobe product, and is translated into 28 languages within each document. It also covers some basics about product activation.
So, in general, how many systems can you install Adobe software on, including CS6 and Creative Cloud? The answer for individuals (as opposed to businesses) in most cases is two. The catch is that both computers must be used only by you and the two systems cannot be used at the same time. This policy was designed so that you could run (say) Creative Suite at home on your desktop PC, as well as while traveling with your laptop. But the types of computers and their usage has blurred so much now that you can just pick any two you own and the product should install and properly activate on both…
2.1.3 Portable or Home Computer Use. Subject to the important restrictions set forth in Section 2.1.4 [having to do with volume licensees], the primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed … may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided that the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer.
In other words, the primary user may install another copy on a secondary computer for their own use, but the two installations cannot be used simultaneously. Generally, for Creative Suite and Adobe Acrobat, the two machines should also be of the same operating system (Windows/Mac), because the software is licensed and delivered for use on a specific platform – however Creative Cloud members and single-app subscribers can install and run their tools on up to two machines including both a Mac and a PC. Other Adobe products like Photoshop Elements and Lightroom are always sold multi-platform, making it a bit easier to mix-and-match Windows and Mac OS for your two installations.
Another key difference with the Creative Cloud tools is that a single user can now use the software on two computers at the same time… This is possible because CC does not use serial numbers like CS did – instead, the CC activation mechanism is based on Adobe login IDs, providing the capability to flexibly manage usage.
[ Trying to decide which is right for you? See: Creative Cloud vs. CS6 Comparison ]
Importantly, Adobe defines a computer as “a virtual or physical device,” not just a CPU – so that includes running on virtualization platforms such as VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, Citrix XenApp, and Oracle VM VirtualBox. The same thing goes for a dual-boot system with a product installed on both partitions, including Apple Boot Camp.
One additional requirement for upgrade versions of Adobe software: If you upgrade but want to continue using your prior release, then per Adobe licensing terms the older product must be on the same computer(s) as your newer upgrade version.
Note that these policies work exactly the same for Adobe’s Education versions – there is no distinction for those… However, one major difference in restrictions for all the Student and Teacher Editions is they can be run only on the customer’s privately-owned computer(s).
So there’s your answer for most current Adobe software, although we recommend confirming the terms for your particular product or suite because the license agreements are somewhat different for each package (including the Creative Suite, Acrobat, Lightroom, Elements, etc.) and version (CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6, CC).
If you’re part of an organization, group, business, or school, and/or need more than one computer running the software at the same time, then you might want to take a look at the flexibility and ease of maintenance available through Adobe’s new Creative Cloud for Teams. There you can save time, money, and headaches for multiple users.