How Many Systems Can You Use Adobe Products (CC, CS6) On?
So, in general, how many systems can you install Adobe software on, including the Creative Cloud (CC) and CS6? 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 Creative Cloud (or 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.
4.1 Use of Software: Subscription-Based License. You may activate the Software on up to 2 devices (or virtual machines) at a time, if these activations are associated with the same Adobe ID for the same individual, unless stated at the Adobe Activation page. However, you may not use the Software on these devices simultaneously.
Important Details – and Key Differences with CC
So 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 or Mac), because the software is licensed and delivered for use on one specific platform.
However, now Creative Cloud members and single-app CC subscribers (and that includes all customers of the $9.99 Photography Plan) can install and run their tools on up to two machines of either operating system, including both a Mac and a PC. Other Adobe products like Photoshop Elements and Lightroom are also always sold multi-platform, making it easier to mix-and-match Windows and Mac OS for your two installations.
Another key benefit with Creative Cloud is that it does not use serial numbers like CS did – instead, you activate CC by logging in with your Adobe ID, thereby providing the ability to more flexibly manage your usage. So if you install the CC apps onto a third computer, it will ask you if you want to automatically deactivate the other two… Just hit “Continue” at the Maximum Activations Exceeded box, and it will handle activation of your new system and deactivation of the others for you. Afterwards, you can reactivate again on one additional machine. This can be useful if you’re moving around, or if one of your earlier systems crashed, or if the software is otherwise inaccessible.
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How About for Use of Prior Versions?
There is 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.
And new since 2013: all Creative Cloud subscribers have full access to download and use previous major releases such as CS6 – instead of or in addition to the new CC version – together on the same machines.
Related: Trying to decide which is right for you? See Creative Cloud vs. CS6 Comparison
Licensing for Education Editions
Note that the above policies work exactly the same for Adobe’s Education versions – there is no distinction for those here… 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) and used by the eligible licensee.
Licensing for Virtual Machines and Servers
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.
So each virtual machine you install the software on would count as a single product activation per the rules described in this article. However, this does not mean the software can be installed on a server and accessed by multiple users that are more than the number of licensed seats that have been purchased (see Section 2.1.7 “Server Use” for more details).
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 Cloud, Creative Suite, Acrobat, Lightroom, Elements, etc.) and version (CC, CS6, CS5.5, CS5, CS4, CS3).
If you’re part of an organization, group, business, or school, and/or need more than one user or computer running the software at the same time, then 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, while benefiting from direct expert support:
Learn more about Creative Cloud for Teams and how to easily manage multiple copies.