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Home > Tips February 17th, 2015

How to Move CS6 or Creative Cloud from One Computer to Another

Transfer Adobe Software Between Two Computers

OK, so your old computer is running out of gas, you’re upgrading or changing systems, adding a new machine, or switching from a PC to a Mac, or vice versa — and you want to move over your copy of CC/Creative Cloud or CS6 (or CS5 or CS4 or CS3 or any other) Adobe software — what do you do, and how do you do it? Just follow our complete guide below.

As we’ve covered previously here, you are generally allowed to install and activate most Adobe software on up to two computers, with the restriction that the software can not used on both systems at the same time. So right off the bat, you might be good to go with installing the software on a second computer, although you may wish to double-check the licensing agreement for your product to be sure.

Deactivating Your Old System First

Adobe uses software activation to control how many of your computers are able to run their apps like CS6. So if you’re already at your limit of two computers and want to transfer your license over to a new or different system, then first you should deactivate the software from the old computer. In the program, click Help > Deactivate (for CC, it’s Help > Sign Out), and then follow the instruc­tions to deactivate the software. If you have a suite edition or Creative Cloud, then deactivating any single application on your machine will deactivate them all.

Note: You may see two choices on the Deactivation screen – if so, then what’s the difference between Suspend Activation vs. Deactivate Permanently? The answer is that both will properly deactivate your product on that computer. But the first (“suspend”) will keep your serial number stored in the Windows registry just in case you ever want to quickly reactivate the same software on the same computer later, without having to reenter it. However there is no harm in choosing the second (“permanently”) option, because you can always later reactivate the same product on the same machine by just retyping the license key. In other words, it’s basically a conven­ience factor to store your SN.

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Deactivation is different from uninstallation. If you’re permanently uninstalling Adobe software from a computer, then deactivate it first to ensure its license is freed up. If you deactivate but don’t uninstall, the next time you run Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Acrobat, or any of the other CS6 applications on that computer, you’ll be asked for a serial number or to start a 30-day free tryout period.

If you can’t deactivate the software because your disk drive crashed or you changed/upgraded your hardware or you otherwise can’t access your program – and you don’t have Creative Cloud – then you may need to contact Adobe Customer Service to deactivate it for you on their end using your serial number.

After uninstalling any version of CS or CC, you can run the Adobe Cleaner Tool if you like to make sure it’s completely removed from your old system.

Setting Up Your New System

Now you’ll need two things: the software installation files or discs, and the product’s serial number itself. Note for the Creative Cloud, this doesn’t apply – see the next section instead.

Related: Trying to decide which is right for you? See Creative Cloud vs. CS6 Comparison

If you purchased the software but lost the serial number or no longer have it readily available, the first place to check is your online Adobe account. You will have one if you ever registered the program, or if you purchased it directly from Adobe… Just log in with your Adobe ID and all your serial numbers will be listed there.  If you don’t see it, then try registering your product now and see if it appears there. As a last resort, you may be able to retrieve it from the computer itself using a free utility like Belarc Advisor (Windows) or Product Key Finder (Mac) – which will recover and tell you the activation keys for the programs on your system.

And if you’ve lost or can’t find your original installation file or CD/DVD, or if your machine doesn’t have a disc drive, then you can download and install a free trial of your application from Adobe servers onto your new computer, and that will convert to a full and permanent version when you enter your valid SN.

OK, once deactivation is complete, you are free to go ahead and enter your serial number key to activate a copy of the software installed elsewhere, or use it to reactivate the same applica­tion on that PC after reinstalling (for example, if you are changing disk drives, or upgrading operating systems from XP or Vista to Windows 7 or 8, etc.).  And you should be all set.

Note: When [re]installing an upgrade version of Adobe Creative Suite, if you don’t have your prior release already installed on that same computer, then you’ll have to manually input that older license key when prompted by the setup process. In other words, you’ll need to enter two serial numbers, the old and the new. If you are continuing to use your prior release, then per Adobe licensing requirements it must be on the same computer(s) as the upgrade version.

If you run into any problems with the deactivation/reactivation process, you’ll have a 30-day window during which the software will work in trial mode to give you enough time to contact Adobe Support and get things resolved.

Putting the Creative Cloud on More than One Computer

All of this becomes much easier with the new Creative Cloud memberships as well as with single-tool CC subscriptions, because these are no longer activated using serial numbers but instead with your Adobe ID login. So moving the products to a new system (multiple machines) is really just a matter of visiting the Creative Cloud Download Center and then downloading whatever CC apps you want…

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

When the tools finish installing, just log in and the CC software will auto­matically be (re)activated on the new hardware for you, even if you didn’t happen to deactivate first on the old machine. You’ll see a screen that says Maximum Activations Exceeded but just click “Continue” and let the reactivation happen. This makes it straight­forward to switch your CC apps to a different system when needed, like when a computer crashes or is otherwise not available, when traveling or away from home, etc.

Creative Cloud and single-app members can also skip the next two sections, as your products are already capable of flexibly running on both operating system platforms (both Windows and Mac OS), as well as freely switching between different languages as desired. All Adobe CS products, by contrast, are licensed for a single language on a single operating system.

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How to Switch Platforms from PC to Mac (or Vice Versa)

Now how about if you want to change platforms, like from Windows to Mac, or vice versa? The easiest thing to do is get Creative Cloud, because (as mentioned above) a single CC license will run freely on both operating systems. For Creative Suite, it gets more complicated, because all CS software is licensed for a single operating system only. So if you are making a switch and want to take your Creative Suite 6 license with you (or upgrade from CS3, CS4, CS5 or CS5.5 to CS6), then you can do what’s called a “crossgrade” between platforms, which is no charge to you (except nominal shipping costs) and can be submitted online directly through Adobe Customer Service.

All product configurations (including Student and Teacher Editions) are eligible for exchange.

There are a few provisos. One is you need to have a registered serial number to qualify (but that just takes a few minutes if you haven’t already). You must also be prepared to deactivate and delete the existing software from your computer and destroy any existing copies, as they will no longer be valid. But perhaps the most important is you can’t cross-grade from an older version to the same prior version — you can only move to the latest perpetual version (the last one being CS6), paying any appli­cable upgrade costs…  If you have CS6 already, then there should be no additional cost.

So if you want to do both a CS6 upgrade plus a native platform swap, then you can easily change platforms when upgrading as normal – just select the correct operating system when purchasing the upgrade. Then when you install that upgrade software on your new platform, it will ask for the serial number of your previous version from the other (old) platform.  For example, if you currently own CS5 on Windows and want to get CS6 on Mac, then just buy the CS6 upgrade for Mac OS, and manually enter the serial number for your older Windows version when installing it.

Of course, if you purchased CS6 within the past 30 days and got the incorrect platform or language version of your product, then it’s even simpler – just return the software and get the right one instead.

How to Change from One Language or Country to Another

Note that this same procedure will also work for requesting a change from one language set to another for a given Adobe CS6 application… Just follow the crossgrade process described above – but choose a new and different language on the form, instead of a different platform.

And the same goes if you want to move your residence to a different country or region, because the product language will usually be different in your new geography (even for English). For example, in the U.S. the language edition is “Universal English,” whereas overseas it’s “International English,” or another language.

After swapping platforms or languages, you cannot cross back to your original platform or language version. No more than five total (lifetime) cross-platform or cross-language upgrades or swaps are allowed per customer, regardless of the product. Software purchased second-hand or from an auction site such as eBay is not eligible for swaps.

There are some important exceptions here. The Adobe Lightroom and Elements lines are now sold as multiplatform and multilanguage software, so would not require a crossgrade. The same also goes for all Creative Cloud and Adobe CC products, because all languages and platforms are automat­ically included and you can freely and easily switch between them at any time.

Hopefully that should do it!  Please let us know if this article helped you out, or any questions you may have in the comments below.

If you’d like to move away from shuffling serial numbers altogether, check out the new Creative Cloud for Teams to simplify management instead of single-user copies… With straightforward per-seat pricing, you get a flexible license that includes powerful workgroup collaboration capabilities plus expert support for your entire team.

See Also

Download New Adobe CC 2014 Free Trials (Direct Links)

Do you have any questions about CC or CS6?  Just ask them below and we’ll get you answers!

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  1. Arif


    Thanks for your reply. Actually I have a 2 user paper volume license, the serial for both the software is same. If Adobe resets the license activation, then I have the reactivate both the machines?

  2. Karl

    My laptop fried and i have a new computer – how do i redownload the programs? Every time i try to do it, it says i have to either buy or do the trial version

  3. Paula

    I purchased a refurbished Macbook mid-2010; I never even thought to how much VRAM I would need. Consequently, I am unable to run Creative Cloud on my macbook; I still have a copy of CS5 and have deactivated the serial on my windows laptop, but when I try to enter the serial number on my macbook, it says the serial number is not valid for that product.

    I do notice that when I log in to my Adobe account, I seem to have two serial numbers: CS5 and CS5.1 so I’ll try the other serial and see if works.

    But I do want to say that I could not find the “Get Support” option to apply for a crossgrade anywhere. I followed the instructions on the link given above, but there is not “get support” option from the page when I log in.

    • Hello Paula, sorry you’re having difficulties. With CS6 and earlier software, you cannot run a Windows license natively on a Mac, nor run a Mac license natively on Windows – you will get that “invalid serial number” message if you try.

      Instead, you have to do a crossgrade or platform swap as you mentioned. But importantly, you don’t need to get any special support to achieve that any longer! You just go ahead and buy the CS6 upgrade direct from Adobe for the changed operating system that you want… CS6 will then install and run on the new platform even if your older serial number (CS5 in your case) is coming from the other o/s.

      Note that crossgrades themselves are becoming obsolete because the newer Adobe releases (CC & Creative Cloud) will run flexibly on both Windows and Mac, for up to two computers and even at the same time. However, if you want to do a crossgrade for the older Creative Suite versions, then you must be talking about running or upgrading to the last one (CS6) as it is not possible for anything prior, like CS5, CS4, etc.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Mick


    I intend to buy CS 6 Master Collection and have just found a Mac version (at a trustworthy, established shop) which is quite a bit cheaper than the Windows version I actually need.

    Is the crossgrade option still valid as of now? I would buy the CS6 MC for Mac at once in that case, but at the moment I am a bit worried that I will be either forced to upgrade to CC (“latest version”) or – even worse – to not be able to crossgrade at all and then having spent much money on a version unusable for me.

    Thanks in advance for your answer!

  5. JY


    I’m currently running CS6 on a PC – and will be switching to a Mac OS X soon. Is there no other option but to upgrade to Creative Cloud? I bought the entire CS6 suite less than a few years ago, and it does everything I need it to (therefore no real need to upgrade), besides switching platforms. I don’t need the software on both operating systems, as I will not be using Windows anymore.

    It seems a bit ridiculous to have to pay 360 for the first year of CC, and then 600/year for years to come (nearing almost 3K in payments after 5 years), for a slightly updated version of software I already own. I was told that Lightroom 5 can be used cross-platform, but I do not have that version (running LR 3.6), which means I will have to either again, subscribe to CC and pay monthly, or fork over 100 for a download (still available).

    Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated — thanks

    • Greetings JY, in fact Adobe’s latest CC 2014 release of creative software is significantly evolved from CS6 – it’s been 2½ years with over 1,000 new features and improvements since CS6 in early 2012…

      Nevertheless, you can’t miss what you haven’t been running, so we understand your perspective. Please see our previous replies to Mick and Paula above, just ahead of your comment… If you are on CS6, then you may be able to do an operating system swap to change platforms from Windows to Mac.

      As for Lightroom, it is indeed multi-platform already – yes, even Lightroom 3 from 2010. So you should be able to run that version on either Mac or Windows.

      Hope that addresses your questions in their entirety; if not then just post back!

  6. Mick


    Thank you very much for your answer. I don’t worry much about my health :) as this indeed was a “real”, certified shop – and neither Craigslist, nor Marketplace, nor eBay or anything else which might be considered fishy. As a matter of fact, however, the price they offered has been caused by an error in their database as I was told, and now has returned to its normal (uncomfortable) amount.

    So I’ll have to go with the normal Windows version, directly from Adobe, after all. At least that way I don’t have to worry about crossgrades and the like.

    Thanks again!

  7. Vicki Kendrigan


    I need to do a reformat on this computer. After deactivation of Adobe PS CC and Lightroom do I need to uninstall them as well. I am running Windows 7.

    Thank you

    • Hi Vicki, good question. No, you don’t need to uninstall the software if you don’t want to… The key thing for moving/keeping the licenses is doing the product deactivation or sign-out (from the Help menu), as you did.

  8. Vicki Kendrigan


    Thankyou for your reply, I have successfully re-installed all my programs…phew :)

  9. Bart

    Hello, I got a question that combines different types of issues. I have a MacBook Pro and a desktop PC @home. So it is not possible to use the license on both?

  10. Bart


    Sorry, I have found the answer here…unfortunately it is ‘no’ :p

  11. Steve

    I mainly work in illustrator and Photoshop. Many of my illustrator files have multiple placed .psd files within them. I just purchased a new 5k iMac.. What is the best way to transfer the files to my new machine so that they retain their linked image information? Illustrator is looking for the placed .psd files, even though I’ve placed them in the same spot on the new machine. This could mean hours of looking for and re-linking Photoshop files within my illustrator documents.

    Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

  12. julian

    hello, i have CS4 design premium and i need install on 1 pc Dreamweaver, and on another PC photoshop – is that is legal ? I have only 1 license

    hola, yo tengo cs4 design premium, necesito instalar Dream weaver en un pc y en otro pc instalar photoshop, esto es legal ? yo solo tengo un numero de licencia

  13. julian

    respondo mi pregunta

    4.5 Prohibición de separación. El Software puede incluir diversas aplicaciones y componentes, puede permitir el acceso a distintos Servicios en línea de Adobe, puede utilizarse con varias plataformas e idiomas y puede entregarse al Cliente en varios soportes o copias. Sin embargo, el Software se ha diseñado y proporcionado al Cliente como un producto único para ser utilizado como tal en equipos, según se establece en este contrato. A menos que se indique lo contrario en la Documentación, el Cliente no necesita instalar todas las partes que componen el Software, pero el Cliente no puede separar las partes del Software para usarlas en distintos Equipos.

    • Right, that clause in the Adobe licensing agreement just means you couldn’t separate and run each individual application of the suite on several different computers…

      The maximum number of systems for an individual license is two – and so you should be able to install all or part of your Adobe suite on up to two machines. But you couldn’t try to subdivide the suite into many parts for different users.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Adam

    I am upgrading my 2011 MacBook Pro with a new hard drive, and to Yosemite at the same time. I am choosing to do a clean install of Yosemite and want to port Adobe CC (along with EVERYTHING else) in the easiest manner possible (time being money and all)… Do I need to download ALL my Adobe apps again, or can they be ported with the Apple transfer app? (I plan to place my old hard drive into an externally mounted USB case for access to all my old stuff)


  15. please i need urgent support from you, because my computer crashed suddenly almost 3 weeks ago – so most of the time I went to the apple shop for getting support, but many times they are very busy, so i need such kind of software to install on my mac computer: Adobe Indesign, Adobe photoshop, Adobe illustrator, Adobe after effects, Adobe bridge….. how can you help me?

  16. Still now i am waiting for your help!

  17. Jeff Mangelsdorf

    Great to find your site. I’m thinking of buying the Adobe CS6 Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium and was worried if my computer dies, then I have to buy a new software on top of a new computer. Seems that if I have the license, then I can just re-enter the code after deactivating the one on the old computer.

    I’m a photographer, so I need find out what software works best for my raw files. Also, I’ll do book and web design, so I have to convert RGB to CMYK colors. Hope the software I buy covers that.

    Thanks, Jeff

    • Yes, exactly Jeff – you can just follow the instructions given in the article above and it’s easy to move any Adobe software between two different computers whenever you want or need to.

      Also, regarding Creative Suite 6 – it’s older software (from spring 2012), but it still should be able to do all those things you described with no problem. If you want to try it out first, then you can download a free CS6 trial here, and install & run it on your computers to see how it goes.

      Keep in mind that Adobe still sells CS6 direct to folks like yourself, and that’s definitely the best option as we don’t recommend trying to buy it from anywhere else.

      Hope that answers everything you wanted to know; if not then just post back!

  18. Chip Stalter

    I just switched out my input hardware for my PC and now Audition CS6 keeps asking about continuing my trial – but I purchased the full version years ago, is there something I need to do?

    • Ah – yes Chip, that kind of thing can happen if you change or upgrade your hardware or system without deactivating your Adobe software first… The activation is keyed to a specific, unique signature based on its configuration (which has now changed).

      In such cases, if you have no way to go back to the previous configuration and deactivate your application(s), then you’ll probably have to contact Adobe support (via live online chat is the fastest/easiest) and ask that they do it remotely for you. Be sure to have your Adobe ID, serial number, and any purchase-related information ready.

  19. Chip Stalter

    After swiching out my mixer hardware, I’m getting a message that indicated I’m using a trial version rather than the full version i purchased, are these things related?

  20. Berty Goldstein

    Hi, i found a good deal on a dvd-rom version of CS6 production premium. How many computers can i install this on? Is there some account confirmation that needs to take place in order for the software to run?

  21. Berty Goldstein


    Then where would you recommend buying CS6, as Adobe no longer sells it?

  22. Carlie

    Thank you very much for your very helpful information! I just had a quick question. I am looking into buying the CS6 Design & Web Premium student and teacher edition, which is electronic download only, but I might be getting a new macbook sometime soon.

    Will I still be able to transfer the software onto my new macbook even if it is a student edition? I am not sure if this makes a difference. Thank you!

    • Yes Carlie, definitely. While Adobe’s Student Editions are not transferable between people, they are still transferable between computers.

      In other words, the “how to move Adobe software” guide above works for all versions available – personal, professional, home, office, individual, student, teacher, business, etc. The type of license doesn’t make a difference, neither does whether the product came on disc/CD or download/ESD.

  23. I bought 1 license for CS6 Windows from TechSoup in 2012. We are a small non-profit. I loaded the program on our organization’s laptop as a backup (I never use it) and had the graphics person upload the copy to be used all the time. This person has left our organization and I don’t have access to their computer to deactivate it. I have the license key etc., but I need to have our new graphics hire have access to it.

    I understand I can download it on the new hire’s computer, but I don’t know what will happen when I activate it. I need to bump the other person, who is no longer authorized, off the account. How do I do that?

  24. Trish

    Hi, I need to move Photoshop from my old laptop to a newer laptop but I don’t have any of the information I had from the purchase since it was a few years back.

    How can I transfer my license and upgrade at the same time, and how much will the upgrade cost?

    • Hi Trish, Photoshop CS6 is still sold direct by Adobe, and the perpetual licensed version costs US$199 to upgrade. To upgrade, you will need your older serial number, which you should be able to retrieve from your current system using the techniques described above.

      As an alternative, the latest-and-greatest release of Photoshop – which is called Photoshop CC 2014 – is now available together with Adobe Lightroom as part of the new CC Photography Plan for $9.99 a month. No previous license key or software ownership is required.

      Whichever path you choose, keep in mind that the CS6 version is 3 years old now and not being upgraded any further, nor being supported on future operating systems – whereas all subscribers to CC will receive ongoing new features and upgrades as soon as they’re available at no additional cost.

      Hope that helps!

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