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Compare Versions: The Differences between Adobe CS5 and CS5.5

Adobe has just unveiled Creative Suite 5.5 – and one of the upgrade questions people are asking is what’s new, what’s different, what’s changed in CS5.5 as compared to previous version(s)? So our job here is to give you a quick “cheat sheet,” or guide to the updates. Adobe calls it “the most compelling release yet” and these kinds of answers can help decide about upgrading…

See the New Adobe CS5.5 Suites

You may be wondering, why a Creative Suite 5.5? What happened to CS6? See what Adobe’s CEO says about it, or read our launch overview… You might also be interested to know that a CS6 release won’t be out until a long time from now.

CS5.5 updates most of the individual products, but not all… The 11 upgraded applications are: InDesign, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Flash Pro, Flash Catalyst, Flash Builder, Audition, Acrobat X Pro, Media Encoder, and Device Central.   Learn more about the new features added to these applications in detail, with our special coverage.

The CS5 tools not revisioned to CS5.5 are Photoshop (Extended), Illustrator, Fireworks, and Contribute.

While Photoshop officially remains at CS5, there is a new Photoshop Touch SDK (Software Development Kit) that allows developers to create companion apps for desktop and mobile use… Read about 3 of the coming tablet apps, or find out more and see a demo of the new Photoshop functions running on the Apple iPad and Motorola Xoom.

In general, Adobe is placing a big focus on broad, multiplatform mobile content development with this release, using with the latest standards. And if you work with video, you’ll notice sweeping performance enhancements in CS 5.5 that enable you to work faster.

All of the suites – Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Production Premium, and Master Collection – have been upgraded. Two new products have been added to the suites: Adobe Audition CS5.5 – with a new version joining the Creative Suite family for both Windows and Mac, and taking over for Soundbooth CS5 – and as widely expected, Adobe Acrobat X Pro – which was released in November and replaces Acrobat 9 Pro.

All other suite configurations remain the same – with the exception of Flash Builder, which improves from the 4.0 Standard version to the new 4.5 Premium edition in all packages.

You can also view comparisons from earlier versions of the Creative Suite, for example CS4 vs. CS5.5, or CS3 vs. CS5.5.

Read more about the new functions within each product (a detailed comprehensive list), or download a free trial instantly. Or see a review of Adobe’s “What’s in CS5.5 for Me?” Q&A session.

CS5.5 pricing across the board remains roughly in line with what it was for CS5, with slight cost increases for some upgrades. Adobe is also offering a subscription option for new purchases of full commercial products (not for upgrades or students/education).

Lastly, one of the frequently asked questions for CS5.5: If you’re still running an older version like CS2, CS3, or CS4, there is currently a grace period in effect where if you buy or upgrade to CS5 now, you’ll get a further free upgrade to CS5.5

[UPDATE (May 4th) – Also here: Our set of direct download links for all trials for all products.]

Do you have any questions about CS5.5?  Just ask them below and we’ll get you answers fast!


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98 thoughts on “Compare Versions: The Differences between Adobe CS5 and CS5.5”

  1. You really said nothing about what the updates are, just mentioned a kind of overview that really says about as much as somebody going “they added these programs and are focusing on broad development”… Okay, but what in the sam hill does that mean, Photoshop plugins, new shaders, new scripts for Dreamweaver, new effects for After Effects??? WHAT?

  2. Can I save a document in InDesign CS 5.5 to InDesign CS 5?

    I teach a class that has CS5 installed and I have several students that are using CS5.5. When the students try to open their files in 5 they get an error message that the 5 version needs plug-ins not installed.

  3. We have compatibility issues on InDesign CS5 and CS5.5. Although the file was converted, we still encounter problems opening the file. Like missing plug-ins and it took us long time opening the file (vice-versa).

    Do we have any solutions for this?

    • Hi Jen, thanks for your question. Even though you can save back to previous versions, those previous releases may not be able to open or support all features within your newer file that was generated by your more recent product… The older version has to pare the project down to just what it knows about and can support, potentially losing functionality in the process.

  4. I am a teacher and we are still using CS3. I was hoping to upgrade to CS5 next fall, and now am concerned that textbooks for CS5 will not be compatible with CS5.5. How much have the actual interface and basic commands changed from CS5 to CS5.5?

  5. @ Nina

    Hello Nina, I teach high school students and I’d be concerned about your curriculum if it weighed too heavily on the UI of a particular app. I am designing my lesson plans around this (we are after all preparing students for the future and not the ‘now’) and rather than teach the Photoshop UI as it is, I try to focus more on teaching students how to identify the UI and capabilities of ANY image editor.

    We have a similar problem with teaching ‘Powerpoint’ — students already know how to create presentations with it — but the curriculum fails to teach what actually constitutes an ‘effective’ presentation.

  6. Bonjour, ma question est simple, j’utilise dans mon studio professionel Sonar de chez Cakewalk et j’aurai aimé savoir si Audition cs5 peut faire de l’enregistrement multipiste en simultanée venant de plusieurs canaux audios. J’ai une carte audio qui peut envoyé sur 16 pistes en simultanées et ma console est prête à gérer 24 pistes séparées en envoie et réception… Mon Sonar me plait mais le réducteur de bruit d’audition me plait, il n’y a rien de tel dans Sonar. Ma spécialité, la prise acoustique, donc pas de bruit de fond … Si quelqu’un est à même de me répondre ce serait sympa…car je n’aime pas l’ergonomie Protools…

  7. I probably don’t fit in here with my question, but here it is anyway.

    i just like to play with photos for my own pleasure. I don’t own a business, I am not a teacher, I’m just a homebody. I don’t care for the mobile features.

    I want to purchase Adobe Photoshop with the “automatic background fill-in” and……I am totally lost as to which is the one I need, CS5? CS5.1 or CS5.5

    Please help?

  8. OOOOh, THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for your time and information. I was looking then for Photoshop with content-aware fill, but was lost which Adobe it was.

  9. Hello, our college is using Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.

    I have Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5

    My professor said that 5.5 will not work on CS 5 is this correct?

    Please let me know, as I guess I’ll have to end up going to the college all the time to do work because I’m not going to buy a software that’s old.

  10. This week I started taking a course in InDesign CS5. To introduce non-artists to computer assisted design I still use PageMaker because it is ultra-simple to use and my college students who have no interest in becoming graphic designers can use it to learn principles and elements of good design quickly and efficiently. It is a shame there is no such program still available and supported by Adobe. It is a great beginner program.

    Meanwhile, knowing that I am woefully behind the times in desktop publishing (I began in the hot metal days) I am excited to learn InDesign and adapt it for my students by ignoring all the bells and whistles they can’t use in just a one-semester once-a-week class.

    TMI I suppose, but the bottom line is, what am I to do? I appreciate the sophistication of CS but I don’t want everything in the suite for my short graphic design course. I just want InDesign and 5 will do. After all, I have been using PageMaker since it was released by Aldus!

    Thanks, JB

    Advice please.

  11. @ProDesignTools

    Thanks for letting me know about a solo InDesign CS5 education version. Where can I purchase it? Most of the offers I am seeing are not for educators and include the entire suite. Please advise, and thanks, JB

    • Whoops! Sorry about that… We were going to just point you towards the Adobe Education Store to buy/download it, but forgot that Adobe significantly simplified their academic offerings when CS5.5 came out… Previously they offered almost any product in an education version, but to be honest it often didn’t make much sense.

      Here’s why: One example, you could buy a student edition of After Effects CS5 for $349, but then for just $100 more you could/can get a complete Production Premium suite with Premiere Pro, Photoshop Extended, and more. It was similar with InDesign CS5 – it used to cost $199 for education but you can now get the full CS5.5 Design Standard suite for $299 (including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat Pro) – so it’s kind of a no-brainer.

      Keep in mind that you don’t have to install more than exactly what you want – so if you only want to use InDesign CS5.5, only install InDesign. It’s still a big discount (almost 60%) off the regular price ($699), even if it comes with other applications you don’t think you need now. Apologies again if the first response was dated, but that’s the way it is now.

      PS – Heads-up: we definitely do not recommend trying to buy older versions on eBay or similar, if that’s something you might have considered.

  12. I would like to know what is the difference between Adobe CS5.5 Design Standard and Adobe InDesign CS5.5? Thank you.

  13. What if I decide not to buy the 5.5 version and just wait for CS6. Can I do that, or do I have to buy the in-between versions in order to upgrade when the big version comes out?

  14. I have a user that has Adobe Master Collection 5 at home, and Adobe Master Collection 5.5 at work. Will there be any compatibility issues when working on the same files (going back and forth) with the two different versions of the programs? Thanks…

  15. What a useful site here – thanks so much for all the great material! I work for a non-profit and have CS5. Can I take MY copy of CS5, put it on a colleague’s computer and upgrade my copy to CS5.5? I know Adobe’s licensing is really strict and doesn’t allow very much, but surely you can move the software from computer to computer as long as only one computer is using that license? Any suggestions? I really want her to learn CS5 and not have to buy another copy of the upgrade.

  16. Hi, This is a terrifically helpful site, thanks.

    I purchased Photoshop CS5 just before it was superceded by CS6. I only use it for Photoshop. I decided I would like to update to CS5.5, and I have followed your instructions to access the downloads. I see there is no standalone Photoshop CS5.5 version, so I am downloading Master Collection CS5.5. Will this actually work with my serial number, or am I wasting my time? Is CS5.1 the only version of Photoshop there ever was? Thanks.

    • Thank you for the kind words Ruth. You’re right there was no CS5.5 version of Photoshop – only a CS5.1 version. A straight Photoshop CS5.0 serial number may not work with a CS5.1 version, but they are very close in functionality anyway so there is not a great benefit in upgrading to PS CS5.1 over CS5.

      One critical piece of advice though: since Adobe no longer sells old software like CS5.5, it’s problematic trying to find a safe and legitimate copy now… There are many places you should definitely not buy from.

      Bottom line, why would you want to try to buy an prior version anyway? On the whole, it’s faster, easier, and safer to just buy the real CS6 and be done with it. Photoshop CS6 is much improved over CS5 anyway, in our view.

      Hope this fully answers your questions. If not, then just post back!

  17. Thanks for your speedy reply.

    I was downloading Master Collection CS5.5 via your web site link, so I presume it would be a genuine version?

    I already have CS5.1, with serial number installed, (and CS4 still on my PC) Would Master Collection CS5.5 accept that serial number?

    It was still downloading last night, very slowly, so I stopped it. Is it worth downloading it again, or not? All I need is Photoshop and Bridge, and if there are no differences in the two versions then there isn’t any point.

    • Sure Ruth, glad to help. Yes, all of our CS5.5 download links are absolutely genuine and come directly from Adobe’s servers – but they are only trial versions, not permanent.

      And since you already have Photoshop CS5.1, and there is no Photoshop CS5.5, there is no point in using those – since your serial number will work only with the release you have. Your license will not work with any product contained in CS5.5 Master Collection except Photoshop CS5.1 itself. CS5.5 is not a free update or free upgrade from CS5 anyway.

      If you want to upgrade your Photoshop (as you said), then just get Photoshop CS6 instead which is brand new.

  18. Thank you. That is absolutely clear. I’ll stick to 5 until I’ve got my head ’round the new stuff.

    Cheers, keep up this site, it’s great.


  19. Thanks for the help. I’m currently using the CS4 suite. I’m not sure whether to jump to CS6 or make the steps, CS5, then CS6 cloud. Then there’s the consideration about CS5 vs CS5.5. Yikes, any advice? I primary do print graphic design, not animation, animated web or video graphics.

  20. I have a very old version of CS3 that no longer works on my iMac on Mavericks. I am looking to get the pre-cloud version of CS Design Standard. Is CS5.5 a standalone program or an upgrade only, and I would need CS5 in order for 5.5 to work on my machine?

    • Hey Alison, all Creative Suite programs come in two forms: Full and Upgrade. Full costs more than Upgrade.

      For each release (CS5, CS5.5, CS6), the suite upgrade versions vary in price depending on how far your upgrading from your old version. So an upgrade from CS3 is a higher-priced product than an upgrade from CS4.

      But we definitely do not recommend trying to find old Adobe software like CS5.5 – besides being dated, it is extremely risky to try to buy…

      Instead, just get Creative Suite 6 (a non-Cloud version if that’s what you want), because Adobe still sells CS6 direct. (Yes, it’s true; you can even get free trials.)

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