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How Many Systems Can You Use Adobe Products (CC, 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 terms of use or 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.

See the Adobe End-User License Agreements (EULAs)

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 or tablet PC. But the types of computers and their usage has blurred so much now that you can just pick any two systems you own and the product should install and properly activate on both…

For example, here is the key text from the Terms of Use for CC Software:

1.1 Use of Software: Subscription-Based License. Your subscription lets you activate the Software on up to two devices (or virtual machines) at a time, however, you may not use the Software on the two devices simultaneously.

And there’s similar language in the EULA for Photoshop CS6:

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.

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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 standalone, 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, all 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 are also sold multi-platform, making it easier to mix-and-match Windows and macOS 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 between computers, 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?

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All Creative Cloud subscribers have access to download and use recent releases – instead of (or in addition to) the latest CC versions – together on the same machines.

For upgrade versions of perpetual 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.

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Licensing for Education Editions

Note that the above policies work exactly the same for Adobe’s Education versions – there is no distinction for those in this regard…  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 1.2(B) “Distribution from a Server” for more details).

Final Word, and Recommendation

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, etc).

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 Creative Cloud for Teams offering. There you can save time, money, and headaches for multiple seats, while benefiting from direct expert support:

Creative Cloud for Teams also offers exclusive collaboration features like Team Projects, which enables a group of distributed people to work jointly together on a single video project. Learn more about Creative Cloud for Teams and how to easily manage multiple users.

See Also

Get the New Creative Cloud 2021 Direct Download Links

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

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761 thoughts on “How Many Systems Can You Use Adobe Products (CC, CS6) On?”

  1. Hi,

    I spend 6 months in the UK and 6 months in South Africa (2 Summers).

    I purchased PhotoShop elements 14 in the UK and now wish to use it in SA. However when I use my Adobe ID name and password, I get my Adobe account but when I try to find PhotoShop 14 and open it I get a BUY window. If I am allowed 2 copies surely it should not matter what continent I use it in? Unfortunately I don’t have any Serial Nos. here in SA.

    Thanks, Pat

    Reply
  2. I work in a print production company and we have 4 computers running adobe creative suite. 3 are updated to CC one was cs6. It was running fine then I updated the cs6 version and now we cant use it until another computer is off. We were running all 4 computers with no problem before today. If I reinstall cs6 will it work properly again?

    Reply
  3. They aren’t asking if seven people can use one license. They have individual licenses and want to know if they are required to have a team license.

    Reply
    • You’re probably right Terrie… Apologies if we misinterpreted the question. No, a Teams license isn’t required when several people need the software – multiple Individual CC licenses will also work, although with reduced features and capabilities. For more details, see the article we linked in the previous comment.

  4. Hi,
    I am receiving monthly emails from my bank stating that payments are being made for adobe systems software and each time its different, either 19 or 35 or sometimes even 75 euros. i remember having created a creative cloud account in 2016 and had chosen the student payment of 19.99 euros for all apps. but now, as i log into my account i doesn’t state that i have registered to any payment plan and i can’t find none of my payment details. What is happening?! i need to stop these illogical payments!

    Reply
    • Hey Lisamarie, not sure what’s happened in your particular case, but we’ve never had any problems with Adobe billing over many years…

      We don’t have the power to look into it for you, so for that you’d have to contact Adobe directly about your account:

      http://www.ContactAdobe.com/

      Via live online chat is usually fastest/easiest.

  5. Hi,

    Is it possible for 1 user to have multiple licenses not used by that person themselves? My office has several computers and we are planning to change from CS to CC. Not all computers needs the all-apps subscription and due to high turnover, we are planning to assign 1 admin to manage the licenses so that when a staff resigns, it can be re-installed on different computer. All subscriptions will go directly to that admin.

    Reply
  6. Hello, I purchased one-off versions of CS6 InDesign and Photoshop back in 2014 and 2015. I tried to install Photoshop on my new laptop today, but it won’t accept it.

    Reply
    • Hello Bruce, what is the issue or difficulty, or the precise error or message (exact text) that you receive?

      We would need more details about your system and the problem you’re facing in order to help.

  7. Hi, problem solved. I rang Adobe today and apparently I have inadvertently purchased unlicensed versions! Hey ho, you live and learn, I can still use my original laptop…

    Thanks for your help,
    Bruce

    Reply
  8. I have a subscription to CC all apps and I would like to purchase a 3rd license of Adobe Audition CC only, for use on a third computer. Is there a way to do this with a discount since I already have a subscription or is my only option to pay $20/month for an additional license?

    Reply
  9. Hi,

    My fiancee and I are looking to get CC. We each have our own laptop, and while I’d be mainly using Premiere, she’d be mainly using Photoshop.

    I understand you can activate a license on 2 computers at once, would we be able to each use different apps at the same time?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sorry, we couldn’t even begin to guess what the issue is without sharing more details of the problem you’re encountering, including the text of any error or message.

  10. Hi Mike, my name is Dave. I think I was the one who started all this many years ago.

    You CAN download the Adobe software onto both computers under the same licence, BUT you just CANNOT be online at the same time using the software. It all makes sense from a software design point of view. What you have to do is to make sure that one of the computers Adobe software Graphics Pack is DEACTIVATED (a simple job under the Help menu, I think, when you open photoshop for example) when the other is online. First Deactivate and then start up other computer. It may be annoying, but if both of you are working on something together then it just means you have to organise yourselves with different online schedules. It is simply how you decide to design your online timetable with each other. The reason for all the hubbub is that you are entitled to have a back-up copy if one computer fails……so Adobe needs to know what’s what… if you have problems. If your failing computer cannot be fixed, then I do believe they have a system in place to get you up and running again so you always have the back-up. I have never needed to follow this up, but I am sure they will help you get sorted.

    I am not a software engineer, but I do understand how it works and having tried it a long time ago. I have a desktop computer as well as a laptop so when travelling… I just deactivate the home one and activate the portable… then vice versa when I get home… it all works perfectly well… it is simply that you can´t turn a single licence into a multiple one… otherwise we would all be doing it… (ha ha ha)…

    Best of luck.
    Cheers
    Dave

    Reply
    • Sorry, we don’t know why either… Could you please share more details about the problem? Do you receive any error or message? If so, what is the exact text of that? Often googling that will turn up a solution.

    • Per Adobe:

      Your individual Creative Cloud license lets you install your apps on more than one computer, activate (sign-in) on two, but use them on only one computer at a time.

      Install: You can install Creative Cloud applications on multiple computers, regardless of operating system.

      Activate: You can activate Creative Cloud on up to two computers.

      Use: You can use the software on one computer at a time.

      Hope that clears it up for you… Adobe’s full help page is here.

  11. Hi, I have 5 computers I am working on at different location. Can I install lightroom on all the 5 computers and activate only 2 at a time and deactivate them when moving to another location? I would be the sole user, however I am not sure if they are limits in activating and deactivating the software.

    The deactivation vs, sign-out notion is somewhat blurred. It would be so much easier to be able to sign out – deactivate automatically as logging off after using the software and sign on / login on another computer.

    Reply
    • What you described in your second paragraph is indeed the way it works for Creative Cloud apps, including Lightroom.

      The distinction between deactivation vs. signing out is only for perpetual products, such as the old Creative Suite tools.

      But for Creative Cloud, the two are the same. And, there is no limit to how many times you can do these actions on different computers.

      However, please be aware that if you are planning to use Lightroom on several systems, then you should probably think a little about how you want to manage your Lightroom photo catalog across those different computers… For more advice on that, google “using lightroom on multiple computers.” Also check out Adobe’s help page here:

      How to Work with Lightroom on Multiple Computers and Devices

      Hope that helps!

  12. I have my own personal laptop but use PDF files at work and home. I have almost a dozen different desktop computers I can log into at work. Can I just sign in to Adobe with my user name and password on any computer and will Adobe work?

    Reply
    • Greetings Larry, good question! Yes, any computer should work to log into and use Creative Cloud or Acrobat – so long as the correct software that you want is installed on the machine you’re using.

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