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How Many Systems Can You Use Adobe Products (CC, CS6) On?

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How Many Computers Can You Install or Run Adobe Software On?


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

  1. Hello
    Can an activation be transferred please? I am currently using an HP laptop that is on its last legs and will soon be buying a Sony that runs 64 bit windows. Can I transfer my activation from the HP to the Sony? I am assuming the second activation that I have will remain on my desktop. Thank you.

    • Excellent question, and yes you can… As outlined above, you are given up to two activations per product, and one user. You didn’t say which version you’re running but presuming it’s still CS4.

      Go to the Help menu of your product and select “Deactivate…” This will begin the process to allow you to install and activate the software on another computer. If you have a suite, it will deactivate the entire suite.

      For transferring the license to another computer, you’ll also want to tick the “Erase my serial number from this computer after deactivation completes” checkbox. That way you’ll be able to reuse the key for the new (second) machine.

      For complete details, please see our article:

      How to Move Adobe Software Activation Between Two Computers

  2. Does CS5 actually check to see if both copies are running at the same time? I remember this used to be a big pain: if you were working on your desktop and moved to the laptop, it would huffily insist that you shut down the first copy before opening the second.

    • Well you’re right Adam and I guess you could say it’s a pain, but on the other hand it helps make sure the licensing parameters are met – that you can install and activate the software on up to two of your computers, but that only one user/owner/machine can run the software at a time…

      And since the installed product obviously knows when and where it was run, whether or not it is connected to the Internet at the moment, really you just have to be mindful when using it.

      Remember, you are not buying the actual software – you’re buying the grant of a license (Adobe’s permission in good standing) to use the software. So make sure you carefully follow the terms.

      The good news is most customers don’t realize that putting it on two systems is even allowed, so you could think about it another way and say that it’s nice that two computer installations are granted by Adobe (even if you can’t use those machines simultaneously).

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. I just want to confirm what you have said here.

    I will not be able to install cs5 on my pc and mac…? I basically have to choose one? Is that only with the downloading option? If I get the program sent to me with install cds could that somehow make a difference?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Krissy, thanks for your question. For your standard Adobe CS5, you can run the software on one platform only. It doesn’t matter whether you download or order the discs, the software and license will be either for Windows or for Mac, but not both.

      If you want to change licensing from one platform to another, you can do what’s called a “crossgrade” which is free and can be submitted online through Adobe Customer Service. See more about this option in our new post here on how to do it.

      Note that the licensing for some other Adobe products is different. For example, the new Lightroom 3 is sold as multiplatform software, which means it can be installed on either Mac OS X or Windows. However the same restriction exists when installing on two systems that the software can not used at the same time.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Hey – what happens if I own a copy of CS4 and I was to buy an upgrade to CS5? Are the 2 licenses for CS5 new or do they replace the ones for my copies of CS4? (i.e. can I have 2 of my computers use 2 CS4 licences and my third have a CS5 license?) Does the situation differ if I buy a new copy outright instead of upgrading?

    • Hi Tabby, great questions and yes – the situation does differ if you upgrade from CS2/CS3/CS4 versus buy a full copy of CS5 outright, and also depends on how many computers they’re all installed on…

      Here’s the exact answer (read down) – hope this helps and thanks for an excellent comment.

  5. Hi:
    Is it possible to install: 1) CS5 on one PC, 2) 1/2 CS5 on a second PC, and 3) the other half of CS5 on a third PC?


  6. Hi,
    I want to set up CS5 on two computers, but will be buying a new computer in the next few months. Like you said above in the case of two total computers, can I deactivate one computer and install on a third (the new one)?
    Thank you,

  7. Hi,

    I just wanted to ask if for example, I bought only:
    – Dreamweaver CS5 and
    – Photoshop CS5
    *not bundled together, but separately

    Do the two PCs/laptop per license also apply?

    What if, for example:
    I have 2 PCs. I install both Dreamweaver and Photoshop separately on both PCs (following the 2 PCs per license rule).
    Then I can use, Photoshop from one PC and Dreamweaver in the other (and vice-versa), at the same time? I understand that this may be possible as long as I don’t use one application on both PCs at the same time. Can anyone confirm please?

    • Hello Karla, great question – and the answer is yes, it should work as you’ve outlined it because the individual products are licensed separately and have different license keys and activations…

      When you buy a CS5 suite, everything is tied together with a single serial number. The advantage of course is it’s a better deal when you calculate the cost per application.

      So buying the products separately will work, but is not as price efficient as getting a suite.

  8. Thanks for that, ProDesign. Can I ask something, maybe not so related to this topic but wanted to get an answer as well –

    I want to know who gets rights to using the Adobe software – the person registered with adobe or the person who holds the CD?
    I am planning to buy an adobe product from another person – he said he will send me the serial number so I can register under my name, then I pay him, before he gives me the CD with the box

    im just worried… if he gives me the serial and i do register under my name, and I pay him. If he does not send me the CD/box, would he be able to argue with Adobe that he should have rights to the software because he has in his possession the CD/box anyway? so i want to be assured, that if I do register an adobe product under my name, even if I don’t have the CD/box with me, I will remain to have rights to the license of the product with Adobe. Can anyone help me with this?

    • Hi again Karla, and more good questions, thank you. Yes, you can transfer the license of an Adobe product from its original owner, and Adobe even has a formal procedure to follow (including paperwork) in order to do it right – see the link below…

      A couple of things you want to be careful of though… The first is you need to be sure that you trust the source, that it’s legitimate and they won’t try to continue to use any of the license activations. Also, you cannot transfer the license for any Adobe education software, nor for the previous version of any product after upgrading it to a new version (in other words, someone trying to sell you their old CS4 after upgrading it to CS5 – it won’t work). Hope this helps!

      How to Transfer an Adobe Product License between Two Parties

  9. I have a student CS5 product which is limited to one installation.

    I am wondering if I can use it on two computers as follows: install the product on my home computer during the summer then install it on my school PC in the fall.

    During the summer, I activate the home version then in fall, deactivate the home copy and activate the laptop version. When I get back home in June, I deactivate the laptop version and activate the desktop version.

    Would this approach work?

  10. Hi,

    I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m seriously considering. Only problem is, this deal that says I have to shut down one computer to run another — that’s lame. Anyway, I have a laptop and a desktop. The desktop is dedicated for editing only. So, I really don’t even need it connected to the internet. What I’m wondering is this — what would happen if I properly activated the laptop, but on the desktop, installed it and never connected it to the internet (thereby, not allowing it to automatically activate).

    What happens if you install but never activate? Does it act like a trial version, eventually forcing you to activate before it works again? Or, can I just never plug in my internet and continue using it?

    • Greetings Joseph, interesting comment. While the policy might seem a pain on one hand, from the opposite perspective it’s generous since many software companies only allow their products to be installed on one computer – and here Adobe is allowing two systems, so long as the software isn’t used on both at the same time. Since you’re only one person, you normally wouldn’t use them at the same time anyway.

      Note that technically you don’t have to “shut down one computer to run another” – you just have to close the Adobe software itself, whether it be CS5, CS4, or other products… Sorry if that wasn’t clearer above.

      As for activation, if you don’t activate a CS5 installation (or if you deactivate it), then it will run in free trial (evaluation) mode, which will be fully-functional but only for 30 days. Once the trial period up, you’d need to activate it to continue using it on that system. Hope this helps.

      See also:
      How to Move Adobe Products Between Computers, or from PC to Mac

  11. I’m upgrading to CS5 but have installed currently CS1 and then the upgrade to CS3, anyway i can do the install more cleanly without loading CS1 and CS3 first?

  12. Is this network wide or internet wide? IE, what if I run out of the house forgetting to shut down my CS and need to use it on the road. Does that mean I can’t? Is there anyway to remotely shut it down? I assume if this happened my other computer would go to sleep and it not be an issue but curious, don’t want to get stuck.

    • Hello David, that’s a good one. The answer is that it’s worldwide, when your computers are on and the software is running… This happens “in order to validate that the Software is being operated in accordance with this agree­ment.”

      To your other question, there’s no way to close the software down remotely using any mechanism from Adobe – but there are a number of third-party products out there that let you see and control your computer screen generally from a different location, if you need to.

  13. Everything here is correct for CS5, both the normal edition (i.e. the student edition) and even the full-price non-student edition (SMILEY).



    Note that ***installation**** from the DVDs takes ages and can be complicated. But ***activation**** takes maybe literally 3 seconds.

    NOTE– IMPORTANT — NOTE ————————– You do NOT even need to remember or have on hand your certificate numbers when the de/re/activate! Just click.

    (3) YOU CAN MOVE THE TWO ACTIVATIONS AROUND ABSOLUTELY FREELY, IN SECONDS. I often open one laptop, click “deactivate” and then on another laptop click “activate”

    (4) THE COPY PROTECTION IS ALL BUT UNBREAKABLE. unless you are an expert hacker and prepared to suffer various problems on your machine. DONT EVEN BOTHER .. REALLY. YOU HAVE TO PAY, END OF STORY.



    CS5 is an amazing product and it is astonishing how cheap it is at, what, about 300 euros for the Design Standard normal edition that students can buy. It would be absolutely crazy to try to rip it off, or otherwise try to get around the license, when the price is so ridiculously low.

  14. Hello – I had CS3 installed at work and at home on the same license (I worked from home 1 day a week) and used to activate/deactivate without any issues (except forgetting to deactivate occasionally!), but after a while it said I had reached the maximum number of activations/deactivations. I spent many hours trying to sort this out with the support desk and they eventually conceded and removed the limitation for my home installation.
    Does this also happen with CS5? I don’t want to go through that again!
    thank you

  15. Hi, I just bought the student/teacher edition of CS5 Design Standard Suite through my school and had a question that it seems you would be able to answer:

    I have a Macbook Pro for school, my sister has an iMac at home, and I will be buying my own iMac for home use as well. I currently have the CS5 Suite installed on my Macbook Pro, and will probably install the Suite on both my and my sister’s iMac at home. Will we be able to transfer activation between the two iMacs? It will be active on my Macbook Pro at all times but will the two of us be able to juggle activation between the two at home? If this question is at all confusing please let me know because I can see how it might be. Thanks!

    • Hi Chris – yes we can answer that, although sorry to say it’s not in the affirmative… That type of use would not be allowed by the EULA. Per the agreement, the software is licensed for your exclusive use, and not shared amongst a group of people on a group of computers.

      If you need a volume license for more than one user on a group of computers, see the benefits and discounts available with the Adobe Volume Licensing Store. Hope this helps.

  16. “to our knowledge the answer is networks.”, so it can’t be IP addresses since the laptop will generate a new IP each time. Must be the serial number of the software or the application sends something or pings adobe via the internet.

    • Yes, the details aren’t shared but it appears to be something along those lines, similar to the technologies other software companies use for activation and license management (e.g., Symantec, Microsoft, etc).

  17. So, can Photoshop Elements 9 & Premiere Elements 9 be installed on a Windows desktop and a Macbook Pro using one license (and only used on one machine at a time) since it is sold as Win/Mac?

  18. Hi, I have the UK version of the CS5 Master Collection, and have just wiped my laptop before getting rid of it as it became too slow to run anything on. Can i simply load the discs onto a new laptop?

    Alternatively, what could i do if i wished to sell it on as i have the PC version and really want to move to a Mac, which means buying the mac version :(

    Many thanks.

    • Hello Kay, those are good questions. If you wiped your system (or if your disk crashed) without deactivating the software, then you may have lost one of your two activations. To properly deactivate an installation you must have the application running and have an Internet connection; you can’t deactivate it remotely yourself.

      Regardless, you can try installing the discs on your new system to see if the software will activate. If not, your best bet is to contact Adobe Customer Service to see if they can help out… Be sure to have any purchase-related information ready.

      What they may do is deactivate all existing installations for your serial number in the database on their end, and then you’ll need to reactivate on whichever computer(s) you want. In the meantime you can run the products in free trial mode for 30 days.

      For the rest of your question, see our other post, How to Move Adobe Software Between Computers, or from PC to Mac. Hope this helps.

  19. You have already mentioned that only one instance can be used at a time. How about different programs within a suite. Can I lets say run Premiere on one machine and Photoshop on the other (when buying the Master Collection)? I would like to still be able to work in photoshop while I am rendering my videos.

    • Hi Andre, that’s a thoughtful question. Our guess is it wouldn’t work because these are bundled suites of many integrated components, with a single license and serial key… So when part of one is running on one computer, it wouldn’t allow another to run on the other computer.

      Adobe’s End-user license agreement FAQ says:

      “… Product suites such as Creative Suite are sold and priced as a single product; you receive a substantial discount for purchasing one product suite rather than separate licenses to each of the component products …”

  20. Hi All,
    I have a question i just purchased the adobe cs5 student/teacher software and loaded it onto my Mac and licensed it to myself but I would also like to load it onto my boyfriend’s Mac as well. I was browsing through the comments above and want to know if I have this correct… Say I am using photoshop on my Mac, then will he not be able to access it at the same time on his?

    • Greetings Jessica, you can find the answer here in the complete Software Activation FAQ:

      “… The product license agreement does not allow concurrent use of the software on two different machines … [and] … While you can install and activate your software on two machines, the secondary license is for the exclusive use of the primary user …”

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