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

  1. Do I need to uninstall CS5 Bridge, ExtendScript toolkit, Adobe Device Central, PixelBender toolkit, or Adobe Media Encoder from previous CS5 trial downloads before I can install the trial versions of CS6?

  2. Hi there
    This question may have been previously asked but I wonder if you could help.

    I installed Adobe Design Standard CS5 student edition on my laptop about 2.5 years ago, but would like to now install it on a new desktop computer. I understand that this is possible, but can’t seem to work out how to do it?

    Having inserted the same installation disk and serial number, it is not accepted.

    Any help on the process of installing the software on two machines would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks

    • Hi Clare, is it giving you a message that both your product activations have already been used? If so, then something must have happened with your hardware or installations to cause Adobe’s licensing server to believe you already have it on two systems. Perhaps you moved it from an old computer at an earlier point, and forgot to deactivate it first there?

      In any event, your problem can be easily solved via a quick online chat with Adobe Customer Service – just ask them to reset your license activations to zero on their side, so you can begin again… You won’t have to uninstall or reinstall the software, but just enter your serial number again where you want it.

  3. Hi, I have currently purchased an Adobe CS6 Design Standard MAC student/teacher suite. I have uploaded and worked with it on my MAC BOOK, but I understand that I can upload to more than one computer. I want to upload this to my PC at home, how do I do this? Can I use the same Adobe disc I bought at the Apple store?

    • Hello Sarah, actually with CS6 (and older versions) it’s either one operating system or the other… In other words, you can’t natively install your CS6 suite on both platforms.

      However, this is possible with the Creative Cloud – you can install a single purchase on both Windows and Mac OS.

  4. I’m of two minds at the moment, of buying adobe cs6 design & web premium student edition – in regards to using this I would like to firstly install it on my imac desktop, but is there a chance of installing this product on an macbook perhaps at a later date?. If not does that mean I have to buy another serial code to use it on another device?

  5. My friend is a teacher and would like to buy a copy of Creative Suite to use on my Mac. She doesn’t own a Mac but would like to learn CS on mine. Is this possible, to use software in her name on the Mac in my name? Thanks

  6. Oh, I think she was going to buy the student/teacher edition, as the full version is too much of a cost. Is that what you mean by the education version? Thanks.

  7. Hi there

    I haven’t used my software for a few years and I’m not sure how many installs it already has, how can I find out?

    • Greetings Carly, the only way to do it is contact Adobe Customer Service and ask. The simplest/fastest way to do this is via live online chat.

      Or you can just press ahead and try installing your software on a new machine. It will tell you if there are any issues, or if you have reached your limit.

      If so, you can get in touch with Support as mentioned, and ask them to reset your activations to zero… Then you can reactivate exactly where you want, on whatever two computers you want.

      Hope this helps!

  8. I’m currently looking into teaching classes basic Photoshop skills at my school (primary). However, in order to get say 5 Macs running Photoshop, am I right in saying that I need to buy the educational version 5 times?

    5 x £220.49 = £1102.45!!! Insane!

    Is there a better deal available? Having basic Photoshop skills can be a real asset and opens the door to doing more, but my school would not be keen on the price tag,

    • Yes, that’s basically correct Benny. Each machine in use would need its own license, and you have five machines.

      Photoshop is the world’s best digital imaging software, and most customers would look at your ability to buy at those prices to be very attractive… The standard pricing in the UK is £660 for a one commercial license, so being able to get five for £1100 is really a comparative deal, 66% off the regular price because of your academic status.

      Adobe used to offer very modest discounts for small group purchases, but that has pretty much disappeared… It wasn’t very much anyway, only a few percent and hardly worth bothering about. To get any significant volume discounts these days, institutions have to sign multiyear contracts and buy in large numbers.

  9. Hey, I have a question and I would appreciate your input. I’m looking at the Software License agreement for Illustrator CS6. Here’s the part that my question comes from:

    “14.4 Deactivation. Customer may deactivate and uninstall the Software from its Computer in order to install and activate the Software on another Computer in accordance with this agreement (“Deactivation”) and as further described in Deactivation requires Internet connectivity.”

    I just want to make sure I’m understanding correctly. Say I install Illustrator on my current computer (computer #1). Then decide to buy a better performing computer (computer #2). I install Illustrator on computer #2, and now I’ve reached the limit of the license. Then computer #2 ceases to meet my needs and I buy computer #3. (This is taking place over several years; I don’t just buy computers willy-nilly.) Am I correct in thinking that I can uninstall and deactivate Illustrator on computer #1 and then install and activate Illustrator on computer #3? Can I just repeat this cycle until Illustrator CS6 is an antique?

    Second question. Let’s say instead of getting outdated, my computers were getting stolen or blown up or something and I wasn’t able to access the hard drive in order to uninstall and deactivate Illustrator. Does Adobe make any accommodation for that situation? Perhaps if there were some way to verify to them that the computer is unusable…?

    Thanks a lot for reading this! I eagerly anticipate your expertise.

    • Sure Grant. You’ll have no problems in either scenario. You can easily move Adobe software between computers as you like or need going forward.

      Also, if your system/disk crashes or gets stolen and you can’t deactivate, then just contact Adobe Customer Service and they will reset your activation count to zero, so you can then reactivate on whatever two machines you want. Be sure to have any purchase-related information ready.

      Note that if you’ve purchased the Creative Cloud and are using Illustrator that way, then you don’t even have to do that last part – it will automatically recognize that you’ve gone over your limit of two computers, and reset the count to zero again for you.

      Also different with the CC: your two systems can be both a PC and a Mac.

      Hope that answers all your questions, if not then just post back!

  10. Hi – question about running on two computers… How will it “know” when one is running? Asking because I’d like to buy a laptop to use for working on projects while I’m staying at our camp this summer… but we don’t have internet there. Would I need internet access in order to run the second license? I’m assuming so, since that’s the only way I can think of for Adobe to know which computer is running (laptop vs desktop)…

    • Hey there Becca, Adobe doesn’t give many details on how their product activation system works – but we do know the software “phones home” every so often to check in on the licensing, and is aware of its own usage and connectivity.

      But you should still be able to use it without being connected to the Internet – just make sure you don’t ever try to run your two copies simultaneously, whether you are online or not… That is what the EULA states must be followed.

      For more information, see our previous response on this topic.

  11. Just wondering what the difference is between CS6 Download vs. Boxed version? I have an iMac and a MacBook and would like to update both, but I would presume you can only have the download on 1 machine? Whereas you can have 2 licenses for the boxed version?


    • No, actually there’s no difference at all between the download versions compared to the boxed versions…

      Adobe has recently discontinued boxed versions for all CS products, and the new CC release is available via download-only – but the licensing is always the same regardless, and you should be able to activate all products on up to two of your systems.

  12. I have the latest Design Premium and Lightroom on my Macbook and I’m in the process of building a new PC workstation. I’ve read conflicting information regarding licenses between Mac and PC. Am I able to use the product keys from Design Premium and Lightroom on my Mac and use it on PC? From what I can tell the software is different but the keys are identical. Is this true, or would I have to get another copy of Design Premium and Lightroom for my PC?


    • Welcome Michael, thanks for your question. This guide should help:

      How to Move Adobe Software Between Systems, or from PC and Mac

      As described there, Lightroom is multi-platform software – so you should be able to run the copy you bought for Mac also on your new PC.

      But it’s not the same with the traditional versions of Creative Suite… They are licensed for a single operating system only, and the serial numbers are different. However, you may be able to “crossgrade” between platforms as described in that linked article.

      Either that, or get the Creative Cloud (Adobe CC) – which you can now install and run on both Windows and Mac for a single user.

      Hope that helps!

  13. ProDesignTools:

    Hello Sarah, actually with CS6 (and older versions) it’s either one operating system or the other… In other words, you can’t natively install your CS6 suite on both platforms.

    However, this is possible with the Creative Cloud – you can install a single purchase on both Windows and Mac OS.

    Not “exactly” true with CC. You can install and run it on either flavor of OS, and you can also run it on two machines simultaneously. Not one or the other as with the earlier versions.

    • Thanks for your comment – this is an interesting point. Adobe recently changed both their site content and the licensing agreement… If you check out the new CC FAQ under “Getting Started”:

      “Can I use the software I download from Creative Cloud on multiple computers?

      Yes, you can use Creative Cloud desktop applications on two computers at once, regardless of operating system, for the individual associated with the Creative Cloud membership. See the product license agreements page for more information.”

      If you then follow their link to the Creative Cloud EULA page, you’ll see that what’s described in our article above (Section 2.1.3) does not apply: “Section 2.1 applies to Customers who have purchased a license to the Software but have not purchased a membership-based license or service such as the Creative Cloud membership (as described in Section 2.2).”

      And Section 2.2 (Membership) makes no mention of any restrictions on simultaneous use…

      So based on what Adobe says now, it may be true that each individual who purchases the new CC release will be able to use it on both machines at once, whether on PC or Mac.

    • Great, thanks for the link Gary – there he confirms it:

      “A single user can now use the software on two computers at the same time.”

      So Adobe has just changed the terms for the better, for CC. Thank you for bringing that to our attention!

  14. Remember this is creative cloud only. As far as for the better, depends on your perspective. :) At $600 a year that’s debatable. ;)

  15. Very true. On the other hand, most don’t need more than a few programs. If you need say… the web suite, you’re likely only going to use PS, IL and maybe Dreamweaver. And you’d likely upgrade once every two or three years. At an average of $400 or so. (I paid $375 for CS6) That’s like $175ish a year as opposed to $600 now.

    For the cloud, the full access version is the same price as getting just the 3 you need ($20 per individual program). The rest is pointless but it’s the same price as buying the 3 separately. Every year with no “upgrade” option.

    If you only need the 3, then going for the whole thing makes sense but it’s still a waste. Since you can now run it on two machines at the same time, that cuts your cost down to $300 a year if you really need two copies. That helps (if you have two users).

    But as far as Adobe, with this CC program they can likely afford to lose half or more of their box customers and still make money. Makes good business sense for them but it sure hurts the pocket book of the little guy. :)

    • It depends. Besides Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver, web designers may also use Fireworks, Flash, Acrobat, Muse, and the Edge tools & services. Possibly also Acrobat, PhoneGap, and Business Catalyst.

      Photographers will want some of the above plus Lightroom. Other designers (print etc.) may use Acrobat, InDesign, and possibly DPS.

      And the video folks (and maybe web now too) are going to use Premiere, After Effects, Audition, Prelude, and SpeedGrade.

      All customers are likely to benefit from Typekit and/or Behance, plus free premium training, and the cloud storage/sharing/syncing.

      But increasingly, there is overlap between these categories – as fewer creatives do “just one thing” for their work, in an age of exploding multi-channel delivery.

      So all of the above is included in the Creative Cloud and available to all members.

      In any event, last year’s non-upgradable CS6 Design & Web Premium Suite now costs $1,899 upfront ($599 for education) – compared to $50 a month for CC (or $20 a month for students & teachers).

      Lastly, the new change we are discussing here is for a single user to now be able to run the CC software simultaneously on two machines, not for multiple users.

  16. I hear you. But you’re basing price on buying the master version. One would buy that (or any suite just once). Then upgrade every 3 years or so. So the upgrades used to cost about half or less than the full version. So the upgrade would have been “essentially” $200 to $300 a year if you upgraded every 3 years. (Based on a $400 to $600 upgrade cost) Now it’s $600 a year. Which to me, just eliminated any upgrade discount. You’re back to $1800 for 3 years.

    But I concede that the good thing is there will be no more waiting for a new version for new features. They’re added automatically. But IMHO… it’s still a steep price to pay. It may not mean much to bigger shops. Since they can use it on two machines now it puts them back in the $300 a year upgrade category. But it pretty much eliminates most hobbyists and smaller, struggling “one man” shops.

    But it’s the “sign of the times” I suppose. Seems everyone is going that route anymore.

  17. Hi, my question is, I have bought CS6 and downloaded it onto my Mac and it works fine, I want to use it on my Mac laptop when I am away from home, but how do I re-download the full CS6 onto my laptop, when I log onto the creative cloud it does not give me the option to download it again? Any ideas?

  18. Hello,

    I have some questions regarding the use of Photoshop CC on a work computer.

    Practically, I am interested to know if I am eligible to install and use the trial version of Photoshop CC on my workplace computer (only my PC)? I am planning to pay after the trial ends and get a license.

    My work computer has a license for CS3 on it and nobody plans to update it, that is why I want to purchase the cloud version.

    I have read the EULA but I am in doubt if a workplace computer (used and accessed only by me, but not owned by me) can take the notion of a personal computer.


    • Hi Andrei, thanks for your question. Yes, you should definitely be able to do that – if you noticed from looking at the licensing agreement, Adobe talks about who owns/uses the software and not who owns the computer…

      There are no restrictions on that so, you should be fine – and your work machine can serve as one of your two eligible systems to run the new CC tools on.

  19. I currently have CS5 installed on my office and home machine. If I upgrade to CS6 on those machines, can I run my old CS5 on my laptop as a 3rd machine since its the older version and CS6 would replace CS5 on the home & office desktops.

    • That’s a great question Mike. Per the terms of the Adobe licensing agreement, your original version (CS5) and your upgrade version (CS6) are tied together because of the discounted pricing you received – they are one unit and therefore would need to be installed on the same two systems

      In other words, you couldn’t have your CS5 and CS6 installed on different computers, where the number of total machines activated was greater than two.

      In a similar vein, you also couldn’t give away or sell your old software for someone else to use, because you need it to complete your current license… (both serial numbers are required!)

      Customers that wish to do more than this need to either buy multiple Full copies (not Upgrade) of the products, or use a group or volume solution like Creative Cloud for Teams.

      Hope that explains the rules clearly!

  20. I bought a boxed version of CS5 Extended (for which I have the discs) and then bought a licence for CS6. I downloaded the update when I paid for the licence. This was all installed on my laptop.

    I recently bought a desktop dedicated for Photoshop and would like to load it with CS6 (Photoshop and Bridge). Not sure if I can go to the Adobe site and download a fully-functional version of CS6 Photoshop directly as well as Bridge (as I don’t use the other programs) and activate it with the same product key that is on the box of my CS5 discs which I upgraded? Or do I have to load the CS5 discs first on the PC and then load the upgrade somehow etc…

    I understand that I can have the program on two computers, so will not have to deactivate the licence in the laptop.

    Your advice is appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hello Staxxx, no worries. You definitely do not have to first install your original CS5 version onto any new computer, if you don’t want to run it. All Adobe upgrade versions are complete in themselves, and only need the serial number of your prior release in order for them to work.

      So, you can simply go ahead and download CS6 (even the CS6 free trial) and install that onto your new desktop system. Then when it asks, enter the license keys for both your previous CS5 as well as your newer CS6 upgrade. Then you should be good to go.

      Finally, yes – you can have both your releases installed on up to two machines (the same two) as outlined in the article above.

  21. Thank you. I must say, I do not remember getting a separate second key for the upgrade from CS5 to CS6. I seem to remember it asking me for the original key to be input and I remember having to go find the original box to retrieve it (which I did). If indeed there are two separate keys, could you please tell me where I can find this “upgrade” key off running CS6 on my laptop. Thank you.


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