Download 1,000,000+ High-Quality Assets from the Adobe Stock Free Collection

How to Download or Order Prior Adobe Releases like CS4 or CS5

[UPDATE (June 2014) – See this comment below for an important update on this article.]

[UPDATE (Jan. 2017) – Adobe just stopped selling CS6 entirely – here’s why.]

Adobe’s Creative Suite 5.5 has been out since May, and has generally been well-reviewed and even lauded as a must-have release…  Nevertheless, some folks are still looking for or require older versions of the software, like CS5.0 or CS4.  Why?

Two common reasons are the higher system requirements – 64-bit for some components of CS5 like After Effects & Premiere Pro, as well as cases where the rest of a customer’s site is still running an older version and would like to add a new setup with the same compatibility. And occasionally some folks say they prefer the earlier, simpler versions over newer ones with more features.

The challenge is, once a new release comes out, Adobe no longer officially sells the older version (with one exception). So if you need a prior release, what do you do?

How to Order Adobe CS5 or CS5.5

If you want the trial version to use for 30 days, that’s easy – Adobe actually keeps most older original trials still available for download on their servers – including all of CS4 and CS5, plus earlier releases of Acrobat, Lightroom, Elements, etc… You can find those trials all linked for download here:

Download now

But how about when you want to actually buy CS4 or CS5?

If you ask Adobe, they’ll usually tell you to check their official list of authorized resellers & retailers to see if someone still has the version you want in stock. The problem is it’s inconvenient to search as often those stocks are thin or sold out, and no longer available.

So, do you turn to other random sources like eBay or Craigslist?  If you’re smart, definitely not – we strongly advise against eBay et al.  So what do you do?

The Solution: Order “Prior-Version Software”

Fortunately, there is an easy solution. It’s little-known, but Adobe actually sells a special type of license that can be “downgraded.” These unique products come from the Adobe Business Store (and are also known as volume licenses) – but you don’t have to be a business to get them, or even buy more than one copy, and they can be easily purchased online instantly with a credit card.

So these “business” licenses have this helpful capability which allows you to order the latest release (like CS5.5 or Acrobat X) but then optionally receive and use the prior version instead (like CS5.0 or CS4, or Acrobat 9).  Here it is spelled out:

Backward Licensing Policy
Adobe allows program members to order a current-version license but to use a prior version. These members can contact Adobe Customer Service to request a serial number for the earlier version if they do not already have one.

Prior-version software is available via Electronic Software Delivery [download from Adobe]. The program member must follow all guidelines of the current-version EULA.

Adobe has a name for this program (which again, anyone can buy from) – it’s called the Transactional Licensing Program (TLP) and it doesn’t cost extra – in fact customers typically get discounts off the regular price. And there are other nice features of these licenses as well, including the ability to run your software multi-platform on both Windows and Mac OS – which is also not possible elsewhere.

So if this is what you need to do now, then you may want to check this out.

[UPDATE – Good news: there is now also the availability of the same volume licensing solution for education purchases, with up to 80% off the regular prices for students, teachers, and schools.]


Sign up for our popular newsletter and we’ll send you 30 great ebooks to learn all major Adobe tools at no cost!

Thank you for subscribing! We hope you enjoy the newsletter and your free Adobe books... Click here to see the books now, and start downloading and reading!

Sorry, something went wrong. Please try again.

Share This

Download 1,000,000+ Royalty-Free Images from the Adobe Stock Free Collection

91 thoughts on “How to Download or Order Prior Adobe Releases like CS4 or CS5”

  1. I would like to purchase PS CS5 for work. My computer will not support anything above this. I also want to be able to put on my laptop as I do some work from home (2 licenses). Is there anywhere or any way to do this?

  2. So I bought a new computer & downloaded my PS CS4 – it takes my serial number when installed, but then after I click on Ps it ask for the license key again & won’t take it.

    I even deactivated from old computer, thinking that was it.

    Can’t get a hold of anyone at Adobe customer service, automated thing says go to website & ask. No one will answer question and I don’t want the newest version.

  3. I wish to have a CS4 for my mac. I have never owned a copy because we always used IBM in the office. Now we have a mac. Can I get this in CD format? Please let me know. Thank you.

  4. My hard drive crashed unexpectedly. I am trying to reinstall the CS3 program, but the code is not being accepted. Any ideas? Still using XP on this old computer. Thanks

    • Hey Carey, unfortunately that kind of thing (licensing or serial code issues) is out of our power to help with… You have to contact Adobe directly.

      It’s possible since your old disk crashed without being able to deactivate the software, that you may have unexpectedly exceeded your two-system limit for software activations – in which case you’d have to contact them anyway, to see if that could possibly be reset. Not sure if they still do that for CS3, but you could try.

  5. Hello, I have had CS4 PS and DW on my MacPro since 2009, now I would like to use InDesign as well. Do I need to un-install PS and DW first then re-install them again along with Indesign?

    • No Yolanda, all different Adobe tools and releases install and uninstall separately… You can install and uninstall multiple applications at the same time with a suite, but it’s not required to do so.

  6. No questions, just thank you so much for this! You’ve helped me out of a bind more than once because of a scratched cd! Really appreciate this!

  7. Hi, my notebook only has space for CS4 now, i wanna make the trial downloads, but at the page have 2 links (part 1 & part 2) for Windows, i ask at forum but have no answer. I wanna know: i download part 1 & 2 and install them both? Is this? And to buy the license? Retail? Thanks for any help. Hugs

    • Hello Claudya, you need both files on Windows. Make sure both File 1 (.exe) and File 2 (.7z) are downloaded into the same folder or directory. If your two files don’t have those extensions, then rename them back. The files should be in a simple folder (not a long or complicated path) on the same disk where you want to install the software to, and not on a separate drive.

      You said you wanted to buy CS4, but Adobe no longer sells it – CS4 is now very dated software (7 years old). Adobe still sells CS6 now (the last standalone perpetual version from 2012), and also of course the latest release which is CC 2015. Those are your two choices.

  8. Thanks for the tips! I’ll follow the steps. Yes i know CS4 is older, but, as i mentioned, i don´t have too much space, & i think my Pentium processor here will not run CS5 or above lol. I’ll try to buy with some retailer. Hope i can, ty.

  9. Sorry, it’s getting boring, but as you told, i checked & i have the files you mentioned. But i’m in doubt what i need to extract first? I mean: the exe at final is the first i click? One is almost 820MB & other 1.2 MB. Thanks it’s the last question!

  10. these links took me directly to subscriptions to the new software, and nowhere else – which (1) I can’t afford & (2) won’t run on my computer(s) — so basically I am dead in the water since I am a very small businessperson who has had to upgrade OS systems & now can’t function in business. Yay.

    • The old CS program installers are still out there, which you can access via our Adobe software direct links… The CS versions would be on page 2 or 3, and you have to make sure to carefully follow the important download instructions there or the direct links won’t work.

      Please keep in mind all that we said above though. These are just free 30-day trials, not long term – and if you find any of them offered for sale anywhere, they would almost certainly be fake or scams.

      The sole exception is Creative Suite 6 from 2012, the last standalone perpetually-licensed release which Adobe does still legitimately make available… If that’s still offered direct, then that would be your best bet.

    • You’re right – the article is over 4 years old now, just like Creative Suite… In fact, Adobe ceased selling CS6 standalone on their website last year. The reason is because of its age (from spring 2012); the company stopped releasing updates for it last summer as the newer CC rapidly grew and took over.

      With the CS6 software EOL and end of support, there are no updates, no bug fixes, and no guarantees it will run on the latest or future operating systems. So at this point we’ve stopped recommending it as a good or viable option going forward.

  11. But which app(s)? To say just “CS3” isn’t so helpful, everyone runs different tools.

    Also, what did you have to do or change to make it work?

  12. I have a recent iMac Retina 27″ with max RAM. Have been Happily running the CC photo package. Today I upgraded to PS 2017.0.1 fine. BUT Lightroom would not download after several efforts, with ERROR U44M1P7.

    Old version will also not open, NOW I have no Lightroom at all. Many notes to Adobe…typical no response…GRRRR

  13. I have used a PC for many years and purchased PS-CS5, which has been fine. Recently I have purchased a Macbook Pro and a 27″ iMac and want to use PS-CS5 on both. I still have the original disc for CS5 for Windows 7 but how do I get CS5 (which I am used to) for Mac – hopefully without spending hundreds of £££s. Adobe only wants to sell me a limited time (renewable) licence – i.e. rent a copy – but retired now at 73 and only use it for personal photos, it seems rather expensive.

    • Sorry, the old CS versions were not sold multi-platform… You bought either for Windows or for Mac. Customers could possibly “crossgrade” to switch between systems (a one-time change from PC to Mac or vice versa), but only for CS6 (the last Creative Suite version).

      However, the good news is that Photoshop CS used to sell for US$700 per static copy, but not anymore… Instead, now, you can get the latest versions of both Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC – plus integrated services – for only US$10/month. It’s true you don’t “own” the software (although even with the old perpetual versions, you never officially did either), but you do get all ongoing product upgrades plus the ability to install the software on Windows or Mac (or both) included at no additional cost.

      For more details, check out the Creative Cloud Photography Plan:

      (BTW, the newer versions of Photoshop can read the PSD files from the older versions… So CC can open CS files.)

  14. Hello!
    I’m a high school student and I’m studying design and will continue to through college. I’m going to be using the Adobe CS even after that as I hope to go into graphic design with websites and brand identities.
    Besides the point, I need a good version of the Adobe CS, and CS2 is not cutting it by any means. I use CS6 at school and I really need a version for my laptop at home (it can take very large files so that’s not an issue).

    I really want CS5 or CS6 but the key thing is that I’m looking for a one-time purchase thing, not a subscription. Any ideas on where or how I could get my hands on a one-transaction CS that’s decent?

    I’m hoping for Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and After Effects and Spark if I can (but I’m not cemented in getting them as long as I can get Ps, Al, and Id).


  15. I’m in a fix similar to John H (I’m 82). Used to run a small print shop and still have the antique CS4 for design. Would be nice to upgrade but see no need to pay monthly rent, as I only use the software to produce “freebies” for the local church, volunteer fire company, etc. Too bad Adobe doesn’t offer other aternatives.

    • Well, John said above that he wanted to try to buy Photoshop CS5, without spending hundreds of pounds. But the cost of CS5 (a static copy) was hundreds of pounds.

      Ironically, he then added that getting Photoshop CC for under 10 pounds a month seemed expensive. It didn’t make sense to us.

      With the CC Photography plan, you get the latest full desktop versions of both Photoshop CC + Lightroom CC – two best-of-breed professional tools – plus integrated services, mobile apps and workflows, as well as ongoing upgrades.

      Bruce, this ship has sailed. Adobe is not going back and they’re not changing the model. Creative Cloud was launched six years ago last month – and the current offering still looks remarkably like it did back then at its introduction in November 2011. You have to hand it to the company for having a different vision and then following it through now with 30 million paid subscribers, despite skeptics. So if you’re still having this debate now, then we’re convinced it’s just barking at the moon and not going to accomplish anything.

      There’s no question that some folks weren’t happy about the transition from perpetual-only to subscription-only products – but as a Pulitzer Prize winner once said, “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” Adobe took a risk and it could have flopped or flown. They may have lost some customers, but at the same time gained many new ones because of the far-lower cost of entry than before.

      Finally, regarding volunteer groups – if you happen to need or use Adobe software for a non-profit or charitable organization, then you might want to look into TechSoup for discounts.

    • Mistaken about what? All we said is it can’t be relied upon that all software written over 10 years ago can run reliably on modern operating systems. That is true.

      And we shared a link of people who had problems with exactly that… Your mileage may vary, depending on the program and its version, as well as the operating system and its version, and also the hardware and driver support.

      The biggest issue is about the core operating system support for older runtimes and dated API’s in programs that were written in 2007 (like CS3). And it’s worse for macOS than it is for Windows… To be clear, this has far more to do with Apple dropping that support as they move forward, than it does Adobe. Apple is notorious for doing this with macOS. Microsoft is a bit better at managing old interfaces and compatibility in later Windows o/s releases.

Leave a Comment or Question

Receive over 30 Adobe Books plus Our Newsletter, Free!

Download Free Adobe Books Sign up for our popular newsletter and we’ll send you 30 great ebooks to learn all major Adobe tools free!

Thanks for subscribing! We hope you enjoy the newsletter and your free Adobe books... Click here to see the books now, and start downloading and reading!

Sorry, something went wrong. Please try again.

And don't miss: The New CC 2024 Direct Download Links
Boost your content creation with 1,000,000 free images from Adobe Stock

Don't miss: Download 1 million FREE Adobe Stock assets!

Start downloading instantly from the Adobe Stock Free Collection:


This message will close in:


Download Dozens of Free Adobe Books Sign up for our popular newsletter and we’ll send you 30 great ebooks to learn all major Adobe tools at no cost!

Thank you for subscribing! We hope you enjoy the newsletter and your free Adobe books... Click here to see the books now, and start downloading and reading!

Sorry, something went wrong. Please try again.

Thanks for sharing!
Subscribe to ProDesignTools for Adobe updates:

Download Free Adobe Books Sign up for our popular newsletter and we’ll send you 30 great ebooks to learn all major Adobe tools free!

Thanks for subscribing! We hope you enjoy the newsletter and your free Adobe books... Click here to see the books now, and start downloading and reading!

Sorry, something went wrong. Please try again.