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How to Install or Run Adobe CS6 on Both Windows PC and Mac OS

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How to Install or Run Adobe CS6 on Both Windows PC and Mac OS


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51 thoughts on “How to Install or Run Adobe CS6 on Both Windows PC and Mac OS”

  1. This information is wrong. You can not run a volume licence on a Mac and a PC at the same time. Yes, you do initially get two serial numbers, one for Mac and one for PC. However, once you use one of them the other one becomes void and cannot be used. The only way to run on a Mac and PC at the same time is to buy two separate licences whether they are volume or not.

    Your article is misleading and I can see buyers becoming quickly angered when they find out that they bought a product and it won’t do what they were told. Though this is the case, I do really disagree with Adobe and think that I should be able to run on any two computers of my choice…regardless of which platforms they are. Just another way that Adobe has us by the balls.

  2. Ok…after talking to the 4th Adobe representative about the issue I mentioned above, I’ve been told that you can pay an extra 20 dollars for a Mac backup disc as well, which will let you accomplish multi-platform use. However if you don’t do this, the first platform you choose from the two serials provided becomes locked down to only that platform as I said before.

    This stuff is soooo confusing. It’s a shame that we have to play these games after all the money we pay for our software. If anyone else has any first-hand experience from actually purchasing and doing this, it would be very much appreciated if you could share your knowledge on the subject.

    • Hi Duane, thanks for your comment and feedback, appreciate that. The article above was very carefully researched, and the information confirmed with Adobe several times via different channels…

      You are right in that you get two serial numbers, one for each platform – in fact the Adobe Volume/Business Store only offers only a “Multiple Platforms” selection… (it’s actually not possible to buy “Windows only” or “Mac only” keys there!)

      And you are right in that you can’t be running the software on both Windows and Mac OS at the same time. However, upon installing and activating the software on one platform, the other serial number does not become void – it simply becomes inactive… With a single license, you cannot have the product open and running on any two computers simultaneously – that’s just the way it works.

      In sum, it is a bit confusing – and even some of the Adobe reps we chatted with had to find out more, or didn’t know the complete picture. But that’s why we’re here trying to help.

      Thanks again – and please feel free to reply back if you like!

  3. I guess the key piece of information I was missing is that you have to deactivate one to activate the other and then repeat the same process to go back to the first platform. A little tedious but makes sense now. Thanks for clearing that up Pro Design Tools, and I apologize for the aggressiveness of my first comment. However I would still prefer a solution where I wouldn’t have to do so.

    I will be re-contacting the rep that informed me about my second comment to verify if that method also requires the deactivation-reactivation procedure as well. Ill be sure to share the answer I get.

  4. OK…the answer I received is that, if you buy both back-up discs…one Mac and one PC…because it’s initially a download, then you CAN install to both 1 Mac and 1 PC without having to deactivate and reactivate when going back and forth. As long as you’re not trying to use both at the same time… That obviously isn’t an option in any case. Also, each backup disc is $20, a total of an additional $40 to either your purchase price or upgrade price, depending on whether you currently have a previous version. And also make sure you buy a volume license like the article above states.

    $40 more is a lot better than having to purchase twice, or going through deactivate-reactivate… :-) I hope this helps anyone that is in my same predicament. Thanks Pro Design Tools for helping me get to the bottom of this and most of all for pointing me in the right direction.

    • Great Duane, glad to hear you got a more satisfactory response, and that what’s described here can be accomplished.

      That’s a bit puzzling though about the advice to get backup discs – in theory, you should not need to purchase a CD/DVD for either platform, because as you point out, the software is downloadable when you buy it. In other words, you are presented with two serial numbers and both download links after your purchase – so as far as we have heard, those backup discs are pretty much a convenience to safeguard what you’ve already downloaded.

      What’s more, the regular Adobe CS5.5 trials are even convertible to volume-licensed just by entering your “business” serial key – so that should mean you could just download and install the standard trial for your product on both operating systems, enter that new serial, and away you go…

      Anyway, thanks again for your comments and posting what you found – and good luck with the software!

  5. I agree with you, this is puzzling. I don’t understand why these discs are necessary either. Doesn’t make sense. The rep was very adamant about it though and said most reps don’t know this and aren’t as familiar as as the ones who have worked in TLP longer. Either way I guess it’s worth a try. If he’s incorrect then I guess I’ll just use the deactivation method. At least now I’m clear on how these methods works and believe 100% that at the very least I’ll have that as an option. Hopefully this rep does actually know what he’s talking about though…:-) hopefully:-).

    It will be a little while before I give it a try though as I’m a student and have to wait for financial aid to come in before I can upgrade my CS4 Master Collection. It’s nice to know that either way I’m only looking at $1000 solution instead of 2-3 grand. Thanks again.

    • Sure Duane, happy to help. And we should mention that since you’re a student, Adobe recently opened a new Volume License Store for education customers – meaning students and teachers, staff and schools can take advantage of this as well.

      In your specific case though, since you already own CS4 Master Collection, it looks like an upgrade to a commercial volume license costs bit less than getting a full education volume license (because upgrades aren’t offered to the academic versions) – so you were in the right place.

      Anyway, please stop back anytime if you have further questions or to let us know how everything turned out for you!

  6. Did you call customer service to get those discs? When I called and asked, the rep insisted that I had to destroy my Mac copy to switch to a PC.

    When I ordered the software I spoke to someone from the store end who seemed to know a hell of a lot more. Who do I call and what do I ask for?

    • Hey there Julie, you don’t need to call anybody at all, actually…

      Adobe offers volume licenses direct for most countries worldwide – so you don’t have to hunt high and low to get this, and don’t need a reseller, or even to make a phone call – it’s all available online.

      Just go to the Adobe Store Selector and choose your country, and then “Business Store.” That’s it. You’re there, and can simply buy it online – either downloaded or shipped to your local address.

      Even the backup discs are available there if you want them, for both operating systems, which aren’t a bad idea to have in any event.

      (PS – Someone would only need to destroy one copy to get the other if they were doing a permanent “crossgrade” with their regular license, not a volume license.)

      Hope this helps!

  7. I went ahead and did the crossgrade since that’s what Adobe had said I had to do. Can I still do this? I don’t see the back-up discs in the store.

    • Julie, you may still be able to do it. When purchasing these licenses, Adobe states they will offer credit for products you already own… See here for more.

      As for the backup discs, just look in your Store shopping cart after you add the product(s) you want. The options for the Back-Up CD/DVDs will be there to check.

  8. I’m sorry I’m still a bit lost. Adobe did give me hard copies. Do these copies just not require a serial number? Or will this particular install allow both serial numbers to activate?

    • Sorry Julie, it is a bit confusing. It sounds like you already had the regular (retail, desktop) Mac version and then just ordered a one-time crossgrade to a PC… Those aren’t volume (“business”) licenses, but would stay fixed to a single platform only, with single serial numbers within the boxes.

      You can read more about the volume licenses that are discussed here, and then post back if you have further questions. Hopefully that will help figure it out.

  9. I have CS5.5 Web Premium single license (upgrade from CS5) for Win 7, it’s possible to upgrade to the multi-platform version?


    • Greetings Bill, you may be able to do it. When purchasing these licenses, Adobe states they will offer credit for products you already own… See here for more about that.

      Another option – if you purchased CS5.5 (the regular retail version) within the past 30 days, you could return it directly to Adobe and then just buy/upgrade to this business edition instead, as described above.

      Either way, your best bet is to contact Adobe directly and inquire.

      Worst case, you should still be able to do a platform crossgrade – but that would mean choosing (and moving to) the other platform exclusively.

  10. I used a free download of Adobe Illustrator about a year ago; I just bought the software and now it won’t allow me to install it without having the serial number of the free trial period. How can I install my software?

    • Welcome Lawrence, there actually is no serial number required or used for Adobe’s free trial periods. But if you just bought the software, then Adobe gave you a serial number – either on the back of the disc case, or via an email after your purchase… Just enter that entire number when the installation program asks you for a license key.

      If that doesn’t work for some reason, please post back with the exact message you are getting – thanks!

  11. Is there a confirmation on the back-up discs allowing the installation on both platforms at once without having to do the deactivation trick? I’m on the verge of buying CS5.5 from the business store. The representative I talked to told me that I can’t run it on both Mac and PC.

    And according to him I can’t run CS5 on my PC while running CS5.5 on my Mac after upgrading.

    • Hello Nick, if you some reason you find you can’t do what you want, then you can just return the software for a full refund of your purchase – Adobe offers a 30-day money-back guarantee

      As for the use of your older version after upgrading, you should be able to continue to use it on the same (up to two) machines, provided that the newer version is also installed on the same computers. See the Adobe’s EULA for more on how that works.

      So, hope that helps and please let us know how it goes – thanks!

  12. I have a PC with Adobe CS5 Design Premium, I currently bought an iMac and I want this Software on the MacOS. Reading above I see that it might work to get a volume license and both back up disks.. ProDesign can you please explain this in more detail? I was about to buy a whole new CS5 Design Premium Suite for the Mac but if I do not have to… If I were to do this, I have to buy an upgrade along with it; like CS5.5?

    Also, how can I convert my older CS5 files from my PC to my Mac… I’m sure this is possible but how should I go about it if I can’t run CS5 on both OS at the same time. If I were to buy a whole new suite for the Mac I could run each at the same time?

    • Hi JJ – yes, you’d have to upgrade to CS5.5 if you wanted to move to an Adobe volume (business) license, in order to get the multi-platform capability… Otherwise with the regular licenses they’re fixed on a single platform exclusively.

      For more information, read through the comments just above as well as this related post from Amanda on how she did it.

      As for bringing your projects from one platform to another, there’s no issue there and no conversion necessary – just move the files over via any method, and they will simply load into your Creative Suite tools on the Mac.

  13. It seems that the back-up disc method Duane spoke of does work. I received my shipment of the back-up discs today and I have CS5.5 installed to both my PC and Mac right now and both are showing to be activated. Although what’s curious is that not once was I asked for my old serial even though it’s an upgrade purchase.

    • That’s great news Nick that it worked out for you – thanks for circling back here to let us know!

      We think everything would still work for you even without purchasing the backup discs (i.e., just with the regular ESD or Electronic Software Download), but nevertheless it’s a very good idea and highly recommended to have offline backups of your products in any event.

      Enjoy your new software on both Windows and Mac!

  14. Hi there,

    When you buy a volume license of CS5.5 the license can be used on either a Mac or a PC. The same license cannot be used on both platforms. If you own two or more licenses they can be split between Mac and PC as long as the total number of installs is not greater than your number of licenses, and you can change the split as needed to meet your business requirements. You should read your licensing agreement carefully as secondary usage rights depend on the kind of volume license you have. (You are buying a license for one computer with limited secondary use, not a license for two computers–there’s an important difference!) Remember that it’s your responsibility to be in software compliance. You can get details of our licensing programs here:

    Bruce J.
    Adobe Customer Support

    • Thanks Bruce, appreciate your comments. We have read the EULA carefully many times, and it seems clear the licensing for Creative Suite allows usage on up to two systems so long as it is the same primary user and not at the same time (not concurrently)… In other words, there are no secondary usage rights for the primary user, but rather these privileges would be identical on both machines. What’s more, the rights of volume licensees are predomi­nantly the same as the rights of boxed/retail/shrink licensees in this regard, in that each CS license can be installed and activated on both (two) computers. The sole distinction of any significance for volume license purchasers is the second copy of the software “must be used solely for the benefit and business of the volume licensee,” which is effectively in the same spirit as what’s laid out in Section 2.5 for regular customers. Education volume licensees do not apply under that clause but would nevertheless fall under 2.5 with a similar result. But you’re absolutely right in that the total number of simultaneous product users ultimately cannot be greater than the number of individual licenses you own, which is why the volume licensing program is so helpful to flexibly add to this number as needed. Thanks again for stopping by!

  15. So I was happy to read about being able to upgrade my Master Collection to 5.5 and move to volume licensing which would allow me to use it on both Mac and PC non-concurrently. I called up Adobe’s Volume License order number and was told I CAN NOT do this and I had to buy two licenses, but that he would give me a discount (around 50%). Not going to happen!

    I started to read through the comments here and saw even more conflicting information indicating that you needed to buy backup discs, or that it was not legal at all (per Bruce J.) So I called back again and got another guy in Volume Licensing named Nick who said it was absolutely legal to install on both platforms under Volume licensing and there was no requirement to buy backup disks. I asked specifically. I also asked that he add a note to my file about our conversation to cover me and he told me that the phone calls were recorded and associated with each order so I was covered. I must have asked him the same question 5 times different ways to be sure I could install on both platforms and the answer was always yes. I purchased the upgrade, so as far as I’m concerned it’s legal if they tell me it is, but it’s still somewhat worrying that there is so many different versions being told.

    Anyway, hopefully this helps someone else.

    • Thanks for taking the time to post that CGA, that’s sure to help other readers… Yes, you’re absolutely right – it’s a little complex and the customer service reps occasionally give different and conflicting answers, which can be confusing. As we’ve posted above, the backup discs shouldn’t be necessary but are still not a bad idea for the price, just to have an offline copy for emergencies. Also, Adobe volume licenses are all sold with 2 serial numbers per seat (Windows + Mac) so that you can mix and match the licenses between the different platforms in your network. In fact, in the Adobe Volume Store it is only possible to purchase with a “Multiple Platforms” selection – try it and you’ll see.

      Thank you again for sharing your experience – much appreciated!

  16. For what it’s worth…
    I called Adobe and wound up on hold for 35 minutes…

    So I called the next day and talked to sales, told them I wanted to upgrade from CS5 to CS5.5 and that I wanted to do so cross-platform. After being forwarded a couple of times, I would up talking to a rep who insisted I needed to buy 2 separate licenses. When I pointed her to the AVL Store, she acknowledged that two serial numbers were issued, one per platform, but that did not mean that each serial number could be used concurrently. She went on to explain that the two SN’s were to be used in an either-or fashion per seat. This made sense to me then. But after I hung up I realized that per the EULA I am granted more than 1 seat anyway…

    Day 1 – (11pm) So I went to the link above, and bought the upgrade to CS5.5 via AVL. I ordered the CD’s since I like to have them handy anyway. I was informed that the purchase of those CD’s would delay processing of my order.

    Day 2 – (1 am) After the purchase it took about 3 hours or so before I received a Welcome e-mail from the Adobe Licensing Site. Here I had to register/associate/create my AdobeID with my ‘entry’ into the Adobe Licensing Web Site (LWS).

    Day 4 – I received an e-mail that said my Adobe Licensing Order had been processed. At this time I gained access to the download links and the dual SN’s.

    Day 5 – I received the CD’s.

    Installation had no apparent dependency upon my existing registered CS5 Windows purchase. I guess that was all vetted per my AdobeID and purchase history. At any rate. I have installed CS5.5 (AI & PS are 5.1 :-/ ) on both my MacBook Pro AND my Desktop PC running Windows. The latter still has a working version of CS5 installed. Yay!

    Hope that helps to confirm or deny some of the conflicting bits out there.
    What a process. I’m really happy to have saved 1000.00 bucks though.
    Thank you for this post.

    • Hello again Marcus, it’s the same in CS6 as it was for CS5 and CS5.5… If you buy from the Adobe Store for Home or Home Office, then you receive one serial number that’s platform-specific to either operating system. But those who buy online worldwide from the Adobe Business Store will receive two serial numbers as described above, one for Windows PC and one for Mac OS.

  17. Hi,

    We recently purchased the CS5.5 Windows version, however I have just purchased a new Macbook and wanted to see if there was any way of installing the package on my Mac too, as I do not want to go out and a re-purchase the CS package again. I have read the above article and from what I understand this is possible? However could someone explain this to me in layman terms, I did try to click through to the volume licensing on Adobe’s website but I cannot see anything of relevance.

    (Alternatively I do have an older version of CS on another Mac which I wouldn’t mind copying over to my new Mac however I am under the impression this is not possible)


    • Hi Francesca, here’s another way of explaining it. If you have a standard or retail Adobe product then you get one serial number, for installing on either Windows or Mac OS. If instead you buy a volume license, then Adobe will send you two serial numbers for both operating systems.

      Anybody can buy or upgrade to a volume license, and they cost the same. You can purchase just one copy if you want. They’re available from Adobe’s “Business Store,” although you don’t have to be a business.

      If you are upgrading to CS6, then it’s easy to go with this option. If you already own CS6, then you may be able to return what you have and get a business license instead.

      On your last question, it is possible to move your Adobe software from one machine to another.

      Hope this helps!

  18. Hi,

    Oddly enough I just spoke with someone on live chat at Adobe who told me that this is not possible, to have for use on multiple platforms, despite having just copied everything you said, and me finding it here (I notice it is much cheaper in the US than in the UK).

    However, I now understand that this is available to use either on Mac or Windows, but will I be able to use on 2 computers (Apple & Mac) at the same time, as you can usually use it on 2 computers anyway I think? or will it be just one or the other?

    Also do you know if it is possible to just upgrade to multiplatform without upgrading to CS6 too?

    Thanks for your help, it’s all seeming much clearer now for a non techy person like myself!

    • Sure, glad to help… For the answers to most of those questions, please see this previous comment exchange with DWCouch.

      On your last query, we’ve been official Adobe partners for many years and don’t know of any other way to get a volume/business license besides a paid upgrade or purchasing one outright… There is no ability to swap existing license types to our knowledge.

      Thanks again for stopping by and good luck with it!

  19. A couple of issues I need help with please.

    I own CS3 and CS5.5 Design Standard for Windows and CS6 Design & Web Premium. I have been using a PC desktop and laptop. I have purchased a Mac Pro and installed Parallels Desktop running Windows 7.

    1. Can I install CS6 on the Mac Pro and keep the version on my laptop?

    2. Will CS6 run effectively under Parallels Desktop if I can’t install a Mac version?

    I am in the process of moving my applications and files to the Mac Pro. So far looks like my MS Office applications and Quickbooks are running OK. Thanks for any assistance.

    • Hey there Mike, using virtualization software like Parallels, VMware Fusion, Citrix XenApp, VirtualBox, etc. to run Windows CS6 programs on a Mac should generally work, but performance will not be as good – a lot of memory is needed and folks say it is “still very slow.”

      Dual or multi-boot utilities like Boot Camp will be faster on the same hardware, but are a hassle in terms of start-up and switching back and forth, sharing/transferring files between, etc… It can be messy dealing with the applications running on a separate and different operating system than the one you use every day on your MacBook.

      Obviously running native on Mac OS is the best solution, so another option when you own the latest CS release (currently CS6) is Adobe can do a “crossgrade” to the other platform for you (for free), but then you would have a Mac-only version.

      On your other question, each copy of CS6 can be installed on up to two computers, but not run simultaneously.

      You can also move your existing copy between Windows machines if you like.

      Hope that answers all your questions!

  20. @ ProDesignTools

    This can’t be done. I just had two very long chat sessions with Adobe sales and support who told me it can’t be done. I quote:

    “Tyson: Even if you purchase under volume license you will not able to install on MAC as well as PC.

    Tyson: CS6 Production Premium will cost you $1,899.00”

    So I called a number the chat rep gave me, 1-800-585-0774, who told me it can be done, but ONLY through their reseller, CDW. So I called the number phone support gave me, 800-622-6222 and CDW said yes, you can buy an additional license to run it on both platforms and that would cost another $1,899.00 more.

    How is that volume licensing? That’s just buying two of the same product.

    • Thank you for your comments Glenn – and sorry for any confusion. What we have learned is that Adobe recently shut down all its TLP (Transactional Licensing Program) Stores… TLP was the plan described above where you would receive serial numbers to run on either Windows or Mac OS, and there previously were stores available in many countries to purchase this – but that’s now ended. So it looks like what is outlined in the article is no longer possible.

      But the good news is that the end-goal of buying your product once and putting it on both operating systems is possible via a different answer… The solution now to be able to run on both platforms is with the Creative Cloud (or with Creative Cloud for teams). Any purchase of the Creative Cloud anywhere in the world entitles customers to install and run all of the CS6 software on up to two systems including both Windows and Mac, and in any desired languages as well – it’s completely flexible and can move between platforms and easily switch languages. So, more than one way to skin a cat.

      Thanks again for the heads-up. We’ll make a notation in the article about the change.

  21. Have to say I’ve suddenly become very disillusioned with Adobe. I’ve always been very impressed with their products, but trying to access their ‘support’ is a nightmare, and now I’ve found out that I have to pay more money to run a fully paid for copy of Photoshop CS6 on my new Windows machine when I (unknowingly) bought a Mac-only installer disc. I would’ve thought that once you’ve paid for your product you’ve paid for the right to run it on any platform, at the same time or not. Now I understand why people can go elsewhere. Big corp has us all by the short & curlies. One very unhappy customer.

    • Sorry to hear that Erno, but Adobe did change that with the CC release starting in 2013… Now you are able to install and run a single CC license on two machines – either both Windows or both Mac, or one of each.

      Also you may not have been aware, but all CC customers can choose to use the CS6 versions instead of they prefer. You are able to mix-and-match versions, basically.

      Those are just a couple of the new advantages of going with Creative Cloud instead. But as you discovered, Adobe continues to sell CS6 perpetual licenses directly for individual customers who want it instead. Just be aware that it’s the version from 2012 and the company will not provide significant updates or support for it in the future.

      Finally, the fastest and easiest way to get in touch with Adobe is live online chat, which is 24/7/365:

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