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Home > Tips January 11th, 2018

How to Move Creative Cloud or CS6 from One Computer to Another

Transfer Adobe Software Between Two Computers

OK, so your old computer is running out of gas, you’re upgrading or changing systems, adding a new machine, or switching from a PC to a Mac, or vice versa — and you want to move over your copy of CC/Creative Cloud or CS6 (or CS5 or CS4 or CS3) Adobe software — what do you do, and how do you do it? Just follow our complete guide below, which also works for other Adobe desktop products such as Acrobat, Elements, Lightroom, Captivate, and more.

As we’ve covered previously here, you are generally allowed to install and activate most Adobe software on up to two computers, with the restriction that the software can not used on both systems at the same time. So right off the bat, you might be good to go with installing the software on a second computer, although you may wish to double-check the licensing agreement for your product to be sure.

Deactivating Your Old System First

Adobe uses software activation to control how many of your computers are able to run their apps like CC and CS6. So if you’re already at your limit of two computers and want to transfer your license over to a new or different system, then first you should deactivate the software from the old computer. In the program, click Help > Deactivate (for CC, it’s Help > Sign Out), and then follow the instruc­tions to deactivate the software. If you have a suite edition or Creative Cloud, then deactivating any single application on your machine will deactivate them all.

Note: You may see two choices on the Deactivation screen – if so, then what’s the difference between Suspend Activation vs. Deactivate Permanently? The answer is that both will properly deactivate your product on that computer. But the first (“suspend”) will keep your serial number stored in the Windows registry just in case you ever want to quickly reactivate the same software on the same computer later, without having to reenter it. However there is no harm in choosing the second (“permanently”) option, because you can always later reactivate the same product on the same machine by just retyping the license key. In other words, it’s basically a conven­ience factor to store your SN.

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Deactivation is different from uninstallation. If you’re permanently uninstalling Adobe software from a computer, then deactivate it first to ensure its license is freed up. If you deactivate but don’t uninstall, the next time you run Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Acrobat, etc. on that computer, you’ll be asked for a serial number or to start a free trial period.

If you can’t deactivate the software because your disk drive crashed or you changed/upgraded your hardware or you otherwise can’t access your program – and you don’t have Creative Cloud – then you may need to contact Adobe Customer Service to deactivate it for you on their end using your serial number.

After uninstalling any version of CS or CC, you can run the Adobe Cleaner Tool if you like to make sure it’s completely removed from your old system.

Setting Up Your New System

Now you’ll need two things: the software installation files (or discs), and the product’s serial number itself. Note for the Creative Cloud, this doesn’t apply – see the next section instead.

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If you purchased the software but lost the serial number or no longer have it readily available, the first place to check is your online Adobe account. You will have one if you ever registered the program, or if you purchased it directly from Adobe… Just log in with your Adobe ID and all your serial numbers will be listed there.  If you don’t see it, then try registering your product now and see if it appears there. As a last resort, you may be able to retrieve it from the computer itself using a free utility like Belarc Advisor (Windows) or Product Key Finder (Mac) – which will recover and tell you the activation keys for the programs on your system.

And if you’ve lost or can’t find your original installation file or CD/DVD, or if your machine doesn’t have a disc drive, then you can download and install a free trial of your application from Adobe servers onto your new computer, and that will convert to a full and permanent version when you enter your valid SN.

OK, once deactivation is complete, you are free to go ahead and enter your serial number key to activate a copy of the software installed elsewhere, or use it to reactivate the same applica­tion on that PC after reinstalling (for example, if you are changing disk drives or upgrading operating systems).  And you should be all set.

Note: When [re]installing an upgrade version of Adobe Creative Suite, if you don’t have your prior release already installed on that same computer, then you’ll have to manually input that older license key when prompted by the setup process. In other words, you’ll need to enter two serial numbers, the old and the new. If you are continuing to use your prior release, then per Adobe licensing requirements it must be on the same computer(s) as the upgrade version.

If you run into any problems with the deactivation/reactivation process, you’ll have a 30-day window during which the software should work in free trial mode to give you enough time to contact Adobe Support and get things resolved.

Putting the Creative Cloud on More than One Computer

All of this becomes much easier with the new Creative Cloud memberships as well as with single-tool CC subscriptions, because these products are no longer activated using serial numbers but instead with your Adobe ID login. So moving the software to a new system (multiple machines) is really just a matter of visiting the Creative Cloud Download Center and then downloading whatever CC apps you want, then signing in…

Adobe Creative Cloud Growing Fast, Many Millions of Paid Subscribers (Click to Enlarge)

When the tools finish installing, just log in and the CC software will auto­matically be (re)activated on the new hardware for you, even if you didn’t happen to deactivate first on the old machine. You’ll see a screen that says Activation limit reached but just click “Continue” and let the reactivation happen. Just make sure that “Sign me out of the other computers so I can sign in here” is selected.

This makes it straight­forward to switch your CC applications to a different system when needed – like when a computer crashes or is otherwise not available, when traveling or away from home, when temporarily using a third machine, and so on. In addition, you can deactivate using your account page on

For more details on how all of this works, see this CC Help Page.

Creative Cloud and single-app subscribers can also skip the next two sections, as your CC products are already capable of flexibly running on both operating system platforms (both Windows and macOS), as well as freely switching between different languages as desired. All Adobe CS products, by contrast, are licensed for a single language on a single operating system.

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How to Switch Platforms from PC to Mac (or Vice Versa)

Now how about if you want to change platforms, like from Windows to Mac, or vice versa? The easiest thing to do is get Creative Cloud, because (as mentioned above) a single CC license will run freely on both operating systems. For Creative Suite, it’s more complicated, because all CS software was licensed for a single operating system only. So if you are making a switch and would like to take your Creative Suite 6 license with you, then you may be able to do what’s called a “crossgrade” between platforms, which is no charge to you (except nominal shipping costs) and can be submitted online directly through Adobe Customer Service.

All product configurations (including Student and Teacher Editions) would be eligible for exchange.

There are a few provisos. One is you need to have a registered serial number to qualify (but that just takes a few minutes if you haven’t already). You must also be prepared to deactivate and delete the existing software from your computer and destroy any existing copies, as they will no longer be valid. But perhaps the most important is that you can’t cross-grade from a version older than CS6 to the same prior version — you can only swap platforms with the last perpetual version (which was CS6, that is no longer sold).

How to Change from One Language or Country to Another

Note that this same procedure will also work for requesting a change from one language set to another for a given Adobe CS6 application… Just follow the crossgrade process described above – but choose a new and different language on the form, instead of a different platform.

And the same goes if you want to move your residence to a different country or region, because the product language will usually be different in your new geography (even for English). For example, in the U.S. the language edition is “Universal English,” whereas overseas it’s “International English,” or another language.

After swapping platforms or languages, you cannot cross back to your original platform or language version. No more than five total (lifetime) cross-platform or cross-language upgrades or swaps are allowed per customer, regardless of the product. Software purchased second-hand or from an auction site such as eBay is not eligible for swaps.

There are some important exceptions here. The Adobe Lightroom and Elements lines are sold as multiplatform and multilanguage software, so would not require a crossgrade. The same also goes for all Creative Cloud products, because all languages and platforms are automat­ically included and you can freely and easily switch between them at any time with Adobe CC.

Hopefully that should do it!  Please let us know if this article helped you out, or any questions you may have in the comments below.

If you’d like to move away from shuffling serial numbers altogether, check out Creative Cloud for Teams to simplify management instead of single-user copies… With straightforward per-seat pricing, you get a flexible license that includes powerful workgroup collaboration capabilities plus expert support for your entire team.

See Also

Download New Adobe CC 2018 Free Trials (Direct Links)

Do you have any questions about CC or CS6?  Just ask them below and we’ll get you answers!

Keep up with the latest on Adobe software — follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to our RSS feed… You can also enter your email and have new articles sent directly to your inbox.

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  1. João Pedro

    Hi. I want to transfer Adobe CC from a macbook pro to another. How can I do that ?

  2. Cat

    Hi, I was wondering if its possible for me to move my adobe creative cloud products onto my 4TB hard drive, and take it off my computer, because it is taking up too much storage space. Then, if I want to use the products I could just hook up my hard drive? Is that possible? Thanks!

  3. Missy Tubbs

    My motherboard on my old Mac blew and when I purchased a new one, I realized I lost my ps6 disc. I have the box with the serial numbers but no disc. I lost everything, all my purchased enhancements & brushes & digital backgrounds for boudoir and the children shoots. I have been out of a computer for a while, so times are tough – my family is running on a generator with no city electric, and very low income with just my spouse working and 2 kids. any help or words that might help, please send them my way – I am going crazy

    Sincerely Melissa Tubbs

  4. Gezza

    hi – I am running Adobe CC2015 on one machine, and don’t want to upgrade it. I have a second machine (iMac) which i have just wiped to rebuild, but it has automatically (via creative cloud) downloaded CC2017. I don’t seem to be able to downgrade to 2015, and i cant read the 2017 indesign files on my 2015 laptop – any ideas how i can get the 2015 on my iMac please?!

  5. Gezza

    I have 2015 on my time machine back up, but i don’t want to migrate the whole Time Machine over..

  6. Tina

    I have Photoshop CS6 installed on my laptop and my desktop I am allowed to install this on two separate computers. But I got a new desktop and I want to deactivate it from my old one and activate it on my new one so my question is will all of my files transferred to, like all of the work that I’ve created?

  7. Tina
  8. Emma

    Hello. I purchased cs6 student edition a few years back, 2012 I believe, and installed it onto my Mac computer. My Mac ceased working and wasn’t salvageable two years ago, I wasn’t able to sign out of the Photoshop that was on it. Now, I’m going to re-install it again, however I have a Windows laptop.
    Is there a way perhaps the Mac could be cancelled from my 2 devices limit?
    And also, how do I make this work on a Windows computer?

    • Welcome Emma. On your first question – where you weren’t able to deactivate the software before your system crashed & stopped working – we unfortunately have no power to help with such licensing issues, so you’d need to contact Adobe directly and ask them to reset your license activation count:

      On your second question, you cannot run a single license of Creative Suite (CS) products on both Windows and Mac computers – you can only do that with Creative Cloud (CC) products. If you want to permanently switch your copy of CS6 from one platform to the other, then it may be possible that Adobe still allows that (not sure, as they stopped selling CS6 entirely).

      See the article section above about “crossgrades” to investigate if it’s still possible to do.

  9. Max


    My boss needs to transfer me Photoshop and InDesign (via Creative Cloud). Is the best way to sign into the Adobe ID using her email + password? Or what is the best way to go about sharing the product without her losing the program and me being able to use it (so two separate computers). I have Adobe ID and had previously purchased InDesign for 3 months and am just finishing my Photoshop free trial.


  10. Christine Bucko

    Computer is no good. Can I connect and use my discs for Adobe CS3 on the new computer? I only had the discs on one computer before. Thank you for responding. I might have used my older email to register. I am a senior, so tech things are not easy for me. Instructions would help.

  11. Where does Bridge CC store Favorites? I’m migrating to a new computer and want to bring custom settings etc to the new PC. Prior to the switch I archived everything in and below this folder:

    C:\Users\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Bridge CC 2017

    I copied the entire archive to the new PC’s system drive and then installed and activated Bridge CC 2017. Workspaces, keyword lists, even Collections came to the new PC. But not Favorites. Because of that, I’m wondering what else I might find missing down the road.

    Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

  12. Jay

    The new iMacs are finally available, and just in time! I’m running CC (LR and PS) on my MacBook Pro and my current iMac. When I pick up my new iMac, can I just deactivate CC on the old iMac then use a Time Machine backup to populate the new iMac, including CC, then uninstall CC on the old iMac?

  13. another view 2

    When I deactivate Photoshop CC on one computer and activate it on a second computer, what happens to the files in Bridge on the first computer?

    Obviously, I want my files in Bridge to go also to the second computer.

    Please advise.

  14. ChrisG

    I am running Photoshop and Lightroom CC2015 on my PC and am now purchasing a laptop. I understand that I can activate the Adobe software on a second machine, but how do I get to see use the libraries of images loaded and edited on my PC on this second machine?


  15. akash

    i am using adobe photoshop cs6 on a windows pc. I want to share that photoshop to other windows pc.

  16. Nelson Wiegman

    Can I install my Adobe Applications (as a member of the Creative Cloud Membership) via Firewire from one computer to another ? My DSL line is soooo slow- it takes hours to download. It would be so much faster to copy the apps to a portable HD and install on my new laptop. I would then deactivate the old one and activate the new computer. Also, s/a for the additional extensions I have. I already have the Apps on a desktop, so I will need to deactivate my old PB (sad).

  17. Frank


    Workaround: I only had about 24 favorites on my original PC. I wrote down each one (yes, paper and pen) then added the Favorites manually on the new PC. It was far faster than trying to find an electronic solution. The only caveat is this – because the original data hard drive and folders were physically moved to the new PC, clicking on a Favorite in the original Bridge CC would cause the name to disappear from the list, so write down the list before you click.

  18. Holly McCarthy

    hi – I currently have a newer 2015 Sierra 10.12.6 MacBook, do you think CS6 (off my old iMac) will work on the new laptop?


  19. Milica

    This should be helpful

  20. Sandy

    What about fonts, plugins, brushes, and action files. Are those stored in the cloud or will I have to reinstall them all again manually on the new computer? Running windows 10 pro on both machines. Will the programs like PC Mover Professional help with this at all?

    • Welcome Sandy, thanks for your question. Please see our previous response here for the answer.

      Regarding system/software transfer programs, Adobe experts do not recom­mend trying to use a migration utility to move your Adobe tools between two machines, but rather advise performing a clean installation on the new computer.

      You just have more assurance that everything gets done correctly that way. So we would suggest skipping that tool. Besides, it is definitely not free ($59.95), so better to opt for the old-fashioned failsafe method of changing programs between computers described in the article above.

  21. khaleb

    Please, can someone help me with SN for CS6 (Master Collection)… need some help

  22. barney

    I have cs6 and its serial number in my old pc. I want to transfer it to my new pc. does the adobe install disc have to be in cd drive to deactivate the program in the old pc, then have the disc in the cd drive in the new pc to install cs6?

  23. Ann

    I’m using Bridge CC through my subscription to Photoshop CC. My thousands of images are keyworded in Bridge and that’s how I find them. I want to switch from a PC running Windows 7 to a new iMac.

    Will the folder system I have in Windows Explorer transfer to something comparable on the Mac? Will Bridge be able to search for and find my images by keyword without me having to start all over again? If so, how do I ensure this during the transfer? I’d like to have the Apple store do the transfer of files from my PC for me.

  24. John Parker

    Thanks for this quick and easy tutorial.

  25. Henry Collins

    Thanks for sharing this helpful guide.

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