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

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How to Move Adobe CC or CS6 Between Computers, or PC to Mac


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563 thoughts on “How to Move Creative Cloud or CS6 from One Computer to Another”

  1. Hi ProDesign,

    Great article! Unfortunately, I’m still struggling. I just bought a new MacBook and used Migration Assistant to migrate from my old Macbook. The Adobe CS4 apps all transferred but the serial number did not. I used “Product Key Finder” at your suggestion to find my key (as I’ve moved house about 10 times since the first install and am about to move again). I found what I assume is the key, using that software, but when I enter it into the new Mac’s Photoshop, it says it’s invalid.

    I’ve deactivated Photoshop on my old Mac temporarily, but don’t want to delete the serial key off it in case I can’t get it working on the new Mac. I was going to SELL my old Mac, but for the price of a new Adobe suite, I might keep the old Mac purely for Adobe! Which would be a right pain in the bum, so I’m hoping to resolve this…

    Deactivating didn’t help. Photoshop on the new Mac still says the serial that the software found is invalid. I read somewhere that it might be expired, so I even tried setting my Mac’s date back to 2007 before entering the key but this didn’t work.

    The only other thing I can think to try is to completely uninstall and wipe all traces of the Adobe suite on the new Mac, reset my external hard drive’s Time Machine to backup my old Mac, connect the Time Machine to my new Mac, and try to “restore” all the Adobe suite files to the new Mac (originally I migrated using firewire/Migration Assistant, and then I also tried copying the files directly across using firewire by clicking and dragging). Do you think this would make a difference or would it be a waste of time?


  2. Thanks for that – I guess I got so caught up in the migration of files (in the middle of the night, no less). I wasn’t sure if their customer service would confirm whether the number I pulled up on my computer is valid or not, since I don’t seem to have ever registered.

    Thank you for your help!

  3. Hi!!

    So I contacted the online chat and they told me that changing platforms from photoshop cs5 extended windows to photoshop cs5 extended mac wouldnt cost anything, so I contacted phone support to do it and they said I would have to upgrade so I got back on chat and they are sending me free of charge, cs5 extended for mac. my question is, if cs6 is out, why am I not being charged to upgrade?

    • Wow, that’s very unusual Jennifer – we’ve never heard of that happening before… As far as we know the policy hasn’t changed, but you may have somehow managed an exceptional case with older software. It’s possible that the rep you got on chat was new, and so you may have just gotten lucky.

  4. Hello again!

    I have another question for you regarding my stolen laptop and software… i contacted adobe who were able to deactivate my software successfully the other day.

    Now i would like to reinstall my LR3 software, which I purchased online in 2011 from adobe and have the serial number for, but when looking through the adobe website all i can see is an option to install LR4. I am happy with LR3 and to be honest don’t really want to spend any more money at the moment for an upgrade to LR4. Is it possible to reinstall LR3 (and where would i find it?) so i can get back to where i was before my laptop was stolen?

    Thank you again

    • Hello again Lisa, glad to hear things are looking better for you now. Adobe keeps download links to your purchased products for 3 years in your online account… So if you purchased by download then you can log in with your Adobe ID and find all your previously-bought software listed there to redownload it.

      If for some reason that doesn’t work, then alternatively you can grab the free trial for your older application from our direct download links – and then permanently activate it with your valid license key.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  5. Hi ProDesign,

    A great article, but I think a word of caution might be needed with the advice to upgrade online and then fill in the online contact form to request a platform conversion.

    That’s exactly what I’ve just done to try and switch my Photoshop CS5 from Windows to Mac and to be fair is exactly what I thought the Adobe rep that I chatted with online was asking me to do when he sent me links to the web shop upgrade page after I asked to cross upgrade,. But they now seem to have a “30 day rule”, in which you’re apparently only entitled to a refund and not a platform swap. The following is the response to my online request to swap.

    “Please be informed, as per Adobe policy, cross-platform and cross-language swap options are available only after 30 days from the original purchase date, since your order is not eligible for swap, we request you to please contact us back after 30 days from the original purchase date so that we can check and assist you accordingly.”

    To be honest I’ve got plenty to be doing and can wait the 30 days, but if my experience can save someone else the wait…

    • Hi Stefan, thank you for sharing that. We haven’t heard or read of a change anywhere, and it isn’t reflected on their policy page… The reps we talked to didn’t seem to be aware of it either, so it’s odd.

      But it may be because Adobe has significantly simplified the crossgrade process with CS6, we learned. If you’re doing both an upgrade and a cross-platform switch, it’s much easier now – you just buy the upgrade normally for the operating system you want, and don’t need any further paperwork or customer service involvement.

      For example, if you currently own Photoshop CS4 on Windows and want to move to Photoshop CS6 on Mac, just buy the regular Mac OS upgrade version – and it will install properly and completely on your Mac.

      The upgrade installer will ask you to enter the serial number of your prior version if it doesn’t find it installed on your system, and the program doesn’t care whether that prior license key is for Windows or Mac OS.

      In other words, it does the right thing, and what you think it should – it just works. It’s not well-publicized yet, but it should be.

      So good news – this should eliminate the overhead and paperwork for most customers who want to change their operating systems when upgrading!

  6. ok my mum bought CS5 suite and we installed it on 2 computers (her laptop and her main desktop) without me realising this… i was able to install it on my laptop as well but it didn’t have a 30 day trial, it worked for a couple of months. after that it comes up with ‘enter in new code’ and the 2 computer rule. i really need it to work on my computer but my mum completely wiped off the computer desktop’s system so that is back to basic store-bought software.

    so i reinstalled CS5 on her main desktop so i could deactivate it, i deactivated it but i wasn’t hooked up to the net, that i didn’t know until some googling so i then reactivated it by typing in the code again and this time hooked up to the internet and deactivated it and now i still cannot get CS5 to work on my laptop without having that damn code pop up and say there are still 2 computers with CS5 activated one of which is obviously not mine. what do i do? i’ve followed what you’re supposed to do?????

    • Greetings Steph, you have to be careful as CS6 is just single-user software that can be installed on up to two computers. If you try to install it on multiple systems for multiple users, you could wind up with an invalidated license. Adobe offers volume licenses for when more than one user seat is needed.

      It sounds like Adobe may have detected some disallowed activity and lost one of your activations… Your only hope really is to contact Support directly and see if they can or will restore it – they are the only ones who would have the power to do so, on their end. Good luck!

  7. Hi there,

    So after a lot of research I found out today that to move from PC to Mac I must upgrade from CS5 to CS6 (annoying however as you state a few times, needed due to not keeping CS5 in stock anymore). What really got me however was the fact that I purchased Design Standard Suite (full price) a year and a half ago, but due to work I haven’t really used anything but PS, and iD and AI are redundant to me. But when coming to upgrade today, I can’t just pay the £179.00 for the Ps upgrade to CS6 – I’m forced to pay £500.00 for the entire suite. This is an outrage.

    Anyway, the question. I have now bought the relevant upgrade. But when my Mac copy arrives and I install and enter the serial number will my PC version stop working or just stay as CS5 which I can then use?

    • Welcome Rich, thanks for your comment, and here are some answers for you. Adobe doesn’t let you upgrade from a suite to an standalone product because you get the suites at deep discounts compared to individual prices… You can only upgrade from suites to suites, as you found. So, sorry about that.

      In your case, since you’re upgrading from CS5 to CS6, you no longer need to do an actual “crossgrade” to change platforms… Now, since CS6 came out, all upgrade versions will work no matter which platform your older release was for. So a CS6 Mac Upgrade Version should install and activate fine on Mac OS even if your prior release was CS5 on Windows – you just enter your older serial number manually at installation time.

      The crossgrades are more for people who already own the current version and want to swap platforms. So someone running Photoshop CS6 on Windows and wants to change operating systems to Photoshop CS6 on Mac. Per Adobe’s crossgrade instructions, “You must give up all licensing rights to your current platform or language version.”

      Lastly, there is one other option for customers who need or want to run Adobe products on multiple operating systems – consider an Adobe Volume (or “business”) license, which as mentioned in the article above can allow customers put CS6 on both Windows and Mac platforms at the same time.

      Hope this helps!

  8. First of all, I apologize if this has already been answered. I promise I read almost all of the comments, but none of the answers seemed quite right for what I am searching for.

    I purchased a student copy of Design Standard CS6 from my local campus store. When I installed and activated it on my Windows laptop, I recieved two activation codes – one for Windows (which I used), and one completely different code for Mac. With these two codes, can I install and activate CS6 on both my Windows laptop and my Mac at the same time? I think I understand about the cross-platform stuff, but I am suspicious about the license I purchased (in a good way – did I purchase some sort of volume license without knowing it?). There are so many different details to keep straight, between software versions and license versions, can you sort me out?

    • Hey Carrie, that’s a good question. To our knowledge, the only licenses sold with both Windows and Mac serial numbers are Adobe volume licenses (whether for education or commercial)…

      But don’t worry as there are no disadvantages to owning a volume license (e.g., they are upgradeable as normal, etc), and one major advantage is the flexibility to install on both operating systems.

      If you’d like to double-check what type of license you have, just contact Adobe Customer Service (via online chat is usually the easiest/fastest) and key in your serial number, and they should be able to confirm what it is.

  9. My primary computer has died. (Assumed capacitor on the motherboard.) There is no way to retrieve information from that computer at this point. And it has my CS6 on it.

    I need to get up and running ASAP for clients. I am working on an older computer, which only has CS3 installed, but even it is asking me to deactivate CS6 on the damaged computer. I can’t do that. Please help quickly, thank you.

    Ron S.

    • Hello Ron, sorry to hear about your hardware troubles. The only people who can help you deactivate a crashed or inaccessible system is Adobe Customer Service themselves… and using their live online chat is usually the best and fastest way to connect with them. Be sure to have any purchase-related information ready.

      Once the nonworking computer is deactivated in their database, you should be able to reinstall your CS6 where you want – with up to two systems allowed. Good luck!

  10. Hi do you know if there is any reasons why I would not be able to crossgrade from a Mac version to PC version. I ask because I have seen Flash CS6 for Mac for sale at less than half of the price it is on PC, I have a PC so I would need to be 100% sure that Adobe would agree to the crossgrade. I was just a bit worried because I’m sure I have seen on Adobe’s site that a proof of purchase is not valid if it is more than 20% less than the normal full price and this would be. Thanks in advance.

    • No, it wouldn’t work Alex. The reason Adobe has that proof of purchase policy is because anything you find with a price that low is almost certainly fake – and that’s their way of protecting both you and themselves.

      Legitimate Adobe software is never sold with a discount that large, so what you saw there is a scam (or an error) – and trying to validate, register, or crossgrade it would leave you out of luck (and quite possibly your money). The old adage of “if it sounds too good to be true” applies. The only exception to this is Adobe’s student and teacher editions, which consistently offer genuine and generous discounts for education customers.

    • Alex, in six years of covering Adobe we’ve never seen anything like that before – it is highly irregular and likely to be an error… 99% of the time, the prices of the Windows and Mac OS versions for any product are the same or within a few percent of each other.

      Note the anomaly isn’t present for that product (or any Adobe product) in any other Amazon store in any geography – so that clearly seems wrong, and we wouldn’t trust it. You probably wouldn’t get what you expected – and in any event, you couldn’t do a crossgrade between platforms from that because it would be disqualified under the “25% max discount” rule.

      Hope this helps.

  11. Well I’m sure that Amazon would honor that price but as I would not be able to crossgrade it is pretty much useless to me. I have been watching the Mac version price rapidly decrease over the last week or so and I agree it is highly irregular. I keep checking just in case the PC version does the same. But thanks again for your help, knowing for sure about the 25% rule clears things up even if it is disappointing.

    • Sure Alex, glad to help. By saying that it’s probably an error and a buyer may not receive what was expected, what we mean is that it may actually be a student or upgrade version in reality but not be not labeled as such… Amazon has so many thousands of SKUs that it’s possible some are mislabeled or mispriced.

  12. good article, but it is easy enough to uninstall/deactivate and install/activate on the new computer…what I am looking for is how to move all of the preferences, color swatches, etc…from the old system to the new installation…is there some information on how to do that?

  13. G’Day, I have CS5 Extended installed on my desktop & laptop, I’m about to upgrade to CS6 using the Laptop.
    What steps do I take then to update the desktop when I’m back home?
    Thanks in advance!

  14. Hi, my macbook is about to die so I’m trying to transfer Photoshop to my new imac. I copied the CDs to an external drive (because my imac doesn’t have a DVD drive) and have managed to install the 1st CD with no problems. Now it’s telling me to insert Disk 2 to continue and doesn’t recognise the file on the external drive. Would be grateful if anyone can help!

    • Hi Pamela, what version of Photoshop do you have? Just go to our collection of Creative Suite Direct Download Links, find the free trial for your release, download it directly from Adobe’s servers onto your new Mac, and then activate it permanently with the valid license key from your purchased product. You won’t need a DVD drive or external disk at all.

      Hope that solves it for you, and just post back if you encounter any issues.

  15. I followed the deactivate directions and copied CS4 onto my new laptop but I keep getting error 6. So I uninstalled CS4 from my old computer and it still doesn’t work. Now Photoshop isn’t working on either computer and the links you provided to download the trial version aren’t working.

  16. If your serial number has been lost, you can also find it in the System Info screen under the Help menu. At least, that’s where it is in CS4. I’m not familiar with other versions.

  17. I was running CS3 on my older iMac. I just upgraded to the new Macbook Pros with Retina. These new macbooks cannot install from discs (weird right?) So simply installing it on my new computer is not an option. I tried using migration assistant to put CS3 on the new computer, but when I attempt to open it, it says the license is not valid or something… and that to fix it I have to uninstall and reinstall. Well, as I stated, these new macbooks won’t install from discs. So…… what do I do?

  18. Sorry if this was already answered. I have an Illustrator CS6, purchased from my university store by my department. Adobe sent me an installation DVD and I had to get the license number from Adobe Worldwide Licensing, where it showed two numbers for PC and Mac.

    I want to switch to Mac from my PC now, and my university IT store informed me that to get an installation DVD for Mac, I have to buy the entire license again. Is there any other way to switch platforms? So does that mean the Mac license number is not valid anymore?

    • Hello Nandini, thanks for your question. No, your Mac license is not yet invalid, and you probably don’t have to buy it over again. Since you have CS6 (which is still the most recent version before CC is released), you should be able to do what’s called a “crossgrade” between operating system platforms to swap your Mac version for a PC version… Just follow the instructions given in the article above.

      So, all Creative Suite and CS products are for one platform or the other (Windows OR Mac) – but with Creative Cloud and CC you can install and run on both operating systems for all products automatically.

  19. We bought 5 licenses of Adobe Master Collection and want to distribute the licenses from the server to the workstation – is it possible? If yes, please help us to deploy.

  20. I have lost my CS6 disc with Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Bridge on it. I know my serial code but I just need a link the download the programs, can you point me in the right direction?

  21. Can you provide some advice on how to deactivate Photoshop CS6 from a computer I no longer have access to? I spoke with a representative on Adobe Chat and was told they could not do that. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • That’s odd Joe, it sounds like you may have not connected with the right group. There’s technical support and then there’s customer service.

      You should just be able to go on Adobe live chat (use this entry point) to give them your serial number and ask specifically for them to reset all your activations…

      There is really no other way to get that taken care of, and we’ve seen plenty of readers do it in the past.

      Good luck and please let us know how you make out.

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