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Home > Tools June 6th, 2011

Comparison of Differences between CS5.5 vs. CS5 vs. CS4 vs. CS3

[Now updated for CS 5.5…  Also find out more on the complete differences from CS5.]

One of the most common upgrade questions we see out there is asking what’s new, what’s different, what’s better, what’s changed between Adobe CS5.5 and CS5 or CS4? Or more fundamentally, what are the key new features in CS5.5, versus earlier versions, even CS3?

Get Adobe Creative Suite 5

Creative Suite 5 contains hundreds of new or enhanced features and func­tions across the 13 point products that comprise it. So the easiest way to look at it is by major product… For example, Photoshop CS5 Extended con­tains 18 new features that CS4 didn’t have, plus a further 14 more that have been enhanced. The numbers are similar for other products and even greater over CS3 of course – although generally speaking CS5 has significantly more improvements and innovation compared to CS4 than CS4 had over CS3.

Creative Suite 4 was certainly a capable release (we used it here every day), but some folks have com­mented that CS5 is really the release they wanted when CS4 came out and that CS5 is a game-changer over both previous versions… On that account, we haven’t seen a bad review of CS5 yet.

Creative Suite 5.5 adds further to this with significant new features and enhancements in the areas of mobile, publishing, HTML5, video, audio, and Flash…  Read our full release guide for CS5.5, or find out even when CS6 is due.

So here they are, the breakouts by individual product – the CS5.5 vs. CS5 vs. CS4 vs. CS3 version comparisons:

What’s New in Adobe Creative Suite 5 and 5.5
ProductAt-a-GlanceIn Depth
Photoshop CS5Version ComparisonNew Features
Photoshop CS5 ExtendedVersion ComparisonNew Features
Dreamweaver CS5.5Version ComparisonNew Features
InDesign CS5.5Version ComparisonNew Features
Illustrator CS5Version ComparisonNew Features
Flash Professional CS5.5Version ComparisonNew Features
Flash Catalyst CS5.5Version ComparisonNew Features
Flash Builder 4.5Version ComparisonNew Features
Contribute CS5Version ComparisonNew Features
Fireworks CS5Version ComparisonNew Features
Premiere Pro CS5.5Version ComparisonNew Features
After Effects CS5.5Version ComparisonNew Features
Audition CS5.5Version ComparisonNew Features

Example of At-a-Glance

Compare Adobe Photoshop CS5 vs. CS4 vs. CS3

See also our new focused comparison of CS5 vs. CS5.5, including specific details on all the new features added.

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  1. It’s now understandable why After Effects CS4 can’t open AE projects made in CS5 or CS5.5. Is there any alternate solution how to open it without upgrading first? I guess not.

    I needed badly one project to finish ASAP but there’s no time/money to upgrade yet.

    • Hi Clifford, thanks for your thoughts. Well, it’s a Catch-22 – if we want After Effects to evolve and improve its functionality and features, the file format needs to change to manage the additional data and details…

      So, that makes it impossible to load newer file formats into an older version – because the newer capabilities didn’t exist yet when CS4 was written.

      However, it is often possible to “save down” from a newer version to a prior release – for example, saving files in CS5 or CS4 format from CS5.5.

      You can also try downloading and installing the free working trial of CS5.5 to use for 30 days and open files, save back, etc.

  2. Anonymous
  3. Maree

    1) I would like to know about compatibility issues:
    a. Opening older file versions (ex: opening CS4-5 files in CS5.5)
    b. Down-saving files in CS5.5 to be compatible in older versions
    c. Transparency issues when converting to .PDF from CS5.5

    2) Microsoft Support:
    a. Pasting directly from CS5.5 into Microsoft Office applications

    3) Flash compatibility in CS5.5

    4) Mobile Support especially with CS5.5 InDesign and Illustrator, Acrobat Professional

    • Greetings Maree, here are some answers for you:

      1a. This is no problem – all Adobe applications can open older project & data files.

      1b. Downsaving files for older versions can be trickier and not always supported.

      1c. Not sure what you mean by “transparency issues” – could you clarify?

      2. Microsoft copy/paste support has gotten significantly better, particularly and impressively with Acrobat X.

      3. What exactly do you mean by “Flash compatibility” – compatibility with what?

      4. Mobile support – yes, this is actually the major reason cited by Adobe for the release of CS5.5.

      Hope this helps!

  4. aqua

    Hello I am in a similar situation to Clifford Enoc

    – and I did what you suggested HOWEVER – AE CS5.5 is behaving bizarrely – barely working – can’t scrub the timeline, it goes black – almost every time I try to do something it takes several minutes to process – delete something – save and shutdown – reopen and the files I deleted are still there??

    I’ve never seen anything like it

    Could it be my MAC?

    Model Identifier: iMac 9,1
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache: 6 MB
    Memory: 4 GB
    Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz

    but I fear not 64 bit – In which case does this mean I have to buy a new MAC after only 2.5 yrs ?

    – If that is the case then it’s an outrage – Has Adobe not noticed we’re in a recession and we are destroying what we live on with junk

    I’m desperate to get a film into a festival ASAP so any advice would be much appreciated

    • Sorry you’re having troubles Aqua, but it’s not a 64-bit issue – your Mac is definitely a 64-bit system

      How long has it been acting that way? Has anything else changed? Are you getting any error messages? Have you tried uninstalling and reinstalling the software?

      We have never heard of anything like what you’re experiencing before either, so your best bet really is to contact or search Adobe Technical Support

      Sorry we couldn’t be more help, but at least we now know it’s not your machine!

  5. aqua

    Ok – Thank you though

    – No havent tried uninstalling – I just downloaded it as a trial – Would it make any difference that I have CS4 on my hard drive? Surely not?

    Anyway maybe I should download again.

  6. aqua

    Right, well I’ve re-downloaded and re-installed – no better!

    – admittedly the project is very big with many comps, but it wasn’t anywhere near this bad on the preceding software – eek

  7. Oct. 27th, 2011 was a terrible day. It was the day that my Macromedia 2004 MX Flash quit working. It forced spending an huge amount of money on Adobe’s Flash CS 5.5 which has not impressed me at all. It wasn’t the fact that it limits one to 16000 frames of animation or the fact that it limits you to importing a 8100 pixel width of an image. Nope. I was able to deal with those problems. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back came when all the work, creativity and love I put into my animations could not even be enjoyed outside of the stupid limitations of the (Adobe) flash timeline. The quicktime export (a H.264 compression) either dropped frames or duplicated them!! This resulted in an unsmooth, jittery and UNprofessional presentation!! Before spending on this mediocore software I made sure of the system requirements: OS 10.5.8 (check), 1GB of Memory (I have 3GB… check), Quicktime 7.6.2 (I have 7.7… check). I played by the rules and when I spoke to the Tech Support representative (who’s English was just as mediocore as this software) he told me he’d get back to me. It’s been 5 days and my problem is not solved. My projects have been delayed and I am losing clients as well as my patience. To the “fatcats” of Adobe: I know I am microscopic in your eyes. You’ve trained your minons to calmly repond with “I am sorry. We no longer service Marcromedia” but Iet me remind you that small drops can overfill a pail. I am one of those drops.

  8. It isn’t an export problem and Quicktime isn’t to blame. I entered my problem in Adobe’s Flash Forum and now it seems that Flash needs a code called “cacheAsBitmap” in my movieclips. Here is what I had posted:

    Problem: My animation is a piano music scrolling from right to left at 30 fps. The bitmaps are approximately 6000px(w) x 197(h) and all under 300k. These bitmaps have been converted into symbols for them to tween across the stage. There are 16 bitmaps total and each bitmap takes under 50 seconds to scroll from one side to the other until another bitmap takes over to keep the flow of music uninterrupted. The timeline (as well as the Quicktime H.264 export) is plagued with short stutters, jittering and is unsmooth. I have used smoothing in the bitmap properites. I have restarted my computer and exported without any applications on. I have reduced the bitmaps to gifs. (Hell… I even unplugged my Internet modem!!!). Nothing I do seems to provide me with an smooth animation!!!

    And this was the response:

    enable the cacheAsBitmap property of your tweening symbols. (hopefully, they’re movieclips.)

    And (finally) my rebuttal:

    Let me, first, thank you for taking the time to help me out.
    I’m afraid the bitmaps in my animation have been converted into graphics, not movie clips.
    I could go ahead and convert them.
    However, at the risk of imposing, I would please ask of you to explain how to
    “enable the cacheAsBitmap property of [my] tweening symbols”.

    My bitmap is called: F1 Where
    I believe the code is: F1.cacheAsBitmap = true;

    Where do I type this code? In the behaviors panel? In the actions panel? To the keyframe?

    Please forgive my ignorance. MX 2004 never required codes for simple left to right tweening.


  9. Don

    Can anyone help with a question? I want to learn InDesign, but can’t afford the software. I saw an old version of CS2 for sale inexpensively. Would that be ok to learn on? If I found a job requiring InDesign, would I still have basic skills if I learned from CS2? Or be able to pick up CS5 pretty quickly? Thanks

  10. rohit

    I am learning adobe premium pro cs3 now. is there any much difference between cs3 and new versions??????

  11. Double-E

    All the Version Comparison links just take to descriptions of Creative Cloud.

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