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Comparison of Differences: CS6 vs. CS5.5 vs. CS5 vs. CS4 vs. CS3

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 CS6 and CS5.5 or CS5? Or more fundamentally, what are the key new features in CS6 versus prior versions, even compared to CS4 or CS3?

What's the Difference Between Adobe CS6 vs. CS5.5 vs. CS5 vs. CS4?

Creative Suite 6 contains hundreds of new or enhanced features and func­tions across the 14 point products that comprise it. So the easiest way to look at it is by major product… For example, Photoshop CS6 Extended has 62% more new features added in this cycle compared to the previous one, and nearly twice as many JDI requests (user-focused “Just Do It” items) addressed. You’ll find the details on these linked from the table below.

Adobe turns 30 this year. Over the decades the company has excelled at creating software that abstracts the latest technology in a way that makes it easy for customers to express unique ideas and deliver those ideas in a variety of media. Whether you’re editing an image with Photoshop, creating vector graphics in Illustrator, or laying out a page in InDesign, the goal of Creative Suite 6 is to give you total creative freedom along with the control and precision to ensure the highest quality when it comes to production. And when you combine the new time-saving features in CS6 together with the major reengineering of key user interfaces – in particular Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro – plus further deep optimization of tool performance, you should be able to get that work done faster and more efficiently.

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So here they are, the new feature breakouts by individual product – the CS6 vs. CS5.5 vs. CS5 vs. CS4 vs. CS3 version comparisons:

What’s New in Adobe Creative Suite 6
Product At-a-Glance In Depth
Photoshop CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Photoshop CS6 Extended Version Comparison New Features
Illustrator CS6 Version Comparison New Features
InDesign CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Dreamweaver CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Fireworks CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Flash Professional CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Flash Builder 4.6 Version Comparison New Features
Premiere Pro CS6 Version Comparison New Features
After Effects CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Audition CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Encore CS6 Version Comparison New Features
Creative Suites
CS6 Design Standard Version Comparison New Features
CS6 Design & Web Premium Version Comparison New Features
CS6 Production Premium Version Comparison New Features
CS6 Master Collection Version Comparison New Features

Example of At-a-Glance

Compare Adobe Photoshop CS6 vs. CS5 vs. CS4 vs. CS3

See also our Creative Suite 6 Launch Guide plus a focused comparison of CS6 vs. CS5.5, including specific details on all the new features added product-by-product.

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43 thoughts on “Comparison of Differences: CS6 vs. CS5.5 vs. CS5 vs. CS4 vs. CS3”

  1. Hi guys,

    In the office we have Adobe Premiere CS4 and the manager here wants to get me onto a Premiere Pro course so we can do some video editing but as expected, these training establishments are upgrading to CS6.

    My question is, how much difference is there in terms of functionality and performance between the two?

    If there isn’t that much in terms of how to use the respective applications then there won’t be a problem going on this course, but there is a worry that if I do go on a CS6 course then I might struggle if I go back to using the older version etc.

    I have asked some of these training establishments in advance and their opinions vary. Some say that we really should upgrade, another one emailed me back saying that there was no real difference between the two in the way they are used etc, with the menus and functionality.

    I just need to be clear on this.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Welcome Keith, thanks for your questions. In actuality, there is a huge, huge difference between Premiere Pro CS6 vs. CS4. Creative Suite 4 software is four years old now, and there have been three major versions since then (CS5, CS5.5, and now CS6)…

      For Premiere CS6 in particular, Adobe completely updated the user interface from CS5.5, in a good way – it’s more efficient and easier to use now, with intuitive controls that put the video front-and-center.

      Premiere Pro CS6 also delivers much, much better performance than CS4 because it became a 64-bit-only application when CS5 came out.

      The tables linked from the article above will give you some idea of all the features and other differences between the two versions. And here is another article that may help:

      What’s New in CS6: Premiere Pro, After Effects & Audition Features

      So bottom line – yes, both versions are video editors but they are much different after four years, and you may be better off taking a course based on a free trial version of CS6, and then seeing if you can finagle an upgrade somehow.

      Lastly, here are some good (and free) resources for learning CS6:

      Download Free Adobe CS6 eBooks — 1,022 Pages of New Tutorials

      New Adobe CS6 Video Tutorials – 30 Hours of Free Online Training

      Hope that answers your questions!

  2. I work at a large university on CS5 where I have to oversee design projects that are done by outside vendors. I constantly get requests asking me to save down Illustrator files to CS3. Not only is this time-consuming, it’s hard to believe that some people still use CS3.

    What would be the best reason(s) for telling these vendors that upgrading to CS6 is best? Other than the fact that the vendors agreed to keep their software current if they are doing business with us.


  3. My IT Dept recently purchased Adobe CS5.5 Design Premium Win, but didn’t install it on my computer, as the flash drive copy they came with didn’t work. As I went on your web site today to try to install the upgrade, I realize that you now have released version CS6.

    As I have not utilized the upgrade version CS5.5 that we purchased, can I go straight to upgrade CS6 from CS4 Design Premium full version?

    Finally, I also tried to have them upgrade our old Lightroom 2, but they said that was already included in the Creative Suite, which I do not believe is correct info.

    Please advise what to do, as I need to utilize the program soon.

    Thank you!

  4. I just bought the CS6 version of Master Collection. I currently have CS3 installed.

    Can I install CS6 and have both versions running (CS3 and CS6) or should I uninstall CS3?

  5. Hello everyone, I hope somebody can help me. I’m in a dilemma, I have an iMac 4.1 with the processor Intel Core Duo with Mac OS X version 10.6.8 Snow Leopard upgraded, and I have installed InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop CS3 – but I want to know which version of Dreamweaver I can install.

    Any help will be invaluable to me.

    Jorge E.

  6. What is the difference between CS4 Photoshop to CS6? I have run into a huge problem with my CS4 and now deciding on to spend the money on either an upgrade to CS6 or just purchase CS4 since i am used to using CS4. I am scared that CS6 will be more video editing vs for Photographers.


    • No, you needn’t worry about that Kelly – Photoshop CS6 is still very very much for photographers and image editing. The video features are separate and were added on as an extra feature because most folks use cameras now that also support video, so it’s a “one-stop-shop” for all your needs.

      Here are all the new features and improvements (such as performance and user interface) in Photoshop CS6 just since CS5 – and it’s a long list, of which video is simply one item.

      Your best bet is just to download and run the free CS6 trial and then check out some of the free CS6 ebooks to get started, or the many hours of free CS6 video tutorials.

      As for CS4, we definitely do not recommend trying to find/buy older versions of the software that Adobe doesn’t sell anymore, it is fraught with danger.

  7. @ ProDesignTools

    Thank you for your response, but I have another problem. The version of CS3 that I have only contains Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Bridge, but does not include Dreamweaver or Flash. And I need at least Dreamweaver. I can install Dreamweaver CS5.5 separately? or I have to buy the full version of CS5.5?

    Can it be installed on my iMac? What I can do?

  8. My office is going to purchase Adobe Premiere CS4.0. Do I will have a problem doing video editing with this four years old software using the newer PC? Thanks very much for your help.

  9. Just curious. We have Adobe Premiere CS5.5. The “comparison” chart does not really provide enough incentive to update. Is there a huge difference between 5.5 and CS6 for Adobe Premiere? Frankly, I love the interface of CS5.5. And, the render times are do-able. Just curious if there is anything other than an interface upgrade that would enhance our productivity.

  10. hey, I luv photography.
    now I want to download a software.
    so tell me
    which one is better?
    photoshop cs5 or photoshop cs6

  11. Hi,

    My job had loaded Adobe Design CS6 on my computer and it crashed. I had to get a new computer. We had downloaded all the info and I have my license key but do not have the installation disc/DVD.

    Could you please email me the trial link so I can reinstall it. There is not an option for me to upgrade as it is not in the budget and they already paid for this version. Please help.

    Thank you so much,

  12. I am in the process of updating hardware (iMac desktop) and software (InDesign CS6).
    My question is: Is Adobe software all subscription-based or can I still purchase and load it and forget?
    Or do I have to establish a monthly access through subscription…
    Updates I understand are electives and must sometimes be purchased after the initial software install.


  13. my laptop processor is intel Pentium inside ram 2gb operating system windows 7.

    what premiere version comfortable from my laptop?

  14. Hi, i’ve already installed cs4 but without adobe illustrator. Is there no problem if i would like to install adobe illustrator from internet?

  15. Can’t imagine many people still use much earlier than CS4 but at the same time, I still have Photoshop 6 (not CS6) installed on my PC Windows 10 and it is fine. I have a few disks with Photoshop 3 but I think I would be a little wary on trying to add those. Photoshop 6 because of the earliest versions that support custom shapes and styles etc but personally I don’t see many calls for any information or tutorials other than for the latest CC versions now (and when I did create a few for CS5 and CS6 I got e-mails saying why am I creating tutorials about such old versions).

  16. How the hell does anyone afford to buy these software packages??!! Seriously, how much do people make to buy all this software and a pc that is able to run the programs???!!!

    I’m on permanent disability and get 910 a month. i’ve been using cs4. if people want to know why older versions are still being used the answer is simple: they don’t have 1500 dollars to buy the newer versions. there were times i barely could pay rent. i always hear from people online saying that i should get a job or start my own business, yet how am i supposed to do this if i am disabled?

    • Actually, everything has changed since this article came out – and since the Adobe Creative Cloud replaced the Creative Suite.

      You can now get the latest full desktop versions of both Photoshop CC + Lightroom CC, plus all related mobile apps & workflows and ongoing upgrades, for just $10 a month.

      As you know, these two professional tools used to cost well over $1,000 just to get in the door, not including upgrades.

      If you need another product like Illustrator, then that’s $20/month. Either way, it’s significantly less than the huge upfront costs from before.

      The full CC suite – every application available, basically the latest complete Master Collection with upgrades included – is $50/month. This used to cost $2,600 in advance, without upgrades.

      So from a cost-of-entry standpoint, the monthly payments are much more budget-friendly in the new model than in the old model – where the software used to cost many hundreds or often thousands of dollars upfront, and did not evolve. In addition, with CC, all ongoing upgrades with new features and performance improvements are always included at no additional cost. So the software will not become obsolete or stop working on a new operating system.

      And because of the relatively frequent upgrades (every 3-4 months), the company is able to respond and evolve at a faster pace.

      All in all, looking at the actual facts and figures, CC has been a huge success – much bigger than some wanted to believe – and is poised to grow still larger as Adobe continues to expand the countries it is available in.

  17. Hello. I do a lot of image editing for two non-profits. I am not paid for the work and I am not a professional in the common sense. Several years ago, I installed a download version of Cs2, which upgraded my ancient Photoshop 7 program. A recent computer crash and burn wiped the Cs2 out, and it looks like it is no longer available. Does Ps Cs6 have all the features of the old Cs2 (plus lots more, I suspect)? Of particular interest to me is the “lens correction” option within “distort” in the filter selection. Also, the ‘warp” tool within the “transform” menu, and “smart sharpen.”
    Many thanks.

  18. Sir, i have a pc of 32-bits and windows 7 ultimate, so i can use only adobe Premiere Pro cs4 and i want to learn this software. On YouTube there is very few tutorial for cs4. Can i learn it by watching tutorials of cs5 Or cs6?


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