How Many Computers May I Legally Install Photoshop On?

Photoshop Installation Restrictions Explained

Girl and Illuminated Red Numbers
Photo by MissyH on Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence

Photoshop's end-user license agreement (EULA) has always allowed for Photoshop to be installed on up to two computers (for instance, a home computer and a work computer, or a desktop and a laptop), as long as it's not being used on both computers at the same time. Of course, with the advent of the Creative Cloud, all of the software involved can only be installed on two computers.

When Adobe introduced  Photoshop CS for Windows and Photoshop CS2 for Macintosh and Windows, the company also ntroduced product activation, which makes the two-computer policy strictly enforceable by preventing you from activating Photoshop on more than two computers. Under product activation you had to enter a license key contained in the software before the application would work.You can still install Photoshop on as many computers as you like, but only two copies can be activated. It is very easy to transfer activations from one computer to another, as long as the computers have an Internet connection. Even without an Internet connection, you can still transfer activation over the phone.

This information also applies to Adobe's other Creative Suite products: Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive, and Acrobat Professional. This licensing was in effect for all "boxed" versions of Adobe software. With Adobe Creative Cloud versions, a single-user subscription allows you to install the software on unlimited computers, but you will not be permitted to use it on more than one computer at the same time.

This  changed when Adobe switched from selling boxes with CD's to a subscription-based model known as the Creative Cloud. As long as you have a Creative Cloud account you can install the software on two computers at any one time. The real advantage to this is those computers can be Macintosh and Windows computers. No longer will you be required to purchase separate Windows and Macintosh versions of the applications. The other advantage to this model is all updates are free. Your Creative Cloud subscription entitles you to update the software at any time and, when a major update, such as a change in version number, is available, you no longer have to purchase the update and go through the long process of of unistalling the cureent version and reinstalling the updated version.

Adobe no longer offers any of the CD-based software suites and, in fact, support for these versions is no longer available. Though you can purchase, privately, used copies of the software you need to approach this with a very high degree of caution. For example, if the vendor has not deactivated the version purchased, the odds are almost 100% that the software you purchased will not be able to be activated. Even then, there are sites that offer pirated versions of the software and the odds are pretty good the activation code code sup[plied will not work.

Note: You can find the Photoshop EULA under the Legal folder in your Photoshop installation folder. There are several sub-folders for different language translations, with a "License.html" file under each one. For the US English translation for Photoshopon Windows, the file is located in C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop \Legal\en_us. If you purchased Photoshop as part of the Adobe Creative Suite, there will be a Legal folder under the Adobe Creative Suite installation folder.

Updated by Tom Green.