How Many Computers Can I Install Photoshop On?

As many as you want, but you can only activate it on two

Photoshop's end-user license agreement (EULA) has always allowed for the application to be activated on up to two computers (for instance, a home computer and a work computer, or a desktop and a laptop), as long as it isn't being used on both computers at the same time. As Adobe has updated its delivery model, the system has changed slightly, but the two-computer limit has remained the same.

Artist in studio working on computer holding a piece of paper

Creative Suite Product Activation

Prior to launching its current delivery model, Creative Cloud, Adobe introduced Photoshop Creative Suite (CS) for Windows and Photoshop CS2 for Mac and Windows. At that time, the company also introduced product activation, which made the two-computer policy strictly enforceable by requiring you to enter the license key contained in the software before the application would work. You could still install Photoshop on as many computers as you wanted, but only two copies could be activated.

It was easy to transfer activations from one computer to another when the two computers both had internet connections. Without connections, you could transfer activation over the phone.

This process also applied to Adobe's other CS products: Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive, and Acrobat Professional. The licensing was in effect for all "boxed" (i.e. sold as CDs in boxes) versions of Adobe software.

Creative Cloud Process

The system changed when Adobe switched to an online, subscription-based model known as Creative Cloud. Now, when you purchase a single-user subscription, you're allowed to install the software on unlimited computers, but you're only permitted to activate it on two and use it on one at a time. Adobe is pretty clear on this subject in the Creative Cloud help files.

This model offers two great advantages:

You're not limited to one operating system. So, you can install and activate Photoshop on a Macintosh-based computer, and a Windows-based one; you're no longer required to purchase separate Windows and Macintosh versions of the application.

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 don't have to purchase the update and go through the long process of uninstalling the current version and reinstalling the new one.

Adobe no longer offers any CD-based software, and support for these versions is no longer available.

You can buy used copies of the software privately, but if you do so you need to approach the purchase with extreme caution. If the vendor hasn't deactivated the software, you won't be able to activate it. Some online sources offer pirated versions, but the activation code they supply with it isn't likely to work.

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