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Adobe's Activation Scheme: What to do if you Get a New Computer

by Sara Froehlich

If the thought of getting a new computer and getting Adobe Creative Suite 2 installed and activated so you can get back to work gives you visions of sitting on the phone waiting for Adobe support for hours, think again. It’s not hard. In fact, it’s dead easy!

With the CS line of applications, Adobe introduced Activation to thwart piracy. Photoshop CS was the first solo application to have activation implemented. At the time, you could still install and run the other CS applications like Illustrator CS, Acrobat CS, and InDesign CS without activation if they were separate upgrades or new purchases; that is, not part of the CS Suite. Both Photoshop CS and the CS Suite, however, had to be activated to run.

With the release of Adobe Creative Suite 2, all of the applications as well as the Suite require activation. You can install the software, and you can run it only a set number of times before you either activate or it stops working until you do. If it stops working, you stop working.

Not only must the software must be activated to run, some hardware changes, such as getting a new motherboard or replacing the hard drive, and you will probably be asked to activate again. As you probably know, Adobe’s software license allows you to have the Creative Suite or any of its pro applications purchased separately, installed on two computers owned by the licensee, but you aren’t supposed to use them both at the same time. The idea is so you can have them on your desktop and laptop both so you can work anywhere.

A few days ago I got a new laptop and so it occurred to me that not everyone might be aware of this little trick. Of course, I already had my applications installed on my desktop and my old laptop, but I really wanted to install it on the new machine. To do this is simpler than you might think. On the old machine, open any of the CS2 applications and go to Help > Transfer Activation and follow the prompts. After transferring the activation, which takes seconds, you can uninstall Photoshop or the Creative Suite from the old machine.

Now boot up your new machine and insert the CS2 CD, install the Creative Suite or the single application if that’s what you have, and activate, and you are good to go! It’s painless and it’s fast, and you’ll be back to work in no time.

Reprinted from

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©2005-2008 Sara Froehlich