After preparing the computer for the installation process as explained on this page, let’s move on to more specific requirements for Adobe programs and solutions that help you to install and run them successfully.
As programs aimed at media creation, Adobe tools are also dependent on other components for outputting or importing specific media types. This particularly refers to movie clips and audio files which these days can even be edited in Photoshop to some degree. Most importantly, the operating system’s base media architecture must work without issues, which is Quicktime on Mac and Windows Media on PC. If you regularly update your computer, you usually do not need to worry about that. If something does not work, initializing a manual system update or downloading respective packages as standalone installers from Apple and Microsoft and installing them will repair issues.
If you are working in a cross-platform environment, you may need to exchange data between Mac and PC or you may need to provide files to clients in a format for the other platform. Here is where it gets dicey. Of course Quicktime is readily available for Windows, either standalone or combined with iTunes. However, not all of its CoDecs are. This includes Apple DV/ HDV and pretty much any of the CoDecs introduced by their Pro Apps like Final Cut Pro. This precludes them as containers to get your movies across. In reverse, pretty much no Windows AVI formats are available on a Mac, much less WMV. The latter can be added as a commercial Quicktime extension, though. If that weren’t already complicated enough, many cross-platform Quicktime CoDecs will be initially hidden from you since they are flagged as legacy formats. To enable them, you need to access your Quicktime settings. On Mac this can be done by going in the Apple menu, choosing System Preferences and then opening the Quicktime control panel. On its Advanced tab, enable the Allow Encoding using Legacy Codecs option. The same option is available on Windows systems via Start Menu –> Settings –> Control Panel –> Quicktime. On 64bit systems, it will be contained in the 32bit Control Panels sub-section.
Another problem related to legacy compatibility may be encountered on Mac OS X 10.6 a.k.a. Snow Leopard. It uses a completely reworked version of Quicktime, called Quicktime X, and while this may offer better performance for playback, it can cause issues. Therefore you will manually have to install the older version (at the time of writing this article, version 7.6) and disable Quicktime X. A second issue is the lack of Rosetta, the emulation environment for PowerPC-based Macs (up to the G5). It is no longer installed by default and must also be manually added to ensure a maximum of compatibility. This in particular applies to using 32bit versions of Adobe programs prior to Creative Suite CS5.
As a last point we need to discuss third-party CoDecs. While some will be essential to your workflow and in fact also help to work cross-platform such as CoDecs associated with special video hardware (AJA, Blackmagic, Matrox, Avid) or commercial high performance software CoDecs (Sheer, Cineform), many others are not. DivX, Xvid, Ogg or the bazillions of other custom MPEG-4 derivatives for instance are at best only relevant for output and final delivery, which doesn’t mean that you would use them to store your own data. Similarly, there are some good, visually lossless open source/ freeware CoDecs like HuffYUV and Lagarith, but you may not necessarily want to use them, either. There are the following things you should consider:
- consecutive levels of compression will ruin your footage (DivX, Xvid, Ogg)
- implementations on different platforms are different – DivX on Mac is a completely different thing than on PC
- even with the same CoDec, different versions of this CoDec may be incompatible (DivX, Xvid)
- acceleration functions in these CoDecs that rely e.g. on DirectDraw on Windows may prevent them from working properly in Adobe apps
- future availability and compatibility of free CoDecs is not guaranteed
So weigh any gains in performance, free disk space etc. carefully against the problems it may cause later. In any case, it is recommended you install as few extra CoDecs as possible and only the ones you really need. Collections like the K-Lite CoDec pack have been known to cause crashes and of course, since CoDecs are also code, they may introduce their own security and stability issues.
An often overlooked problem for Adobe products is the sequence in which they are installed. While one would think it is perfectly logical that installing newer versions may modify the system in such a way that older versions will not install because newer components are already in place, some people still try and then complain when they made a mess. So, to spell it out: Always install the older versions first! When a newer version then detects these old versions, it will leave them untouched or only replace compatible parts.
A similar logic applies to uninstalling older versions. Multiple versions of the same Adobe product can coexist without problems, so generally there is no need e.g. to remove your CS4 just to install CS5. However, should you decide to get rid of the older version because you need the disc space or no longer use it after a while, you still must uninstall the newest version first (CS5), then the old version (CS4) and then reinstall the latest version (CS5)again. Trust me, it is the only safe way to avoid a lot of trouble. If, for some reason that is not possible, the various tips listed for specific versions should be used, especially the use of the Clean Scripts. Normal uninstalls are handled via proper uninstall routines. On Mac computers, you should find an Alias in each program directory that is pointing to the uninstaller. If that is not the case, you can find the uninstallers in /Library:Application Support:Adobe:Installers. Do not throw the apps in the trash, always run the uninstaller! On Windows, you can uninstall programs from the Add or Remove Programs (Windows XP) or the Programs and Features (Windows Vista and Windows 7) control panels, which you can access from Start Menu –> Settings –> Control Panel.
Users that use a combination of suite products with standalone products should be equally careful to keep track of which they installed in which order, even more so if you e.g. keep an older standalone version of After Effects to produce web video with the latest version of the Adobe Creative Suite Web Premium suite. Additionally, keep in mind that products also included in a suite will take precedence over standalone products. It is not possible to install a Adobe Creative Suite Design Standard, which only contains Photoshop Standard, and a separate Photoshop Extended – based on the suite serial, Photoshop will disable Extended features and act like the Standard version.
There is one program that is quite unique in many ways with regards to install procedures – Adobe Acrobat. Even though it is part of every suite, the way it needs to be installed varies from version to version. some install it as part of the main install, others as a separate product. The bundled version is especially problematic when the clean scripts were used, as it leaves active processes and extensions in place (browser plug-in, context menu entries etc.) that cannot be removed, because the files and registry keys are locked. Dealing with this scenario is quite tricky, so you may wish to study this document for a rough overview. It deals with Acrobat 8, but procedures are similar for newer versions, only the registry keys are different.
An ongoing battle with any Adobe product ever since the original CS line of products is the licensing system and forced activation. While it has gotten better, it is still not easy to deal with it, especially when it doesn’t work. First, let’s clarify something, though.
Many users confuse Registration and Activation. Activation is mandatory for your products so they provide all features and/ or keep functioning. Without a serial and activation, any Adobe product will run in trial mode for 30 days. This allows you to work with the product and produces files that are compatible with the fully licensed versions, but some features may not be available due to licensing restrictions. For After Effects this means for instance that MPEG based CoDecs and third-party plug-ins like Keylight or the CC Effects only appear with a serial. After 30 days the trial will simply stop functioning. There is no point in reinstalling it then, because the licensing system stamps your harddrive and you cannot initiate another trial period. Only entering a full serial will make it work again. When you enter a serial, you can use it on 2 systems to activate the software. By definition of the license agreement this means your main workstation and a mobile computer. You cannot share the second activation with a friend or sell it to anyone. Registration on the other hand is voluntary and optional. It is however in your own interest to register software. Not only do you get access to additional content and services, but registering your serial numbers provides a safety net in case you ever lose your install discs. It also makes it easier for customer support to verify the status of your activations, in case you need to open a support case and contact them.
The actual activation and optional registration process are not part of the install process. Both steps happen when you launch an application the first time. Since they require network access and access to system directories, it is almost inevitable that you do this first launch as Administrator. If you installed a suite, only activating one product will activate all others as well. Should you get errors that the app could not be activated, simply try again. Sometimes the servers are too busy and will not respond in time. If the issues persist or you get other errors, follow the specific advice for your version listed below. To go through with registration, simply fill out the fields and submit the form. If you have chosen to not register, you can do so at any later point by using the Help menu in any Adobe app and using Register. Should, regardless of your choice, the registration dialog keep coming up, you may wish to edit the files responsible for this. They are simple text files stored in your [Userdir] (Info) and carry names like com.adobe.XXX.registration, where the XXX refers to a number. When you edit the files in a text editor, you can simply set the first line to read never and you should no longer be pestered.
Just like you need to activate the programs and suites, you can deactivate them at any time. This will allow you to install the software on another machine and use it there, which happens if you e.g. bought yourself a new computer and migrate. The pertinent menu entry is again in the Help menu and cunningly called Deactivate. If this entry is not available or greyed out, then there is a conflict with another activation. This is similar to the problem laid out in the install order section, so likewise, you must deactivate the newer versions first and then the feature may become avialable. In CS5 products, deactivation is handled by the uninstall procedure again as it was for CS and CS2, so there are no menu entries. If you use eLicenses from a greater pool e.g. at educational facilities, the entries will refer to the eLicense, but have essentially the same functionality. You should, however, let your system administrator handle these things then to avoid conflicts. Your fellow classmates sure wouldn’t like if you stole their license!
Occasionally, your applications will refuse to work with a number of licensing errors. This can happen after system updates and patches, Adobe‘s own updates or system crashes. Since the possible reasons are numerous, so are the solutions, but lucky for us, you can find all that info on the Adobe site already. For CS3 products, all steps are laid out in this document. For CS4 you can find info on that for Windows and Mac. For CS5 this is handled differently – when you encounter licensing errors, you are granted a 7 day grace period that allows you to investigate the issue more deeply or work out a solution with Adobe support.
One other error you can encounter is the Licensing has expired warning. This can happen if you e.g. downloaded a program from Adobe Labs while it was still in Beta and then forgot to deactivate and remove it from your system in favor of the final retail version. The serials used there are timebombed and will make your program stop after a specific date.
The Adobe Creative Suite Cleaner Tool started out as a set od Python scripts back in CS3 and has been continually updated with every release. Its main purpose is to remove specific custom Adobe installation files that will prevent successive re-installs, which can easily happen if you have products of different versions on your system, an update has gone wrong or a security patch e.g. for Adobe Reader or Flash suddenly affects another, seemingly unrelated product with ill effects. It should only be used as a last resort and not be considered a replacment for proper uninstall and deactivation procedures, which it cannot do, anyway. By downloading the latest unified version you should be able to apply it to anything starting back with CS3, but keep in mind that support for specific older product versionsmay be removed one day along just like official product support eventually ceases. There is a few minor differences in running the tool/ scripts between versions, which you should beware of.
When you need to use the tool, you can use levels 1 through 4. The prompt only will show you 1 and 2, but at the repsective point, you can simply type in 3 or 4 for more aggressive removal options. Keep in mind, that unlike later versions, this script will actually really delete files and directories, so the apps will truly be gone after that. A full reinstall is mandatory after that.
This version will only remove the installer database in your [Common Files] (Info) folder, the installer session folder in the same directory and the install/uninstall entries in your system control panel on Windows. The programs themselves will remain in place and if they haven’t been damaged otherwise can still be used.
CS5/ CS5.5/ CS6
In addition to removing the installer database and session folders, this version will also collect a series of log files that are created during install and while the applications are running. While you may not be able to make much sense of these logs yourself, they may help to ask questions on forums and of course you will be asked to send them in when you open up a support ticket via the Adobe website.
There is not much to report here – either the install works or it doesn’t. Unfortunately there are no specific fixes or steps that could help you in making the installs go through; you can mostly just keep your fingers crossed and follow the generic advice. When you reinstall the programs, you will encounter an odd condition, where it gives you licensing errors. This can only be fixed by a proper uninstall and then a second reinstall. This is a bug in the licensing system that can only be fixed this way. The other oddity to observe is that deactivation many times will require 2 attempts to go through.
Note: CS3 products are not fit to run on Windows 7 and may also cause problems on Windows Vista. This affects the original install but also pertains to third-party componenents such as graphics driver issues or how they connect to Quicktime. It may therefore be necessary to actually install older, more compatible versions of these tools to be able to work. Also note that CS3 does not support many modern footage types like AVCHD. In the end, it may be easier and less troublesome to just upgrade your software.
A very common error with CS4 is the Freeze on checking system profile. Before venturing into modifying the install scripts, I recommend trying the simpler solutions first. I do not recommend using the Adobe Support Advisor – since they keep playing the “secret” game, it is usually not offering any useful advise and only tells you to contact support. In essence, this tool is useless to you and only helps the company gather more information. Likewise, reading the CS3 and CS4 Install logs may not tell you anything. The descriptions are incomplete and vague at best, but on a lucky day may still provide a starting point for someone on a forum to help you out.
For a change, there is plenty of helpful information for CS5 issues. First, there is a whole slew of installation related info that provides a solution for each of the error codes:
Next there is some help on common anomalies when launching the programs for the first time:
A few fixes for licensing and registration errors:
If you purchased CS5, but still want to use a version of After Effects and Premiere Pro on a 32bit system, this article will be of interest:
Complementing all the articles for CS5 that still remain relevant and applicable and have been updated for CS5.5, where appropriate, is a number of specific articles. The first explains an issue that may occur during install, if a version of Flash Player newer than the one that is included in teh installer is already on your system:
Todd Kopriva has also collected several resources about potential problems with Quicktime and Adobe video applications:
Of specific relevance is an article there dealing with blocked auxiliary services that provide a translation layer for 32bit components. While it may deal with specific Adobe components, reading this article may also help you figure out things for other programs, plug-ins and utilities that use a similar approach to provide 32bit features in a 64bit environment via a socket connection. It is also applicable to problems with the licensing system:
CS6 has upped the ante by being even more quirky in some departments than its predecessors. That’s in part due to Adobe ID having become mandatory and causing its fair share of problems, in other parts Creative Cloud letting product development become more floaty and products not always being at the same level and in turn introducing updates that may screw other programs. Starting with the install, the first issue you could encounter is this:
The above article is a bit vague in that it doesn’t actually provide and explanation. The issue here is that in a combination of digital signatures vs. certain security mechnisms in some browsers and your operating system vs. Adobe Download Assistant (ADA) or Adobe Application Manager (AAM). A few bytes change and as a result, the checksum doesn’t fit. This is the same when you e.g. want to open anotherr downloaded file and it retains the “This file was downloaded from the Internet and may pose a security risk” monicker even after months because it got flagged. That being so, the obvious thing to do is to use a different browser than on your first download. Failed downloads can have numerous causes and this document sumamrizes many of them:
To bypass issues with AAM, you can also try a direct download using a method described here:
Once the installer has downloaded successfully and you run it, you may be faced with the dilemma that it insists you have no Internet conenction when you actually can perfectly other Internet services. Unable to sign in to your Adobe ID therefore can prevent installing completely. Aside from checking your network configuration for potential issues, this may help:
Another very common issue is problems with the Microsoft Visual C (MSVC) and .NET runtimes not being installed properly. This issue is described here:
In addition to what’s proposed there, you may also want to uninstall the MSVC runtimes from your Add or Remove Programs system panel manually and reinstall them using the downloadable standalone installers from Microsoft.