Switching From PC to Mac: The Adobe Cross-Platform Upgrade

So you have finally decided to make the switch from PC to Mac. Congratulations! Changing platforms is quite a big decision and there are a lot of things to consider. Is it worth the price? Will you be able to figure out how to use it? Will you be able to learn all the new keyboard shortcuts? What should you do about all your old PC fonts? I know that when I made the switch I had a thousand questions running through my head. Ultimately, I decided that moving to a Mac would be an opportunity to get a fresh start on a new machine but the biggest question for me was how to upgrade my Windows version of Adobe to a Mac version.

I took my sweet time trying to figure out whether or not I wanted to switch from PC to Mac and during that time I was able to do quite a bit of research on whether or not it was possible to transfer my Windows license to Mac. To be honest, I didn’t find a whole lot of information regarding this topic except for 1 inaccurate blog post on Adobe’s website that claimed that a transfer would be free – which was not the case.

Leading up to this I called Adobe to confirm some of this information. What I learned was this: I COULD NOT transfer my Windows version of CS3 to Mac CS3 but I COULD transfer my CS3 license to a CS4 license. All I would have to do is sign a document stating that I would destroy my Windows copy and never use it again, send that document to the people at Adobe, and pay them the regular upgrade price of $599. Seems easy right? Well, it was, sort of.

Once you’ve come to the realization that you are going to have to pay a lot of money to do this, your first step should be to call Adobe Sales and ask them to process your order. If you’re in the US or Canada call:

from 5:00am to 7:00pm
Pacific Time.

Once you’ve got them on the phone. Tell them what you want to do. They will want your serial number. If you registered it, they should have it on file. Once that is done they will ask for your credit card number to place the order. Then, they will place your order on hold until you have submitted their LOD Form. To do that you will have to print it, sign it, scan it, and then email it to them by logging onto their site. At that point they will be able to process your order but in order for that to happen it will have to be approved by some one in customer service.

I don’t like to wait, so after I submitted my form, I called them to see if it was received.  They said that it was but the sales office could no longer help me so they transferred me to customer service (make sure you get the number) then you will have to speak to some one from there. They will tell you that a Senior Customer Service agent will need to approve the request and that it will take a few days to do. Don’t take their word for it. Do your best to push the order along. Remember, you’re paying them $599. They should be in a hurry to do this.

Eventually my order went through. I received an email telling me my order had been processed and another email telling me that my order had been shipped. Once that happened, I received my copy within 2 days. To make your version of Adobe CS4 for Mac work they will send you a full-version of the software, not an upgrade. That is why they make you jump through so many hoops.

In all, I was pretty happy with the process. It did take a while to make the calls and fill out the forms but it was worth the $1200 I saved by upgrading instead of buying a new copy. Anyhow, I hope this article has helped put any of you potential Mac users at ease. Good luck and have fun with your new computer and software!

Grant Friedman

Grant Friedman is a graphic design, blogger, and author. In addition to being the founder of this website, Grant is also the editor of Psdtuts, one of the world's most popular tutorial websites.

  • Wow Grant. That’s kinda nuts. Congrats on switching to a Mac. Still though, Adobe makes this way more difficult than it needs to be. I ran into the same process, but in the end just caved and bought a copy of CS4 Design Premium for $1000. Glad you were able to get it done though. And I’m sure this will help others who are doing the same. Thinking if you weren’t in a rush though, I it seems like CS5 is really just around the corner.
    .-= John Wang´s last blog ..Introducing Fresh Blocks =-.

  • dave

    I’m pretty sure they scammed you a bit on this. Awhile back you could license the suites on 2 of your computers but they had to be same platform but I believe as of cs3 they changed the lic so you can have 1 on pc & 1 on mac if you needed to. Even back then you could just call up and tell them you were switching platforms and they would change your lic without upgrading. However, Adobe has completely gone to crap the last few years and I certainly would believe that they have changed to this. Last time I had to get ps ps4 activated it took 4 days and over 40hrs on hold was ridiculous.

  • Not to be contentious, but why is there “congratulations” involved when switching computer platforms?

    I figured Adobe would have flat refused. It’s good to know!

  • Thanks for pointing out that typo guys. Really appreciate it!

  • Jaime

    @jeremy: Congratulations are in order for having moved to a platform that makes both creative and development work fun and painless (as it should be) ;)

    That being said, congratulations on the move to greener pastures! You surely won’t regret it :) Also, do the licenses (as in the serial numbers) differ depending on the platform? So for example torrenting a copy and using a valid legal serial number is not a possibility? Because in all honesty Adobe are thieves if they don’t provide you with a mechanism to use the same software in any platform you choose to use. I can’t believe they would actually tell me to buy two copies of CSx if I have separate personal computers on different operating systems. I really wish there was a decent competitor to Photoshop and that Adobe went under and with it Flash, but I guess that’s not happening anytime soon.

  • dave

    I agree.. welcome to the promise land!

    straight out of the cs3 user agreement, I would call Abobe back for making you buy an upgrade.

    2.4 Portable or Home Computer Use. Subject to the important restrictions set forth in Section 2.5 below, the primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed (“Primary User”) may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided that the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer. You may be required to contact Adobe in order to make a second copy.

    4.3 No Unbundling. The Software may include various applications, utilities and components, may support multiple platforms and languages and may be provided to you on multiple media or in multiple copies. Nonetheless, the Software is designed and provided to you as a single product to be used as a single product on Computers as permitted by Sections 2 and 14.

    And yes it sucks there is no real competition for photoshop although is getting there.

  • Mary

    The price of Adobe’s software is complete bollocks. $600 just to upgrade? I mean, for someone like me who makes less than the average person, hearing this only justifies my reasoning to continue to use my friend to buy student versions. Now those are affordable and reasonable!

  • Thanks for the tips! I have also decided that my next computer will be a Mac (I’ve had my last straw with Windows when it recently decided to run an update, re-install itself, and delete all of my files! Thank goodness for restore, but still – can you say Heart Attack!?!?! lol)

    Anyway, I’m probably a good year away from a new computer, but this is one of the questions I’ve had myself as far as moving over to Mac.

    Hope you enjoy the new computer!
    .-= Selene M. Bowlby´s last blog ..Eco-Friendly BizCard Winners! =-.

  • So what did you do with your copy of CS3? :D

    New Question? What’s so great about the mac? The Hardware costs a fortune.

    Since Windows 7 is out I did not have issues with windows anymore. Im not a windows fanboy i like the how Leopard looks (just dont know that much about it, thus the question) but i have one the testing windows version that runs great.. did not have problem with any of the adobe software.

  • Jaime

    There are various misconceptions going on about apple and its products. The first one is that the hardware is extremely overpriced. That is just not true. People say they can get the equivalent to a 5k mac pro for 1200 bucks. But do it yourself. Go to and get exactly the same parts apple is using instead of cheapo versions and rough equivalents. A quad xeon is not the same as a reg quad. Apple does rape you with ram though, so keep that in mind. The result is you find out buying a machine like apple’s is 500 to 1000k cheaper… with no OS and no warranty and none of the included software. OH and I bet the case is ugly as sin compared to apples… You really are getting what you pay for, and it’s so worth it. I’m typing this on a 3 and half year old macbook… It has never ever had a problem. But I have a closet full of pc parts and lots of Toshibas and HP that wont work… Some of them with not even 1 year of use.

    On the software side, use an iphone for a week and then a Windows mobile phone for a week… they are both very capable, and although you can achieve what you want with both, you’ll find the iphone is just easier and more straight forward. OSX makes you productive while Windows strips the fun out of computing.

  • Jaime

    i meant to say that making a custom machine like apple’s mac pro might save you 500 dollars… maybe 1k… not 500 to 1000k :P And off course the difference is quite lower with lower speced machines.

  • I’ll take the Mac and the superior system stability and warranty.

  • Jennifer

    I found this blog while searching for help for the exact same scenario. Thank you so much for posting this– extremely helpful!

  • yay .. thats great news for me.. so i can plan upgrade for not cs5 but next version for mac !! woo ho .. hope it continues till !! fingers crossed :D