Get an overview of Adobe's licensing methods to deploy licenses to activate and authenticate Adobe products


If the license type of your organization changes, to continue working your end users will need to sign out of any Adobe product or service and then sign back in with the same credentials.

For desktop products such as Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator, use the Sign out and Sign in options in the Help menu. On, use the icon in the upper-right corner to sign out and then sign back.

When you purchase a product from Adobe, a license represents your right to use Adobe software and services. Licenses are used to authenticate and activate the products on the end user's computers.

Named User licensing

Named user licensing is the default and most popular licensing method to deploy and use Adobe Creative Cloud and Document Cloud products. Designed for the network-connected scenario where app licenses are managed based on individual user need for use of the app. Using named user licensing, you can provide your end users with the full functionality of the software and services. Giving your end-users access to all the available apps and services based on your organization's entitlements.

Named User Licensing ties the usage of Adobe apps and services to an individual user. It works well if the product and service requirements are closely associated with a user or a role. Named User Licensing provides IT admins complete control to add and remove product licenses for a user at any time. It also facilitates better compliance tracking as IT admins don't need to track machines, and can manage licenses centrally.

Named licenses require periodic Internet connectivity. Computers must connect to Adobe servers for initial activation, and then at least once every 99 days. End users cannot use mobile apps unless the company deploys named licenses.

End users can sign in with their credentials to access the apps and services. You can also configure SSO to enable seamless access and experience as the rest of your enterprise apps.

Named User Licensing, provides:

For end users:

  • Access to World-class creative & productivity apps: Including the latest cloud first applications such as Adobe XDLightroom CC and Adobe Dimension. These applications are not available with any other licensing method.
  • Access to Adobe Cloud services: Jump-start projects with anywhere, any-device access to assets in Creative Cloud Libraries, cloud collaboration using Team Projects, and font collections from Adobe Fonts. Automate signature driven workflows and deliver a faster return on signed documents with Adobe Sign.

For Admins:

Deploying apps using Named User licensing

There is no requirement to pre-configure computers for Named User Licensing. Creative Cloud apps will only need to be installed or deployed on the end-user computers. Each of the computers to be licensed must have access to the Internet. However, access to the Internet can be controlled by a firewall device that intercepts and unpacks all network traffic to verify its content and ensure that:

  • no unauthorized data is sent outside the internal network
  • all transmitted data is sealed inside an encrypted tunnel between the firewall device and the Adobe servers
  • the endpoint of every transmission is an authorized Adobe server with a known network address and a publicly signed, non-revoked SSL certificate

End-user sign-in workflow

Authentication means verifying the user’s identity and connecting that identity with the user’s Creative Cloud membership. Authorization includes checking a user’s membership to determine its overall status, determining which applications and services the user’s membership allows the user to access, and discovering any restrictions or special permissions granted to the user. Most of the licensing services run on Adobe servers. A few of them, however, run locally. For example, Creative Cloud desktop app, is considered by Adobe a licensing service that runs locally. (It is also a deployment service, because you can download and install apps.) The local licensing services depend on Adobe-hosted licensing services for all their functions. The licensing services are visible to users in activities such as logging in, accepting terms of use, and accepting end-user license agreements.

 Apps can be downloaded and installed on client machines using various methods. For information, see App delivery strategies. Users need to sign in to license the apps. To license the apps, users can use one of the following:

Creative Cloud desktop app

The Creative Cloud desktop app facilitates self-service workflows for users to download and install applications and updates. For users with the cloud services, signing in also enables access to Creative Cloud services, such as activate fonts from Adobe Fonts, get personal storage, and share and gather feedback on Behance.


 If you've included the Creative Cloud desktop app in your deployment packages, users can launch the Creative Cloud desktop app. Once users have signed in with their credentials, all eligible apps installed on the computer are activated. Users also need to accept the Terms of Use to activate the apps.

Directly from apps

On launching an app, a sign-in screen displays. End users can sign in with their credentials to license the app. If a user is not entitled to that particular app it will run as a trial, but will stop working once the trial period expires.

Proxy and firewall settings

To ensure that users are able to sign in, you'll need to configure your firewall and proxy servers to enable connections to the web service endpoints on the Adobe website.

For a detailed list of licensing and other service endpoints, see Creative Cloud for enterprise  - Network Endpoints.

Shared Device Licensing

Shared Device License is a licensing method targeted at educational institutions where software is assigned to a device instead of an individual. Anyone who logs onto the device will have access to Adobe's products and services. If you're new to Shared Device Licensing, we recommend getting started with the deployment guide. If you've been using Shared device licenses, see what's new.

Shared Device Licensing is ideal for desktop computer labs and classrooms. For example, you can install Creative Cloud apps in your computer labs to allows students and teachers, with access to these computers, to use the apps and services that are available as part of your license agreement with Adobe.

Shared device licenses allow institutions enrolled in the Value Incentive Plan (VIP) to license software to a specific computer.

The Admin Console lets IT admins seamlessly migrate from Device Licensing to Shared Device Licensing. After your users are migrated, they will have access to your purchased Adobe products and services.

Device licensing (Legacy)

Device licenses allow institutions enrolled in the Value Incentive Plan (VIP) to license software to a specific computer. Also, users never have to sign in or enter a serial number to access apps.


App versions CC 2019 or later do not support device licensing. For more information, see this document.

Creative Cloud for education device licenses provide the ability to license software to a specific machine instead of a named user or with a serial number. Users never have to sign in or enter a serial number to use the software. Licenses are tied to machine deployment pools, which are created automatically when you order products.

Institutions can purchase Creative Cloud for education device licenses by joining Value Incentive Plan (VIP) via an Adobe Authorized Education Reseller or through Adobe Business Direct.

If your institution has purchased device licenses, learn how to manage device licenses in the Admin Console. You can also learn how to create packages with device licenses using Creative Cloud Packager.

Serial number licensing (Legacy)

A historical method of licensing that is not tied to an individual user but to a particular computer. This licensing method is suitable for a very small number of customers and, as with named licensing, can be used to create pre-licensed packages that are deployed remotely.


App versions CC 2019 or later do not support licensing via serial numbers. For more information, see this document.

Named licensing provides several advantages as compared to anonymous or Serial number licensing. Administrators can closely track and monitor the usage of licenses. They can also centrally manage licenses assigned to a user and revoke access to apps and services, without a need to redeploy packages. Named license can also enable self-service workflows to let customers download and install products and updates. Named licenses also enable end users to use cloud services, such as add fonts from Adobe Fonts, choose file sync locations, and share and gather feedback on Behance.

If you have an existing CS6 or Creative Cloud ELA/ETLA or VIP deployment, you can consider migrating users to the Named licensing mode.


To prevent disrupting end-user workflows, invite users to your organization, and add them to groups to assign licenses. This will give users some time to accept the invitations and set up their IDs. You can also inform users that they'll need to sign in to use the apps.

You can add users and groups using the Admin Console. For more information, see Manage groups and Manage users.

To remove serial number licenses, follow the below steps:

  1. Create and deploy a package that includes the Creative Cloud app. This package can contain only the Creative Cloud app or be bundled along with other Creative Cloud applications. Deploying the latest version of Creative Cloud app updates the necessary files for using named licenses.

    To download this package directly from the Admin Console, navigate to Packages > Adobe Templates. You can also create it using the Creative Cloud Packager.Step text

  2. Create a License Package using the Creative Cloud Packager.

    The package is created at the specified location, and contains four files:

    • AdobeSerialization
    • RemoveVolumeSerial
    • helper.bin
    • prov.xml
  3. To remove enterprise license of previously licensed apps, run the RemoveVolumeSerial executable with admin privileges.


    RemoveVolumeSerial file deactivates all Creative Cloud for enterprise products running on a client's machine, irrespective of the serial number specified when creating the RemoveVolumeSerial file.

    For example, if you create a RemoveVolumeSerial file using the serial number 1234-1234-1234-1235, and deploy it on a machine which is using the serial number 1234-1234-1234-1236, all Creative Cloud for enterprise products running on the machine are deactivated.

  4. Package and deploy latest versions of apps and updates. Use Admin Console or the Creative Cloud Packager to create a package with a Named License. For more information, see Creative Cloud Packager. Skip this step if you don’t want to update to the latest versions of apps.

    If you want to uninstall the older versions of apps, do it before you deploy the latest versions. Uninstalling later may break file associations.

  5. The users will see a Sign-in screen when they launch the apps next time. Signing in will license and activate the apps. Users can also launch, and sign in using the Creative Cloud app.

  1. Sign in to Adobe Licensing website with your email address and password.

  2. Choose License > Retrieve Serial Numbers.

  3. Select an End User ID or Deploy-to ID for your organization.

  4. Select a Product NameProduct Version, and Platform.

  5. Click Search.

    The product name and serial numbers are displayed.