Enterprise Software

How to license and install Photoshop and other Adobe apps on Macs

Adobe's Creative Cloud simplifies purchasing and maintaining Photoshop and other popular creative programs in Mac environments. Here's a primer on purchasing and installing some of these Adobe apps.

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Image: Adobe

Some applications own their market. Adobe Photoshop, for example, has proven to be such a popular imaging and design program that its name is commonly accepted as a verb—e.g.,"I Photoshopped the image to correct lighting imbalances and resolve white balance issues."

Historically, Mac offices would purchase boxed copies of the Photoshop software and install the application. When Adobe converted to its Creative Cloud subscription-based pricing and licensing model, some confusion initially resulted, but that's the future for software sales.

Here's the step-by-step process Mac offices should follow to license and install most Adobe applications within their organizations.

SEE: Research: Apple's Growing Role in the Enterprise (Tech Pro Research)

Step 1: Begin with an Adobe ID

While some applications, such as Photoshop Elements, can still be purchased as boxed software, many new Macs don't even possess an integrated optical drive; plus, the practice of purchasing boxed or standalone software (which must be manually tracked and administered) is inefficient. Organizations are best served by abandoning such legacy practices, centralizing software purchasing and licensing, and updating within corporate Apple and Adobe accounts. That's the trend, as you can see by the growth of Adobe Creative Cloud accounts.

Licensing Adobe software via its subscription service model necessitates creating an Adobe ID. The Adobe user account is free. The subscription services require payment, typically in monthly installments or annual payments tied to a credit card.

Step 2: Select an Adobe subscription plan

To sign up for a subscription, select the Adobe plan appropriate to your needs. A variety of Individual, Business, Student and Teacher and School and University options are available. Individual plans that include Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC start at just $9.99 a month and range to an All Apps and Adobe Stock license, which includes the All Apps plan's desktop apps, Creative Cloud services, and Adobe Stock images, for $69.99 per month per license. Per Device licenses are also available for classrooms and labs at $299.88 per year.

Step 3: Install the apps

After identifying the Adobe plan to implement, Mac users should click the applicable blue purchase button. The buttons are labeled Buy Now for Individual and Student and Teacher plans and Select Your Plans for Business and School and University accounts.

Mac professionals should be prepared to log in to their Adobe ID account and provide the Mac's local system administrator username and password a couple times throughout the application installation process. Installing the Adobe applications also requires Mac professionals to accept Adobe's terms and conditions of use.

When reviewing Creative Cloud membership details, users signing up for the first time should pay particular attention to the payment details, which for Individual plan subscribers state those who cancel after 14 days will be charged 50% of the remaining contract obligation.

Once payment is processed, the Adobe Creative Cloud app automatically downloads to the Mac. In the case of the account I chose, Adobe Lightroom also downloaded and installed automatically; the Photoshop installation required clicking the provided Install button within the Creative Cloud app. Each software installation requires providing the Mac's local system administrator username and password.

Step 4: Leverage the Creative Cloud app for application administration

The Creative Cloud app manages the installation of local Adobe applications, as just described. The Creative Cloud app downloaded to my Mac possesses these tabs: Home, Apps, Assets, Stock, and Community.

  • The Home tab lists app installation activity and dates, and helps manage application updates.
  • The Apps tab displays apps available from within the Adobe ID subscription plan.
  • The Assets tab provides access to content, such as user interfaces, icons, patterns and the like, licensed to paid Creative Cloud members.
  • The Stock tab provides access to millions of Adobe stock photos.
  • The Community tab connects to a vast library of Adobe users, who can be followed, and their creations can be added to your Adobe account's Collection.

Last word

Subscription software services may have experienced some initial turbulence, but with the rise and success of Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions and Adobe's Creative Cloud model, the practice isn't going away and, in fact, simplifies software purchasing, updating, and licensing. While opponents argue business software expenses will increase, organizations are typically assured they receive access to updates and new software versions as they are released.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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