Friday, September 10, 2010

Installing Adobe CS3 on Windows 7

A few weeks ago, I got a new computer with Windows 7.  As usual, I started loading in all of my programs.  Which, of course, is when all of the problems started.  Windows 7, like Vista, has User Account Control, a little gatekeeper designed to keep programs from making changes to your system without your permission.  And like many gatekeepers, it's too eager, especially when it comes to older programs that aren't designed specifically to work with it.

Perfect example:  Adobe Creative Suite 3 or CS3.  Now, both the Adobe website and Windows website say that CS3 is compatible with Windows 7, but if you call Adobe tech support or chat with them and tell them you are having troubles installing Adobe CS3 on Windows 7, the first thing you will be told is that CS3 is not compatible with Windows 7.  Hmm.  Makes me wish I were an attorney.  I'm sure there's a class-action lawsuit in both of those companies claiming compatibility and then Adobe tech support telling people it's not.  But let's get beyond that and get to the part where I tell you what I did to get Adobe CS3 installed on Windows 7.

  1. Deactivate CS3 on your old computer.  You need not uninstall it yet, but you do have to go through deactivation in order to be able to install and activate it on a new computer.
  2. I started with a virgin hard drive with the factory image from HP.  No other software installed and I actually uninstalled the pre-installed Norton security software.  At the minimum, turn off your security software.
  3. Turn off User Account Control or UAC.
  4. Check your machine for anything Adobe-related and uninstall it, including Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash.  They are likely newer versions than what is on your CS3 DVD and confuse the installation, it seems.
  5. Download and run the Adobe License Repair Tool found at
  6. Download and run the Adobe Licensing Service Patch found here:
  7. Fix the FLEXnet Licensing Service
    1. Choose Start > Control Panel.
    2. Double-click Administrative Tools.
    3. Double-click Services.
    4. Double-click the FLEXnet Licensing Service to open the Properties dialog box.
    5. Click the Startup Type menu, and then select Automatic[Adobe's site says to change to Manual, but I think that's under different circumstances.  I went with Automatic and it worked.]
    6. Click Apply.
    7. In the Services Status section, click Start to start the service.
    8. Click Apply, and then click OK.
  8. Go here and follow the instructions on how to get the Adobe.dll file and put it on your desktop.  You will need to rename the file and removed the "_64".
  9. Copy the entire contents of the install DVD to the desktop of your computer.
  10. Right-click the folder and explore it.  You want the "setup" file in the Adobe folder.  Right-click that and "Run as Administrator".
  11. Watch for it to ask where to get the .dll file and point it to your desktop.
  12. Once the install succeeds, launch Photoshop and activate your product.

Now, if this doesn't work, go down to your community college and sign up for the cheapest class you can find and still get some kind of ID or proof of registration.  Then go to and buy the full, educational version of CS5 for about 1/3 the cost of the full retail version and install that.  You will required to prove you are a student but since you just signed up at your community college, you can!

Also, if it doesn't work, I recommend you do a system restore back to your factory hard drive image, to make sure you have removed any corruption that may have been introduced by the various patches and faulty install.

Good luck!


Did this post save you time and effort?  Then please donate to my retirement fund using PayPal.


Zarrow50 said...

I have heard people having problems proving they are a student- It's a long drawn out process i have seen in the reviews on amazon, whem buying academic, adobe stuff.

C Ellis

Andrew Zack said...

We've had no problems proving students are students. Most schools provide ID. If not, they usually accept photocopy of picture ID and a copy of your schedule for the current semester via email.

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