22 Replies Latest reply: Mar 4, 2015 8:20 AM by monique28e RSS

    Invalid serial number!!

    actech12 Community Member


      can anyone help with this?  I have CS5 Extended which I have had installed on my old pc for about 7 months until the pc crashed and burned.  I admit to buying my copy off e-bay, I make no apologies for that as there is nothing wrong with looking for a bargain.  I made every attempt to verify that it was a genuine unused copy, to the point of having e-mails from the seller should I need to look for redress on this.  The first installation went fine but it would not let me register with Adobe, so I e-mailed the seller again.  The program continued to work so I assumed it was a glitch with the installer ( a lot of people I have spoken have had issues with Adobe installers, especially on Windows based systems).  Forward 7 - 8 months and my pc has crashed and burned, probably from expecting too much from my 9-year old creation.  I now have a new monster with Windows 7 pro instead of XP 32-bit,  SSD's etc., but this is causing no end of problems migrating all my programs, some of which are beyond salvation.  However, like most of you out there, I find Adobe photoshop extremely expensive and cannot write this off.  I look at the packaging, the disc and part numbers (?) for each individual piece of packaging including the 'Genuine Adobe' holographic label, the serial number and I do not believe (nor anyone else that sees it) that my copy is not genuine.  Now upon installation, during the initial instal it accepts my serial number no problem, but when I first use it and am asked to register it, I get the message 'invalid serial number for this product'.  From several threads I have found this seems quite common but have found no answer.  Does anyone have a solution to this before the 'trial' period expires?

        • 1. Re: Invalid serial number!!
          acresofgreen Community Member

          If you have a legitimate license to use the software, Adobe Customer Service should be able to help you to activate it. 


          I hope you were lucky enough to purchase a genuine unused package.  Unfortunately, professional software pirates flood the market with thousands and thousands of genuine looking packages, which only trained people can recognize as forgeries.  That's why there are loads of sellers on eBay and similar sites who probably don't even know they are selling forgeries.  They themselves fell victim to someone selling pirated versions in large quantities at dumping prices.  Good luck!

          • 2. Re: Invalid serial number!!
            actech12 Community Member

            Thanks for replying, Acres, but can you explain how it worked fine for 7 months on the old pc if it is not genuine?

            • 3. Re: Invalid serial number!!
              gener7 CommunityMVP

              Adobe has been known to blacklist serial numbers if they found they were fraudulent. One way is that the counterfeiter might have handed out the same number to more than one customer.

              • 4. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                acresofgreen Community Member

                actech12 wrote:


                Thanks for replying, Acres, but can you explain how it worked fine for 7 months on the old pc if it is not genuine?

                I think the scenario described by gener7 is a likely one.   I have seen reports by users who say they used the software successfully for years, but when they needed to re-activate the software after a clean install, Adobe told them they have a pirated version.


                Let's hope that's not the case for you!

                • 5. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                  ssprengel CommunityMVP

                  Adobe blacklisted the serial number in between when you installed it on the first PC and now when you’re installing it on a new PC, so while it worked the first time, it doesn’t, now.

                  • 6. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                    actech12 Community Member

                    Thanks Acres, I accept there is a probability I have a pirate copy, but still there are a large number of people who have the same problem with Adobe products who claim to have downloaded them directly from the Adobe site.  I think I shall have to take the bull by the horns and contact customer support.  Thank you to all for replying.

                    • 7. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                      ssprengel CommunityMVP

                      If you didn’t purchase your copy from Adobe or an Adobe Authorized Dealer, and for the proper price, then you have a pirated copy, even if it takes Adobe a few months to figure it out.


                      It’ll be interesting to hear what Adobe says.

                      • 8. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                        actech12 Community Member

                        This doesn't ring true ssprengel, I've been doing some research after a totally unsatisfactory online chat with Adobe. The message I get is very specific in saying  'invalid serial number for this product' along with an exclamation mark in a YELLOW warning triangle.  There are various explanations for this online (including from Adobe) but none of them specifically refer to pirated software. I am as convinced I have a genuine copy just as much as Adobe say my serial number is not recognised by their key checking software (they will not say outright that it is fake, just the serial number is not recognised).  By going online and obtaining a different serial number I am able to start cs5 and enter this number to get the green tick and carry on in cs5 until the next time.  The following time I start cs5 I get an exclamation mark in a RED TRIANGLE with the words 'invalid serial number' (without the 'for this product').  If you look for other error messages online there are several which may be of interest to you for your scenario, such as 'this serial number has been deactivated'. I should also point out also that when I enter an incorrect number to fool the program I am immediately kicked into touch the next time I start it, it will not carry on working, as you think, until the next time I have to reinstall it. As I said in my first post, cs5 had been running quite happily on my old pc for 7 - 8 months. The only issue I had then was that it would not let me register it with Adobe, but tis is nothing new to Adobe as there are many many posts online with exactly the same problem ( even with cs6 as posted only a few hours ago on this forum - perhaps someone would like to tell him that should his pc crash he will no longer have cs6!). After mulling it over for a few days I intend to take the product to my local photographic retailer who sells Adobe products (and who also holds classrooms for techniques including in the use of Adobe products) for an honest opinion, something that Adobe refused me.  Also check Adobe's policies on support and you will find they will refuse support from products bought on e-bay and will also refuse support on products bought ANYWHERE at prices discounted more than either 20 or 25% (I shall have to confirm the exact ammount, but it is stated in their policy online). This brings into question the issues of restrictive practice and price fixing which are both illegal in the UK, just ask any bank.  It also brings into question just what support a customer from my local photographic shop could expect from Adobe after purchasing a copy of cs5 for Mac for £399, reduced by approximately £250 ( more than 25%). And where does their policy leave someone who may be lucky enough to recieve it as a gift?

                        • 9. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                          the_wine_snob CommunityMVP

                          If you DO have a legit copy of PS (most eBay copies are anything but), then I would call Adobe Customer Support in the UK, and discuss the matter. While the Live Chat can be useful, sometimes, it is not quite the same, as talking directly to a knowledgeable Adobe Customer Support representative.


                          If one received a pirated copy of PS, as a gift, it leaves them out, and in the cold.


                          Not saying that your particular reseller had pirated copies, but if they had more than one, the likelihood goes way, way up. Also, if the term "OEM" was mentioned anywhere, the odds against it being legit are astronomical.


                          Good luck,



                          • 10. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                            Noel Carboni Community Member

                            actech12 wrote:


                            I make no apologies for that as there is nothing wrong with looking for a bargain.


                            How much of a bargain?  7 months ago Photoshop CS5 was the then current version, so anything less than right around list price should have been a red flag.  There were plenty of posts on this forum warning people to beware of Photoshop deals on eBay back then.


                            And I think it's becoming pretty clear now that there IS something wrong with looking for a bargain when it's a Photoshop license were talking about, isn't it?


                            "Caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware).


                            No one here would gain anything from your apology, and in fact we all feel a bit sorry for you as you have likely been taken advantage-of, but now to continue using Photoshop it's YOU who will have to pay list price in addition to the money you spent 7 months ago.  Call it the cost of becoming wiser, and you'll be getting a newer version with gee-whiz new features anyway, so maybe it won't sting quite so bad.


                            It's expensive software and there are simply no legitimate deep discounts.





                            P.S., I hate to mention this but if 7 months ago you had bought a legitimate Photoshop license for Photoshop CS5 directly from Adobe you'd have gotten a free upgrade to Photoshop CS6.

                            • 11. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                              kcrowman Community Member

                              I have had CS4 now for five years. Serial number has been reloaded as I move to new computers half a dozen times.

                              Suddenly the number is invalid. Adobe support is hopeless - English is a third language.


                              Looks like a cash grab to support their Cloud initiatives. Support experience below:


                              Tabassum: Hello! Welcome to Adobe Customer Service.

                              Kelley: Hello

                              Tabassum: Hi Kelley.

                              Kelley: Is it my turn?

                              Tabassum: I will check and help you with the activation of the software.

                              Tabassum: May I please have the serial number?

                              Kelley:  XXX

                              Tabassum: Thank you.

                              Tabassum: I checked and I am sorry to inform you that the serial number is a invalid one, Could you please provide me the correct serial number?

                              Kelley: It has been valid for over five years. What is the problem now?

                              Tabassum: May I know from where did you purchase the software?

                              Kelley: Ebay on line

                              Tabassum: Kelley, Ebay is not an Adobe authorized reseller and Adobe does not support ebay products. In this case, I request you to contact the place of purchase for the further assistance.

                              Tabassum: Adobe advises to purchase the software from its authorized reseller.

                              Tabassum: Do you have further queries for me?

                              Kelley: This is nonsense. I have been using this software for years with this serial number. my laptop crashed and I am doing a reinstall on my desktop after upgrading to Windows 7.

                              Tabassum: I am sorry for the situation caused to you in this regard, Kelley. Since the serial number is invalid, we will not be able to assist you with the invalid serial number so I request you to contact ebay since it is purchased from them.

                              Kelley: The seller should not matter for a serial number which has been valid for years. Let me speak to someone who understands reason

                              Tabassum: Please click here.

                              Tabassum: Please click on the above link to know the Adobe authorized reseller.

                              Kelley: You really don't listen

                              Tabassum: Please allow me a minute while I check with my resources.

                              Tabassum: Thank you for your patience.

                              Tabassum: Please allow me a moment while I transfer the chat to my supervisor.

                              Rajesh: Hello Kelley,

                              Kelley: Hello

                              Rajesh: This is Raj, I’m the floor supervisor for today. Please stay online while I go through the chat transcript.

                              Rajesh: Kelley, the serial number that you have provided is an invalid one. eBay is not an authorized reseller for Adobe. You will need to contact eBay or the eBay member you purchased this from to get the serial number.

                              Kelley: This is a cash grab. It does not take five years to realize that a serial number is invalid. I do not think that you fully understand the problem. I will add my experience to the growing number of dissatisfied Adobe community users. You should look at the negative postings there.

                              Rajesh: Kelley, I'm unable to decode this serial number on our server. In other words our system is unable link or recognize the serial number that you have provided to any Adobe product. Not sure how you were able to use the serial number.

                              Kelley: I find it unfortunate that Adobe has outsourced support to people who do not have the experience or resources to solve problems.

                              Rajesh: Kelley, Adobe is global company and we have contact centers across the globe. I'm sorry that you feel that way.

                              Kelley: Placing my experience on the community website as we speak. I am not alone in my opinion.


                              Good luck everyone.

                              • 12. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                Noel Carboni Community Member

                                I hate to say it, but it looks like you bought your software from an eBay scammer who sold you software that somehow allowed you to use it without Adobe's permission.  Out of curiosity, how much did you pay for it?  I'm betting it was deeply discounted.


                                Just what cash do you think Adobe is trying to grab?  They've never had any of yours.  Don't you think they deserve to be paid for the software they write?


                                It strikes me as a bit forward for you to come on here complain like you're the one who's been wronged.  Do the world a favor and engage in legitimate business practices from now on, okay?



                                • 13. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                  kcrowman Community Member

                                  You are making a lot of assumptions about vendor and price.


                                  My largest complaint was the lack of reasoning or acknowledgement during the service chat. This is a common thread among off shore service providers.

                                  It is no secret that Adobe is pushing its Cloud based subscription and is dropping support of legacy programs and cancelling previously valid serial numbers.

                                  There is no recourse.


                                  Who is your employer?



                                  • 14. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                    Noel Carboni Community Member

                                    Kelly, I run my own business.  I put bread on my family's table by the software I create and sell.  I have no tolerance for piracy.


                                    The evidence is, unfortunately, stacked against you having purchased a legitimate license.


                                    A) The Adobe people couldn't process your serial number.


                                    B) I've never had an old serial number become inoperative (save for Photoshop CS, but that's another story).  All mine still work going way back.


                                    C) I have the benefit of having heard from others who have bought from eBay here on the forum.


                                    Of course Adobe drops support for old versions.  They have always done this.  While you and I might think it would be nice to offer free support for someone who bought a license many years ago, have you thought through the business implications of doing that?  But even if they won't talk you through using a feature in an ancient version, they DO fund these forums, and frankly you can still get great support here for any version going all the way back.


                                    But not funding people to blab with you on the phone is different than arbitrarily disabling serial numbers that were legitimately purchased.  I've never seen any evidence they have blacklisted or disabled any validly purchased licenses.  Did you ever register your license with Adobe?  Why not?  All mine are listed right on the Adobe site to this day.




                                    At this point I'm not sure anyone who buys Photoshop on eBay ever gets a legitimate license.  I'm sorry that it's happened to you.


                                    What would you do if you were running a company and someone called you and complained about a counterfeit product that they never paid you for?  Would you give them a whole lot of help or free software?



                                    • 15. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                      kcrowman Community Member


                                      I also run my own business and have spent thousands on legitimate software. It looks like I have paid some of your wages.


                                      You intimate that I support piracy - I do not.


                                      Like any businessman I try to but low and sell high. This package was purchased from a legitimate seller. Not all the Ebay sellers are thieves and working women.

                                      I paid a slightly discounted price because this was not the current version and I did not need all the bells and whistles that some people crave.


                                      I also had a version of Acrobat 7 Pro for which I paid full price. It had all the functionality I needed. Adobe decided to stop support.

                                      This was not a problem until they shut down the activation server.

                                      The fix was serial keys and generic downloads which did not require activation:



                                      Except - they don't work. You have to call support and beg for a different download and key which does work.


                                      The CS4 serial number activated for five years  - more than once as I replaced hardware.

                                      You don't find it strange in light of Adobe's push to go to subscription services?


                                      Don't be surprised if Adobe moves your job off shore to save money.


                                      Good luck.



                                      • 16. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                        FormbyLyn Community Member

                                        I have had the exact same issue.  Software worked just fine for years.  Reinstalled it as little as six months ago and the serial number was just fine.  I have the software, I have the serial number and had almost the exact same conversation on chat when I tried to install it on my new machine.  This is a work product, I use it every date, and I am up a creek without a paddle.  I am trying to resolve the issue with the reseller now, but I don't think I will be purchasing Adobe products again.  They are great products, but there are too many issues like this to make it worth while.

                                        • 17. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                          Noel Carboni Community Member

                                          Have you tried CALLING someone at Adobe on the telephone and actually SPEAKING with them?



                                          • 18. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                            rsbsg Community Member

                                            I purchased my copy of Photoshop CS5 from the estate of a recently deceased neighbor. I think she used it once or twice but didn't register it. However, I think she bought it from a legitimate retailer at full price.


                                            One thing I did notice is that when I went to register it, it lists in my list of products as Adobe Photoshop 12, rather than Adobe Photoshop CS5. Any idea why?

                                            • 19. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                              gener7 CommunityMVP

                                              12 is the version number for CS5. You would see it under Help > System Info


                                              12.0.4 is the latest update, so be sure you have it.



                                              • 20. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                                rsbsg Community Member

                                                Thanks for the reply, Gene.

                                                I had read that same info on Wikipedia, but was confused by the graphic posted above by Noel depicting Photoshop CS4 rather than Photoshop 12.  I also have Photoshop CS4 and it shows up in my list of products as Photoshop CS4 (rather than Photoshop 11).


                                                I completed the 12.04 upgrade. I had trouble updating at first, until I installed the new AAM (thanks to the tips elsewhere on the forum). Thereafter, the updates to 12.04 went fairly smoothly with the exception of the Extension Manager, which required a manual update from the corresponding download page. Now it tells me all is up-to-date.

                                                Many thanks!

                                                • 21. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                                  epicu Community Member

                                                  Same has happened to me. I've been waiting years for Adobe to change, seems they haven't caught up with the times.

                                                  • 22. Re: Invalid serial number!!
                                                    monique28e Community Member

                                                    I am finding this to be a recurring problem with older versions of PS.  I bought Photoshop CS4 six or seven years ago from an online computer and software retailer (NO, not on eBay!!!).  I cannot remember the name of the online store unfortunately and the old computer that had my receipt crashed so I have no record of my purchase.  (I know, I know... backing up my stuff would have been very helpful... lesson learned!)  Anyways, I had no reason to suspect the website was not legitimate. I paid for the software, received it and installed it on my desktop and it validated without any problems.  I'm fairly sure I registered my software because I tend to register all my software but I cannot say 100% that I did.  I usually follow all prompts during installation and such so I cannot imagine not registering. Anyways, that pc died and I got a laptop.  Installed my CS4, validated with no problems.  That laptop went downhill so I now have my current laptop and now suddenly I get an error that my serial # is invalid.  How did it go from being VALID for years and then suddenly changing to "invalid"?  That is just bizarre to me and quite a head scratcher.  I contacted customer care chat and they could not validate my serial #.  They kept asking me give them the correct #, which I did 3 times! Frankly I was getting a little upset that he/she thought I was stupid or something!  They kept telling me that I must be reading it wrong or something so they asked me to send in a photo of the serial #, which I did. Then they told me that it was invalid and that I needed to show them the receipt for my purchase.  As I was typing my reply about not having the receipt from something I bought 6 or 7 years ago, the customer care rep, Satwinder, closed out our chat session!!!  I cannot believe how RUDE that was!!!!  I was replying to his/her question!  Anyways, I never even got a transcript copy of the chat session (and yes, I checked the box to get the transcript at the very beginning of our session and I even saw a confirmation of it pop up on the screen). So now I have no record of my chat with Adobe Customer Care, a suddenly "invalid" CS4 and a horrible experience with Customer "Care?".  I just want to know... How does a VALID serial # suddenly become invalid? No one seems to be able to explain that.  Everyone just keeps telling me that the # I have is invalid but offers NO EXPLANATION to how it was VALID for YEARS prior and now suddenly it's not!  If I was a victim of a scam and I unknowingly bought a pirated version, it would have been nice to know at the beginning because then I could have sought legal action against the online store.  But now I'm up a creek without a paddle, so to speak, and no one seems to be willing to tackle my question.  I'm a very frustrated and dissatisfied customer!