How can I recover my key to Adobe CS3 from the machine it's installed on if I can't find the case?
October 9, 2009 11:56 AM   Subscribe

How can I recover my key to Adobe CS3 from the machine it's installed on if I can't find the case?

I can't find the case to my copy of Adobe CS3 Web Premium Suite (Windows XP). I've combed the office and it seems increasingly unlikely that it's going to turn up. It's still installed on my PC, but if I have to reinstall or want to move it to a new computer, I'm in trouble.

I've tried Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder and Keyfinder Thing, neither of which could find the key in the registry.

Does anyone know how to recover an Adobe CS3 Suite key from a computer?
posted by justkevin to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This might be a stupid suggestion and I don't have a version to check it on at work (where I am right now), but sometimes the license key for a piece of software is listed when you go to Help --> About.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:02 PM on October 9, 2009

You can download workable lists of keys from torrents. Avoid those which have key finder programs - the EXEs are likely to be infested trojans. (You don't need your original key; just one that is correct.)

Or so I hear. From someone. I forget who. And I was never near the internet before this.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:07 PM on October 9, 2009

I have CS3 on Mac so I can't confirm if it is the same in Win XP. But if I go to Help -> System Info, I get a whole bunch of information about my computer including the serial number.
posted by tommccabe at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2009

Response by poster: I can get the serial number from Photoshop that way, but it's not the product activation key. The product activation key is the code needed when installing the software.
posted by justkevin at 12:10 PM on October 9, 2009

Response by poster: If I have to I may resort to downloading a key list, but since I purchased this software I would greatly prefer recovering my key.
posted by justkevin at 12:12 PM on October 9, 2009

Call Adobe customer service. They've been really helpful to me in the past.

Alternately, if you can find your login and password to the Adobe store (this was likely sent to you in a confirmation email from Adobe) you'll be able to view all your licenses and keys.

But simply calling will probably be easiest.
posted by lekvar at 12:17 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try to find the older version of Aida32. It will display the keys for everything on your system.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:17 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since CS3 requires online activation, Adobe has the ability to blacklist keys. In addition to this the software pings the Adobe mothership every now and then to be sure the activation key you entered hasn't been used too many times. (Not that I have any personal experience with this or anything, it's just what I've heard. What's a computer?)

If worst comes to worst, Adobe support might be able to help you provided have some proof of purchase somewhere. Hope you can find it.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 12:18 PM on October 9, 2009

(Clarification: The first paragraph was in reference to the suggestion that you could pick a new key to use from a .torrent. You could, but it isn't a guaranteed or ideal solution for the reasons above.)
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 12:20 PM on October 9, 2009

Your case most likely didn't come with an activation code. If you have the serial number, than that should be all you need. you may need to contact adobe and deauth your previous computer, so you can then activate using either their online tools, or the phone method as detailed in the installation process.
posted by CharlesV42 at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2009

This is terribly naughty of me, but in situations like this, I find and download a key generator (keygen) program. Then I run it inside of a virtual machine.

The way I see it, if someone can pack a trojan into twenty-some characters I type into a product activation dialog, they deserve to pwnzr my box.
posted by adipocere at 12:26 PM on October 9, 2009

Best answer: I haven't tried this, but have had it suggested to me.
posted by tilde at 12:31 PM on October 9, 2009

You're in a legal grey area if you download a copy of software you already own, but it's definitely illegal if you use a pirated key.

I would use Keyfinder Thing to recover your old key, and then try to use a torrent to find the disk itself.
posted by Willie0248 at 12:34 PM on October 9, 2009

Seconding the suggestion to contact Adobe before trying anything dubious.

When I installed my student version of CS3 for the Mac, I had to enter a code from the case into adobe's website and then they emailed me a activation key. My drive crashed and I had not saved the key anywhere. I emailed them again from the same email address explaining my situation, and they emailed me the activation key again.

So, if you did anything like this to activate your copy, they probably have your info on file, and will send it to you.
posted by hariya at 12:46 PM on October 9, 2009

Best answer: Uh... The commercial version of CS3 that we have, Mac version, when you de-activate it on a machine, will prompt you as to whether you want to clear the serial number as part of de-activation. If you don't choose to, there's no issue.

So you might -- might -- consider simply de-activating that machine and then launching Photoshop. On launch, it will prompt you to activate and the serial will be pre-populated (if you did not clear it).

posted by rr at 12:59 PM on October 9, 2009

Response by poster: I didn't purchase the software from Adobe's online store, but from VioSoftware, so Adobe may not have any record of the transaction. I did (just now) register with Adobe in case that helps. I also still have the CD.

tilde's suggestion, LicenseCrawler did find some codes for Adobe that the two keyfinders did not, one of which is encouragingly called "GUID WS Premium CS3 Win". Another has a name of letters and numbers. Both are 24 characters long.

Is there anyone with a CS3 license who can tell me if 24 is the correct length?
posted by justkevin at 1:38 PM on October 9, 2009

Best answer: I only have CS4, but it is 24 characters in length (6 sets of 4).

FYI if you were to theoretically use a pirated key, you would want to take some steps to black-hole all their activation servers in your /etc/hosts file. I heard once that these are:

Theoretically of course.
posted by cj_ at 1:44 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

"...but it's definitely illegal if you use a pirated key"

Pish tosh! That's what they'd like you to think but until the day that a circuit court upholds a vendor's feeble attempt to hassle their legitimate customers, the validity of such contracts is completely unknown. Plus there is a big distinction between violating a law ("illegal") and breach of contract (a civil matter) even though copyright holders are playing heavily on people's confusion of the two.

I've made a habit of writing my license key on the physical installation disc, once burned...

I don't own any pirated software and it still rankles me that when I replaced a failed motherboard Microsoft Office decided I was a pirate and refused to work. I've got valid key, the software on my hard drive was untouched, my MAC address, etc. didn't change. So I stopped buying Microsoft anything.
posted by fydfyd at 2:23 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Update:

The serial number that License Crawler found didn't seem to work.

rr's method of deactivating and reactivating retrieved the serial #, which surprisingly was exactly the same as the one License Crawler found, except that the 3rd digit was wrong(!)

So I've got my serial number back, thanks for the help.
posted by justkevin at 2:19 PM on November 2, 2009

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