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[Locked] Photoshop CS3 Activation [CS3 is dead]

Community Beginner ,
Aug 01, 2017

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Adobe has retired the activation servers for Creative Suite 3 (CS3) and Acrobat 8 applications and has left CS3 users hanging.  When the software is opened, a request for activation appears that cannot be activated because Adobe no longer has activation servers.  Instead, you are told to request a new serial key for a "special version" of the software that has to be installed to replace the original software.  According to Adobe, the "special version" of the software does not require activation.  After requesting a new serial key and installing the "special version" twice, I still get the message that the software has to be activated.  I have spent hours online and on the phone with customer support and no one seems to be able to resolve this issue.  I now have Photoshop CS3 that I purchased for a substantial amount of money that I can no longer use because I can't activate it.  Is anyone else having this problem and is there an answer?

Adobe Community Professional
Correct answer by Nancy OShea | Adobe Community Professional

It's now 2020.  As an update, CS3 activation servers are gone.  And Adobe ended access to activation-free installers and replacement serial numbers.  Customer Care agents cannot help with this matter.  CS3 is officially dead.

 

If you never upgrade your computer or OS, you could potentially keep using CS3 for another 12+ years.  But I'm sorry to say that re-installation is no longer an option.

 

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[Locked] Photoshop CS3 Activation [CS3 is dead]

Community Beginner ,
Aug 01, 2017

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Adobe has retired the activation servers for Creative Suite 3 (CS3) and Acrobat 8 applications and has left CS3 users hanging.  When the software is opened, a request for activation appears that cannot be activated because Adobe no longer has activation servers.  Instead, you are told to request a new serial key for a "special version" of the software that has to be installed to replace the original software.  According to Adobe, the "special version" of the software does not require activation.  After requesting a new serial key and installing the "special version" twice, I still get the message that the software has to be activated.  I have spent hours online and on the phone with customer support and no one seems to be able to resolve this issue.  I now have Photoshop CS3 that I purchased for a substantial amount of money that I can no longer use because I can't activate it.  Is anyone else having this problem and is there an answer?

Adobe Community Professional
Correct answer by Nancy OShea | Adobe Community Professional

It's now 2020.  As an update, CS3 activation servers are gone.  And Adobe ended access to activation-free installers and replacement serial numbers.  Customer Care agents cannot help with this matter.  CS3 is officially dead.

 

If you never upgrade your computer or OS, you could potentially keep using CS3 for another 12+ years.  But I'm sorry to say that re-installation is no longer an option.

 

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Aug 01, 2017 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 01, 2017

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Personally not myself, but I wonder if you have components of the old CS3 in your system.

Try uninstalling, then download and run the Cleaner tool Use the Creative Cloud Cleaner Tool to solve installation problems using the instructions in the link.

Then right click on the new installer, Run as Administrator, just to be sure it runs properly.

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Aug 01, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Aug 01, 2017

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I've tried using the cleaner tool and then reinstalled, but it doesn't make any difference.

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Aug 01, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 01, 2017

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Since I have an old CS3 license, I did the swap, copied the serial number they gave me (Ctrl c/Ctrl v into Notepad) and downloaded the installer. I refused the akamai option and they let me download it via browser.

I unpacked and ran the installer and restarted as asked. (Windows 10)

I launched CS3, pasted the serial number I had copied from Notepad and what I got was a Registration Screen. I clicked on Never Register and CS3 went through the splash screen and opened. I hope you got that serial number correct.

I closed and restarted and it still launches. That's all I can tell you.

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Aug 01, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Aug 02, 2017

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When you launched cs3, where did you paste the new serial number?  When I launch the app, I get the activate screen.  It doesn't allow me to paste the serial number. 

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Aug 02, 2017 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 02, 2017

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What I got was a screen that had either a choice of a 30 day trial or a serial number. Nothing about activation.

There is no request for activation at any time.

The file I downloaded is ADBEPHSPCS3_ESD1_WWE.exe, a 463 MB Adobe Extractor file that creates the installer and components.

Setup.exe is the installer name, dated 3/21/2007

Are you sure you have these files and not something else?

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Aug 02, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Aug 02, 2017

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I checked the name of the download and it's the same.  I absolutely can't figure this one out.  I've tried everything I can think of to resolve the problem and nothing works.  I've used both the Creative Cloud Cleaner Tool and the Adobe Limited Access Repair Tool to check host files.  Makes no sense.  Thanks so much for your help though!

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Aug 02, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 02, 2017

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You'll have to find someone willing to look at it. One thing I did find out, CS3 is 32 bit only and can only access 3 GB of ram, no matter how much you have installed. It is installed in the Program Files (x86) directory.

The only last suggestion is to open a new user account and see what it does.

I'm out of ideas for now.

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Aug 02, 2017 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
Aug 04, 2017

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I had CS2, CS6 Subscription version 13.1.2, CC, CC 2014, CC 2015, CC 2015.5 and CC 2017 installed and all up to date.  I used the new CS3 link entered my CS3 serial  followed the instructions. Downloaded the new CS3 install and noted the serial number provided for me.  I installed CS3 with the serial after entering that numbers there was a messaged about the activation server could not be connected to.  That would not be normal for the no longer exist. Activation is not required..  I then downloaded the CS3 Update patch and ACR 4.6 for CS3 and installed the patch and ACR 4.6.   I had no problem and also did not have the problem gener7 had,   CC 2014 is still the default version of Photoshop one my machine.  I only use newer version of Photoshop to test other users problems. They have too many issues IMO the should not ne you default Photoshop application.    CS3 was one of the best version Adobe released, CS4 had GPU support added I never installed it.  CS5 had some issues. CS6 IMO was the buggiest version ever released.  It took Adobe ever 5 months to release an update for CS6 that addressed the major issues.  506  core issues were fix with that update only then could I use CS6.  If you ever installs CS6 make sure you install all the CS6 updates. CS6 needs them.  CC 2014 is quite good.

JJMack

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Aug 04, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 04, 2017

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I guess results do vary, JJ. No problem installing and running as is, but it did indeed remove the Desktop app. Just a word of caution to those who try it out.

One thing about CS3, it's "32 bit only" (I think CS4 was the first 64 bit option) meaning an allotment of 3 GB ram no matter what you have on your system.

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Aug 04, 2017 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
Aug 04, 2017

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Yes CS2, CS3 are 32bit versions of Photoshop.  The main reasons I upgraded to CS5 and 6 was ACR and 64bit support to take advantage of more then 4GB of ram to improve performance. After that added SSD Photoshop can be a resource hungry application.

JJMack

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Aug 04, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 04, 2017

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I tried out a test file on CS3. The SSD made a world of difference in speed. Back in 2007 they must have cost a fortune. I don't do any high demand projects, so CS3 is fun to work with.

I'm moving my CS licenses from Windows to Mac simply because I have three mac laptops. Adobe still allows the cross platform swap on CS6 so I might as well do this while I can.

Gene

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Aug 04, 2017 0
New Here ,
Mar 02, 2018

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I want codes

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Mar 02, 2018 0
Explorer ,
Aug 14, 2017

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I too have the same issue, i.e., after uninstalling the old version and installing the "non-activating" version, it is still wants to reactivate the old serial number and never asks for the new one.  After 2 hours waiting for a chat, final chatted with a tech who provided an answer that did not work.  He saw I had versions 10 and was thinking that was CS4. I knew I had CS3, but he gave me the download for CS4. That did not work with the old or new serial number, as I expected.  Tried to call phone support and hung up after an hour.  That was 2 days ago.  Several hours ago I again called support and instead of waiting selected option for a call back. None yet?

Is this the usual type of support from Adobe?  If so, I will NOT pay a subscription for any of their new products.

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Aug 14, 2017 3
Explorer ,
Aug 14, 2017

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After hours of chat and phone support and being transferred to 4 different techs who "can fix my issue", I finally got an answer...

"Sorry, we do not support CS3 any more".

Thus they will not attempt to resolve why the non-activation version download/install does not work.

Guess I have to but the newest version...NOT!!!!!! Not with this kind of support.

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Aug 14, 2017 4
Community Beginner ,
Aug 15, 2017

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I went through the same scenario with Adobe support.  Spent hours on chat explaining the problem and ended up receiving the same response.  I called and the answer was that I had to upgrade.  What makes me so angry with this is that I paid for this license and now can't use it.  I would have considered upgrading except for the fact that now Adobe has a subscription service.  After paying for a license and then having to continue to pay to use the software for the rest of my life is unacceptable.  It's all about money!

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Aug 15, 2017 3
New Here ,
Aug 21, 2017

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've followed the following instructions given by Nancy OShea.  It worked:

Activation or connection error | CS3, Acrobat 8

It's official.  CS3 Activation Servers have been retired.  If you have CS3 or Acrobat 8, see this help article for further details on how to obtain a replacement version & new serial number that does not require activation.  This is not freeware.  You will be asked to log-in with your Adobe ID and provide a valid CS3 serial number.

Activation or connection error when starting CS3 or Acrobat 8

NOTE: For best results, remove your old CS3 / Acrobat 8 BEFORE installing the replacement version.  Below is a link to the CS Cleaner Tool.

Use the Creative Cloud Cleaner Tool to solve installation problems

If after installing replacement version you still see an Activation Countdown, remove the cache.db file from this folder.

Program Files (x86)/Common Files/Adobe/Adobe PCD/cache/

When prompted for serial number, enter the new one.  And click on Never Register.

Restart your computer.

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Aug 21, 2017 4
New Here ,
Aug 28, 2017

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YOU ARE MY HERO!!  After having the same problem as people above and searching the internet for days trying to figure out how to get the new activation to work, you solved my issue!!  It's that cache file that is keeping everyone from putting in the new serial number.  I thought I was going to lose it on adobe for making what was a very expensive product obsolete.  YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!

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Aug 28, 2017 0
New Here ,
Oct 02, 2017

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Is your fix a PC thing? I can't find Program Files (x86)/Common Files/Adobe/Adobe PCD/cache/ on my iMac... (very sad face)

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Oct 02, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2017

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I also have mac and more than 20 years using Adobe but maybe not any more.  meanwhile need a fix for reactivation problem with CS3.

Have followed all instructions faithfully, have installed new several times - successfully per setup - but still receive notice of deactivation in one day

unable to work and do not want to be blackmailed into RENTING new..

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Nov 08, 2017 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 08, 2017

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Nov 08, 2017 1
Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2017

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have done all this repeatedly (last time removing the Cache.db) - NO SUCCESS.

also, Use the Creative Cloud Cleaner Tool to solve installation problems  on using cloud cleaner (which I did each time)  also says:

  To verify that the Adobe CC Cleaner Tool completed successfully, in a text editor such as TextEdit, open /Users/[user name]/Adobe Creative Cloud Cleaner Tool.log.

    Review the log file entries. If any of the entries indicate failure, contact us.

Don't know if this qualifies as failure,

2017-11-08 13:09:29.265 Adobe Creative Cloud Cleaner Tool[807:12985] Error in fetching HD product details error = 10

so tried to contact and  got same old runaround at Contact Customer Care 

Is there no one who can solve this problem?  using iMac late 2015 with Sierra 10.12.6

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Nov 08, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 08, 2017

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After you removed the Cache.db file, did you empty the trash before trying cs3 again?

Do you have a backup from Time Machine on an external drive hooked to your mac that your main system is reading from?

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Nov 08, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2017

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No to both - didn't think of emptying trash!  will try whole procedure again.  backup is never on unless I am using it.

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Nov 08, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 08, 2017

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Started again from  scratch - even downloading again CC Cleaner and Installer - nothing showed in trash but clicked empty anyway (in case of ghosts).  Shut down after completing installation - (successfully, per setup) - then got into PS using "reactivate later" and tried update, activate, register - ALL said no connection, so no go.  turned on both wifi and ethernet - still says no connection (nothing new there - has been saying that for ages when I try to update)

bottom line - same old:  it didn't work.  chat = totally useless.  can't find phone number?  have one 800 number from 2010 - will try A.M. but doubt if it will do any good.  seems they just don't want anything to do with users except collect their money and leave them up a tree.

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Nov 08, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 08, 2017

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This is hopefully a stupid question, but you did down the non activation cs3 from here, uninstalled your old cs3 and installed the non activation version?

Download Adobe Creative Suite 3 products

Anyway here's another thread with some suggestions:

CS3 Activation-the solution!

The AdobePCD folder on the mac side is in

/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PCD

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Nov 08, 2017 1
Community Beginner ,
Nov 09, 2017

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HOORAY!!!!

The PCD must have been the key as I finally was able to open PS without receiving reactivate notice.  Will check other components of CS3 but finally feel more positive about their being OK.

Followed instruction carefully (only finding the PCD file per your MAC translation).  Para 8.   In the middle of the first load, a box will open noting a missing AdobePDF.dll file. Use the browse button and find the file at c:Windows/sysWow64/ Once you have chosen this path, click okay.  - never happened and find no AdobePDF.dll file on my iMac.  Completed procedure and tried to open PS - got Not connected again but  in the ReadMe installation download found reference to checking internet connection AND JAVASCRIPT.  Of course, JavaScript NOT enabled so did so, got registrations page  - still showing  no connection but allowing me to click on Never Register and that was Open Sesame for PS.  Later opened PS from dock - no problem - so far.

Thanks so much for this advice.  I have lost about a week's work on this - feels like a year of life - but if this is really a "permanent" fix, you and  micheleu both deserve a bunch of medals!!!!!

Thanks again.

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Nov 09, 2017 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 10, 2017

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Adobe should really get a MAJOR kick in the ass from the Better Business Bureau or a BIG class action lawsuit. Causing these nightmares for people who put out major bucks for their software and then leaving them stranded in Nightmare Land because they are too cheap to give good support (I wonder how many Adobe executives have made millions $$$). There are lots of artists who are NOT techies using Adobe. I haven't yet started trying to get past the "final activation step" with my CS3. My old G4 Mac finally died after 15+ years of faithful service, so after buying a refurbished Mac running OS 10.12, now I have a major battle to get CS3 functioning again. If anyone is good at summarizing and simplifying instructions, all of the above has my brain overheated and smoking. Can anyone list the sequence of steps needed in order to get up and running? My mind is fried after reading all of this.... the last window I got to gave me mumbo-jumbo about firewalls and HTTPS. It says I have 25 days left - is it going to just quit working if I'm unable to jump through all the hoops mentioned on this page? (do U hear a faint voice crying out in the wilderness?... that's me)... (I did all my screaming last night - now I'm down to a faint voice)

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Nov 10, 2017 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 10, 2017

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I'll try.

If this is your original copy of CS3 you have installed, know that the CS3 activation servers are permanently closed. Your discs are nothing more than drink coasters.

So Adobe has provided a new serial number and a new non-activation free of charge CS3 download. You only need provide your old serial number as qualifying proof.

So start here to get your replacement copy and serial and let me know where you are after that.

Even better and by the numbers instructions: CS3 Activation-the solution!

Gene

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Nov 10, 2017 1
Community Beginner ,
Nov 10, 2017

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Thank you Gene. I need a break from the computer, so may not try this until Sat night or Sunday. So glad someone in the Community with knowledge about this is online. Thanks for the quick reply... I need to get into the right frame of mind or I'm afraid I may blow multiple fuses in the gray matter. Have a great weekend !

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Nov 10, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 10, 2017

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Ok. Like anything else, it would help to first read and review the instructions on your quiet time before doing any installs or uninstalls.

Adobe has given you a free of charge replacement that does work, so they ain't such bad guys.

Gene

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Nov 10, 2017 1
Community Beginner ,
Nov 13, 2017

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Trusting that the 2 .dmg files on my desktop are the apps and content, my thanks to Gene and all who contributed to these Community threads (regarding the dead activation servers and new means of getting CS3 reinstalled). Without the Community help I'd still be swimming in quicksand. Thank you !

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Nov 13, 2017 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 13, 2017

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Still here if you need us.

Gene

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Nov 13, 2017 0
Explorer ,
Nov 13, 2017

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Gene I followed your instructions and all I get is this notification ?????????screenshot_34.jpg

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Nov 13, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 13, 2017

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Nov 13, 2017 0
Explorer ,
Nov 13, 2017

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I started there and followed the instructions, I then un-installed my versions of Photoshop CS3 as per instructions.

In order to do the un-instal I had to shut down my browser. When this un-instal was fully completed I re-opened the saved instruction page on the browser and tried to install the new version. This was the notification that came up !

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Nov 13, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 13, 2017

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Don't do that.  Go back to the serial number page

and re enter your serial number, you will get the same  new one and see the download page.

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Nov 13, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 13, 2017

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There is only one dmg file for Photoshop, but when you click on the link, you'll be asked to install the Akamai netsession downloader and after you do, your download will begin.

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Nov 13, 2017 0
Explorer ,
Nov 13, 2017

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Went back to the

1  Note your serial number section, The new serial number is listed (here is your new serial number)

2  Uninstall Existing Version….Already Completed.

I scrolled down to the  3 Download replacement CS3 installer and I still the get the "DOWNLOAD CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE" when I click on the Mac download link.

I checked  my "Adobe products page" and Photoshop CS3 Extended is listed with the old serial number.

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Nov 13, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 13, 2017

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I just tried it using Safari and got the Akamai download window. I successfully downloaded the installer.

Adobe uses cookies. Can you clear those or try another browser?

Gene

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Nov 13, 2017 0
New Here ,
Mar 06, 2018

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I found this answer and it seemed to help a lot of people.

Okay, we have the solution working here:

The problem is that the old serial number remains on the PC in a common file even after removing CS3.

Here is what worked for us:

1. Go to Adobe support page, key in CS3 activation. It will bring up the page on Activation or Connection error.

2. Sign in with Adobe login or create one.

3. It will ask for your CS3 serial number.  Key it in.  The page will respond with a new CS3 serial number.

4. Note the links further down this page for installing the new CS3.

5. Close out of CS3 and out of any browsers.

6. Go to control panel and de-install CS3 completely.

7. When this is finished, use File Explorer to find the AdobePCD folder in the c:Program Files (x86)/Common Files/Adobe folder. Delete this AdobePCD folder. This is the one that has the old serial number that is preventing the new activation and it is not deleted by de-installing CS3.

8. Now click on each of the two file links (file 1 of 2 and file 2 of 2) noted above on the CS3 install page. These will spawn a loader program which you must accept and will take quite a quite a while to load. In the middle of the first load, a box will open noting a missing AdobePDF.dll file. Use the browse button and find the file at c:Windows/sysWow64/ Once you have chosen this path, click okay.  The first file load will complete, then click on file 2 of 2 and let it load.

9. Once the loads complete, open CS3. This time it will ask for the new serial number obtained from the Adobe website above. Key it in as noted.

10. Open CS3 again.  It will bring up a box to register. Click on "Never Register." Now you are done.

I have opened and used CS3 several times since the above procedure.  There is no longer an activation request.  So far, every function is working with Windows 10 (even if the program is not certified for Win10.)

I hope this will help someone avoid the hours I spent yesterday loading and reloading.

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Mar 06, 2018 0
New Here ,
Mar 06, 2018

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Unfortunately, all I seem to be getting is Adobe Acrobat 8. I don't see any sign of Photoshop, and I''m not sure what "File 2" is (unless Akamai NetSession Interface is the first and Acrobat is the 2nd,) Any feedback? Anyone? I've been working on this for ages.

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Mar 06, 2018 0
Explorer ,
Dec 04, 2017

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Sadly Adobe is intentionally creating problems for it's users in an all out effort to get them tied up with a subscription to pay twice for the same product. I gave up trying to revive my Photoshop CS3 on my Mac as absolutely nothing worked after weeks of trying. I will  never have anything to do with their products again, the appalling time consuming experience has put me off them for good. It has been a nightmare for me and obviously a nightmare for way too many people and I think a class action lawsuit would be a great idea. No company should treat cutovers with such contempt, it is inexcusable.

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Dec 04, 2017 1
Community Beginner ,
Feb 07, 2018

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I've got two original CS3 Design Premium licenses in play – one on a 2007 Mac Pro. The 2nd license was being used on a Macbook Pro 17" that recently became inoperable due to commonly occurring problems on these computers with their graphics/video chips. I plan to repair this MBPro17 myself ASAP but until then, I'm using an MBPro13. My plan was to deactivate the license (temporarily) on the MBPro17, then install CS3 Design Premium on the MBPro13 and reactivate the license until I found this and similar threads regarding Adobe's CS3 activation server "retirement."

I understand all the instructions about entering one’s current serial number to get a new serial number, downloading the new version of CS3, etc.

What I’m wondering is, if I obtain the new serial number, will it render my old serial number invalid? In other words, will opting for the new serial number and installation of the new software on this MBPro13 make the legacy versions of CS3 on my Mac Pro and MBPro17 (when it’s repaired) non-functional?

One might assume that if Adobe has retired the servers monitoring CS3 licenses, and are no longer supporting CS3, that they just don’t care about CS3 licensing at this point, but I prefer to err to the side of caution and not jeopardize my current legacy versions of CS3 which have been running just fine on those other machines. Any thoughts on this?

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Feb 07, 2018 0
Community Beginner ,
Feb 07, 2018

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Should have no effect on previous installed & activated versions. But going forward you will not be able to do new installs with the old media and reg number, because they won't activate.  But in each case, if it does stop working (not clear why this happens on some machines -- I think on PCs it is triggered by some other change, swap HD or upgrade OS) you will be able to use the new install files and the new SN to put CS3 on those machines.

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Feb 07, 2018 1