Sheryl Canter

Problems Removing and Installing Adobe CS4

Take my advice: Before you even think about installing Adobe trial software, do a full mirror backup of your computer’s hard disk, and be prepared to use it. I had horrible problems with Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4), and according to the three tech support guys in India that I spent hours on the phone with today, I am not the only one.

Here’s the whole sad story, with the ultimate solution.

  • I downloaded and installed trial versions of Adobe CS4 programs while waiting for my licensed copy to arrive in the mail. The Adobe site said that I could enter my serial number in the trial copies, so I didn’t mind the 2 gig download.

  • When my licensed version arrived, I tried to enter my serial number into the trial software and it was rejected. I called Adobe tech support and was told this sometimes happens – I just have to uninstall the trial software and reinstall from DVD.

  • I tried to uninstall the software in the usual way, and the uninstall failed – repeatedly. It took about 15 minutes to run, and then told me the program was not uninstalled, “see below for why.” But there was nothing written “below”. I call Adobe tech support again.

  • After again making me spell out my mailing and email address, Adobe tech support told me to download the Adobe CS4 cleanup utility and uninstall it that way. I did this, and it appeared to remove all registry entries. The files were still on my disk and in my Start menu, so I deleted these manually.

  • I loaded up my DVD and try to install my licensed copy – software that retails for $1799 (no decimal points there). But the trial version was not completely gone and the installation failed, repeatedly, with no details as to why.

  • I called Adobe tech support for the third time, and again had to laboriously spell out my mailing and email address. The tech support guy told me to download a Flash removal utility and run that. I did as instructed. He then told me to download the Adobe CS3 cleanup utility. I told him I’d never had Adobe CS3 on my computer, but he said to download and run it anyway. His instructions had the quality of a magic spell: run it three times for Level 1, three times for Level 2, four times for Level 3, and four times for Level 4. This seemed pointless to me – especially since log messages made it clear that nothing further was removed after the first run – but I did as instructed.

    Then he told me to create a new admin account on my computer and install the program from there. That’s where I got off the bus. No way was I reconfiguring my computer and creating a new admin account I didn’t want or need just to install this software! He said that if I wouldn’t do as he said he couldn’t help me any further, and he hung up.

  • Hoping that the additional cleanup had fully removed the trial software from my system, I again tried to install Adobe CS4 from the DVD I’d purchased at great expense, and again it failed. I cursed loudly, which my neighbors surely heard through the thin walls of my apartment building.

  • I then did the only thing left to me: I wiped my hard disk, and restored my most recent backup – which luckily was from only 10 days ago. I also restored some some additional data I saved before the Big Wipe, then I did another mirror backup just in case.

  • With great anxiety (since I was out of ideas if this failed), I again ran the installation program from DVD. Happily, this time things went a little better. But even with a clean system, one of the packages – InDesign 4 – failed to install. The error message gave no hint of why. I continued with the rest of the installation, and everything else installed properly.

  • After the installation program finally completed – it took at least an hour (what takes so long?!) – I followed this advice from an Adobe KnowledgeBase article:

    • I ran msconfig, using the Start menu’s Run command.

    • On the Startup tab, I clicked Disable All.

    • On the Services tab, I selected Hide All Microsoft Services, clicked Disable All, then reselected the two FLEXnet Licensing Service items.

    • I applied the changes, clicked OK, rebooted, and ran the Adobe CS4 installation program again, selecting only InDesign 4 to reinstall. The installation finally completed without errors.

    • I went back into msconfig, selected Normal startup, and again rebooted. My $1799 software suite was finally installed – only took 12 hours, great distress, shouting loud enough for my neighbors to hear, and a full-blown migraine.

For the record, I am running 64-bit Vista on a Thinkpad T400, and I disabled my antivirus software and firewall before installing or uninstalling. I noticed that the trial software on the Adobe site is 32-bit rather than 64-bit (unlike what was available on DVD). This could have been part of the problem.

This software costs thousands of dollars – don’t you think Adobe should ensure the thing works before collecting that much money from people??

So be warned!! Do not even think of installing software from Adobe – especially trial or beta software – without first doing a complete system backup. If you need to do a clean install, the only way is to wipe your system.


  1. Jack Stuff says:

    Purchased cs4 the full set on 1/29/10, but there is no registration number. Called Adobe I must proved I order the set I have but they show no record of my purhcase. I have the set I have the credit card receipt but no registration number. I am fairly new at this but our company order cs2 and cs3 not problems. Now Adobe wants to investigate then get back to me what a DAMN PAIN.. Hey any help please

  2. It’s kind of hard to see how you could have a legal copy if you have no registration number. No one here is going to give you one.

  3. Jack Stuff says:

    Sorry but the copy is legal it is STRAIGHT from Adobe, I have all the paper work. Kind of hard to understand when you purchase a product directly from a company they send it then tell you do not have the product. I did not ask for a registration number I simply asked for help.

  4. No one here can help you with not having a registration number (legally). Only Adobe can help you with this.

  5. Hardy says:

    Removel script ; )

    Try this , there is to mac and windows
    save on desktop and run as admi. run revo after use advancet

    Good luck ; )

  6. Sherpp says:

    The cs4 clean script asks to uninstall first the cs4 software. That´s the point, I just can´t uninstall it. And yes… it is a trial version :(

  7. Mardel says:

    Any idea why my IDCS4 suddenly will not open? The other programs seem fine but ID (ver 6.0.5602 / mac) bounces the icon and then gives me “application Indesign quit unexpectedly”
    iMac4,1 OSX 10.4.11

  8. Location Norway says:

    U saved my day!!!

  9. Cameron Beatley says:

    When did Adobe become such a crappy company? The installation/Uninstallation horror stories are all over the place. The manner of going about unintsalling is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, and the problems are NOT going away with new releases.

  10. Cynthia says:

    I have windows 7 and adobe CS4 extended and recently installed lightroom 3 64 bit. The CS4 64 bit wasn’t working so I’ve been using the 32 bit version. (I get a message when I try to open the 64 bit that it’s not designed to run or windows or contains an error) Now that I have lightroom 3 and have taken some files over there to work on I find that I can’t get them back to photoshop. LR is trying to install the photos in the photoshop 64 bit.If I do a new install of the CS4 how do I keep my photos that are in bridge from being deleted? I don’t want to lose them.

  11. JackM says:

    I’m trying to reinstall my CS4 from the file structure back-up, kids damaged the disc, but for some reason my Windows 7 machine is now telling me it needs to know what program to open the install file with. I have no idea what that even means, wish I had my disc back. Any suggestions on what to do? Typically I just double-click other applications and they start to auto-run the install process. Now I don’t know what to do. Got suggestions?

  12. yolandi says:

    i have a problem with adobe cs4 design premium. when installing it gives me an error that adobe flash has failed to install. my pc did support it before the pc guy worked on it he deleted my adobe and when i wanted to install it everything gets installed except adobe flash.
    please please i need someones help asap!
    need to do projects on it
    email me at

  13. Joe says:

    I have a uinque problem: i tried to uninstall adobe cs4 by windows install clean up and adobe creative suit cleaner tool. It did clean up but did not uninstall and i am running the apps expect adobe acrobat 9. Now i am trying to uninstall but caanot ‘coz adobe cs4 is not found in add/remove program. any suggestion…thanx in advance…blessings

  14. RCS says:

    Download and use CCleaner its a free program, in the tools tab use uninstall and look under programs to remove, in th list you should see CS4 and can run the uninstaller from there.

  15. Paul says:

    Thanks for the CCleaner suggestion. I installed this, was unable to uninstall CS4 as an application but simply by repairing the registry it seemed to cure my installation problems

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