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How to Identify Pirated Versions of Adobe Photoshop

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Friendly skullA recent experience with purchasing a counterfeit version of Adobe Photoshop CS2 off Ebay has gotten us to realize just how rampant software piracy is.  To find out – just type “Photoshop CS2” (or Photoshop Anything) into a Google search.

Among the sponsored ads you’ll see ads for Photoshop and other Adobe products selling for less than half of retail.  Most of these are ads bought via Google’s Adwords by online shops specializing in counterfeiting, while others are selling their pirated wares on Ebay and Amazon marketplace (note I say marketplace – if an item ships directly from Amazon.com you can be fairly certain it’s legit).  We have yet to find one that is legitimate.  Bottom line – to purchase Photoshop, buy directly from Adobe using the links we provide below.  That is about the only way of ensuring you get a legitimate copy as far as we can tell.  If you can’t afford the high price tag, consider some of the alternative graphics software we detail below.

How to identify if your Photoshop is counterfeit

Here’s a quick checklist to see if your Photoshop copy is legit.  If your Photoshop or other Adobe software product is:

  • Shipped from China
  • Missing its warranty card
  • The serial number/CD key is printed on the CD, sleeve, or jewel case.
  • During product activation does not give you the option of phoning in to activate
  • Throws error messages upon loading, crashes, or simply won’t load
  • Keyboard shortcuts aren’t working
  • Examine the box your software came in.  Look for:
    • “Made in Singapore”
    • Spelling mistakes
    • Low resolution black and white images in the manual
    • CD Inserts that are only one sheet, or don’t quite fit the jewel case
    • The “Runs Great on Intel” sticker/ graphic on the box is faded or “grayed out” looking

Try Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro or GIMP

The truth is, most people who run pirated copies of Photoshop don’t need or use 95% of the functionality and features the software offers.  You’ll probably be just as content working with a copy of Photoshop. You can subscribe to this software directly from Adobe for $19.99 a month.

Paint Shop Pro

Another, more powerful alternative (and competitor to Photoshop) is Paint Shop Pro X4.  It offers many of the power user/ professional features that Photoshop offers, albeit using a different layout, and at a much discounted price. Buy it directly from Corel for $79.99 $59.99:

Note that it’s not a bad idea to try out demos of products before you buy them.  Adobe, for instance, let’s you setup an account and download 30-day trial versions of nearly all their products.

Open-source image editing software: GIMP

And finally, there’s the GIMP.  GIMP is often referred to as the “Photoshop clone” of the open-source world.  It is, in fact, a very powerful photo editor/ image editing application that will let you do nearly everything you can do in Photoshop.  If you’re new to image editing, I would recommend you give it a try first.  If you’re already a Photoshop user, it’ll take some time to get adjusted to the interface, and finding your way around the program.  But once you do, you probably won’t look back.

Photoshop layout for GIMP

Finally, there is an application that modifies GIMP to look like Photoshop.  On the background it’s running GIMP, but on the front-end it looks like Photoshop.  For those that can’t afford Photoshop but need the power features and can’t get used to the GIMP layout, Gimpshop is a viable option.  You should note, however, that GIMP fans balk at this application because they consider GIMP’s layout to be far superior to that of Photoshop in the first place.  We’ll let you be the judge.

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

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144 Comments on "How to Identify Pirated Versions of Adobe Photoshop"

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Roney
Roney

Wow! What a nice tips. Thank you very much for your tips.

Guest
Guest
I’ve noticed a trend in the way that people see theft since virtual products became so popular. It is kind of disturbing view of the world actually. When I was a kid, I did not help my friends cheat on their homework because it was wrong. I did not share my homework with them because even though I was not stealing or using anyone’s work, the fact that I let the use mine would have made me just as wrong as they were. Or at least that’s what my parents taught me and it is what I pass on to… Read more »
Guest
Guest
I’m not sure whether or not pirated software is as common as it was in the late 90s and early 2000s, but it is still present. That’s why it’s essential to buy software from legitimate sources. This means either purchasing the software from the company directly or shopping with companies you can trust. However, as mentioned, you want to avoid shopping in marketplaces. When shopping for software, you always want to look for characteristics that tell you the software is legit. Many companies use holographic seals that make it easier to seek out the real deal. However, this is something… Read more »
Guest
Guest
I’m shocked that Amazon Marketplace let’s sellers sell pirated software. Of course, I’m sure they don’t actually realize it’s being done until it’s brought to their attention, but still. This is something that makes it harder for legitimate companies to do business online. Personally, I think the best way to get a real copy, if you don’t want to shop online, is to visit a store you know you can trust, such as Best Buy. As someone who needs graphic software for my business, I have considered buying Adobe Photoshop for quite some time. However, recently I discovered a website… Read more »
Guest
Guest
There are plenty of reasons why I do not buy pirated software. First off, it is just wrong. I would not want someone to steal my work, so I do not do it to anyone else. I know there are many who think that is a naive way to be when software companies make so much money, but there is a reason that they make good money. If the product was not worth buying, you would be developing it at home yourself. It’s just like any other service you have to pay for. I don’t know how to work on… Read more »
Guest
Guest
I know that in any economy it is tempting to buy pirated software, but in this economy it can be more than tempting. It can be hard to refuse. But there are several problems with this that go beyond meeting immediate needs. Adobe Photoshop is just one of the many software programs that are being pirated. You might save some money buying pirated programs like Adobe Photoshop. You might even be able to run the programs without harm to your computer. You might even get away with it, even though you are breaking the law by using these kinds of… Read more »
Guest
Guest
I can’t believe how many comments on here are saying that it is not that bad to use pirated software. It seems like people just are not using any kind of common sense these days. It really is a big deal. I work in a creative line of work and I have had my work stolen before. I don’t care if I am only losing royalties on it. I made it. If you think that developing software is so easy that it should not be rewarded, why don’t you go develop your own software? Because you can’t. If you could,… Read more »
Guest
Guest
Thanks for the great article! I especially like the suggestion to try GIMP before purchasing the Photoshop software. Most of the people I work with find Photoshop very easy to use and they really love all the features of it. So, I am not finding fault in Photoshop itself. The fault is with my photo editing knowledge, or lack of. I used to have Photoshop software, but never really took the time to use it the way it was supposed to be used. Meaning, I did not use half of the features it offered just because I did not have… Read more »
Guest
Guest
First of all, I do not think I would bu any software that was not for children to play with off of eBay. If I am serious about software and not just buying a game for my son to play, that means I am working on something that I need the software for. I do not just go out shopping for software for the fun of it. That means I want a quality product that is going to do the job I require. The only way to do that is to buy from a reputable source. I am not saying… Read more »
Guest
Guest
The idea of pirating anything really ticks me off. It is not different than walking in a store and taking something from it. People don’t realize that all this does is drive up the cost for everyone else. I pay for what I get and I don’t like having to pay more in order to compensate for what people have taken. I work online and I have had my work stolen. It is an absolute pain to have anything done about it and people don’t really take it seriously. They seem to think that if they can’t hold it in… Read more »
Meh
I don’t agree I think software can’t be viewed as a physical object, there simply is no labor cost only imaginary figures applied to it in order to up sell. It loses its status as a commodity that can be traded or bartered, furthermore most licensing options these days don’t even allow that. You have no right as an end user to something you bought, what you are really paying for is a license right to use a virtual trade nothing more. It’s more or less how banks work in favor of issuing us a credit line, just because we… Read more »
Guest
Guest
Pardon my ignorance but really, why aren’t these sites being held responsible for what is being sold on them. Why does Adobe even sell products on these sites at all if the sites are also allowing pirated versions to be sold. Isn’t that kind of like just giving a wink and a nod? I mean, if I had a product and I went to a store that was selling pirated versions of my product, I wouldn’t just pull my product from them. I would sue them for selling what amounts to be stolen property. Are sites like Amazon and eBay… Read more »
Guest
Guest
One of the many problems with pirated software is that you never really know what you’re going to get along with the software you wanted in the first place. You might not even get the right software to begin with. You think you’re saving money but it doesn’t really work out like that in the long run. And, if you get caught, you can believe you’ll be thinking how cheap the real software was in comparison to the fines and time you’re going to have to put into it on the premise that you were saving a buck or two.… Read more »
Guest
Guest
I understand that people are trying to save money by making purchases through eBay, but let’s be for real here. The people who sell through eBay aren’t exactly trusted sources. And, as much as I hate to admit it, you most often get what you pay for. When it comes to eBay, I’m always leery about things like that. I don’t think I would ever buy software there at all. Isn’t that kind of like buying it from a yardsale, only you don’t actually get to see the product before you buy it? I do trust Amazon.com, but when it… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

Why buy legit or buy into some seedy OEM scam when you can just download a cracked version for free?

P.S. Don’t talk to me about viruses or trojans. If you’re not smart enough to avoid those, you deserve them.

R5
This is a funny debate… Everyone is all like “It will mess up my computer!!” WRONG!! The best and safest way to snag something is to download a trial version from the source itself, put a blocking script in the “hosts” file, and find an old serial number. Or Bit-Torrent downloading works great too if you know what that means. YouTube is an incredible place to start getting new stuff. You can clearly see how much luck others had with it by the comments posted. Bit-Torrents are the same way. If there isn’t a bunch of feedback, move on and… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
When it comes to purchasing software and services for your computer, you really cannot be too careful these days. You should only buy software via reputable sources that you know where your money is going and that the product is certified to do what it says it will. Really, it is no different than buying medicine or food for your body. What you put in to your computer will have a direct affect on its heath and its effectiveness for you. You would not buy drugs from just any one you may meet; you would go to a drug store… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
I have been a user of Adobe Photoshop now for over ten years. I am not a professional photographer by any means, but I certainly do enjoy the activity and with a robust piece of software with some legitimate editing tools I can truly achieve some good images that are impressive to both the untrained eye as well as the seasoned veteran. Knowing this and learning this over the years, the temptation to get newer versions of Photoshop is as strong as the newest tools and functions of the program are cool and fun to use. That being said, I… Read more »
RIYAD K
RIYAD K

I spend a lot of time of photo editing, after reading this article I got to know a lot of interesting facts.

Jayjforrest
Jayjforrest

This is very informative, thank you for posting the tutorial! My designer was working on our blog and almost purchased a pirated copy of Photoshop by accident.

john
john

Thanks for sharing this useful post on how to identify pirated versions of Adobe Photoshop.

brynasaur
brynasaur

Thanks about this information, this will really help me a lot.

Anonymous
Anonymous
It is a well known fact that Adobe Photo Shop is one of the most commonly stolen, duplicated or just plain pirated pieces of software. There are probably a number of reasons for this, but really two stands out. The program itself is an incredible piece of technology. The user who knows what they are doing can create amazing things with Photo Shop. Additionally, the program is very expensive. Some of these versions sell for over one thousand dollars. Combine these two ingredients and you have the perfect mix to create a number of thieves and counterfeiters. This article points… Read more »
lynn dunbar
lynn dunbar
In the above articles, I’m guessing that this Alex Schenker is the one who wrote the articles and yet there he states that Photoshop CS6 can be bought for $299.99, when all I can find is for $799.99. So if the less priced one is legitimate, why the heck can’t I find it at that price. I’m taking the Photoshop class right now and have it on a 30 day trial and need to get the program before the trial runs out so if anyone can guide me to a cheaper, but legitimate place to get it, please let me… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

I would be scared to download a pirated version of any program because I wouldn’t want it to do any damage to my computer.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Anytime you have a software program that is both very popular and very expensive, there are bound to be those who will resort to dishonest methods in order to obtain a copy. This is simply human nature. Counterfeiting software is actually quite a big business. I am also quite sure that Adobe is aware of the problem and there must be some good reasons why they really have not attempted to crack down on the problem more. The funny thing about this particular piece of software is that it is sooo powerful that probably most users will never really even… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
GIMP is short for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The whole idea is that you can take all of your images and play around with them to create some interesting designs and cool effects. It is an excellent option for photo retouching, painting, composting, image creation and even much more. Another really great feature is that since the software IS open source, there are tons of tutorials and user guides all over the internet that are actually helpful. It is true that GIMP may not be the most user friendly image editing software around. But it is free, and there are… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
One of the most commonly stolen and counterfeited pieces of software is Adobe Photo Shop. Since this is both very popular and very expensive, I suppose this is only natural. I also am quite sure that the manufacturer and creator are also well aware of this problem. Since many people are unwittingly using a pirated version of this software, this article does provide a number of ways to determine the legitimacy of your own copy. If you notice any of the following things, it may be a pirated version. Missing the warranty card, the serial number is printed on the… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
It is no secret that one of the most pirated pieces of software is PhotoShop. The thing is that this is very powerful and gives the users a tremendous amount of functionality and abilities in terms of editing photos, images and illustrations. Not to mention that the cost can be prohibitive for many people. The good news is that there are a number of cheaper alternatives to this program. Since most users do not ever need any more than about 5 to 10 percent of the features available, why not consider using an alternative? Paint Shop Pro is a nice… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

I have been using a pirated version of Adobe Photoshop CS2. However, I am trying to buy the legal one. Does anyone know where I can get myself a copy of CS2 (not the newer versions of CS which I can’t afford, plus I’m comfortable using CS2).

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi guys, I found this website that provides the original Adobe Photoshop for the cheap price of only $90. You can download the Adobe Photoshop CS5 extended license directly from their website and they provide you with their serial number. Anyone ever try this website? Please leave a comment about the software. I hope this will help.

[link removed by spam filter]

Anonymous
Anonymous
Honestly pirated software isn’t all that unsafe if you have half an idea of what your doing. And the whole thing with pirates is that if someone like Adobe charges $700 for a single piece of software, when you can get a near identical copy for nothing (without loosing anything), then why the hell wouldn’t you? Furthermore, pirated versions of software truly bloom out of control only when the software is so overpriced for what you get out of it. A lot of stupid people know what it is and what it does and really really want it, and when… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

Most pirated software is unsafe, and it also takes a long time to download each individual file, one at a time.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Chances are, in the case of pirated software the person you got it from may have given you something else as well (Trojan/virus) and then there’s the possible legal consequences. I think it’s around $200,000 and 5 years in prison.

Anonymous
Anonymous

There are foolproof ways to avoid trojans (some pretty good tools such as this help: http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/security/seven-sandbox-tools-for-malware-testing.aspx) but I’m way too lazy to use them every time. 😛 Hence I find roughly 1 in 4 cracks that come with the torrent have malware. For uncracked software the odds seem around 1 in 20 (my sample size :P).

Anonymous
Anonymous

I am confused. Was this article written years ago? I opened Adobe Bridge (I have CS3) and it clearly states that Adobe Bridge has been discontinued. So what gives?

Anonymous
Anonymous

There’s way too many pirate tools out there that let you copy software, and so many ways to get your hands on a copy of pirated software. Will there ever be a way to contain this industry?

Anonymous
Anonymous

No because I enjoy my pirated copies more than shelling out thousands to corporate crooks!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Dear all,

I bought a pirated copy from a Ebay seller recently. When I received the item, my heart was fall down instantly. The dvds and dvd case are printed by inject printer and there are some crack file folder in the dvds…

May I know what is the next step should I go through? Or should I keep quiet? I already paid 700 USD for that copy… OMG!

a web rocker
a web rocker

I just bought one off ebay and I am furious!

Fake software license etc just took it to pc world and they said it was hot.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi,

Why don’t you contact eBay customer service to complain about the pirated cd’s. Ebay will hold your payment for any purchase you make for 1 month or they will release the payment after you leave feedback within 1 month of your payment purchased. You still have a chance to get a refund for it. I’ve been scammed on Ebay but luckily I sent a complaint to Ebay ASAP and got my refund back. Hope this will help.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi dear, at least go back to Ebay and leave a negative comment against him. Ebay might close his account and also it serves as a warning for others no to buy from him.

Anonymous
Anonymous

If the software is cheaper maybe there’s no pirated version on the market.

Cheers

Anonymous
Anonymous

it’s so easy! please check my photo retouching gallery here. thanks

Anonymous
Anonymous

I really enjoyed reading your post. Great job – can’t wait to visit again.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you for this.

Larry

Anonymous
Anonymous

Counterfeit software can damage your PC (in the forms of spyware, viruses, etc.). When you purchase PC products, make sure they are licensed.

Anonymous
Anonymous

let’s see…200 dollars vs. 700 dollars? I think I will go counterfeit. if it works who cares. Adobe shouldn’t price so high. I don’t feel sorry for them.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I would much prefer the real thing. I prefer to keep my integrity, over using a counterfeit.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Can I just ask people for a second to support the hard working software developers that are out there? They’re trying to make a buck just like you and me. Piracy is straight out theft. The only reason it’s so rampant is that it’s easy to do without getting caught. Be a man and don’t purchase the software if you can’t afford it. You wouldn’t go into a retail store and start jacking boxes off the shelf would you? Didn’t think so. As a result of piracy developers don’t get paid. How would you like it if someone rolled into… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

Adobe’s operating income for 2010 was nearly a billion dollars. They’re not losing their jobs. Most of the copies of Photoshop used in the world are probably pirated. Why do you claim it’s masculine to not make non-profit graphics instead of making non-profit graphics, but not paying thousands of dollars to be able to do it? What do you say to users of pirate Photoshop, who do not have an office and receive no paycheck?

Anonymous
Anonymous
I didn’t fully understand your non-profit graphics statement, but I’m tired of hearing the “this company makes so much money” argument placed out of context with ballpark financial figures. In 2010, Adobe made $3.6 billion in operating profits. Net income was $750 million. The average employee at Adobe makes just over $100,000, which is some $36,000 below the industry average ($136,000). In order for the company to continue to be successful, they need to make money, not only to pay their employees, but invest in R&D, equipment costs, operations, marketing, etc. etc. and of course to create new job positions.… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

You can get everything from google search. But try to download from trustful sources. SEO made everything easy to find.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Yes…, I just can not get it… You write very great article about pirated adobe…, but I think You know that many people love the pirated one as they do not need to pay price… Why?

Regards,

Rattan

Anonymous
Anonymous

The only time I would ever condone using cracked software would be if you are attempting to install Adobe CS3. I had a purchased copy from work and spent the better part of 3 weeks trying to install it with no luck. If you’ve ever used CS3 you know what I’m talking about. I finally was at my wits end and installed a crack version and was up and running in a little under an hour. The take away from that experience is to stay away from CS3 if you can help it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The best way to go about this if you don’t have the cash to shell out for an original Photoshop version is to use GIMP and style it to look like Photoshop. Let’s face it, GIMP is almost as powerful as Photoshop, and has a strong following/ community that keeps it updated regularly. The only thing holding them back is the “open source” stigma, and the fact that people are used to the Photoshop layout. My vote goes to GIMP! 🙂

Anonymous
Anonymous

I have to admit I have some software that’s not really original. But I never experienced problems of any kinds. And I must say original software is way too expensive. I could never spend hundreds of dollars on software that I would use just a few times a week.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Pirated software usually has inadequate documentation, which prevents consumers from enjoying the full benefits of the software package. In addition, consumers are unable to take advantage of technical support and product upgrades, which are typically available to legitimate registered users of the software. Pirated software can cost consumers lost time and more money.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Adobe Master Collection CS5 for a reasonable price, about $2000 USD – original and factory sealed.

Anonymous
Anonymous

PIRACY RULES WOOO!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

You mention to avoid software shipped from China. WTF? What’s wrong with software shipped from China?

We Rock Your Web
We Rock Your Web
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Chinese software, and we probably should have clarified. If you are a U.S.-based citizen, then you should be receiving your Photoshop software from the United States. If, on the other hand, you live in China, you’ll probably receive your software from Adobe’s distribution center in China. Bottom line is software vendors have distribution centers in different countries, but it makes no sense to have a China copied shipped to the U.S. since the original distribution center is in the U.S. to begin with. Therefore, if your Photoshop software is being shipped to the U.S., from… Read more »
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