Adobe Products

Software Alternatives
Important: Adobe License Subscription Renewal & Support

New license subscriptions and renewals for Adobe Acrobat Professional and Adobe Creative Cloud are now available in the UBC Software Portal.

If you are experiencing difficulty with accessing your Adobe license subscription and need support, please contact the IT Service Centre during business hours:

Faculty requiring the use of Adobe products in the course of their teaching and learning activities and who are unable to provide a worktag, can still proceed with the use of an interim code that is provided at the final checkout screen.

If you need support, please call the appropriate number above. Our teams are on hand to help you as quickly as possible.


UBC hosts an Enterprise Term License Agreement (ETLA) for Adobe’s licensed products. UBC provides free access to Adobe’s Acrobat Reader software for all faculty, staff and students. Licenses are required for Adobe Acrobat Professional and Adobe Creative Cloud and are available through a cost-recovery model.

While we recognize the use of Adobe products are used widely by staff, faculty, and students for their duties and coursework, many of these needs can potentially be met through free alternative tools that may already be available on your device. We encourage you to assess your needs using the information below before requesting a paid license.

To view the list of available applications and services as part of Adobe Creative Cloud, please visit the Adobe Creative Coud website.

The following applications and services are not included in UBC’s Creative Cloud license:

  • Acrobat Sign
  • Adobe Portfolio
  • Community
  • Lightroom Web
  • PDF Services
  • PhoneGap Build
  • Publish Online
  • Publish Services
  • Story Plus
  • Team Projects


Adobe Acrobat Reader is available for free from Adobe and already available on UBC-managed devices.

UBC’s licensed Adobe products (Acrobat Professional and Creative Cloud) are available through cost-recovery to active UBC Staff and Faculty, charged to units via Workday. The subscription term will be one (1) year, and renewal will be required annually.

Ineligible users: Students, contractors, and guests are not eligible for UBC Adobe licenses.

Teaching and learning: Student use of Adobe Creative Cloud in required courses is requested by faculty members on behalf of their courses and require approval from the department head. Faculty members can enquire about eligibility for their course by submitting a request through the UBC Self Service Portal.

Important note for faculty & teaching staff during this transition: if you are teaching staff or a faculty member requiring urgent access at this time and do not have a Cost Centre Code or Worktag, our teams are on hand to help you as quickly as possible. Please contact the IT Service Centre during business hours:

Adobe product feature comparison and alternatives

PDF viewing and editing software

UBC has both Acrobat Reader (free) and Acrobat Professional (cost-recovery subscription) available for Faculty and Staff use. Before considering a cost-recovery subscription, the following table provides a general—though non-exhaustive—breakdown of features available in each product.

Acrobat Reader (free)
Acrobat Professional (subscription)
Create PDF documents (Can be done via “save as” in Office docs and Windows print to PDF feature)
View PDF documents including search and print.
Fill PDF forms
Sign PDF documents
Edit PDF documents
Combine, modify, and separate PDF documents (including size optimization)
OCR (image to text)
Convert PDF documents to another format
Take notes – highlight/sticky notes
Take notes – annotation and comments
Create signature workflows*
Cloud storage** for team editing/co-authoring
Password protect and encryption of PDFs

* Before contemplating the use of signing workflows, please review UBC’s signing authority and signing resolutions and if required seek guidance from Office of University Counsel. A Privacy Impact Assessment should also be completed for any signing workflow use-cases.

** Adobe cloud storage does not meet UBC's data retention requirements and is not a recommended method for file sharing as outlined by UBC’s Privacy and Information Security Management’s Privacy Matters Initiative. More information.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is a well-known suite of creative applications in support of rich media - graphic, video, audio and 3D/animation, combining co-authoring and media management tools to support the creative process. Before considering a cost-recovery subscription for Creative Cloud, the following table provides a non-exhaustive list of alternatives for specific features, which are available free or are included in UBC’s other licensing agreements.

Please note: UBC owned devices may require IT assistance for installation of downloaded software. Please submit a ticket with UBC’s Self Service Portal for UBC IT managed devices, or your local IT support representative for non-UBC IT managed devices.

Feature Adobe Title Alternative Supported Operating System License Model
Photo and image editing
Photoshop Photoshop
Lightroom Lightroom
Microsoft Photo Editor Windows Free
GIMP Windows, MacOS, Linux Free
Canva Browser* Free with paid upgrades
Desktop publishing
InDesign InDesign
Microsoft Publisher Windows Available through Microsoft Office Suite
Scribus Windows, MacOS, Linux Free
Marq (formerly Lucidpress) Browser* Free with paid upgrades
Vector-based design and drawing (graphical design)
Illustrator Illustrator
Inkscape Windows, MacOS, Linux Free
Vectr Browser* Free
Video editing and post-production
Premiere Pro Icon Premiere Pro
Davinci Resolve Windows, MacOS, Linux Free with paid upgrade (perpetual)
Camtasia Windows, MacOS UBC licensed (UBC Software Portal)
iMovie MacOS Free
Animation and 3D rendering
Premiere Pro Icon AfterEffects
Blender Windows, MacOS, Linux Free
HitFilm Windows, MacOS Free with paid upgrades
Davinci Resolve Windows, MacOS, Linux Free with paid upgrade (perpetual)
Natron Windows, MacOS, Linux Free
Sound editing and podcasting
Audition Audition
Audacity Windows, MacOS, Linux Free
Garage Band MacOS Free

* A Privacy Impact Assessment should also be completed for any software that has cloud based storage or processing components of the software.

Getting Started

How to Sign Up for Licensed Adobe Subscriptions

Please refer to the step-by-step instructions in the Knowledge Base:

How to Renew Licensed Adobe Subscriptions

The renewal process is the same as sign-up. Please renew your license at the UBC Software Portal.

Further Information

For further information, please visit the Adobe Software Licensing Frequently Asked Questions.

Adobe cloud storage data retention information


Please contact the IT Service Centre for support.