Adobe Installation and Licensing

Blog to post all Installer and Licensing related info to users of Adobe products

Nov 10, 2009

Software Tagging in Adobe Products

Akash Jain and Ravi Prakash Singh are developers on the core engineering team who focus on the installation technology.  Here they describe the usage of tags to help manage software deployments across enterprises. — Eric

Software tagging is the process of maintaining a set of tag files (.swtag) on a client machine to determine the install and license state of various software products. This tagging process can be used to assist in Software Asset Management (SAM) tasks and there is an ISO industry standard for this which is denoted by ISO/IEC 19770. For asset management purposes an administrator can run any SAM tool that will scan the .swtag files on the client machine and parse them for analysis and reporting purposes.

Software entitlement tags (.swtag) are files that provide authoritative identifying information about software licensing rights. These entitlement tags taken together with 19770-2 software identification tags, which accurately identify installed software programs, facilitate conducting software audits, reconciliation, and license compliance management with ease.

Prior to ISO/IEC 19770-2 electronic discovery of software licensing rights was non-existent. Entitlements data was commonly found in printed documents like purchase orders, invoices, and purchase receipts which were hard to organize and track. Standardization of entitlement data tags provides uniform, discoverable data for the license compliance processes of Software Asset Management (SAM), making it possible to optimize software license compliance.

Software Tagging in Existing Adobe Products A9 and CS4

Acrobat 9 was not only the first Adobe product but the first ever product to utilize ISO/IEC 19770-2 software identification tags. Adobe Creative Suite 4, which was shipped in 2H2008, was next to follow. Since the active development cycles for these products closed prior to the current ISO/IEC proposed Final Draft International Standard v1 19770-2 dated 2009-05-13, this implementation is based on an earlier proposed Final Committee Draft version released on 2008-08-04.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 products dynamically generate tag file during install time and product launch time. They also support a self‐healing capability. The self-healing capability restores tag files to their correct state at product launch time in the event of a missing or corrupted tag file. Licensing state changes or product configuration changes can also result in a change to the tag files.

Software Tagging in Future Adobe Software

While ISO Tagging in Adobe Acrobat 9 and Adobe Creative Suite 4 was based on the Final Committee Draft version released on 2008-08-04, future Adobe software will incorporate the changes proposed by ISO/IEC in the Final Draft International Standard v1 19770-2 dated 2009-05-13. As with Adobe Acrobat 9 and Adobe Creative Suite 4, future Adobe products will dynamically generate tag files during install time and product launch time and also support self-healing capability. To incorporate the changes of the new draft there are few changes in different areas of tagging process.

1. Tag File Location in A9/CS4 and future Adobe software

CS4 and Acrobat 9

Future Adobe software

Apple Macintosh OS:X


/Library/Application Support/

Windows XP and Server 2003

%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\Adobe\ISO‐19770

%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\

Windows Vista and Server 2008

%PROGRAMDATA%\ Adobe\ISO‐19770


2. Tag File Naming convention in A9/CS4 and future Adobe software

CS4 and Acrobat 9

Future Adobe software

Tag File Name


<regid>_ <product_title>‐<unique_software_identifier>.swtag


<product_title> ‐ is the product name, which will be the same as the <product > inside the tag file.

<unique_software_identifier> – is a GUID value for A9 while for CS4 it is combination of product licensing identifier and licensed locale, which will be same as <softwareID> inside the tag file. Trial Tag file for CS4 will have locale information as “ALL”

<regid> – which refers to the regid of Adobe

<product_title> ‐ is the product name, which will be the same as the <product > inside the tag file.

<unique_software_identifier> – is combination of product licensing identifier and licensed locale, which will be same as <softwareID/unique_id> inside the tag file. Locale information is applicable only for non-trial Tag files.

3. Important Tags and values

All mandatory identity elements are supported along with some optional information. Some tags have been deleted, added and renamed. Important tags with their possible values are shown in tag file examples.

a. Example of Tag File in A9/CS4

Since Adobe supports what is known as “Flexible Licensing” an application can be installed and serialized as a standalone app or as a part of a Suite. There are some differences in the tag files in both the cases.

i. Software tag files for Standalone Application for e.g. Photoshop licensed by itself looks like:

ii. Software tag file for an Application licensed as a part of Suite for e.g. Photoshop licensed as a part of Adobe Creative Suite Design Premium looks like:

4. Process/Stages of Tag file Updation:

a. Product install – On product install a tag file gets created for

i. Non-Serialized Install: <entitlement_required> set as “false”.

ii. Serialized Install: <entitlement_required> set as “true”.

b. Product launchOn product launch existing tag file is updated if present otherwise a new one is created. Tag file is updated based on licensing state changes thusly:


c. Product Uninstall – Tag file is not removed from the disk even though the product is un‐installed. In case product is selected to be deactivated at uninstall time then the values of the tag file are updated as in the deactivation case above.

d. Product Reinstall – At reinstall the previous files are updated which were left behind on uninstallation with the new status.

5. Software reconciliation: A9, CS4 and future Adobe software which are either serialized or activated will have entitlement_required set to “true” and therefore need be considered for reconciliation as per ISO/IEC 19770-2 standard.






  • By Erik Sarnbrink - 3:23 AM on March 19, 2010   Reply

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for a very good post!
    Do you have any more information about how this looks on a computer using a volume license. In your example images only “trial” and “retail” is mentioned. What is written by the volume media in the XML file?

  • By Eric Wilde - 10:21 AM on March 19, 2010   Reply

    Three points:
    (1) As far as the tags are concerned there shouldn’t be a difference between retail and volume. We should have been more clear here.
    (2) We’ve just found some funds for a tech writer to actually write some reasonable description of our swtag implementation and plan to publish that shortly. They’ll start in 6 weeks and it should only take 2 weeks or so to write/review/publish.
    (3) We’re working with to make sure any non-conformance to the ISO standard is addressed quickly. CS4 came out well before the final version of the standard and there are a number of non-conforming issues.

  • By Martin Tureniec - 4:37 AM on May 20, 2010   Reply

    Hi Eric,
    When/where will you publish the reasonable description of your swtag implementation?
    Thank you,

  • By Eric Wilde - 2:23 PM on May 20, 2010   Reply

    Here, and as soon as I can get to it. We were supposed to be done in early May; but, post-CS5 ship customer escalations have consumed most of my time since then and I’m behind on it.

  • By Roger Stalder - 7:32 AM on May 20, 2011   Reply

    Hello Guys,

    Any news about the CS5 and CS5.5 software Tags?
    A customer from me is asking about it.

    thank you

    • By Eric Wilde - 8:09 AM on May 20, 2011   Reply

      I do have a copy of the latest on my local drive; but, I believe its been published somewhere publicly in the very recent past. Let me try to dig up the URL and get back to you. It may take till Monday since the person who did the work (Jody) is on a plane to Asia right now.

      Edited: Here it is:

  • By net1994 - 1:05 PM on May 22, 2012   Reply

    I’m using SMS Reporting tool kit ver 4.0, with SCCM 2007 R3. Is there a newer version?

    1. How long would it/should it take for SCCM to query 2500 systems in SCCM for Adobe SWTAG files? The current scan has been running for about 3 hours now.

    2. Will the SWTAG scan pick up more recent Adobe CS5/6 products?

    3. I added SWTAG file collection in SCCM software Inventory. Inventory has run on many systems, but I cannot run a SCCM query to locate systems with these files. Does anyone have a SCCM query to find these systems with SWTAG files?

    I have looked on other Adobe/Microsoft forums with little success.

    • By Jody Rodgers - 10:01 PM on May 23, 2012   Reply

      Are you referring to a tool that was provided to you by Adobe awhile back? I know there was an effort a few years ago that had a similar name but want to confirm.

      Jody Rodgers | Sr. Product Manager | Enterprise + Volume | CS + CCM | Adobe

  • By hp driver indir - 2:13 PM on July 5, 2013   Reply

    thanks dude

  • By John Lousen - 12:21 AM on June 19, 2015   Reply

    the file with the tagging software is it necessary to have to run programs or should it be deleted? I still not really clear why they are located on my computer and how they were down load with its own fie since I did not download the file?
    Thank you,

    John Lousen