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How to really shut down Adobe Creative Cloud Processes

If you are like me, you might be working on the Mac with dozens of windows open at the same time, yet trying to use the computer’s memory in the most economical way given the needs. As an application developer and a WordPress techie who spends most of his time working in and switching between the web browser windows, my IDE, database tools (especially Navicat), and the command line. Also I occasionally use a few applications from the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of products.

Once any Adobe application from the Creative Cloud suite is installed on a computer, Adobe first sets up a set of its mixture (or a hybrid) of ‘agent’ and ‘installation manager’ applications on the system, whose resources they could be consuming extravagantly. These little Adobe CC agent apps are always running and strutting around behind the scenes with GUI-less interfaces, even when you are not using a single Adobe application. And they are only noticeable from the list of background tasks and software daemons. To make things worse, they can be wasting a lot of your CPU time if not also a considerable amount of RAM.

Adobe CC

In the first times, I personally did not care much about it, as I thought just hitting the Adobe CC icon (which resembles an infinity symbol) in the menu bar, and then quitting Adobe Creative Cloud from there would just shut it up, and reclaim all the memory and CPU it had been consuming.

Secret Agents also known as UNIX daemons Working in the Background

Screenshot of quitting Adobe CC from the Menu Bar on the Mac

Adobe Creative Cloud software has a number of undercover agents always running in the background, apparently doing certain deeds of Adobe, even after quitting the application from the menu bar, or even when there is no single Adobe application that is active(ly running in the foreground) or one that you have ever launched. In fact, I have recently come to the realization that quitting Adobe Creative Cloud from the macOS menu bar does not really quit anything except removing its icon from where you last clicked it (in this case, the menu bar).

This can be clearly observed by watching them under-the-hood with the Mac’s Activity Monitor, or more conveniently with the command line bash utility from within the Terminal application.

To verify how many Adobe applications or agents running in the background even in cases where you did not launch any single one of them, you could type in the following in Terminal and hit the Enter or Return key:

ps -ef | grep Adobe

For the better, to see a list of all foreground and background processes sorted by CPU consumption just type top -o cpu in the command-line terminal:typing top command in bash Terminal

After entering this command, you’ll get a real-time listing of top processes, be it foreground, or background, who are sorted by the amount of CPU resources they consume.

Alternatively, if you open the Activity Monitor application from Applications > Utilities (or just open the Launchpad and go to the ‘Other’ folder)

Activity Monitor in apps list

In the screenshot here, you can see some of the Adobe agents which are running in the background.

Adobe CC background processes listed in Activity Monitor

How to Prevent Adobe Creative Cloud Application from Auto-launching at Startup

If you are a Mac user and you own a product like CleanMyMac, you can use its user-friendly GUI to control which apps can launch (their agents) at startup using the pane Extensions > Launch Agents. Just check off the application name and clicked the tiny green button reading ‘Enabled’ next to it, to disable its launch agent. You could even remove it completely, but I would hardly recommend that as the Adobe apps you use from time to time may no longer work that way. CleanMyMac provides also a GUI uninstaller very similar to the uninstall feature of WindowsPrograms and Features.

Screenshot of CleanMyMac - Extensions pane

What if you don’t own a 3rd party software like CleanMyMac, and you do not want to invest in one? Well, there’s always the command-line Terminal.app. There is a very neat and convenient solution on Ask Different (Apple @ StackExchange) Q & A forum regarding this very CC issue:

Adobe Creative Cloud agent is loaded by default by /Library/LaunchAgents/com.adobe.AdobeCreativeCloud.plist.

If you run

launchctl unload -w /Library/LaunchAgents/com.adobe.AdobeCreativeCloud.plist

in Terminal, that will disable it for your user, so that Adobe CC will no longer auto-start as of your next reboot.

To turn it back on, simply execute

launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchAgents/com.adobe.AdobeCreativeCloud.plist

Killing Adobe CC Tasks Softly

If the above tip is not a solution for you, going back to the previous step where you locate the Adobe CC background tasks in the Activity Monitor, and then simply selecting them from the list box in this window and hitting the ‘Force quit’ button with a cross sign on the top-left of the window is one way of reclaiming your system resources back in the current session. However, here are a few problems I had with this approach:

  1. You have to do this one by one for each background task
  2. Some of the processes do not even have ‘Adobe’ in their names which makes them hard to distinguish (hint: their icon can surely be a tip off)
  3. Even when you quit some of these Adobe CC processes with this approach, some of them resurrect in the event of a surviving parent Adobe process, which tries to revive its children

A Swift and Final Approach to Kill All Adobe CC Processes

Whether you like it or not, the command-line has perks you cannot afford to miss. In this case, it is time: In just a matter of seconds, you can terminate all secretly running Adobe apps in the background, and free up some memory, and most likely speed rest of the things up even if a little bit. This is exactly what happened in my case, after all.

To reproduce this solution on your end, open the command-line Terminal app, and execute the following command with the exact argument:

 sudo pkill -f Adobe

Killing Adobe CC Background Tasks Hardly

Finally you may want to re-run this command one last time with an all lower case ‘adobe’, that is:

pkill -f adobe

which will kill the survivor(s) of the previous command whose process names contained an uppercase ‘A’ in ‘Adobe’.

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