Deactivating Home Designer

Reference Number: KB-00023
Last Modified: September 29, 2018

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite or Home Designer Interiors or Home Designer Essentials


My hard drive failed, or I want to install my Home Designer program onto a new computer, but I receive a warning that the license is already active on another machine and need to make it available.

What does this mean?


A license of Home Designer 2015 and newer versions can only be active on one computer at any given time.

If you have been running the software on one computer and now wish to run it on a different computer, or if you wish to rename your computer, then you must deactivate your license first.

If you are receiving a warning that you need to deactivate your software, it means that the registration server recognizes the license is already currently active.

Do not attempt to reinstall the software onto a new computer unless it meets the System Requirements for your version of Home Designer.

For example, Home Designer 2015 and earlier versions were never supported under Windows 10.  If you want to install Home Designer on a newer computer than your version of the program was supported under, please see the Upgrade Information section of the website and contact our Sales team with any questions.

The information in this article addresses several different scenarios.

Please follow the instructions applicable for your version by clicking on the appropriate link below.

If you need to be able to run on more than one computer at the same time, or if more than one individual wishes to be able to use the software, please contact our Sales team to purchase additional licenses.

If you are attempting to install the software onto a new computer, but still have the program installed on another system in which you can launch the program, follow the steps below to deactivate the license. 

To deactivate a license

  1. In order to deactivate Home Designer on a given computer, first make sure that you have an active internet connection.

  2. Launch the program on the computer where your license is active and select Help> Manage License from the menu.

  3. Click Yes to confirm that you wish to deactivate the license.

  4. The program will now close, indicating that your license has been successfully deactivated.

    Other aspects of the installation, such as custom library content, custom toolbars, and custom template plans, are unaffected and will be ready for use when you later reactivate the license on this computer.

  5. To learn how to move your user data from one computer to another, see Migrating Home Designer to a New Computer

With your license deactivated, you are now free to install or activate it on another machine by simply launching the program while connected to the internet. Please note that you must be connected to the internet in order to activate your license. If you will be traveling to a location without internet access, take a moment to activate your license while the internet is available.

Once a license has been activated on a computer, that computer can go without internet access for up to two weeks before the program will require it to confirm the license registration status.

If you experienced a hard drive failure, had to reinstall your operating system, or otherwise cannot use the standard deactivation procedure, your Home Designer 2015 and newer version license can now be managed through your online account.

To deactivate Home Designer using the Digital Locker

  1. Log in to the website using the e-mail address you originally purchased the software with.

  2. Once you're logged in to your Chief Architect account, click on Digital Locker: Downloads, Product Keys & License management, locate the license in question, select the In Use link within the License Usage column, and click on the Make Available button.

    If you do not see your license listed in the Digital Locker:

    • Double check to ensure you have logged in using the correct e-mail address.

    • If you only have one e-mail address, or have verified other logins, and still do not see your license of Home Designer listed in your Digital Locker, then please contact Customer Service at your earliest convenience, with your proof of purchase, for further assistance.

  3. To learn how to move your user data from one computer to another, see Migrating Home Designer to a New Computer.

To deactivate Home Designer 2014 and earlier versions

A license of Home Designer Architectural, Home Designer Landscape & Deck, Home Designer Interiors, Home Designer Suite, or Home Designer Essentials 2014 and prior versions is a license for use by a single named user.

In the case of a hard drive failure, computer theft, etc, you were allowed to install your license on up to three computers for your own personal use. For further information, please refer to the software License Agreement.

  • If you have used up all three activations, then the following message will display.

    Could not register online
    You have reached the maximum number of allowable installation for this product. This product is already installed on at least one other computer. You must de-activate or uninstall one of these other installations or contact Chief Architect Sales at (208)292-3400 to obtain an additional license.

  • If you will no longer be using Home Designer on a computer, make sure that you uninstall the software, while an active internet connection is available, in order to release the activation.

  • If planning to install onto a new computer, please first review the System Requirements for your version of Home Designer.  Bear in mind that older discontinued versions of Home Designer will not run correctly on newer operating systems, or computers that otherwise do not meet their system requirements.

    For example, Home Designer 2015 and earlier versions are not supported under the Windows 10 operating system.

  • If you have used up all three of your activations, and cannot deactivate by uninstalling with an active internet connection from any of the three machines, please either contact our Customer Service team to discuss your further options for installation on a computer that still meets the older versions system requirements, or contact our Sales team in order to upgrade to the latest version. 

Emergency Transfer Passwords* 
*Home Designer Pro 2014 and prior only   

In some situations, such as if your hard drive fails, you may not have the opportunity to deactivate your license. Should this occur, you can still launch Home Designer Pro 2014 on another machine by using your Emergency Transfer Password, provided that the new computer has Internet access.
Your Emergency Transfer Password is provided at the end of the program's Registration Wizard, on the 'Completing the Home Designer Pro Secure Registration Wizard' page. 

Instructions on that page recommend that you save the password in a safe location for future use.
If you cannot locate your Registration Information print out, please have the original purchaser of the license contact Customer Service with the Product Key and they can look up the associated Transfer Password on your behalf.


To complete an Emergency License Transfer

  2. Launch Home Designer Pro on a computer with an active Internet connection where your license is not currently active.

  3. A warning message will display, telling you that the license is already active elsewhere and requesting your Emergency Transfer Password.

  4. Type in your Emergency Transfer Password and click OK.

As long there is an active Internet connection, the license will be deactivated on the old machine and become active on the current computer.

Emergency License Transfers should not be viewed as an alternative to properly deactivating your license before switching to a different computer. They were intended to be used in emergency situations only, and only three were provided with your Home Designer Pro 2014 or earlier license.

If you used all three, no more will be provided until you contact Chief Architect Sales and purchase additional transfers, or you can choose to upgrade to the current version which has the simplified deactivation methods described earlier in this article.