There are a lot of little things in Elements and Photoshop that can really ruin your day. Here’s a list of the most common ones. Click on the topic to go to the solution.
Please note that many minor problems not found on this page can be cured by deleting your preferences files. How this is done is described in the Basics tutorials for both Elements and Photoshop. Be aware that uninstalling and reinstalling does not delete the preferences file. You need to go find them and delete them by hand if you have uninstalled. If using Windows XP or W2K, you will need to check “Show Hidden Files” in Tools > Folder Options to see the prefs files if you search for them on your hard drive.
When you upgrade Elements or Photoshop, should you install over the current version or install to a new directory?
Always install to a new directory (folder). Never install on top of the previous versions. You can have both versions on your computer at the same time, but do not install one on top of the other. The installer will automatically do this properly if you accept its choice of install location.
How can you turn off the current tool and get back to the regular cursor arrow?
There is no such thing as ‘turning off’ a tool. Whatever tool you last used is always going to be showing as your cursor. If this makes you nervous, you can change to the hand tool by pressing the H key on your keyboard.
Cursor shows crosshairs when it used to show brush size.
Check your Caps Lock key. It toggles cursor display from brush size to precise.
Most of the filters and/or Save For Web are grayed out.
In Elements and Photoshop, check to see if you are in Bitmap or Index color mode. In Photoshop, if you are in CMYK or if your image is 16 bit, most filters will be grayed out, as will Save For Web. Look under Image > Mode.
When you use the type tool, everything turns pink.
You are either in Index color mode, or you have selected the type mask tool by mistake. To find color mode, see Image > Mode. To select the proper type tool, see the type tool’s options bar. The type mask tool is the dotted line icon. You want the solid line icon.
When you try to add an adjustment layer or use the color picker, your cursor turns into the eyedropper icon, and the application stops responding; you have to use Task Manager to exit.
You have recently changed either your display resolution or have moved from a dual monitor setup to a single monitor. You have a dialog box opening where it last opened—which is now off screen. Either return your screen to its previous setup, open and move the dialog box to the new screen setup; or delete your preferences files.
The clone stamp won’t sample when you Alt-click.
You have installed a program that is hijacking your Alt key. Fly Swat and Guru-net are common culprits. Either uninstall or change the hot-key assignments within those apps. Also make sure you have not chosen the pattern stamp by mistake.
The main toolbar is minimized into only the Adobe icon and a blue bar.
Try double-clicking on the blue bar.
The crop tool doesn’t show any handles and only makes boxes of fixed proportions.
You may have entered something in the Width or Height boxes. Click the Clear button on the tool’s options bar, or delete the Width or Height entries, or click the tool icon at the far left end of the options bar and choose Reset Tool.
Every time you make a new document it wants to be a funny size or color mode.
If you have anything on the clipboard (have used Edit > Copy), Photoshop and Elements will automatically fill in the File> New document size and color mode with those of the clipboard contents. To get rid of this, choose Edit > Purge > Clipboard.
There is a lock on your background layer.
This is normal. All new documents have a background that is partially locked (you can’t move the background). To turn it into a regular layer and remove the lock, double-click the background and click OK in the New Layer dialog (or choose a new name, if you like).
White areas of your image look pink or yellow or purple; not white.
You have a bad monitor profile. Run Adobe Gamma to create a new profile. It should be in your Start > Settings > Control Panel. Use the sRGB profile as a starting point and be sure and fill in a new description and name.
You click on a layer in the Layers palette, then click on your document with the move tool to move it, and it jumps to, and moves a different layer.
On the move tool’s options bar, uncheck (deselect) the Auto Select Layer checkbox. Or, make sure you click on a spot that has content (is not transparent) in the layer you want to move.
The area in a document window that is outside your image has changed from the usual gray to another color.
Set your foreground color to be the color that you want for the area outside your image, then choose the paintbucket tool and Shift-click on that area (outside of your image, but within the document window).
You can’t add a new picture layer to the one that is already open; new images open with their own layer.
To make a second picture be on a layer above the layer of the first picture, you need to drag from one document onto the other using the move tool, or drag with any tool from the source layer in the Layers palette onto the target document. Press the Shift key when you drop to center the image on the target document.
You made a selection, but when you try to apply a filter, or make an adjustment by using a menu command, you get the message, “Could not complete the [command name] because no pixels are selected.”
The layer that is currently selected in the Layers palette is empty. In the Layers palette, click on the layer that has the content that you want to filter or adjust and try again. Or you may have a very large Feather amount entered on the options bar for your selection tool.
The palette well is so small, all of the palettes are piled on top of one another. You can’t see the palette name tabs, or click the one you want.
You need to set your screen resolution to at least 1024 x 768 (preferably, even higher). Do this by right-clicking on your desktop (the screen that you see when no application is running). Pick Properties from the menu. In the Display Properties dialog, find the Settings tab. There should be a slider there for setting screen resolution or “screen area.” After choosing a new setting, and clicking the Apply button, you’ll go through a series of steps as your system resets the monitor. Afterward, your icons and fonts will seem tiny, but you’ll get used to it.
When trying to install Adobe Photoshop Elements in Windows, the Photoshop Elements installer returns the error “This version of Photoshop Elements requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher to be installed. Please install Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher and then run this installation. The installer will exit now.”
If you get this message when you know that you have Internet Explorer v. 5 or higher installed, go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link].
Users of Windows XP can’t get Help to open within Elements or Photoshop.
This had been a big headache for Adobe. Believe me, they are as upset as you are. Go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link].
You got a warning about where your scratch disk is located when you first open Photoshop or Elements.
This is a performance advisory. Elements and Photoshop will probably run just fine if you ignore the warning. However, if you are working on very large images, you should set your scratch disk to a drive other than the one where your OS and Windows swap file are. To set the scratch location, go to Edit > Preferences > Plug-ins and Scratch Disks… To find more information on scratch disks go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link]..
You made a bunch of new brushes, gradients, or patterns and now they are nowhere to be found.
If you have not saved them in a set using the Preset Manager, and you have either deleted your preferences file or reset the palette that you added them to, they are gone for good. Always save your custom brushes, gradients, patterns or styles to their own set using the Preset Manager or the Save Brushes command from the brushes palette pop-up palette.
Your crop tool, and marquee tool jumps to edges making it hard to make precise crops or selections.
You have Snap turned on. To make it stop, choose View > Snap to toggle it off. It likes to turn itself back on, so be prepared to do it again.
When you make a new line with the type tool, the spacing is wrong—the next line is on top of the first, or it’s way too wide.
There is a bug in Elements that causes leading (the space between typed lines) to get stuck if you use the label feature in Contact Sheet or Picture Package. Leading will be stuck at whatever size was used for the label. To fix it, click the ‘T’ icon at the left end of the type tool’s options bar and choose Reset Tool from the menu. In Photoshop, if your leading is wrong, check the Character palette.
Photoshop or Elements keeps trying to access the Internet even when I set Online Prefs to Never.
If you don’t want any of the automatic update/download features (I don’t), search your system for aom.exe and rename it to aom.old. However, if you use LiveMotion, you can’t do that (it requires aom.exe or at least LiveMotion 1 did).
Your colors look different in Photoshop or Elements from how they display in any other application.
Photoshop and (to a lesser degree), Elements are color managed applications. You need to check your color settings at Edit > Color Settings. And read up on color management to understand what is going on. See my page on the subject, here.
You copied files from a CD to your computer and Elements says they are locked and won’t let you save your edits.
Files copied from any CD are always locked. Use Windows Explorer to navigate to where the files are on your computer. Click and Shift-click to or use Edit > Select All to select the files. Right-click on the selection block. Choose Properties from the menu. Uncheck the Read Only checkbox. Click the Apply button. Then click OK to close the Properties dialog.
While editing, either your picture, or the Elements interface is breaking up, or showing weird blocks of wrong colors, or otherwise not displaying properly.
Nine times out of ten, display problems are due to video card driver problems. Go to the Web site of your card manufacturer and check for updated drivers. You might also want to check that your display is set to True Color (32 bit). Find this setting by right-clicking on your desktop (the screen that you see when no application is open or maximized) and choosing Properties from the menu. In the Display Properties dialog that appears, click on the Settings tab and look for the Colors menu.
The color numbers in the Info palette disappear as soon as you stop moving your cursor over the image.
This is a bug in both Elements 2 and Photoshop 7. If you have an image open on top of the (open) File Browser, this will happen. The problem persists even if you then minimize the File Browser. Closing the File Browser seems to be the solution.
On starting Elements or Photoshop, you get an alert that the Adobe UI font could not be loaded.
Go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link]..
Where is the Brush Dynamics button? [Elements 1 and Photoshop 6, only]
If you have your screen resolution set to 800 x 600 or less, the button will not be displayed. Reset your monitor to a higher resolution, and you should see the button at the far right end of the options bar for the relevant tools.
Your computer locks up, shuts down, or reboots while running Elements or Photoshop.
The most common causes are defective motherboards, defective RAM, and defective CPUs. On Windows 95/98/ME, this can also be caused by buggy drivers. This behavior cannot be caused by application software. Please go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link].
You get a “Scratch disk full” or “Memory full” error message.
Go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link].
Fonts don’t appear in the font menu.
Fist, make sure the fonts are installed. Fonts are installed via your operating system, not by Photoshop. To install fonts, choose Start > Settings > Control Panel and double-click on the Fonts folder. Then choose File > Install New Font. If you still don’t see your fonts in the Photoshop font menu, then try the next step. Many TrueType fonts are incorrectly country-coded due to a bug in a font creation application that is used by quite a few type foundries. Go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link]..
When using the type tool, your cursor is huge; much bigger than the type size you have chosen.
Check your document resolution. Also (Photoshop only), check to see if you have Baseline Shift set to anything other than zero. Look in the Character palette, on the left side, fourth from the top.
You get an error message, or your computer freezes when you try to install Elements or Photoshop.
G o to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link].
You made a huge document that was over 2 GB in size or more than 30,000 pixels in either dimension. Now you can’t open it in Photoshop or Elements.
You are out of luck. Photoshop will not warn you when you are creating and saving such an oversized file, and it will not reopen it after closing.
Files saved in Photoshop’s .psd format are much larger (as much as 2x) than other formats and larger than those saved from older versions of Photoshop. Why?
You have the Always Maximize Compatiblity (formerly Backward Compatibility) checkbox selected in Edit > Preferences > Saving Files. It is checked by default. If you uncheck it, you will no longer save a flattened version of the file, possibly necessary in order to open that file in future versions of Photoshop as well as very old versions. Also, a tiny bug is that if this is unchecked, maps used with the Displace filter will show writing in the resulting displaced image. Try it for fun.
Save for Web is “doing weird things” and you can’t get it to work properly.
Try deleting your Save for Web preferences. To do this, press and hold both the Ctrl and Alt keys as you choose File > Save for Web. You’ll get an alert asking if you’re sure you want to delete the preferences. Click Yes.
You try to use a menu item that should open a dialog box, but no dialog box appears. In addition, your cursor turns into the eyedropper icon.
Dialog boxes open wherever you left them the last time you used them. Therefore, if you have dragged the dialog box to a second monitor or over to one side of a single monitor and then change to a single monitor set-up or a lower screen resolution, that dialog box will continue to open where it was last—which is now out of sight. You need to reset your monitors to whatever they were before, open the dialogs, reposition them where they are sure to show on your new monitor set-up and then close.
Where is the paintbucket?
Under the gradient tool in the toolbox.
Where is New View in Photoshop 7?
Window > Documents > New Window.
You get an error message about faux bold when you try to warp text.
Click on the Palettes button on the type tool’s options bar to open the Character palette. Click on the little arrow in the upper right corner and select Faux Bold to toggle it off. In Photoshop 7, faux bold can be turned off via a button at the bottom of the palette.
You can’t find New View in PS 7.
It’s under Window > Documents > New Window.
There is a funny icon in the upper left corner of all of your images.
That’s the slice icon. All images start with one slice. Turn it off by choosing View > Show > Slices.
When you click with the eyedropper, it changes the background color instead of the foreground color.
You have selected the background color square in the Color palette (it will show with a double outline when it’s selected). Go to the Color palette and click on the foreground square to correct the problem.
Photoshop freezes when trying to load.
The most common culprits aside from hardware problems are corrupt ICC profiles or corrupt fonts. Go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link].
When using the type tool, Photoshop runs very slow.
The most common cause is Norton System Works, in particular, the Recycle Bin Protection (I hope I’m getting those names right). If you don’t have those installed, try the link in the previous answer.
Your A drive (floppy drive) keeps running when you are using Photoshop.
This is a bug in Photoshop 6. The 6.01 patch will fix it. Go to Adobe and download the patch.
Performance is very slow when using Photoshop.
If you are running Norton Systemworks, you need to disable Recycle Bin Protection. In addition, Adobe has a long document on how to optimize your system for Photoshop. Go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link].
You can’t Paste as Paths from Illustrator.
In Illustrator, change your preferences (Files & Clipboard) to the AICB format. Illustrator is set to PDF by default.
You get an error message “PHOTOSHP caused an invalid page fault in module KERNEL32.DLL at 017f:bff7b9f5.”
You have an incompatible or corrupt ICC profile in your Windows/System/Color folder (win 98/98SE/Me) or ./system32/spool/drivers/color (win2k). Make a temporary folder somewhere else on your hard drive and move all the ICM and ICC files to that folder. Start Photoshop to make sure the error message is gone. Now move back the profiles that you know you need to WindowsSystemColor (win 98/98SE/Me) or ./system32/spool/drivers/color (win2k). If the error message returns, you will need to move the profiles out and return them one by one until you find the one that is causing the problem. Go to Adobe.com and search their knowledgebase for more information on how to fix the problem [I used to post direct links to the relevant techdoc but every time I do that, they change the file location which kills the link]..
Text is cut off or does not appear on type layers in very large images (400 MB or larger).
There are a number of solutions to this problem; see the type tool’s page for ways to deal with the problem. The type tool cannot create anti-aliased text larger than 8192 pixels on the image canvas in Photoshop 5.x or later, although it can in earlier versions. The type mask tool, however, can create selections that exceed this limit.
Photoshop 7 no longer opens the fourth channel in a Targa file as an alpha channel.
The fourth channel is loaded as transparency, which is the correct method according to the Targa file specification. The data in the fourth channel is unchanged, and still available, but appears in a different place and is used slightly differently. Also, alpha channels are not saved with Targa—transparency is saved instead. If you want Targa files to work the way they did in previous versions of Photoshop, you can download the old version here. Put it in the Photoshop application subfolder, Plug Ins > File Format after removing the new version.
Your Lighting Effects presets are gone, and you can’t save my own presets.
This is apparently connected with Windows XP’s Indexing Service.In Explorer, go to the subfolder found at Plugins > Filters > Lighting Styles. Right-click on this folder, and choose Properties. Under the General tab, click Advanced, then check the box that says ‘For faster searching, allow Index Service to index this folder. After rebooting your computer, check to see if this has corrected the problem.
When you choose Print > CMYK Setup, Profile Setup, or Profile to Profile, when using Photoshop 5.x in Windows 2000 you get the error “Could not complete the [command name] command because of a disk error.”
This problem was solved in later versions of Photoshop, but can be resolved in 5.x by editing the Windows registry. Please note that registry-editing is not for beginners. If you would like to do so, go to the Adobe User to User forum for Photoshop (Win) and look in the Forum FAQ.