Photoshop Actions: 14 Reasons your Actions for Elements Might Not Work and How to Fix Them

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

Photoshop Actions: 14 Reasons your Actions for Elements Might Not Work and How to Fix Them

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Running Photoshop actions inside of Elements is not always easy.  Here are some troubleshooting tips to get your actions up and running inside Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE).

how can I fix my photoshop elements actions

1. Before installing an action into Photoshop Elements, confirm with the action creator that it is compatible with your version of PSE. If you are purchasing a Photoshop action, remember to research and confirm that it works in Elements, as many do not, and usually actions are non-refundable.

2. Can’t find the folder for installing your actions?  Look back at your installation path – did you select Program DATA or Program FILES?  It’s program DATA that you need. If you need help installing actions for Elements, purchased from MCP Actions, you can contact Erin, MCP’s Elements support representative, for help. There is no charge for MCP Actions paid customers, but there is a small fee from Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics if you need help installing or using other actions.

3. Do you get messages like this?

  • Could not complete your request because the file is not compatible with this version of Photoshop.
  • Could not complete your request because there is not enough memory (RAM).
  • Your action is not installed correctly.  Review the installation instructions, which are specific to the action, your operating system and your version of PSE.

4. Do you see this error message?

how to troubleshoot actions for elements

If you get this message, run your actions on a flattened image whose only layer is named background.  To flatten an image, right click on your layers palette and select Flatten Image.  Double click on the layer name to rename it to Background, if it’s not already.

5. The action ran perfectly but nothing happened?  Look for a layer mask that is completely black.  You need to paint in white on the areas of the mask where you want the effect to show through.  Or, with the layer mask active (see #6), go to the Edit Menu and select Fill, choosing white as the color, to reveal the effect over 100% of your image.

6. Nothing changes when you paint on your layer mask?  Make sure the layer mask is active for painting – it should have a white outline around it.

how to use layer masks in photoshop elements

7. Your layer mask is active and still nothing changes when you paint on it?  Check the opacity and blend mode of your brush.  The blend mode usually should be normal.  The opacity of the brush will determine the strength of the effect you are hiding or revealing.

changing brush opacity in photoshop elements

8. Make sure that your foreground color is the one you need.  Remember that white reveals and black conceals.  Press X to switch between black and white.

9. Can’t figure out exactly where you’re painting on a layer mask?  Hit Alt+shift while clicking on the layer mask thumbnail to show the layer mask on your image.

10. Is the effect too strong or not strong enough?  Adjust the layer opacity.

how to adjust the layer opacity in photoshop elements

11. Can’t get the edges of your layer mask perfect?  Zoom way in.

12. Remember to read the instructions that came with your download and the messages that pop up while the action runs. These are important to using the actions correctly and to getting great results.

13.  You’re absolutely certain that you’ve done everything right and things just aren’t working like they should?  Reset your Photoshop Elements preferences. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift immediately after launching the Editor, but before it actually opens.  The timing is tricky here.  You will know you did it correctly because you will receive a message asking you to confirm that you are Deleting the Adobe Photoshop Elements Settings File.

14.  And the number one most important tip for running actions in Photoshop Elements? Never press Stop when you get a message asking you to Continue or Stop!  It will undo the entire action!

Remember if you are using MCP’s products, look for built in instructions as well as watch the Photoshop actions video tutorials. These are available on the product pages and also in the FAQ drop down area of my site.

Erin Peloquin, the guest writer for this article, can be found at Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics, where she documents her photography journey and caters to the Photoshop Elements crowd. Erin also is the MCP Elements Consultant.  If you have issues installing or using MCP’s actions in Elements, you can contact Erin at

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Photoshop Actions: 14 Reasons your Actions for Elements Might Not Work and How to Fix Them