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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  1. cathy
    March 20, 2015 at 8:37 am —

    I have deleted an area in my photo. Now I have learned how to use the spot healing brush. I have enclosed the area with the rectangle tool. pressed the spot healing brush. went to edit,fill selection, content aware and get the following error:
    Could not fill because there are not enough opaque source pixels. What do I do now?

  2. Stevi Lynn
    December 9, 2012 at 11:37 pm —

    Hi. I recently upgraded from elements 9 to 11. Has there been any reported issues with editing a layer within the action using 11? Some actions work great and others I receive an error that editing layers is not available. I have never received notices like that with my photoshop or elements systems before. Any suggestions?

    • Erin Peloquin
      December 10, 2012 at 10:23 am —

      Hi Stevi, which actions give you this message? I’ve never heard of it before. Thanks, Erin

  3. karly case
    April 9, 2012 at 7:52 am —

    Thanks for the great freebies! Cant believe Ive just found your website. I have installed the Mini Fusion one and I love it. Ive now tried to install HD sharpening into PSE 8.0 and it is showing in my photo effects as a black box but when you try to apply nothing happens. What have i done wrong? Please help

  4. Danielle Cregar
    December 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm —

    Every time I click on my magic skin actions, I get two error messages. The first says that the file cannot be found, and the second says that there is not enough ram. I’ve checked my ram, and there is PLENTY of ram, and my computer is only a month old. I’ve loaded the actions two different ways because whichever way I did it the first time didn’t work. One way was through programdata/adobe/9.0/photocreations/ effects (not sure if that is the correct order)… then the other way was through locale/en us/ actions. I don’t know why they aren’t working, but all the actions that came on my photoshop work correctly. I’ve contacted Adobe, and they were unable to help me since I didn’t purchase the actions through adobe :-(. So if you can help me, I’d really appreciate. I’m behind on my editing by about 5 days because of this, and I really need to get to work. I loved my magic skin action, and can’t live without it!!! 🙂 I’m working with a gateway computer, and windows 7 in case u need to know… Thank you!

    • September 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm —

      Hey Danielle did you every figure out how to correct the problem you were having with photoshop I know it was a few years ago but I have googled everything. I can’t figure it out and it is so frustrating.

  5. Heather
    November 24, 2011 at 2:14 am —

    I follow the installing directions perfectly for the free mini fusion action. I tried to install it to PSE 9. But when I add it to the photo effects folder I don’t see it there, though when I try again it says it is already there. I bring up PSE and check the effects palette and nothing is there. Help?

  6. francine savoie-jansson
    February 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm —

    Thank you for helpig me out to recuparate my actions with these infos, you’re the best thanks !

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