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The BEST Way to Install Actions into Photoshop Elements


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Installing Actions into Photoshop Elements is just not the easiest thing in the world.  But it can be done.  After much trial and error, I’ve decided that the method below is the most efficient way to get those actions into Elements.

We included a video below detailing this method if you’d like to watch it.

Please note that this method applies only to actions that should be installed into the Effects Palette, not the Action Player.  Please check with the instructions in your action download to confirm that they are Photo Effects actions.

First, a broad overview.  Putting actions into Elements is a three step process.  First you download the actions from our website, then you install them into PSE.  You complete the process by resetting the database.

Are you ready?  Here are the details:

  1. Find the actions you want for Photoshop Elements.  After your purchase, you will be directed to a webpage with a download link, and you will get an email with the same download link.  Click on this link, and the actions will be downloaded to your computer.  You might see a message asking whether or where you want to save them, or they might go directly to a folder like “My Downloads.”  It depends on your computer setup.
  2. Next, you need to open the file that you’ve just downloaded.  It will be a zip folder.  Most people can open it either by double clicking or by right clicking and selecting “unzip” or “extract all.”  If neither or those options work for you, use Google to find an unzipper for your computer.  In many cases, these unzipper utilities are free.zipped-folders The BEST Way to Install Actions into Photoshop Elements Photoshop Actions
  3. Once you’ve unzipped your folder, you will see something like this:contents-of-action-folder The BEST Way to Install Actions into Photoshop Elements Photoshop Actions
  4. Save the contents of this folder to an easy to find location on your hard drive that you back up regularly.
  5. Open the folder that says “How to Install Actions in PSE.”  Locate the PDF instructions specific to your operating system and your version of Elements.
  6. Make sure Elements is closed.  That’s “Quit” on a Mac.
  7. The next step is specific to PSE 7 and up only.  If you have a prior version, please read the instructions included in your download.  Open the folder that says PSE 7 and up and copy all the files inside. They will end in ATN, XML and PNG.  Do not copy the folder itself, only copy the files inside.  You can do this by typing command or control A to select them all, and then command or control C to paste them all.
    files-to-copy-and-paste The BEST Way to Install Actions into Photoshop Elements Photoshop Actions
  1. Using the navigation path included in your How to Install PDF, locate the Photo Effects folder.  Open it and paste all the files you just copied into it.

  2. Also using the navigation path included in your How to Install PDF, locate the Mediadatabase file.  You can either Rename it, as stated in the PDFs, or you can delete it.
  3. Open Elements and give it a long time to process.  Don’t touch it until the Progress Bar indicating that your Effects are being rebuilt disappears.  Don’t touch it even if it says “Not Responding.”  Don’t even touch it until the cursor returns to normal (no hourglasses or watches).  Really, this can take a while, and clicking around will only slow the process down!

Every once in a while, something can go haywire.  If that’s the case for you, read these troubleshooting tips.

So that’s it.  Not so bad, right?


No Comments

  1. Rebecca Lussier on January 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    What I love the most about the MCP Actions Blog is that it is the best place to find tutorials, and information, and ideas on how to make your images look their best. It truly is a collaborative and creative bunch!

  2. shannon on January 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I just starting following your blog, but to what I see I truly think I will learn a lot.

  3. Stacy Anderson on January 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I am trying to win lightroom 3 🙂 I like the blog because I like to read the information and the pointers 🙂

  4. Dallas Wedding Photographer on January 13, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Thanks for the useful tutorial !!! I love using actions !!!

  5. Erin on October 11, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I cannot get to a photo effects folder in my photoshop elements folder. I have the PSE 10 version and recently switched to a new desktop when my laptop crashed. I cannot for the life of me get my actions to import into PSE. Please help!!!

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