When Good Programs Go Bad: Fixing Photoshop

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Sometimes things happen. Bad things. Tools don't work right. Simple commands take ages to execute. Photoshop (gasp!) crashes! Don't give up, and please don't toss the machine through the window. (Hey, I might be walking past at the time.) Start with the easy fixes and work your way up as necessary.

l Check the palettes and selection. If a tool isn't working as expected or is not working at all, check whether you're inadvertently preventing it from doing its job. See whether you have an active selection elsewhere in the image or press ^+D/Ctrl+D to deselect. Look at the Layers palette: Are you on the correct layer? Is the layer itself active or a layer mask? Check the Channels palette: Are the color channels active? At the left end of the Options bar, right-click (multibutton mouse) or Control-click (single-button mouse) the tool icon and select Reset Tool. Open another image — a flattened 8-bit RGB image — and try the tool or technique in that image. (If it works there, the problem isn't Photoshop but rather the specific image. Check the ImageOMode menu to ensure you've got an appropriate color mode and depth.)

l Reset Photoshop's Preferences file to the defaults. Before replacing the Prefs, open Photoshop's Preset Manager (through the Edit menu) and save any custom styles, gradients, brushes, and so forth. Save them in a safe place, outside the Photoshop folder. Open the Actions palette and save any sets of custom Actions with the palette menu Save Actions command. (Remember that you must click a set of Actions — not an individual Action — to use Save Actions.) Open the Preferences and Color Settings and make notes about any special settings you're using. Quit Photoshop and restart the program with the ^+Option+Shift keys pressed (Mac); or, immediately after launching the program in Windows, press and hold the Ctrl+Alt+Shift keys. When asked whether you want to delete the Settings folder, release the modifier keys and confirm the deletion; then allow Photoshop to finish starting. Reset your Preferences and Color Settings and reload your custom bits and pieces.

l Reinstall Photoshop. If replacing the Prefs doesn't solve the problem, try reinstalling Photoshop. Save all your custom items (as described earlier) and then delete Photoshop and the related files.

• Mac: Drag the Adobe Photoshop folder from the Applications folder to the Trash. Go to [hard drive]OUsersO[username]O LibraryOPreferences and delete the Adobe Photoshop Settings folder.

• Windows XP: Choose StartOControl PanelOAdd or Remove Programs to eliminate Photoshop and any third-party plug-ins. (Be careful about removing shared components if you have other programs of the Adobe Creative Suite installed — cautious is better.)

After you remove the old copy, reinstall Photoshop from the original CD. Make sure to disable all antivirus software and any auto-backup software before installing, and install into the default location shown by the installer. Test Photoshop before installing any third-party plug-ins.

If reinstalling Photoshop won't solve the problem, the source might be at the operating system level or perhaps a hardware problem. Call in the big guns and contact Adobe tech support:


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