Elizabeth Halford Photography {the blog} » photography in plain English

Get actions to work in PSE8 once and for all!

I’ve had it! I’m fed up to –here– with PSE being a total moron about installing actions. How many poor innocent laptops have been crushed at the hands of a frustrated photographer who just wants to get on with it?!? How long must the insanity go on?

For those who don’t understand the drama, you obviously haven’t tried installing and executing actions in PSE. I spent many countless hours trolling Google results for anyone who could answer my dilemma and get my actions working. And sometimes, it still fails me and I *still* grind my teeth and want to completely decimate my computer. I get emails from you asking me how and I often just can’t face the challenge of finding an answer, but here goes:

Note: I am referring to PSE8 in this post. Hopefully, all of this information will translate for you, whichever version you use.

First, let me clear something up. There are two ways actions will work in PSE8. The way your actions behave depends on who made them. So check with the documents that came with your actions to understand how to use them. The first way is using the effects panel in the full edit mode as seen here:

The second way is in the actions player in the guided mode:

When you download a set of actions, they hopefully will always come with instructions for how to install them. They are usually located in the folder you download as seen here:

{INSTALLING ACTIONS FOR MAC USERS}

This is easy. I’ve figured this one out because I use a MAC.

{The effects panel way}

If you actions set is created to work in the effects panel like you see in the first example above, this is what you do.

  1. Make sure PSE is closed all the way and not running
  2. Open your finder window and cmd+n to open a second.
  3. In the first window, find your set of actions.
  4. In the second, follow this path: Macintosh HD –> library —> application support —> adobe —> photoshop elements —> 8.0 (or whatever vs. you have) —> photo creations —> photo effects.
  5. Now COPY and PASTE your desired actions into here. Don’t just drag them because then you will lose the backup copies in your downloaded folder.
  6. Ok once you have the files pasted into the effects place, go back a couple folders to the 8.0 and then find locale —> en_US. Find the ‘mediadatabase.db3′ and rename it to ‘mediadatabaseOLD.db3′. This will tell your PSE the next time it opens to take a fresh look at the database at which time, it will find the newly installed actions.
  7. Restart your computer and then open PSE. You will see a ‘building libraries’ dialogue come up which tells you it’s recognising the changes. The actions should be there now.

{The actions player way}

The newer versions of PSE have a more evolved way of using actions in the ‘guided’ module called the actions player. This is my favourite way to run actions in PSE. I usually shun sets that want to be installed into the effects panel because even when I do it as described above, it still sometimes doesn’t work. Click here to see a video of the steps you see below.

So to install actions into the actions player:

  1. Make sure PSE is closed all the way and not running
  2. Open your finder window and cmd+n to open a second.
  3. In the first window, find your set of actions.
  4. In the second, follow this path: Macintosh HD –> library —> application support —> adobe —> photoshop elements —> 8.0 (or whatever vs. you have) —> locale —> en_US —> workflow panels —> actions
  5. Now COPY and PASTE your desired actions into here. Don’t just drag them because then you will lose the backup copies in your downloaded folder.

That’s it! The actions will most definitely be in your actions player when you open PSE and if not, then perhaps they were meant to be installed the other way (above).

Now pay attention to this! There are two ways to get to the actions player installation folder on a MAC. The first is like I laid out above by starting with the Macintosh HD button: . The other is if you click the name of your computer: and then enter the library from there. DON’T DO IT THIS WAY! Always start with the Macintosh HD because the other way will only lead to mucho swearing and broken computers. And possibly holes in the wall.

{INSTALLING ACTIONS FOR WINDOWS VISTA USERS}

{The effects panel way}

If your actions were created to be used in the effects panel (see the first part of this post) make sure PSE is closed and then paste them into this folder:

OS (C:) (This could possibly be a different letter) —> Program Data (Program DATA is not the same as Program Files. If you don’t see Program DATA, it’s probably hidden. Go to Start/Control Panel/Classic View/Folder Options/View and select Show Hidden Files & Folders) —> Adobe —> Photoshop Elements —> 8.0 —> Photo Creations —> Photo Effects

  • Now COPY and PASTE your desired actions into here. Don’t just drag them because then you will lose the backup copies in your downloaded folder.
  • Ok once you have the files pasted into the effects place, go back a couple folders to the 8.0 and then find locale —> en_US. Find the ‘mediadatabase.db3′ and rename it to ‘mediadatabaseOLD.db3′. This will tell your PSE the next time it opens to take a fresh look at the database at which time, it will find the newly installed actions.
  • Restart your computer and then open PSE. You will see a ‘building libraries’ dialogue come up which tells you it’s recognising the changes. The actions should be there now.

{The Actions Player way}

If you’ve downloaded actions that are able to play with the actions player (in the guided module – see the second image at the top of this post) then this is the path that Vista users need to follow to paste your actions in P.S. Make sure PSE is closed before you install actions:

C: —> ProgramData —>Adobe —> Photoshop Elements —> 8.0 —> Locale —> en_US —> Workflow Panels —> actions


{INSTALLING ACTIONS FOR WINDOWS XP USERS}

{The Effects Panel Way}

If your actions were created to be used in the effects panel (see the first part of this post) make sure PSE is closed and then paste them into this folder:

Start Menu —> My Computer —> Local Disk (C:) —> Documents and Settings —> All Users —> Application Data (If you don’t see this, it’s probably hidden.  Go to Start/Control Panel/Classic View/Folder Options/View and select Show Hidden Files & Folders) —> Adobe —> Photoshop Elements —> 8.0 —> Photo Creations —> Photo Effects

  • Now COPY and PASTE your desired actions into here. Don’t just drag them because then you will lose the backup copies in your downloaded folder.
  • Ok once you have the files pasted into the effects place, go back a couple folders to the 8.0 and then find locale —> en_US. Find the ‘mediadatabase.db3′ and rename it to ‘mediadatabaseOLD.db3′. This will tell your PSE the next time it opens to take a fresh look at the database at which time, it will find the newly installed actions.
  • Restart your computer and then open PSE. You will see a ‘building libraries’ dialogue come up which tells you it’s recognising the changes. The actions should be there now.

{The Actions Player way}

If you’ve downloaded actions that are able to play with the actions player (in the guided module – see the second image at the top of this post) then this is the path that Vista users need to follow to paste your actions in. P.S. Make sure PSE is closed before you install:

C: —> Documents and Settings —> All Users —> Application Data —> Adobe —> Photoshop Elements —> 8.0 —> Locale —> en_US —> Workflow Panels —> actions

{MORE RESOURCES}

Here are a few more resources if you still haven’t gotten it to work.

  • http://www.cuttlefishstudio.wordpress.com Cuttlefish Studio

    Great article. One other thing I did, once I had the correct path for the action player (PSE8 & Vista), is creat a shortcut on my desk for this folder. No more trying to remember the right path, just drag the downloaded .atn files into the shortcut folder, and presto – magic. (Vista always “copies” files when I drag them). Cheers!

  • http://www.whatchulookinat.net Bari

    I can not begin to thank you for this. I am a mac user and there are so many sites out there that have “tried” to explain this. Nothing has worked and frankly, nothing has been written so clearly.

    Thank you!

  • Nate A.

    I like the action player tool in the guided menu too, except that I don’t like having to keep switching back and forth. The folder path for the actions folder I just made a link for it in windows explorer. So, I don’t know, maybe I should use the effects panel and save the time?

  • Laraine England

    Thank you so much, was at a complete loss as to how to load them as couldn’t find the workflow file!

    Have definitely bookmarked your site.

    Be blessed

    Laraine

  • elizabethhalford

    @Laraine: oh I’m so happy it helped you. ‘Tis why I do what I do! :)

  • Michaela

    hhhmm….I can’t find the workflow file folder in Vista??

  • elizabethhalford

    @Michaela: which PSE are you using?

  • Nancy

    Thanks! What if I’ve got scripts in a folder with files and then the action is in another folder? I’ve copied all the .atn files in the actions folder but keep getting a java script error. Any help or ideas would be appreciated!

  • http://www.finneganstravels.com Aly

    At this point, I am tearing my hair out! Like you, I have searched the internet for step by step instructions on installing actions. I am using PSE 6 on a mac. I can do everything right up until changing the name of mediadatabase, restarting my mac & opening up PSE. Still no actions!!! Very frustrating. Do I throw my mac out the window? Any pointers?

  • Kelly

    This may seem like a stupid question, but what do i do to install a second action? I already that file tomediadatabaseOLD.db3 so I can’t do that again to get the second action in there. Do I rename it to the old file name? Please help, thanks!

  • elizabethhalford

    @Kelly: Yes you just keep changing the name by one digit. You know how when you open PS, the welcome screen before the program opens has all those words running on it like who created it and it says “checking cache, checking library etc etc etc”? This means that when it checks that workflow panel folder, it will notice a change and look through the folder for anything new.

  • Vickie Thomas

    Elizabeth thank you so much!! You don’t know how long I have been trying to install actions and then find them. I googled so much!! I found your site today and it is the answer I have been looking for so long. Of course I have you bookmarked now!!! :):) Thank you so much.

  • http://mycreativeexistence.blogspot.com Sarah

    You, my dear, absolutely ROCK. I am a mac user using Elements 9 and I just wasted 2 hours trying to figure this out and you’ve solved my problem in 2 mins!! Thank you so much!! 

  • Anonymous

    oh wonderful! I know this is a super frustrating thing for a lot of people.

  • Jessicaannconway

    Will I have to go through this process every time I want to download a  new action? Thanks, by the way!

  • Jessicaannconway

    Help! I followed your instructions exactly, and I thought it would work, but my Photoshop never found the new effects. Any suggestions?

B e   S o c i a l
S u b s c r i b e
M o r e   F r i e n d s