Loading Actions into Photoshop Elements

NOTE:  These instructions are for PSE5-PSE10, Mac and PC.  If you have PSE11/12 please click here for full action loading instructions!

Note: Many common installing questions are answered in my FAQs page. You can also visit my CoffeeShop Facebook page to post questions or see if someone has already answered your question.

If you want to help support my blog and get all of my popular freebies in one convenient download, please check out my action and digital design element (storyboards, textures/papers, frames, etc.) download packs.

Loading Actions in Photoshop Elements (PSE5-10):

READ ME FIRST!!! Click here for instructions on loading actions in PSE11-12.   I can't tell you how many frantic emails I get where someone loads 100 actions into PSE at one time and suddenly they can't see the action thumbnails for the actions they just installed or the ones they had previously installed.  They get really upset and write me "All of my old actions disappeared when I loaded new actions, HELP!!!"

Do not worry!  Unless you manually deleted your old actions (check the trash) they are still there, please don't freak out.  If you must, check your PSE folder to assure yourself they are still there.   Then follow my instructions below.  In a nutshell; close PSE, restart your computer, delete the mediadatabase or thumbdatabase file, then restart PSE and allow it to rebuild.  BE PATIENT!  If you load 100 actions at once it might take hours for all of the thumbnails to show up.  But they will, just give them time. And be sure to only load actions when PSE is closed.  If you hate to wait, load just the actions you want to  use right then.  :-)

Windows (page down for Mac instructions):

Click here to find out how to install actions in Photoshop CS.  :-)

Loading Actions in PSE5-PSE10 in Windows 8 Updated Instructions! Click here if you are having issues!!!

NOTE: Make sure PSE is closed before adding any actions!

1. Download the actions to your desktop (I have a folder titled "Downloads"). Unzip the folder if it is a zipped file. Make sure PSE is closed before installing any actions.  And if this is your first time, load one action at a time.  And do not load the action folders!  Please open each folder, copy the png and atn files, and paste them in your program.  If you load the folders holding the actions the actions won't work!

2. The .atn file is the action file. If you have PSE5 you need a .psd thumbnail file (so you can see an image in your action pane) and if you have PSE6-PSE10 you need a .png thumbnail.

If the download does not include a thumbnail you will see a gray square in your action pane in PSE rather than a picture, so just dangle your mouse over it to see which action it is. You can make your own thumbnail for any action, just make a 64px by 64px square and save it as a .psd (PSE5) or png (PSE6-11).

3. I have posted two screenshot below to show you where to load actions in Photoshop Elements.  Make sure  PSE is closed before you install any actions.  The first one will work with PSE6 through PSE10 in Vista and Windows 7 (except PSE6 is 6.0, PSE7 is 7.0, PSE8 is the 8.0, PSE9 is 9.0 folder, and PSE10 is 10.0 folder). The second one is for those of you installing actions in Windows XP.

NOTE:  If you don't see the ProgramData folder go to:
Start, Control Panel, Classic View (in some versions of Windows),
Folder Options, View, Select "show hidden files and folder and drives" 

In this case I made a folder called "CoffeeShop Actions" and I loaded all of my actions here.  This does not always work, so I would suggest just dropping your actions in the photo effect folder with all of the ones that come with your program.  And load one action at a time at first.

Installing Actions in Vista and Windows 7 and 8:

Installing Actions in Windows XP:

4. Once you load your actions then open up PSE. You won't see the action thumbnail (little photo of the action) in your Action Pane at first. Make sure "Show All" is showing and then click on the "All" button (see 1. in the image below) and then click on the "Photo Effects" button (see 2. in the image below). If you only see a gray square it means you loaded the action but not its thumbnail (or the wrong thumbnail for your program). It will still work, just dangle your mouse over the square to see the action name.

When you run actions in PSE you have to have an image open, then double-click the action thumbnail. Most actions are meant to be run on a flat image, so make sure to go to Layer, Flatten Image before starting the action.

5. If the action does not work, you can not see it, or crashes your computer, just restart your computer and try again. Usually it works fine then. And sometimes it can take an hour or so for all of the actions to show up, so please be patient if you load more than a few actions at a time.  And remember, not all actions work in PSE. Only a few actions on this site don't work in Photoshop Elements, and they are clearly marked.

If you are having issues seeing your actions in your action pane, just close PSE, restart your program, delete the Mediadatabase file (see image below) and restart PSE.   It will take some time to open because it will rebuild the Mediadatabase file, but it is supposed to solve 99% of all problems.  I have never had to do this with my PSE6 in Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 but I have to do this when I load actions in PSE9 in my iMac.  I found as long as I loaded the action and then clicked Photo Effects, All, then Photo Effects again the actions suddenly show up.

Click Start
My Computer ( Or Computer if using Vista )
Program Data
Photoshop Elements
8.0...................... ( Or 10.0, 9.0, 7.0 or 6.0, if that's your version )
En_ Us

Now delete the "MediaDatabase.db3" file.

PSE ACTION USERS-IMPORTANT TIP! NOTE:  Only for advanced users!  If you have Photoshop Elements you know what a pain it is to find the action folder when you need to install your CoffeeShop Actions. You have to jump through so many hoops just to find the photo effects folder. Make a shortcut to your photo effects folder on your desktop!

Once you find this folder you can make a shortcut on your desktop, then it is as simple as downloading the action and dropping it in a folder on your desktop! Follow the steps above to locate your photo effects folder.

Find your photo effects folder and right click on it and "Create Shortcut". Then drag that shortcut link to you desktop!

Now when I want to install my actions, I just click on my photo effect shortcut and drag the actions and thumbnails right in there! Or copy them from my Action file on my desktop and paste them there.

Loading actions in PSE6-10 on a Mac:

If you purchased PSE10 as an app from Apple:

Go to Applications > Photoshop Elements 10 > ctrl or right click > choose show package contents > Application Data > Photoshop Elements > 10.0 > Locale > en_US > Workflow Panels > actions > and then copy any .atn file you want added in to there. 
Open PSE, and on the right side choose Edit > Guided > scroll down to Automated Actions and choose action player.

If you purchased the PSE6-PSE10 program:

1.  Make sure PSE is closed before loading any actions.  And if you are new to loading actions, please load them one at a time.  Download the actions to your desktop and unzip the action folder. Do not load the action folders!  Please open each folder, copy the png and atn files, and paste them in your program.  If you load the folders holding the actions the actions won't work!  If you don't see your actions after loading them, close PSE, restart your computer, delete the thumbdatabase file, and then open PSE.

2.  Follow this path (screenshot below):

Macintosh HD *
Application Support
Photoshop Elements
10.0 (or whatever version of PSE you own)
Photo Creations
photo effects

*Note: If you have Lion OS you might not be able to see your Macintosh HD folder.  Open ‘Finder Preferences’ on your top menubar and then check ‘Hard disks’ on ‘Sidebar’ tab under ‘Devices’ section.  Or right-click on Applications and select "open enclosing folder".  Then you should be in the Macintosh HD folder and you can follow the instructions seen below.

3.  Drop the action (atn) and thumbnail (png) into the photo effects folder.

4. Then drag the ThumbDatabase.db3 in the trash (green below) and start PSE. Load one action at a time at first, and expect it to take some time for your PSE to rebuild.

5.  Advanced Users:  You can also make a shortcut folder on your desktop to load your actions (see above in the Windows instructions) and also to delete the ThumbDatabase.db3 file.

Click on the image to see it full-sized.