Photoshop Troubleshooting

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A few days ago, I ran into what at first seemed like a major problem: My Photoshop wouldn’t start. The initial start-up screen would show up, with various plug-ins, fonts, etc. loading as expected, but instead of the familiar grey background and toolbar/palette configurations… nothing. Besides throwing a wrench into my various client projects, I was a bit more ticked off that I couldn’t crop and optimize photos that I had just taken of our friends’ cute baby.

In hindsight, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I should have been able to resolve the problem quickly. The problem was in fact something that I had read about in lots of different Photoshop tutorial-and-tip arenas. The solution was at my fingertips — but partly because this was the very first time anything of the sort had happened to me, and partly because my laptop has a history of strange problems, I at first thought it was a laptop issue, not a Photoshop issue. Thus began a few days of unproductivity; uninstalling Photoshop, reinstalling Photoshop, installing (finally) the newest Windows service packs and updates… to no avail.

I finally sheepishly realized that this was a simple case of a corrupted preferences file. Upon deleting it, Photoshop opened up without any problems (I did have to reset all my preferences, obviously)!

So. Be warned. Learn from my silly days of frustration. There may come a day when Photoshop continuously freezes or crashes, when it won’t even start, when tool icons or menu commands mysteriously disappear… all of these may be signs that it’s time for you to trash your preferences.

The best web site I’ve seen about Photoshop preference “issues” is http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/17478.html – it gives the specific locations of preference files for different versions of Photoshop and different types of systems, plus gives some tips on how to protect your preferences in case they go awry. I also found Adobe’s support site helpful with troubleshooting Photoshop issues in general: http://www.adobe.com/support/techdocs/326146.html

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  • Thirteenva

    Next time… try a Mac…

  • Redivider

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people having to “trash their preferences” (on the Mac version) to get Photoshop to run properly. Not to mention the numerous other applications that can have the same problem with a corrupted preferences file.

    I’ve been using Photoshop on Windows for years and have never had to do anything to the preferences file. That’s not to say I haven’t had other problems with Photoshop, but I don’t think this is a Windows/Mac issue. It’s more of an Adobe Photoshop issue.

    And I’m not saying one OS is necessarily better than the other. You obviously prefer Macs. It just bothers me when people just say “if you used a Mac you wouldn’t have any problems” or “everything is easier on a Mac” because it just not true.

  • japon_lot

    I’ve had a similar situation only once in almost 6 years with Photoshop under Mac – I had put a bunch of fonts in my system and one of them was causing PS to crash at start up.

    As for the preference to use PS under Mac… for a few months now I’ve been using PS on Windows at Work on a 2GHz + machine and its slower than PS on my 800Mhz iMac at home. (Yes, I took the time to make a few test) If performance is not a criteria on what platform should one use PS, then what?

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    i heard macs explode in your face sometimes.

  • http://www.flamingmonarch.com macarthur

    I have a problem,
    Once in a while photoshop will open but it will forget all my preferences,
    mind you I dont change all that much
    Except Ctrl Z = undo Ctrl shift Z = redo
    and the color of transparency

    other than that I just have a few tool layouts saved in the file that I load up.

  • http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com Scratch2

    Uh, I had this problem. Ended up buying a new copy of PhotoshopCS. Ouch.

  • Jens Morten

    Just hold Ctrl+Alt+Shift as you start Photoshop to trash the preferences file and start with a new clean one.

  • aw
  • stoast

    Thank you! I’ve been doing all the same things you were and tearing my hair out until I found your post. I’ve had photoshop 7 on my pc for three years with never a prob and then last week (on a major deadline- of course) it just started to die on start-up. this was a lifesaver :)

  • Shyma

    Thnk u thnk u thnk u…. how many days i spend on tryin to open photoshop…. thnk u!!!!!!!