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