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Elements 3 Q & A  |   Elements 4 Q & A  |  Elements 5 Q & A
Elements 4 Upgrade Guide  |  Elements 5 Upgrade Guide

PSE 3.0Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0: You've got questions?


Here's some answers!

Elements 4 Answers can be found here.

The full review of Elements 3 can be found here.

First Impressions
Some commands are moved! Where are they?
When I install Photoshop Elements 3.0, what happens to Elements 2?
How do I install Photoshop Elements 3.0?
I bought the Photoshop Elements-Premiere Elements bundle. Do they install at the same time?
I have Album 1.0. What will happen to my albums if I upgrade to PS Elements 3.0?
Does PSE 3.0 have curves?
How to stop Elements 3 from trying to access the internet all the time?
How do I reset Elements 3.0 preferences?
What's the difference between Photoshop CS and Elements 3.0?
Will my Layer Styles from Elements 1 or 2 work in Elements 3.0?
Help! Elements Organizer hijacked all my image files!
My View and Organize Photos won't open!
Don't like the new icon? Make it easy to find! This is a full tutorial and will take you to another page.
Photoshop 3 interaction with Photoshop Album This is an Adobe tech doc that addresses many questions about the integration of Album with PSE 3.
I want to get rid of applied Layer Styles and start over! Where's the Clear Style button? It was here when I left Elements 2...
Where's my status bar??
Where's my PSD image thumbnails in Windows Explorer?
Crop or a selection tool makes my image jump all over the place! How do I stop it?
Want to learn more?


First Impressions

With this version, Elements has moved farther away from it's big brother Photoshop. In Elements 1 and 2 the interface was nearly identical to that of Photoshop 6 and 7 respectively, on which Elements 1 and 2 were based. The differences in interface between Elements 3.0 and Photoshop CS, on which Elements 3.0 is based, are very striking. In a way, this new Elements workspace reminds me of the old Photo Deluxe program, and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. I don't want to see Elements "dumbed down".

Do I like the new interface? Yes, and no. I hated the palette well and am happy to see the palette bin as a replacement and would love to see that feature show up in the next version of Photoshop. What didn't I like about the palette well? Even if you had your screen res at 1600 X 1200 you still had this tiny palette well space allotted. The palettes piled up in there and the tabs were difficult to read. With the bin, you can collapse the individual palette within it or the whole bin. I just find it tidier. I wish the Tab key hide shortcut worked on the bins however.

I do miss the Tab shortcut key, at least the way it behaved in previous versions of Elements and still does in Photoshop. The palette and photo bins are not affected by the Tab key, only palettes you have dragged out of the bin and dropped on your work area, like the Layers Palette I keep open at all times. So if I have the layers palette out of the bin and in the work area, the tab key closes it, but only it. It also no longer affects the tool bar (unless you have it floating) which is a loss as well.

The options bar and shortcut bar no longer float. They're there, anchored across the top of the window, whether you want them there or not.

The Visibone color swatches are no longer included. You can load them from Photoshop or a previous version of Elements if you have it installed.

Window > Tools and Window > Options are gone, because you can no longer float or close these items. Window > Tools: tools can only be closed from this menu if it is floating, and the Tab key also only affects it if it is floating.

Window > Images > list of open files has moved to the bottom of the Window menu, and of course you can use the new Photo Bin.

New feature!  Photo Filters are new from PS CS and a welcome addition! Find these at Filter > Adjustments > Photo Filter. They can also be added as an adjustment layer at the top of the layer palette.

Help > Updates is gone. To use the update feature you will have to turn it on auto in Edit > Preferences > General.

New feature!  The Photo Mail feature is buggy. Despite identical installs it works on one machine (WinXP SP1, P4, 512mb ram, 1.8ghz) and not on another (WinXP SP1, P4, 512 mb ram, 3.2ghz). On the machine it doesn't work on, there are no templates when you click the Stationery and Layouts button. Nothing happens. Prefs have been reset, and the program has been uninstalled and reinstalled with no luck. The other mail features work as long as you don't try to mail them. Mailing from in Elements, in short, is very buggy and may work for you and may not.

New feature!  The new leading settings for text is wonderful, and something that was very badly needed. Leading controls the space between lines of text. In previous versions of Elements, you had no control over the line spacing.

New feature!  Image > Divide Scanned Photos: Lay multiple photos on the scanner bed and scan away...Elements will divide them into separate images.

New feature! The new Cookie Cutter Tool lets you crop using custom shapes! Select and add a stroke for a framed crop. Stroke the selection on a new layer and use layer styles for a uniquely framed crop.

New feature! In the options bar, the color box that allows you to change the colors of text or custom shapes now sports a small arrow that allows you to open the color swatches so you can choose custom colors you have saved to the swatches quickly and easily. Clicking on the color box still opens the system color picker. Clicking the arrow opens the swatch palette with more options to load other swatches or even save swatches.

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Where is...?

Layers palette: The new layer button and it's friends have moved to the top of the layers palette from the bottom. This one will take some getting used to for uses of previous versions of Elements and Photoshop.

File > Revert is now at Edit > Revert to Saved

File > New From Clipboard has moved to File > New > Image from Clipboard and it STILL hasn't got a keyboard shortcut

File > Browse is now File > Browse Folders

File > Print Preview is gone, but when you go to File > Print you get the Print Preview dialog

File > Print Layouts is at File > Print Multiple Copies. You have to wait for the organizing workspace to load before you can choose Contact Sheet, Picture Package, Labels or Single Image.

File > Open Recent is now File > Open Recently Edited File. It seems some of the commands have been "dumbed down" which is a real pain for those using (or writing tutorials for) both Photoshop and Elements. More consistency rather than less would have been nice.

File > Batch Processing has become File > Process Multiple Files

File > Create Web Photo Gallery is now buried. Go to File > New Creation, or you have to click the Create button on the menu bar in Elements to get the Organizer Workspace with the Web Gallery choice. The help file is wrong, stating you can reach it from File > New > Web Photo Gallery, at least in the Windows version.

Edit > Paste Into is Edit > Paste Into Selection

Edit > Clear is now Edit > Delete

Edit > Fill: If you have no selection, you will see Edit > Fill Layer.The fill will affect the currently active background or layer. If you have a selection, you will see Edit > Fill Selection and the fill will only affect the selection area.

Edit > Stroke has been replaced by the wordier Edit > Stroke (Outline) Selection, I suppose for those new to the program who do not know what a stroke is. If they used a stroke once they'd know forever what it was so I found this a bit unnecessary.

Edit > Purge is now Edit > Clear > Undo History et al. This one is bound to cause some confusion, give Edit > Clear has been changed to Edit > Delete. Not the same thing at all and will take some getting used to.

Image > Duplicate is now at File > Duplicate Why? No one knows....

Image > Histogram is now a palette and can be reached from Window > Histogram.

Image > Adjustments are now at Filter > Adjustments. The new Photo Filters are here and well worth a look.

Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter is new.

Filter menu: Adjustments is new, having moved here from the Image menu, and Filter Gallery is new, where you can preview and apply multiply filters from one place.

View > New View has changed to View > New window for active_file.extension. At first glance this may look like File > Duplicate but it is not. File > Duplicate actually makes a second copy of the file, and the duplicates can be edited separately. If you use View > New window it is the SAME FILE. Any changes you make to one will affect both. The advantage to this is you can view the whole file at a reduced size (zoomed out) while you work on an area that you have zoomed close to see details.

Window > Images > Close All is now File > Close All. Makes sense!

Window > Image > Match Location and  Window > Image > Match Zoom are new features. They match any open images with the same view and/or zoom of the selected image. For comparing open images, this is a real plus.

Window > Tools and Window > Options are gone, because you can no longer float or close these items. Window > Tools: tools can only be closed from this menu if it is floating.

Window Menu: Several new items are also reached from the Window menu: Histogram, Palette Bin and Photo Bin.


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When I install Photoshop Elements 3.0, what happens to Elements 2?

The answer to this is nothing. Elements 2 and 3 are installed into different folders, and coexist with each other on the same computer with no problems at all. You can use one or the other. Many people like to keep the old version around until they get used to the changes in the new version. Personally, I have students using Elements 1, 2, and 3, so I like to have the old versions installed so I can answer questions without having to rely on my memory.

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How do I install Photoshop Elements 3.0?

Close all open programs and put CD #1into your cd rom drive. It should start automatically.

Choose your language from the popup menu on the first screen, and click OK.

Read and accept the license agreement. on the next screen.

Click Install Adobe Photoshop Elements. and it will begin the install process.


Choose a language for the EULA, and click OK. Read the EULA when it appears. You are not buying software, you are buying the right to install and use the software on your computer. The part I am asked about most as an instructor is reprinted from the EULA below:

2.4 Portable or Home Computer Use. The primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer.

2.5 Backup Copy. You may make a reasonable number of backup copies of the Software, provided your backup copies are not installed or used for other than archival purposes.

What this means is yes, you may install one copy on your desktop and one on your laptop, as long as you do not use the copy on the laptop and the main computer at the same time.

Enter your customer information: Name, Organization, and Serial Number. Organization is optional, but Name and Serial Number are not.

The serial number is found on the back of the CD case at the bottom on a sticker. Note that if you bought the bundled Elements-Premiere package, you will have two stickers and you will have one serial number for Elements and one for Premiere, so make sure you enter the correct one!

Keep this case in a safe place in case you ever have to install Elements again! Click OK.

Choose the destination folder. By default on windows this is C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements 3.0. Unless you are an advanced user, you should just accept this folder, and click Next.

Select the types of files you want Elements to open. If you are a new user, you should probably just accept the defaults here as well. Click Next.

You should get a message the wizard is ready to install. Click the Install button and the installer will begin copying files to your computer.

After all the files have been copied you will see a screen that says the Install Shield Wizard has completed installing the software on your computer. Click the Finish button, and reboot your computer.

Open Elements from the Start Menu.

Start Menu

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I bought the Photoshop Elements-Premiere Elements bundle. Do they install at the same time?

They are two separate programs and must be installed separately. To install Premiere Elements follow the instructions for installing Photoshop Elements.

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I have Album 1.0. What will happen to my albums if I upgrade to PS Elements 3.0?

Regarding Album 1.0 and PSE 3.0's addition of Album 1.0 to the core package, one of my students received this reply from Adobe:

"Thank you for contacting Adobe Customer Service.

Regarding your question about the organizational features of Photoshop Elements 3.0, Photoshop Elements 3.0 does have the organizational
features of Album 2.0. You do not need to worry about losing the photos you currently have in Album 1.0. We offer a 30 day money back
guarantee should you decide to try the new Photoshop Elements 3.0. If not satisfied, we will, within 30 days of purchase, refund your money.

For more information about Photoshop Elements 3.0, please visit the following web page:

We hope that this information has resolved all your questions."

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Does PSE 3.0 have curves?

No, but it does have a new shadow and highlight filter that will knock your socks off. Sort of like Fill Flash and Backfill on steroids. And of course, Levels is back.

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How to stop Elements 3 from trying to access the internet all the time

Go to Edit > Preferences > Organize and Share > Services and uncheck Automatically check for updates. Close and reopen the program for it to take effect.

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How do I reset the preferences?

Close Elements. Follow these steps depending on your OS:


Preferences in Win XP, should you need to delete them, are at C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\3.0\Editor\ Photoshop Elements 3.0 Prefs.psp. According to the help file you are supposed to be able to reset them by holding ctrl + shift + alt just after Elements begins to open  but on my machine that doesn't work.


Go to User > LIbrary > Preferences > Photoshop Elements 3.0 Settings. Delete the whole folder to reset all preferences for the program.

Restart Elements and new preferences will be generated.

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What are the differences between Photoshop CS and Elements 3.0?

For those wondering just what you get in Photoshop CS you do not get in Elements 3 (and vice versa) here is a comparison PDF file that will answer those questions for you:

This is on the new Photoshop Elements User site, and I highly recommend you visit and check out all there is to offer here:

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Will my Layer Styles from Elements 1 or 2 work in Elements 3.0?

Yes. Layer styles made in PS CS and below work in Elements 3. Any styles that worked in PSE 1 or 2 will also work in PSE 3.

Only Layer styles made in PS 6 or 7 work in Elements 2.

Only Layer styles made in PS6 work in Elements 1.

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Help! Elements Organizer hijacked all my image files!

If you do not want all images opening in Elements and you prefer to have some open in the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, then you can change it back. In Elements Standard Edit mode, go toEdit > File Associations and uncheck the jpg, gif, and bmp and whatever else you wish to view in Windows Picture and Fax viewer instead of Elements.

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My View and Organize Photos won't open!

When you first open Elements 3.0 in Win XP (particularly SP2), if you click on View and Organize Photos from the Welcome Screen and nothing happens or you get an error message about the catalog, follow these steps to get Elements to generate a new catalog:

1. Click on My Computer
2. Click on C drive
3. Click on documents and settings
4. Click on all users
5. Click on application data
6. Click on adobe
7. Click on catalogs
8. Delete my catalog.psa (apparently SP2 does not like the catalog
that is there)
9. Open View and Organize Photos and it will create new catalog

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Photoshop 3 interaction with Photoshop Album

Photoshop 3 interaction with Photoshop Album is a tech doc from Adobe covering locating and managing catalogs from the standalone version of Photoshop Album. This is located on Adobe's web site and will open in a new window.

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I want to get rid of applied Layer Styles and start over! Where's the Clear Style button? It was here when I left Elements 2...

Sometimes when applying layer styles you try a few and they combine giving you something truly awful. (Sometimes they combine and give you something truly wonderful too, but if they did you wouldn't be hunting for the clear style button!) So where's the clear style button that looked like the universal NO sign that was so easily accessible in Elements 2? I don't know. It's gone, and lost forever, dreadful sorry, Clementine. In Elements 2 it was right on the top of the layer styles palette. It was also included in many styles, so you could grab it quickly with the palette open displaying installed styles. You may find it in styles you download and install, but in the ones that Elements installs by default, it is gone. You will have to use the very unhandy Layers > Layer Styles > Clear Layer Styles to start fresh. Thanks to Bob Jones, who pointed out that Clear Style is also on the right-click context menu in the layers palette on a layer with a style applied. Right click and choose Clear Style. Still not the clear style icon, but a definite improvement over the Layer menu!

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Where's my status bar!?

On the bottom of the workspace window in PSE 1 and 2 was the status bar. You could choose what information was displayed, and it was very handy. So where is it? It is gone, replaced by the Photo Bin, but you can get the information back by opening the Info palette from Window > info. Click the small arrow on the bottom right of the Info palette to choose what information is displayed at the bottom of the palette. Drag the info palette to the palette bin by the tab and drop it there to dock it in the palette bin with the other palettes for fast access, or leave it floating on the work area if you prefer.

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Where's my PSD thumbnails in Windows Explorer?

They've been hijacked. This comes from Photoshop CS help, and since Elements 3 is based on Photoshop CS, I can only assume that is where the icons for Elements 3 psd files have gone as well:

"Photoshop CS no longer provides thumbnail icons of .psd files through operating system folder windows. Please use the File Browser to view your .psd thumbnail files."

If you view your psd files using windows explorer, all you will see is the Elements 3 or PHotoshop CS icon, and no image thumbnail. Personally I don;t care for having to open Photoshop or Elements to be able to see PSD file thumbnails..

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Crop (or selection) tool makes my image jump! Please make it stop!

If you are using a selection or crop tool and your image is jumping, you can fix it by following the steps in this Adobe tech doc from Adobe Support:

Want to learn more?

Take my PSE 3: Get Up to Speed class at Eclectic Academy!

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Page updated on July 26, 2012