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Gotta show 'em who's the boss once in a while

Photoshop Elements is one of my more favorite programs for a couple of reasons. One, I like paint programs in general. Two, it doesn't suck. Okay, you can probably point out a million ways that Photoshop could be improved (starting with using the right mouse button for alt-painting), but it's way better than other programs I've used. Paint.NET is cool, but it's missing a lot of features and it's pretty slow, and Paint Shop Pro has had a broken resampler in every version I ever tried. PSE6, on the other hand, is a lot faster and more stable, and aside from some gratuitous skinning, I find the UI hasn't changed much even from Photoshop 2.5.

There's one really irritating problem with it, though.

For some reason, Photoshop Elements 6 has a habit of getting into a state on my machine where it randomly refuses to create or open files. New File? Dialog pops up, click OK, nothing happens. Open a file? Nothing happens. Launch a PSD file? PSE6 opens, blank. The application doesn't hang, it just doesn't do what was asked. This is pretty much the worst failure state imaginable for a program, because not only does it just shrug and not do what you asked, but there isn't even any crash, error, or any other sort of feedback to indicate a possible course of corrective action. I've tried all of the usual solutions, including blowing away the preferences file and fiddling with printers in Windows, to no avail. Reinstalling from scratch didn't help, either. Nor fiddling with scratch drives, monitoring for file I/O errors with FILEMON, or killing and restarting all of the annoying background tasks that PSE6 loads. And weirdly enough, the problem will just go away for a while and come back later. It'd been behaving lately.

Until I tried to scan a document a few minutes ago, at which point it once again decided not to create, open, or scan any images.

Out of a fit of frustration, I launched WinDbg and attached it to Photoshop -- and lo and behold, it started behaving. No need to do anything. I detached the debugger, and it still behaved. I guess the mere threat was enough to put it back in line.

(Needless to say, if anyone knows of an actual solution to this problem that doesn't involve weapons of mass debugging, I'd be grateful. Incidentally, I did also find out that the suggestion to fiddle with printers in Windows isn't as dumb as it sounds, because for some bizarre reason, Photoshop loads the printer driver every time you create or open a document. Bizarre.)


This blog was originally open for comments when this entry was first posted, but was later closed and then removed due to spam and after a migration away from the original blog software. Unfortunately, it would have been a lot of work to reformat the comments to republish them. The author thanks everyone who posted comments and added to the discussion.