mac photoshop elements 3 crashes on startup: a possible fix

For about 3 months now I’ve not been able to use {Photoshop Elements} 3 for no reason that I could find. I tried erasing preference files, repairing permissions, deleting plugins, emptying caches, uninstalling TWAIN drivers, removing over 300 fonts and re-installing all to no avail. The {Adobe} PSE support forums were of no use and I had resorted to either PSE2 or just making do in other software and hoping the problem would fix itself…

In the end, I tried running the software as another user on my Mac, and the program launched without issue so I knew that the installation and plugins were fine: it must be something specific in my personal Library directory that was the problem, so I checked for all the files that had been touched in that new users’ Library in the last 24 hours with:

find ./Library -atime 1

and there it was: Elements 3 uses Opera to drive the help system, and this also has a cache directory and preference settings which I had never touched before, so after:

rm -rf "~/Library/Preferences/Opera Preferences"
rm -rf "~/Library/Caches/Opera Cache"
rm -rf "~/Library/Preferences/Photoshop Elements 3.0 Settings"

I tried it again, and it worked. Obviously, I can’t be 100% sure that it didn’t need re-installing, and perhaps I do have a dodgy font somewhere that is the root of the problem but if you’re trying to debug inexplicable PSE3 crashes do have a dig around for anything that Opera might have left behind, just in case that helps you too.

← Previous Post

Next Post →


  1. This tip also fixed my problem with PSE 4. I had been doing backflips trying to find the inexplicable problem with PSE 4 crashing at startup. See my thread on the adobe forum here:

    Thanks for the help.

  2. I, too, had the problem with PSE 3 & 4. Thanks for the tip, which did get posted on the Adobe forums. Pretty darned good detective work! When I first found the problem, I had installed Opera months before, but hadn’t used PSE 3 since then. (I use Graphic Converter for simple stuff.)

  3. I am so glad I foud this tip. I was ready to throw PSE in the trash – it was crashing “all the time” – at start-up, when I used the help menu, at random moments. I’ve followed the steps you suggested. Then I went in and out of the help menu 4 times, did a couple of other things that casued crashes before and well…it works!!!
    Thank you