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.


  1. Jeff November 23, 2006

    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. George November 26, 2006

    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. Billie December 27, 2006

    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

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