1. Technology

How to Use Free Photoshop Presets in Photoshop Elements

Find and Use Free Brushes, Layer Styles, Shapes, and Other Presets for PSE

By

Photoshop Elements Preset Manager

Photoshop Elements Preset Manager is the best way to load your presets. | View Larger

© S. Chastain
PresetViewerBreeze

PresetViewerBreeze is a useful tool for organizing and previewing preset files. | View Larger

© S. Chastain
Graffi's Add-O-Matic Program

Graffi's Add-O-Matic is an automatic add-ons installer for Photoshop Elements 5 or later. | View Larger

© the Graffishop

Many Web sites (including this one) offer free Photoshop brushes, layer style effects, actions, shapes, patterns, gradients, and color swatch sets. All this free content can also be used in Photoshop Elements. Here's what you need to do with these files to get them working in Elements, along with links to where you can find these free goodies.

Downloading the Presets

In some cases my links go directly to a preset file instead of a zip file. This saves you from the trouble of having to "unzip" the file, but some browsers don't know how to handle these file extensions (abr for brushes, csh for shapes, asl for layer styles, and so on) so it tries to open the file in the browser. When that happens, you see a page full of text or code gibberish. The solution for this is simple: instead of left clicking the download link, right click it and choose to save the linked file. Depending on your browser, the right click menu option will be "Save Link As...", "Download Linked File As...", "Save Target As..." or something similar.

Easy Installation

In most recent versions of Photoshop Elements, you can simply double-click the preset file and it will load into your program automatically. Or, if you have multiple compatible programs installed, you can right click and choose "Open with..." in your file manager.

Another easy option is to use the Preset Manager which is included in versions of Photoshop Elements released after 2008. The Preset Manager in Photoshop Elements 12 lets you manage brushes, swatches, gradients, patterns, styles, and effects. (Older versions didn't manage styles and shapes.) If you collect a lot of presets, TumaSoft Preset Viewer or PresetViewerBreeze is a great tool to help you preview and organize them.

Automatic Preset Installer: Graffi's Add-O-Matic Program

Graffi's Add-O-Matic is an automatic add-ons installer for Photoshop Elements 5 or later. Just drag your extras into it, click the "Go!" button, and it will sort them and put them away for you--right where they belong! Add-O-Matic will install custom shapes, layer styles, *.8bf plug-ins, actions, brushes, gradients, patterns, and color swatches.

The following code will give you a 25% discount on your total shopping cart when you checkout at Graffi's Workshop Outlet. Just enter the code at the Discount Coupon part of the checkout screen: @09abt25jsy
Add-O-Matic Order Page
Graffi's Workshop Home Page

Manual Installation

If you have an older version of Photoshop Elements, you may need to manually install your presets uding the instructions that follow.

Note: If you can't find the folders mentioned here, go to Control Panel > Folder Options > View tab, and make sure "Hidden files and folders" is set to Show.

Note: You will need to close and reopen Photoshop Elements before you can use your new content.

Using the Preset Manager

The Preset Manager under the Edit menu in Photoshop Elements can be used to load brushes, gradients, patterns and swatches from anywhere they are saved on your computer. Recent versions of Photoshop Elements includes shapes and styles in the preset manager. This is the preferred method for loading presets. The instructions below are for older versions of Photoshop Elements before the Preset Manager was introduced.
Exploring the Preset Manager

How to Install Custom Layer Styles

Photoshop Elements 7 for Windows: Close Photoshop Elements if it is running. Copy the ASL files into the folder below, according to your version of Windows.
(Vista) C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\Photo Creations\layer styles
(XP) C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\Photo Creations\layer styles

Hold the Shift key down immediately after launching the Editor from the Welcome Screen and keep it held down until the Editor fully loads.

If your new styles do not appear, you will need to delete (or move to the recycle bin) the following file:
(Vista) C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\ThumbDatabase.db3
(XP) C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\ThumbDatabase.db3

This will force the thumbnail database for the Artwork and Effects palette to rebuild. Be patient as this can take a long time.

Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac: Place the *.asl files in: Applications/Adobe Photoshop Elements 6/Presets/Styles

All Versions: If you also want the layer styles to be available from the style chooser in the options bar when the shape tool is used, you should put the styles into the \Presets\Styles subfolder, under the Photoshop Elements installation folder. (In most cases this will be C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements X.0\Presets\Styles)

How to Install Layer Styles in Older Versions of Photoshop Elements
Free Layer Styles

How to Install Custom Shapes

Windows: Place the *.csh files into:
Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements X\Presets\Custom Shapes where X is the version number for your version of Photoshop Elements.

Mac: Place the *.csh files into:
Applications/Adobe Photoshop Elements 6/Presets/Custom Shapes

This will allow the shapes to be used with the shape or cookie cutter tools. To use them with the shape or cookie cutter tool, select the tool, then go to the options bar and open the custom shape palette, then click the little >> arrows on the right and select the set you want from the list. The shapes will not appear in the Artwork and Effects palette. Use the Add-O-Matic program mentioned above if you wish to put the shapes into the Artwork and Effects palette in Photoshop Elements 7.

If you have Photoshop Elements 5 or 6 and also want the shapes to be accessible from the Artwork and Effects palette, you also need to copy them to a folder with the same name as the .csh shape file, and put this folder under one of the following locations, depending on your version of Windows:
XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\5.0\Photo Creations\artwork\shapes
Vista: C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\5.0\Photo Creations\artwork\shapes

Free Shapes

How to Install Custom Brushes

Windows: Place the *.abr files into:
Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements X\Presets\Brushes where X is the version number for your version of Photoshop Elements.

Mac: Place the *.abr files into:
Applications/Adobe Photoshop Elements 6/Presets/Brushes

Brushes created in Photoshop 7 or later will not work in Photoshop Elements 2 and earlier. Any Photoshop brushes should work in Photoshop Elements 3 and later.

Free Brushes

How to Install Custom Pattern Sets

Windows: Place the *.pat files into:
Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements X\Presets\Patterns where X is the version number for your version of Photoshop Elements.

Mac: Place the *.pat files into:
Applications/Adobe Photoshop Elements 6/Presets/Patterns

Free Patterns

How to Install Custom Gradients

Windows: Place the *.grd files into:
Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements X\Presets\Gradients where X is the version number for your version of Photoshop Elements.

Mac: Place the *.grd files into:
Applications/Adobe Photoshop Elements 6/Presets/Gradients

Free Gradients

How to Install Custom Color Swatches

Windows: Place the *.aco files into:
Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements X\Presets\Color Swatches where X is the version number for your version of Photoshop Elements.

Mac: Place the *.aco files into:
Applications/Adobe Photoshop Elements 6/Presets/Color Swatches

Using Photoshop Actions in Photoshop Elements

Some Photoshop Actions can be used in Photoshop Elements, but they are accessed in a different way depending on the version of Photoshop Elements. Visit the links below for more information.
Installing Actions into the Action Player in Photoshop Elements 7
How to Use Photoshop Actions in Photoshop Elements

Questions? Comments? Post in the forum!

Related Video
Import Photos into Photoshop

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.