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Free Layer Mask Tool for Photoshop Elements

Layer Masks in Photoshop Elements 6, 7 and 8

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Use Layer Masks in Elements

Use Layer Masks in Elements

© Sue Chastain
This tool allows you to use layer masks within Photoshop Elements 6, 7 and 8. Follow the instructions below to download and install the layer mask tool according to your version of Photoshop Elements. Read the instructions carefully as they are different depending on what version of Photoshop Elements, Windows, or Macintosh you have. You will need to close and re-open Photoshop Elements before using the tool.

As of Photoshop Elements 9, layer masks are a native feature in Photoshop Elements, therefore this tool is no longer being maintained. If you need help with it, post a question in the discussion forum.

Important Information

If you get the message "The command 'Make' is not available." it means you tried to run the action on the background layer. You must convert the background to an editable layer by double clicking the background layer in the layers palette. Type a name for the layer and click OK.

Windows Users: If you can't find the folders mentioned here, make sure you have hidden files and folders set to show under Control Panel > Folder Options > View tab. Also, READ ALL PATHS CAREFULLY. These instructions are correct. If you can't find the paths and you have hidden files shown, then you read something wrong.

Instructions for Photoshop Elements 7 or 8

Download the Free Layer Mask Tool for Photoshop Elements 7 and 8

For Elements 8, simply exchange 8.0 for 7.0 in the paths below.

Windows Vista/7: Put the four files (Layer Mask.atn, Layer Mask.png, Layer Mask.metadata.xml, Layer Mask.thumbnail.jpg) in the folder:
C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\Photo Creations\photo effects

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 holding the shift key doesn't work, you can delete (or move to the recycle bin) the following file:
C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\Locale\en_US\MediaDatabase.db3

Windows XP: Put the four files (Layer Mask.atn, Layer Mask.png, Layer Mask.metadata.xml, Layer Mask.thumbnail.jpg) in the folder:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\Photo Creations\photo effects

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 holding the shift key doesn't work, you can delete (or move to the recycle bin) the following file:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\7.0\Locale\en_US\MediaDatabase.db3

Note: MediaDatabase.db3 is the content database for the effects palette. It will be rebuilt the next time Elements is launched. You will see a progress bar when you launch the program indicating that this database is being rebuilt. Be patient--it may take a long time.

Using the Action: To use the action, choose 'Photo Effects' (third button) from the Effects palette, then pull down the category menu and choose 'Layer mask' from the list. Double-click the Layer Mask thumbnail to add a mask to the active layer. See note below.

Special thanks to Paul Batty for providing the XML file for Elements 7 and 8.

Also see: How to install the layer mask tool into the actions player in Photoshop Elements 7 and up.

Instructions for Photoshop Elements 6

Download the Free Layer Mask Tool for Photoshop Elements 6

Windows Vista/7: Put the two files (Layer Mask.atn, Layer Mask.png) in the folder:
C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\6.0\Photo Creations\photo effects

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 holding the shift key doesn't work, you can delete (or move to the recycle bin) the following file:
C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\6.0\Locale\en_US\MediaDatabase.db3

Windows XP: Put the two files (Layer Mask.atn, Layer Mask.png) in the folder:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\6.0\Photo Creations\photo effects

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 holding the shift key doesn't work, you can delete (or move to the recycle bin) the following file:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\6.0\Locale\en_US\MediaDatabase.db3

Mac Installer: Download and Run Layer_Mask_Tool.dmg for Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5. Special thanks to Andrew Bartlett for creating the installer package for Macintosh.

Mac Manual Installation: Put the two files (Layer Mask.atn, Layer Mask.png) in the folder:
Library > Application Support > Adobe > Photoshop Elements > 6.0 > Photo Creations > photo effects

Then, move the following file to the trash:
Library > Application Support > Adobe > Photoshop Elements > 6.0 > Locale > en_US > MediaDatabase.db3

Note: MediaDatabase.db3 is the content database for the effects palette. It will be rebuilt the next time Elements is launched. You will see a progress bar when you launch the program indicating that this database is being rebuilt. Be patient--it may take a long time.

Using the Action: To use the action, choose 'Photo Effects' (third button) from the Effects palette, then pull down the category menu and choose 'Show All' from the list. Double-click the Layer Mask thumbnail to add a mask to the active layer.

To use layer masks in older versions of Photoshop Elements, click here.

Support for the Layer Mask tool can be obtained by posting a message in the discussion forum. Remember, if you have an installation problem, check your paths carefully! Almost every question I receive about the layer mask tool has to do with people not following the instructions carefully.
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