Create an .xml file for

Layer Styles in

Photoshop Elements

"How do I add additional layer styles to Elements?”

I get messages like this at least once or twice a week or so. It’s not difficult (the easiest way of all is to get yourself a copy of the Add-O-Matic which does all of this stuff for you automatically), but if you want to do it yourself manually, there’s a few things to keep in mind to get things looking exactly the way you want.

Adding Layer Styles to Elements can be a bit tricky.  The .asl file needs to be placed in two separate folders, and for optimal display in the Effects palette, you should consider creating a new .xml file to tell Elements where and how to display them.

First, the two folders: Layer Styles (*.asl files) need to placed in two separate folders:

  • *\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements #.#\Presets\Styles
  • *\Program Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements#.#\Photo Creations\Layer Styles

Make sure hidden folders are visible to you (that’s been covered numerous times in numerous places, so I won’t reiterate it here).  You could call it done at this point, and you will have styles in place.

If you want to correctly display your styles in the Effects palette, you will need to create an .xml file.

Get started by opening your favorite text editor (Notepad will work nicely) and start adding a few lines of info. A basic .xml file will look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<psecontent xmlns="">
<type value="style"></type>
<typecategory id="CatText Styles" value="Text Styles" localize="true"></typecategory>

The above references a new layer style called “Text Styles”.  Here’s what this code does:

The first line lets Elements know what kind of encoding it uses (UTF-8, in this case, which is the flavor that Elements is fond of).

The next line tells Elements what kind of additional item is being added (PSEContent).

Next, what type of content (tell Elements it’s a “style”).

What category do you want to place this in (in other words, what name do you want to appear in the drop menu of the layer style section in the Effects palette”)  For this example, I want to call it “Text Styles”, so the category is CatText Styles and the value that appears in the drop menu is Text Styles”.

That’s it: save this file with the same name as the *.asl file it represents (my file is called “Text Styles.asl”, so this document will be saved as “Text Styles.metadata.xml” into the same ProgramData folder path as the .asl – does that make sense?)

You could go even further, naming and categorizing each style with a name and display location. This is for the newer .xml verson ussed in Elements 7 & 8 (although the simplified version above works just fine).

Check the code below to see the differences.  This .xml files names each style and places it in a specific place in the display:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<psecontent xmlns=""/>
<subscription value="free" />
<type value="style" />
<category value="$$$/content/category/type/TextStyles=Text Styles" />
<item id="1"> <name value= "$$$/content/styles/Alien=Alien" />
<item id="2"> <name value= "$$$/content/styles/Glassy=Glassy" />
<item id="3"> <name value= "$$$/content/styles/Gloss2=Gloss2" />

The above code names the first three items in my Text Styles.asl file so their names will display in the palette: “Alien”, “Glassy”  &  “Gloss2”.

Follow the examples, and use the template above to create your own .xml file. 

Or just grab an Add-O-Matic and let the work be done for you!