Add-O-Matic for Photoshop Elements users have written asking about how to change the default blue Add-O-Matic thumbnail into something a little more descriptive or indicative of what the effect actually produces.
Let me first explain why there’s a generic Add-O-Matic Photoshop Elements thumbnail in the first place: When a new effect is added to Photoshop Elements, Elements doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what the effect is or what the final result of running it should be. Therefore, a simple generic thumbnail is inserted as a placeholder, allowing the special Add-O-Matic category to display that there actually is an effect there, and it’s called “xxxx.atn”.
Replacing this generic thumbnail is doable, and I’ve finally gotten around to writing out the steps to accomplish it.
Before you start, though, ask yourself if you really want a new thumbnail or do you just want to see what the name of it is?
If it’s the latter, there’s a very simple solution already available: click the mini-menu from the upper right corner of the Effects palette and toggle on the “Show Names” option.
The Effects palette will display a truncated name beneath each thumbnail in any of the sections of the Effects palette. That’s the quick 2-second approach!
For a more permanent solution, though, you might want to create a unique thumbnail indicative of the effect the action produces, and force a rebuild of Elements’ internal thumbnail database. Here’s how:
(Let me just state this for the lawyers out there: if you do this, and you do something incorrectly and/or you don’t let your database rebuild and/or the database rebuilds, but your thumbnails are screwy and/or anything else funky happens to your installation of Elements, your computer, your network, your garage door opener, your microwave, or anything else, it isn’t my fault – consider yourselves warned!)
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s a pretty simple, albeit time-consuming, process:
- Locate the action that you want to create a new thumbnail for, and get the exact name from the *.atn file you dragged into Add-O-Matic. (this is important!)
- Create the image that you want to use as the thumbnail, save it in .png format, and name it exactly the same as the action (*.atn) file that it represents. For example, I recently uploaded an action here named Retro 3D Text.atn. I created an image using this action and saved it to my desktop, naming it Retro 3D Text.png
- Navigate to the folder where Elements keeps all actions, thumbnails,& metadata files for all effects (*\Program Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\8.0\Photo Creations\photo effects) and drag your new thumbnail in, overwriting the .png file that already exists with the same name: you want to replace it, right? So overwrite it!
- Now you need to force Elements to see the new thumbnail. That means you have to make Elements forget what the original thumbnail looked like. To do that, you need to delete the internal thumbnail database and make Elements build itself a new one.
- Navigate to *\Program Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\8.0 and delete or rename the database file called ThumbDatabase.db3. This is the information store that Elements uses to know what each and every thumbnail looks like, what file it references, and where it lives within your installation.
- Start Elements. The database will rebuild itself, and it will take 20 minutes or more for it to go through the entire Elements catalog, locate thumbnails, figure out what they belong to,where they reside, and record all that information into a brand spanking new, bright & shiny thumbnail database file. You’ll see a progress bar that looks like this:
- When your cursor stops flickering and it appears that the thumbnails are where they should be, close & restart Elements again just to lock everything in place.
Doing the steps above, I made a new thumbnail .png for the action I mentioned above, saved it to the photo effects directory, rebuilt the thumbnails database, and now my Add-O-Matic category displays the updated image:
I’ve also created an automated way to perform these steps, and I’m currently working on incorporating it into a future release of Add-O-Matic. I’m hesitant to bring it out into the light right now, though. Maybe I can be convinced – what’s a utility like this worth..?