10 Common Photoshop Issues and How to Fix Them

Photoshop can rightly be considered Adobe’s pride and joy. One of the most used image editing programs available, it’s a treasure trove of all the tools, techniques, and libraries a graphic designer could ever want.


That said, it’s also probably one of the most annoying pieces of software to use. That’s especially true for beginners who aren’t familiar with the software’s maze-like user interface.

In this article, we detail a number of the most common Photoshop annoyances, and how to fix them.


1. Full Scratch Disk

If you get the “Scratch disk full error” when opening Photoshop, the drive used as a scratch disk doesn’t have enough free space to perform the required task. You can try deleting Photoshop temporary files, and if this doesn’t work, there are more solutions to fix the “scratch disk full” error in Photoshop.

2. Change Measurement to Pixels

By default or chance, you might find yourself using inches as a unit of measurement rather than pixels in Photoshop. This can be very annoying when you’re dealing with work designed for the web rather than for print.

To change it, click on Edit, head to Preference, and click Units & Rulers. You can also open the Preferences window by typing Ctrl + K and selecting the Units & Rulers section on the side menu.

From the Preferences window, change the Rulers setting to Pixels using the drop-down menu. Click OK and you should now have all of your selection measurements as pixels.

3. Photoshop Can’t Open Files

Sometimes, Photoshop can’t open PSD, RAW, or even PSD files. In this case, there are a few fixes you can try:

  • Restart Photoshop
  • Update Photoshop
  • Restart your computer
  • Check the file extension and rename it if necessary

If Photoshop can’t open certain photos, there’s a chance the photos are damaged. Fortunately, there are free tools to repair corrupted or damaged files in Windows.

The most common cause for this problem is that Photoshop failed to update due to a metered connection, slow internet, or because you’ve installed a pirated version.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, you can reset Photoshop to its default settings. Open the Edit menu and click Toolbar > Restore Defaults.

If you want to personally configure the toolbar, go to Edit > Toolbar. In the Customize Toolbar window, drag the missing tools from the Extra tools list to the Toolbar pane. Once you’ve finished adding your preferred tools, click Save Preset > Done.

If you’re dealing with an unresponsive or malfunctioning tool, you can try resetting it. First, select the tool you want to reset. Then, right-click it on the upper settings bar and click Reset.

Additionally, check the background color at the Toolbox bottom. If the background color isn’t black or white, press D to reset it.

6. Proper Image Rotation

Stop trying to rotate your image using the Image adjustment page. You’ll only end up rotating the whole artboard, and feeding your bad habit. To rotate, move, or skew your image, use the Transform tool.

Place your image, select it, and then press Ctrl + T on your keyboard. A box should open around your image. Then, right-click the image and select your option.

Unfortunately, most users will try to rotate images using the Image option (causing unnecessary anguish any time) or other options along the toolbar. As plentiful as Photoshop’s tools are, try to wander from your artboard as little as possible.

7. Rule of Thirds Guidelines

Most people choose not to work with grid lines when using Photoshop, even though they can be of help when creating (particularly free-form) graphic works. You can change this immediately by creating a rule of thirds guideline which you can access using a simple keyboard macro.

First, press Ctrl + K on your keyboard to open your Preferences window. Then, select the Guides, Grid & Slices option in the side menu.

In the Grid section, change what you have to the following: Gridline Every to 100, select Percent, and Subdivisions to 3. Then, hit OK.

That’s it. Now, you can access a quick and simple rule of thirds guide by pressing Ctrl + Apostrophe on your keyboard whenever it suits you. This is just one of the Photoshop keyboard shortcuts that will save you time while editing your pictures.

If you have ever seen impressive Photoshop artwork, you can rest assured it required the Pen tool. The Pen tool is not only one of the most versatile Adobe tools out there—available on most Adobe software products—it’s also one of the hardest to learn to use well.

After all, Adobe products are designed for and cater mostly to professionals. Considering there’s no real official tutorial for it, and using the Pen tool assumes you’re already familiar with creating and editing shapes freehand, most people simply don’t bother.

To get used to drawing freehand, try The Bezier Game. A simple and sophisticated interactive game, all you have to do is create simple shapes using the Pen tool. It’s simple, quick, and will surely teach you a few things if you’re new to the Pen tool game.

Playing this simple game will extend your knowledge and ability of the Pen tool by a surprising amount. Especially if you’re just starting out with digital drawing techniques.

9. Smart Object Layering

Let’s say, for example, you’re applying filters to a layer to make it look good. Typically, if you made a mistake, you’d have to revert every filter and reapply to get it looking good.

What if you forget the specific value of a filter, or a filter entirely? What if a filter is giving you issues, but you don’t know which it may be? All of these issues can be fixed by converting your layer to a Smart Object.

Smart objects allow users to list the growing modifications they commit to a layer and allow users to modify, delete, or create any modification without losing track. To convert a layer into a smart object, right-click the layer name and select Convert to Smart Object. A small icon should appear in your layer thumbnail.

Now you should have a smart object as your layer. To view or delete a filter, just click on the eye icon to the left of the listing. To modify options, double-click on the levels icon on the right.

10. Can’t Save Files as PNG

If your document has a 32-bit channel or is in CMYK color mode, Photoshop will not allow you to save it as a PNG file. To fix it, you have to set the color mode to RGB.

Open the Image menu and head to Mode > RGB color.

Then, press Ctrl + Shift + S and set Save as type to PNG.

It’s Not You, It’s Photoshop

Photoshop is one of the most powerful and prolific applications around. That said, it won’t hold your hand throughout the learning process. It takes years to weave your way through all of it.

Having solved Photoshop’s most common problems, you can now take the time and learn online how to become a Photoshop ninja.

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