The Elements 12 Auto Analyzer–Adobe’s Evil Undead

EDIT 3-13-14: I’m pleased to say that there’s a better fix now than what is described on this page. If the  PSE 12 Auto Analyzer is giving you problems, in the Editor go to Help>Updates and update to 12.1. You can read more about 12.1 and the Auto Analyzer here. If you did put the space in the Auto Analyzer’s name be sure to remove it before running the update. And Adobe has asked me to point out that they DO NOT RECOMMEND renaming it.


Since it’s Halloween, this is a good day to discuss Adobe’s own vampire zombie: the Photoshop Elements 12 Auto Analyzer.

If you’ve used a recent version of Photoshop Elements, you may be aware that one of the Organizer “features” is something called the Auto Analyzer. Its function is to evaluate your photos for you and add what Adobe calls Smart Tags, to your photos. “Smart” in this case meaning “really-hard-to-get-rid-of”. So the Auto Analyzer may tag your photos as “high quality, in focus” or it may judge your photo to be blurry and low quality and add helpful tags to that effect.

Now if you’re a fan of the Auto Analyzer, everything is fine, but since most people don’t see this as exactly a desirable feature, the first thing they do is to turn it off, since it runs constantly in the background (even when Elements isn’t running), and it’s a real memory hog on top of everything else and can really slow things down. In previous versions of Elements, all you had to do was to go to the Organizer preferences->Media Analysis and turn it off there and it obligingly went away.

Alas, in PSE 12 that does as much good as shooting Dracula or the Wolfman with a regular ol’ bullet. It just comes back again and again. I have no idea what it’s doing when you’ve stopped it from tagging things, but if you really want to kill it, it’s not so simple now. For Windows folks, it’s not usually so much of an issue, but on a Mac it can bring your whole system to its knees. If you have a Mac that has suddenly slowed down enormously, the first thing to seek out is the Auto Analyzer.  I’ll also include how to stop it in Windows, since even if it’s not making trouble you may be as uneasy as I am about processes that insist on running when you don’t know what they’re doing.

Before going through all the steps, I will say that you may be able to get away with just doing Step 4 and restarting your computer on either platform, but if that doesn’t do it, you’ll need to do everything in the list.

EDIT I’m advised by Adobe that doing this will also kill your ability to upload video to Revel from within PSE. So if that’s important to you, you probably don’t want to do this.

It also turns out that the Auto Analyzer can cause big problems with stacks and version sets in Windows. If you’ve upgraded to PSE 12 and you can’t stack and your photos aren’t saving in version sets anymore, try turning off the Auto Analyzer in Task Manager. If that fixes it, follow the steps to shut it down completely.

2nd EDIT As of March 6,  2014 Adobe has released PSE 12.1. If you removed the space from the Auto Analyzer’s name, be sure to put it back before running the update (available via Editor>Help Menu>Updates). Note that the update will reset everything pertaining to the Auto Analyzer back to where it was initially, so if you don’t want it running all the time, you will need to go back and remove it from your startup/login items and put the space back in. EDIT 3-13-14: The Auto Analyzer behaves so much better since the update that I would recommend just leaving it alone after the update unless you have a serious problem with it.


If you never once open the Organizer,  you won’t need to do any of this, but just looking around in the Organizer one time is enough to start things going.

1. Go to Elements Organizer->Preferences->Media Analysis and turn off everything circled here.

Auto Analyzer Prefs


That should be enough to stop it, but it isn’t.

2. Go to Applications->Utilities->Activity Monitor and select ElementsAutoAnalyzer in the list of running processes, and kill it by clicking the red Quit Process button at the top of the window:

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 11.29.06 AM


Now you would think that should do it, wouldn’t you? And it’s true that as long as you don’t open the Organizer, log out of your OS X account and back in, or restart your Mac, it’s okay. But do any of those things, and back it comes again. So how do you really kill it dead?

3. First of all, Adobe has been really sneaky about this. It put the Auto Analyzer into your Login Items (really unconscionable, in my opinion). So go to System Preferences-> Users & Groups, and click on your name in the list on the left side of the window, then on Login Items and you’ll see this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 11.29.46 AM


Select ElementsAutoAnalyzer in the list and click the Minus button at the bottom of the window.

Now you would think that would do it for sure, wouldn’t you? But nooo. You’re good to go as long as you never open the Organizer again, but as soon as you do, the Auto Analyzer, like the true Undead that it is, comes right back and puts itself back into your Login items again. So how can you drive a stake through its evil heart? Here’s the trick:

4. Go to your Applications folder and right-click (control-click if you have your mouse set up for one button) Adobe Elements 12 Organizer and choose Show Package Contents from the popout menu. You will see a folder called Contents. Open that and you’ll see ElementsAutoAnalyzer in the list of contents. Click its name and insert a space in it somewhere:

organizer contents


That’s all you need to do to keep the rest of the program from finding it and starting it up again. Remember that you did this, and go back and delete that space before you try to uninstall PSE, though, to make sure the uninstaller can find everything. So far I haven’t heard of anyone having problems as a result of doing this–Organizer works just fine without it, but if you do have trouble, the answer is just to delete the space.


The process is similar in Windows.

1. Go to Edit->Preferences->Media Analysis and uncheck everything:

Auto Analyzer Prefs


2. Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and open Task Manager and stop the Auto Analyzer there.

3. Go to Run and enter MSCONFIG and run that. In the Startup tab, turn off the Auto Analyzer:

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 12.04.39 PM


4. Go to C:\Program Files [Program Files (x86) for 64-bit systems]\Adobe\Elements 12 Organizer\CAHeadless and insert a space into the name of the ElementsAutoAnalyzer:

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 12.13.11 PM


You will need to have hidden file viewing enabled to see the entire path.

The same caution applies here: If you’re going to uninstall PSE, or if you have any trouble after doing this, just go back and remove that space.

Adobe Hide and Seek: Setting PSE 10 as External Editor

Lots of people are thinking there’s a problem with the Mac version of Photoshop Elements 10 as an external editor for programs like iPhoto, Aperture, or Lightroom. If you’re having this problem, 99% of the time, you haven’t really set Elements as your external editor at all, even if you thought you did.

In Elements 10 for Mac, the actual Editor application is hidden away in the main Elements 10 folder inside a folder called Support Files. Who would think to look in there for the program itself? But that’s where Adobe hid it, supposedly to make things easier for beginners, or so they say. What you see at the top level of the PSE 10 folder is actually an alias to the Welcome Screen.

So when choosing Elements 10 as an external editor here’s the file you really want:

How to find the actual editor file in Photoshop Elements 10

If Elements is opening but no image appears when you send one over from the other program, that’s almost certainly your problem. Go back and change the chosen External Editor to the file where the arrow’s pointing in the illustration, and you should be all set.

Photoshop Elements 6 and Lion

As everyone knows by now, in Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) you can’t run applications written for the old power pc (PPC) architecture anymore, since there’s no more Rosetta. This isn’t a problem for Photoshop Elements 8 and 9, but if you have PSE 6, there’s a big potential gotcha.

As long as you don’t have PSE 6 set to run in Rosetta (so that you can use older plugins) when you upgrade to Lion, life is fine.  But if you do, the first time you try to open it, you’ll see a snarky message that you can’t run PPC applications anymore. What? Elements 6 is an intel-native program, not a PPC application. It doesn’t matter. If you have set  a a program to open in Rosetta when you first install Lion, it doesn’t forget, and that program is marked for the scrap heap. Uninstall and reinstall? Lion’s too smart for that. You’ll still see the message on a fresh install of PSE.

So what to do? Well, if you know ahead of time, it’s as easy as it can be to avoid the whole problem. Before you upgrade to Lion, go to your Applications folder->Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, click once on the actual application’s icon to select it, and press Command+i for the Get Info window. Then just turn off the Open In Rosetta checkbox:


If you do that before upgrading, you shouldn’t have any trouble. But what if you’ve already upgraded and you can’t get past the error message?

Here are two ways to fix it.

The Easy Way

Go to  < your username > ->Library->Preferences and delete In Lion Apple has hidden your  user Library folder. To get to it, Option-click the Go Menu and you’ll see it appear just below your Home folder:

library menu option

While you’re in that folder, you may as well do a bit of tidying up and delete these files, too, so that you’ll have fresh ones for Lion:


Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 Paths

Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 Settings

Restart the computer  (important!) and Elements should behave itself. If for some reason that fails, here’s an alternative way.

The More Complicated Way

1. Go into the Applications folder and move the entire Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 folder, the one shown here, to the Desktop:

the PSE 6 application folder

Now, you can’t just drag it out of Applications. That only makes an alias, and I’ve found the keystroke combos that should let you do this aren’t very reliable, either. Lion knows that applications belong in the Applications folder and it isn’t willing to let you put them elsewhere.

So what to do? Well, you can still delete an application. So click on the folder, press Command+delete to send it to the trash, and then you can drag it from the trash to your desktop.

2. Go into the folder and double-click the PSE 6 application to launch it.

You’ll see this window:

repair window

It doesn’t matter which button you click. Elements will open, although it may take a minute for all the pieces of the interface to appear. When it’s running create or open a file and do something. You don’t have to save your work. Then quit Elements.

3. Put Elements back into the Applications folder, and launch it there.

Just drop it back in. When you start PSE this time, click Repair Now.

Elements should be fine from now on, but it’s a good idea to go into your username->Library->Preferences and delete the Adobe preferences mentioned above.

Either method should get you up and running, but there’s some risk of damaging Elements by moving it all over the place, as in the second method. So do try the simple way first and save this as a last resort.