Troubleshoot Windows system errors  

Symptoms of Windows system errors include a blank or flickering dialog box, a frozen cursor or screen, a blue screen, an unexpected restart, or a Windows error message.

Note:

Receive a specific error when you use your Adobe application? Search Adobe Community Help for the error, or visit the Adobe Forums to get help from community experts.

Before you begin

Check system requirements

If your system does not meet the minimum requirements for your Adobe product, the product may not run correctly. Visit the Adobe System Requirements web page to make sure that your system meets the minimum requirements for your product.

System requirements

Back up files

Back up all personal files (for example, Photoshop, or InDesign files you created).

Set Control Panel and file options

The troubleshooting tasks below reflect the default interface of Windows and the Classic View of the Control Panel. Some tasks require you to locate files, folders, or extensions that are hidden by default.

View the Control Panel in Classic View

1. Open the Control Panel.

2. Click one of the following:

  • (Windows Vista) Classic View
  • (Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10) View By > Small Icons

Show hidden files, folders, and extensions

See these Windows Help topics:

  • (Windows Vista and Windows 7) “Show hidden files” and “Show or hide filename extensions"
  • (Windows 8 and Windows 10)  “Show hidden files” and “Show or hide filename extensions"
Show hidden files, folders, and extensions

Folder options in Windows 7, WIndows 8, and Widnows 10

Basic system troubleshooting

Update your Adobe application

The latest version of the Adobe software can be more compatible with the operating system and drivers. Before you install an update, make sure that your system meets the requirements.

Visit the Adobe Product Updates page to see updates available for your product.

Product Updates page

Update Windows

Updates to the Windows operating system improve its performance and compatibility with applications.

To obtain Windows service packs and updates, visit www.windowsupdate.com. For help installing service packs and updates, contact Microsoft technical support.

Windows Update screen

Re-create Adobe application preferences

Re-create the Adobe application preferences file to eliminate problems that a damaged preferences file can cause.

The main preferences file is called "Adobe [Product Name] [Product Version] Prefs.psp".

On Windows Vista, 7, 8, or 10 the preference file is found at:

Users\[User name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe [Product Name] [Product Version]\Adobe [Product Name] [Product Version] Settings\Adobe [Product Name] [Product Version]Prefs.psp

If you need a quick way to reset your preferences, you can do it in many Adobe applications using a keyboard shortcut while launching the product. Hold CTRL-SHIFT-ALT immediately after you double-click the application icon.

See this video for a walkthrough on resetting Photoshop's preferences: How to Reset Photoshop CS6’s Preferences File

For additional instructions, search your product's Help system for “restore preferences.”

Search for info on restoring preferences

Run the Adobe application in simplified mode

Some applications or services cause system errors or freezes when running at the same time as Adobe applications. Services are specialized programs that perform functions to support other programs.

Before you start your Adobe application, disable other applications and services using Selective Startup.

For more information, search for these topics in the Microsoft Windows Help system:

  • Windows Vista “How to use the System Configuration utility to troubleshoot configuration errors in Windows Vista” (Article ID: 950093)
  • Windows 7, 8, and 10  “Run Selective Startup using System Configuration" 

To disable startup items and services, do the following:

  1. Quit all applications.
  2. For Windows 7: Click Start, type msconfig in the Search box, and press Enter.

    For Windows 8 and 10: Right-click on Start button and click Run, type msconfig in the Run box, and press Enter.

  3. Click the General tab, and choose Selective Startup.

    Choose Selective Startup
  4. In Windows 7, Click the Startup tab and select Disable All.

    Click Disable All

    For Windows 8 and 10, open up Task Manager by right-clicking on the Taskbar, switch to the Startup tab and click on Disable button.

    Click Disable
  5. Select any startup items that are essential for testing the problem. If you are unsure whether an item is essential, leave it deselected (disabled).
  6. Click the Services tab, and select Hide All Microsoft Services.

    Select "Hide all Microsoft services"
  7. Select Disable All, reselect FLEXnet Licensing Service, and then reselect any services that are essential for testing the problem. If you are unsure whether an item is essential, leave it deselected (disabled).

    Note:

    When you deselect Load System Services in Selective Startup, you permanently delete all restore points for the System Restore utility. If you are concerned about deleting your restore points, keep Load System Services selected.

  8. Click Apply, and restart Windows.

  9. When Windows restarts, it displays a message saying that the System Configuration utility has changed the way Windows starts up. Click OK.

  10. When the System Configuration utility appears, click Cancel.

  11. Right-click icons in the Notification Area and close or disable any startup items that are still active.

  12. Start your Adobe application and do one of the following:

    • If the application still does not run correctly, reenable startup items and services:
    1. Choose Start > Run, type msconfig, and click OK.
    2. Choose Normal Startup on the General tab, click OK, and restart your computer.
    • If the application does run correctly, reenable startup items and services one-by-one to determine which is causing the problem:
    1. Choose Start > Run, type msconfig, and click OK.
    2. Reselect startup items and services selectively, and restart your computer.
    3. Try to run the application again. If you experience problems, it's likely that the most recently reenabled startup item or service is causing the problem.

Reinstall the Adobe application

Reinstall from the desktop

Some system components—for example, device drivers and virus protection utilities—can conflict with the installer and result in an incomplete or failed installation. To prevent these conflicts, install the application from the desktop or in simplified mode.

  1. Copy the Adobe application folder from the disk to the desktop.
  2. Open the Adobe application folder on the desktop.
  3. Double-click Setup.exe and follow the onscreen instructions.

  4. Restart Windows. 

Reinstall in simplified mode

  1. Copy the Adobe application folder from the disk to the desktop.
  2. Disable startup items, and then restart Windows. See Run your Adobe application in simplified mode, above.

  3. Double-click Setup.exe and follow the onscreen instructions.

  4. Restart Windows. 

  5. When the System Configuration Utility appears, select Normal Startup.

Install the Adobe application on a different hard drive

If reinstalling from the desktop or in simplified mode doesn't solve the problem, try installing and running the Adobe application on a different hard drive.

Product-specific solutions

Products and solutions

Solution Products
Remove third-party plug-ins

 

Acrobat | Adobe Audition | Adobe Bridge | Adobe Premiere Elements | Adobe Premiere Pro | Adobe Reader | AfterEffects | Fireworks | FrameMaker | Illustrator |  InDesign |  Lightroom |  Photoshop | Photoshop Elements | Soundbooth

 

Reduce the number of active fonts

 

Acrobat | Adobe Premiere Pro | AfterEffects | Encore | Fireworks | FrameMaker | Illustrator |  InDesign | Photoshop | Photoshop Elements

 

Update or reinstall QuickTime

 

Adobe Audition | Adobe Premiere Elements | Adobe Premiere Pro | Elements Organizer | Soundbooth

 

Disable or remove extensions

 

Adobe Bridge | Contribute | Dreamweaver | Fireworks |Flash | Illustrator |  InDesign | Photoshop

 

Optimize scratch disks

 

Adobe Premiere Elements | Adobe Premiere Pro | Photoshop | Photoshop Elements

 

Troubleshoot codecs

 

Adobe Premiere Pro | Adobe Premiere Elements | AfterEffects

 

Remove third-party plug-ins

  1. Remove third-party plug-ins from the application's plug-ins folder (Program Files\Adobe\[application version]\Plug-Ins).

    Photoshop CS6 plug-ins folder in Windows 7

    The Photoshop CS6 plug-ins folder in Windows 7

  2. Restart the application:

    • If the problem recurs, move the plug-ins back to the application plug-ins folder and try a different solution.
    • If the problem doesn't recur, then go to the next step.
  3. Move one third-party plug-in back to the application's plug-ins folder.

  4. Restart the application, and try to re-create the problem.
  5. Do one of the following:

    • If the problem doesn't recur, then begin again at step 2.
    • If the problem does recur, contact the developer of the plug-in that you last moved, and inquire about an update.

Reduce the number of active fonts

Fonts installed with Windows can sometimes cause problems with Adobe applications.

For instructions, see:

Windows 7 Fonts folder

The Fonts folder in Windows 7


Update or reinstall QuickTime

An outdated or damaged version of Apple QuickTime can prevent Adobe digital audio or video applications from starting or operating correctly. 

Update QuickTime: To update QuickTime, install the latest version from www.apple.com/quicktime/download.

Reinstall QuickTime: Remove QuickTime, delete any QuickTime files or folders remaining on the system, and then reinstall QuickTime. For assistance, see Removing and reinstalling iTunes and other software components for Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8.

Update or reinstall QuickTime

Disable or remove extensions

Extensions enhance the functionality of the Adobe applications listed above. For more information about extensions, see Adobe Extension Manager Help

Disable extensions to eliminate problems that a damaged or incompatible extension can cause.

  1. Start the Adobe Extension Manager. (If the Extension Manager isn't installed, download it here.)
  2. Select the Adobe application that's experiencing the problem.

    Select the affected application
  3. Disable or turn off all extensions.

    Disable extensions
  4. If the problem ceases, reenable one extension at a time and try working with the Adobe application that's experiencing a problem. If you identify a problematic extension, remove it.

    To remove an extension:

    1. In the Extension Manager, select the extension.
    2. Choose File > Remove Extension.


Optimize scratch disks

When insufficient RAM is available for image editing, these applications use a scratch disk file. A scratch disk file is temporary disk space used for storing data and performing computations.

Maximizing scratch disk performance can resolve system errors and freezes. Search for “scratch disk” in your Adobe application's Help system for more information.

Scratch disk settings in Photoshop CS6

Scratch disk settings in Photoshop CS6


Troubleshoot codecs

Codecs that are incompatible with your operating system or applications cause startup problems and application freezes. Troubleshoot codec problems by removing recently installed codecs or by temporarily disabling one codec at a time and attempting to re-create the problem.

Note: Removing a codec can cause video or audio files to become unreadable, or can cause applications to stop working. Use caution when removing codecs. If you're not certain which codecs to keep on your system, click the Chat Now button at the bottom of this page to talk with an Adobe agent.

For instructions, see:

Advanced system troubleshooting

Update your video card, printer driver, or device drivers

Update your video card driver

You can determine if the video driver is outdated by changing the color depth and resolution of the video card.  If your Adobe application continues to work as expected after changing the color depth and resolution, it's not necessary to update the video driver.

To change the color depth and resolution used for Adobe software, see these Windows Help topics:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10  ”Getting the best display on your monitor”

Note: Adobe software requires a screen resolution of at least 1024x768.

Change display settings

If necessary, contact the video card manufacturer for an updated driver, or download one from the manufacturer's website. (To determine the manufacturer of a video card, view the card's properties in Device Manager.)

Update your printer driver

To determine if the printer driver for your default printer conflicts with your Adobe software, install a printer that uses a PostScript printer driver and set that printer as the default. (You can install a printer that isn't a physical piece of hardware.)

If the problem doesn't recur, then the printer driver that you were using previously conflicts with the Adobe application. Contact the printer manufacturer for an updated driver.

For instructions, search for “add printer” in Windows Help. For details on setting a PostScript printer as the default, search for “change your default printer” in Windows Help.

Update device drivers

Device drivers are software files that allow Windows to communicate with devices such as scanners, mouse devices, and keyboards. Contact the device manufacturer to make sure that you are using the latest device driver.

For details, see these Windows Help topics:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 “Open Device Manager” and “Get help with Device Manager errors”
Device Manager window

Run the Adobe application in a new user account

You can experience system errors if your user account is damaged, or if your user account lacks rights to files and folders that your Adobe application requires.

Start the Adobe application in a new user account Create a user account that has the same permissions as the account that you use when the problem occurs. If the problem doesn't recur, then the original user account is probably damaged.

For instructions, search for these topics in the Microsoft Windows Help system:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 “Create a user account”

Start the Adobe application in an administrator account Create a user account, and change the account type to administrator. (If you do not have rights to create an administrator account, contact your system administrator.) If the problem doesn't recur, your standard user account lacks access rights to files and folders that your Adobe application requires. 

For instructions, search for these topics in the Microsoft Windows Help system:

  • Windows Vista “Change a user’s account type”
  • Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 “Change a user’s account type”
  •  

(Windows 7 and Windows Vista) Disable User Access Control or Windows Aero

User access control

For instructions, search for “Turn User Account Control on or off" in the Microsoft Windows Help system.

User Account Control Settings window

Windows Aero

Windows Aero affects the appearance of your desktop. Try disabling it and then see if the problem recurs when you start your Adobe application.

For instructions, search for “Troubleshoot problems with Windows Aero" in the Windows Help system.

Troubleshoot with Windows Aero

Perform system maintenance

Optimize handling of temporary files

Windows and applications store working data in temporary (.tmp) files that they create on the hard disk. Excessive or outdated temporary files can interfere with performance of Windows or applications.

For details, search for these topics in the Windows Help system:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 “Delete files using Disk Cleanup”
Disk Cleanup progress window

Set the virtual memory paging file to the default size

For details, see these Windows Help topics:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 “Change the size of virtual memory”
Change virtual memory settings

Repair and defragment hard disks

For instructions, see these Windows Help topics:

  • Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 ” Improve performance by defragmenting your hard disk”
Disk Defragmenter window

Scan the system for viruses

Use current antivirus software (for example, Symantec Norton AntiVirus or McAfee Virus Scan) to check the system for viruses. Virus infections can damage software and cause system errors. For more information, see the documentation for the antivirus software.

Troubleshoot ICC profiles

ICC profiles help manage color spaces on your system. A system error can occur if your Adobe application accesses a damaged ICC profile. Troubleshoot ICC profiles to determine if they cause the problem:

  1. Move all profiles from the following folders to the desktop:
    • Windows/System32/Spool/Drivers/Color 
    • Program Files (x86)/Common Files/Adobe/Color/Profiles/
    • Program Files (x86)/Common Files/Adobe/Color/Profiles/Recommended
    • Windows/System/ WOW 64/Spool/Color/Drivers/Color
    Move profiles to the desktop
  2. Restart the Adobe application and try to re-create the problem.
    • If the problem recurs, move the profiles back to the folder.
    • If the problem doesn't recur, move one profile at a time back to the folder until you identify the profile that causes the problem.

Identify the file that causes the problem

If a file is damaged, reinstalling the application associated with the damaged file can correct the problem. Do one of the following:

  • If the error indicates which file causes the problem, reinstall the application to which that file belongs.
  • If the error indicates a Windows file, contact Microsoft for assistance with replacing that file.

Check for damaged expansion cards or RAM modules

Damaged expansion cards

Damaged or incompatible PCI or PCI-X expansion cards can cause system errors. To check these cards, turn off your computer, remove any processor accelerator cards, video cards, or other installed expansion cards, and then restart the computer.

RAM modules

Make sure that RAM modules are installed properly and are not the cause by doing one or both of the following:

  • Change the order of the installed RAM modules.
  • Remove all but the minimum number of RAM modules required to run Windows and the Adobe application and test to see if the problem recurs:
    • If the problem recurs, replace the RAM modules you removed and remove the others, testing again to see if the problem recurs.
    • If the problem does not recur, one or more of the removed RAM modules are the cause. For assistance, contact the RAM manufacturer.



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