Shadow Like Me layer styles by One Little Bird

For a while now, my Shadow Like Me layer styles have been frustrating PSE users around the world, and with good reason.

Installing layer styles in Photoshop CS involves choosing one of three really easy options – we’re talking ridiculously easy.

Installing them in Photoshop Elements is a totally different game – if you consider getting punched in the face a game. Because that’s what installing them in Photoshop Elements is like.

It’s like someone punching you in the face.

Having never used Photoshop Elements in my life I offered some one-size-fits-all instructions for installing the layer styles in Photoshop Elements versions 7 and up on the FAQ page here on my website. They’ve been taken down now, I re-wrote the guide on this. In a nutshell these instructions involved piecing together some metadata files by altering existing metadata files and hoping that it worked.

Over the past two years I’ve received a large volume of emails from PSE users saying that the term “worked” could be loosely defined as having the shadow styles dumped into this “Show All” category within the Effects panel where every other layer style in PSE resided. And the shadow styles weren’t even grouped together within this list, instead they were creatively interspersed between bevels, glows, plastic styles, text effects and a hundred other layer styles.

Not being fluent in Photoshop Elements, I had asked a few Elements “power users” whether they had any tips to share from their own installation and their secret was Graffi’s Add-O-Matic, a plug-in that does all the heavy lifting for you. I added that link to the FAQ page as another potential avenue for PSE users despite the fact that I felt it was a bit unfair to ask people to pay another $20 to install a set of layer styles that only cost them $3.50 to begin with. Additionally the plug-in is only available for Windows OS, so my Mac PSE users were still left high and dry.

A little over a week ago I received another email from a PSE user who was dismayed at the way the layer styles installed. She mentioned how she had layer styles from other sources where they at least managed to get them grouped together in that giant list and wondered whether I could do that with mine?

I knew that somehow I could do her one better, because that plug-in managed to get the styles into a nice little category of their own in the Drop-Down menu. Surely a tech savvy individual such as myself could figure this out? I knew the answer lived somewhere in those metadata files and I wasn’t going to settle for simply getting them grouped together in the “show all” list – I wanted them corralled into a category of their own!

Lofty goal for someone who’s never set eyes on Photoshop Elements in her life, right?

So I made that poor, unsuspecting PSE user my guinea pig late yesterday evening. Because that’s the risk you take when you email me. You might get sucked into participating in whatever my current mission is.

After she emailed me I had spent some time researching this problem on the Internet and I had managed to write a couple of metadata files that could potentially accomplish my goals. Not being able to test them myself, I sent them to her and asked that she try them on her system. The result?  No dice.

I decided that ignorance was NO LONGER BLISS and I downloaded a trial-version of PSE 10 and installed it on my computer.

Shortly afterward I realized exactly the sort of hell that PSE users go through when trying to install third-party layer styles on their system. Also? How disheartening it was when, after all that work, all the layer styles were still virtually unusable because they were impossible to find.

PSE users? I’m sorry. I understand now. You were right. You deserve better.

I vowed that I would not rest until I solved this problem for you.

At approximately 12:15am CST, after several different versions of metadata.xml files, after sitting through several never-ending “rebuildings” of  the PSE Effects database, I bore witness to this historic event:

Those OLB Shadows categories? GUESS WHO?!

Ever cautious that my mind was playing tricks on me, I sent the most current metadata.xml files to my unwitting partner in crime to see if she could replicate it on her system (PSE 9 on a Mac OS) and I reluctantly trudged off to bed.

I’m not even kind of kidding when I say that I had dreams about Photoshop Elements all night long.

This morning I jumped out of my chair when her email rolled in and she could confirm that I had, indeed, TRIUMPHED OVER PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS.

So what does this mean for you? If you’re a Photoshop Elements 7-10 user and you’ve been holding off on purchasing these layer styles because you heard they were a nightmare to install, hopefully the addition of these metadata files will eliminate that obstacle for you. They’re now included in the download, and installation instructions are available here on my site.

If you’re a PSE 7-10 user who already owns these layer styles and yours appear JUST FINE in the Effects panel, then you can disregard all of this. You’re obviously on top of your game, and you should have emailed me two years ago to tell me how you accomplished this feat. (Just sayin’)

If you’re a PSE 7-10 user who already owns these layer styles and they’re spread all over your Effects panel, then you can visit the brand-new Shadow Like Me PSE Installation Guide here on my site and pick up the missing metadata files at the bottom of the page. Then follow the instructions on that page for your operating system to add these metadata files to your installation of PSE – you don’t need to copy the original .asl files over again, you’ve already done that, just add the metadata files to the same directory and rebuild the database as instructed. Your shadow styles should now have their own category in the Effects panel.