Brushes Installing vs Loading

Custom brushes have been discussed here at Everyday Elements several times over the years. Usually I recommend that you “load” the brushes, not actually “install” them. However, I have never explained what the difference is. Today is the day I remedy that oversight.

First let me define “custom brush.” Those are brushes that do not come with your Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. The brushes can be shapes, drawings, text, anything that is dark enough for PS/PSE to recognize and turn into a brush.

  • When you “install” brushes, they load automatically each time you open Photoshop or PSE.
  • When you “load” brushes, you have to load each time you want to use them. The next time you open your Photoshop or PSE, you will have to reload the brush when you want to use it.

If you find custom brushes online, like on a free site or if you purchases some, you will download the file. It will likely go to the Downloads folder on your computer. Locate it and move the file to another folder on your computer,  perhaps to one you use for actions.

When you are ready to use the brush, load it. The brush is only there temporarily unless you copy and paste the file into the brush presets folder.

Brushes that are installed will show up at the bottom of the brush menu each time you open your program, as shown below. The first image below shows custom brushes installed in Photoshop Elements 12. The next one down shows the brushes installed in Photoshop CS 6.



Now for the next question that usually follows… Why is loading each time preferable to installing? If you choose to have all of your custom brushes install each time you open PSE or Photoshop, it may cause your program to load more slowly.

I recommend only installing brushes you will utilize on a regular basis, such as watermark brushes.

A follow-up to this post will show how to “install” brushes on PC and Macs. It’s kind of technical, so I am keeping it separate from this topic so that things don’t get confusing.

About Amanda

I am passionate about helping others learn how to use their DSLR cameras and editing programs. More information about me can be found at my About page, or by visiting my personal blog.


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