Accessing Disabled Filters


Today’s Question: Could you please explain how to get access to the grayed-out filters in Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When a filter is grayed-out in Photoshop, it indicates that the filter is unavailable. That generally means the current image has settings that are not compatible with the filter, and the solution would be to update the image to ensure compatibility.

More Detail: Most of the filters in Photoshop have been updated to support most image modes. However, there are still some exceptions. Some filters will only work with photos in the 8-bit per channel mode, and some are only available for images in the RGB color space, for example.

Before making changes to the image to access certain filters, I recommend making a copy of the image so that you preserve the original with maximum information. You could, for example, choose Image > Duplicate from the menu to create an additional copy of the current image.

You can then adjust the image attributes so that the unavailable filters will become available. This will most often mean converting the image to the 8-bit per channel mode, which you can do by going to the menu and choosing Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel.

If the image is not in the RGB color mode, that could also cause certain filters to be unavailable. To correct this issue, go to the menu and choose Image > Mode > RGB Color.

By using one (or both) of the above options, you should find that the filters that had been grayed-out will now be available. If there are any other filters that aren’t available, you would need to check the specific compatibility. For example, third-party plug-ins may have specific requirements for the image format or may have compatibility issues with certain versions of Photoshop.