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Solving That Adobe Generator Problem -- Again Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

25 June 2016

With every new release of Photoshop CC, we have been revisited by the Generator problem. The problem is simply that Generator refuses to run, complaining about plug-ins and suggesting you simply quit and try again and if that doesn't work, remove your third-party plug-ins or reinstall Photoshop.

Which, we promise you, won't help.

The solution is pretty simple, fortunately. Once you know what it is.

We planned to detail this in our delayed review of Photoshop CC 2015.5 but we that's been delayed yet again now that we have Generator running and can test the Export option. There's no reason to delay this solution, though.


Photoshop doesn't tell you in that brief and misleading dialog it throws up about Generator but the problem is that it does not have permission to create a log file for Generator.

Earlier versions of Photoshop logged this error but recent ones do not. And solving the problem by creating the log file yourself (as we've previously recommended) only resolves the problem for that version of Photoshop.


Both OS X and Windows are multi-user file systems. More than one user can use files on the system. And consequently a system was devised to protect your files from other users and system files from you.

The system assigns write, read and execute permissions to the owner of the file, a group of users or anyone at all (code named "everyone").

As the guy who creates the file, you own it and can not only read it but write to it. Someone in a designated group of users using your machine may be able to read and write the file too. Depends on the group setting. And, generally speaking, everyone can only read the file but not write to it as a security measure.

The owner of the file has a name, the same name as your user directory. Your user name, in short. In our case that's mrpasini. Any file we own is owned by mrpasini. Files the system writes are owned by root. There are a few other conventions we don't have to know about to solve this problem.

OS X has a cute way of displaying this information when you Get Info on a file. At the very bottom of the window displayed is a Sharing & Permissions section that shows you the name (always three of them for owner, group and everyone) and privileges for each (Read & Write, Read only).

But this information is also easily retrieved from the command line (type ls -ld in any directory). Here's a typical example from our ~/Library/Logs directory:

drwxrwxrwx 5 mrpasini staff 170 Feb 11 08:16 CreativeCloud

Dissecting that shows us that we (mrpasini), who are a member of the group staff, are the owner of the directory named CreativeCloud. The drwxrwxrwx means:

  • d means CreativeCloud is a directory
  • rwx means the owner has read, write and execute permissions
  • rwx means the group has read, write and execute permissions
  • rwx means everyone has read, write and execute permissions

Execute permissions [x] are required for directories and programs. They are not used for document files. A hyphen [-] is used to indicate if a permission is denied (eg. r-- is Read only).

There is a shorthand notation for describing these permissions: 777. Each digit represents a different class of user: owner (7), group (7) and everyone (7). These permissions (777) have the lowest level of security and are generally frowned upon because everyone has permission to write to the file.

A typically safe level of permissions might be 755 where only the owner has read, write and execute privileges (7) and the group and anyone else can only read and execute (5). A 6 indicates read and write only, a 4 indicates read only.

That's all you need to know to see what Generator is complaining about.


We installed Photoshop CC 2015.5 on two different systems, one of which had only Lightroom CC on it and no version of Photoshop later than CS5. We experienced the Generator problem on both of them.

We used a variety of font tools to confirm that our fonts were all legitimate. And we had properly installed our third-party plug-ins on our main system. On the cleaner system there were no plug-ins installed at all.

But we noticed a curious thing. There was no log file at all for Generator. And no log file for Photoshop 2015.5 either. We should have been able to find a log file in ~/Library/Logs/Adobe/Photoshop 2015.5/Generator/.

In the past we've suggested you simply create that directory. And if you do all will be well -- for this version of Photoshop. But look at the enclosing Adobe directory for a clue to the problem:

drwxr-xr-x 5 root staff 170 Jun 24 16:19 Adobe

The directory is owned by root, which is a member of the group staff. While the owner has full permissions (rwx or 7), the group and everyone else has only read-execute permissions (r-w or 5).

Photoshop CC 2015.5 is owned by root but is a member of the group wheel.

All users on any particular system are members of staff. Users with administrator privileges are members of wheel.

On our clean system, we had one log directory in Adobe created by Acrobat 9 Pro:

drwxrwxr-x 47 mrpasini staff 1598 May 15 2013 Acrobat

In the Application's folder, we discovered Acrobat was owned by mrpasini and was a member of admin:

drwxrwxr-x 10 mrpasini admin 340 Jul 7 2011 Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro

That log file, created three years ago, has functioned without a problem. The application is owned by mrpasini who has read-write-execute permissions on the log file.

As a member of staff, though, mrpasini could not create the log file in the Adobe directory because that group has only read-execute permissions. The log file must have been created when that directory had different owners. (Yes, you can change owners with the Unix chown command.)

And that's the problem Photoshop CC 2015.5 has with Adobe. It does not have permission write the new directories and log files in there.


You can, as we've previously suggested, just create the directory for the application in the Adobe directory yourself. Or you could temporarily change the group permission on the Adobe folder to allow writes.

But we thought the best way to resolve this permanently was to see what Photoshop would do if the folder wasn't there at all. So we deleted Adobe and let Photoshop recreate it.

And that was the simplest permanent solution to this problem. Simply delete the Adobe directory in ~/Library/Logs.

Applications that write their logs there will recreate the directory with the correct owner:group and all will be well. In our case that was not the original root:staff but mrpasini:staff with 755 permissions.

Apparently, Adobe at some point changed which owner it writes without updating older installations.

One byproduct of this fix is that several other directories are created in the Adobe log folder: HeadlightsCC, LogTransport2CC and RTTransfer.

We have no idea what they're for.


If this solution doesn't get Generator running for you, you will at least have some logs to investigate the problem further.

But it will update the log folder to the currently expected owner:group settings.

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