Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14

History of the Stacking Action

You can now purchase the Advanced Stacker PLUS  below or in the Store.

**NOTE: MAC Users with Yosemite and PS CC 2015 are reporting installation problems. We recommend you do NOT purchase this product until we have been able to resolve this issue.

  • June 30, 2014 version 14E was released with Mac installer and much more. Purchasers of prior products were sent upgrade information on July 14 (or 18th), 2014 UNLESS your profile indicates you do not want information about updates.
  • October 6, 2013, we released version 14 with lots of great new features. Anyone who purchased the Advanced Stacker PLUS after September 1, 2013 was sent a free upgrade. Everyone who purchased a prior version of the Advanced Stacker was sent an upgrade offer as well.
  • August, 2013 we upgraded to 13B which fixed several problems reported below. We also added and expanded the “Watermark + Image Mode” option with a Load My Watermark… however we’ve not yet released a video describing how to use this nifty little addition.
  • May 30, 2013 we revealed the “Advanced Stacker PLUS”. The best place to start is to kick the tires with the TEST Stacker. The TEST Stacker is packaged and installed just like the Advanced Stacker+ – as a zip file. For details about what was changed in Advanced Stacker PLUS, please see this article.
  • February, 2011 we released the wildly popular StarCircleAcademy Stacking action. The Advanced Stacker found more features and was released in December, 2012. While it is no longer available you can still find the instructions here.

Quick Instructions for the Impatient

If you have an OLDER version of the Advanced Stacker PLUS (14A, B, C or D) please see HERE

Advanced Stacker PLUS 14E Installation

Please read here.

Purchase Options

Advanced Stacker PLUS [14E] with Online Video and Notes
Includes the even EASIER to install Advanced Photoshop action set version 14E, an unlimited viewing online video on creating star trails, notes (PDF) on creating star trails and practice files. The video is 2 hours long. This action is power. You can create star trails, cloud timestacks and stack images with a minimum of effort and a maximum of control. You can create "comets", "midgets" streaks and much more. And you can create intermediate files along the way to put interesting motion effects into your timelapse. Compatible with Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6 (standard or extended), CC, CC 2014, CC 2015.
**NOTE: MAC Users with Yosemite or El Capitan and PS CC 2015 are reporting installation problems. We recommend you do NOT purchase this product until we have been able to resolve this issue.
NOT Compatible with Photoshop Elements, or Lightroom. Please specify your primary OS and Photoshop version when ordering. You will receive links to both Mac and Windows installers.


Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14E
This action is power. You can create star trails and stack images with a minimum of effort and a maximum of control. You can create "comets", "midgets" streaks and much more. And you can create intermediate files along the way to put interesting motion effects into your timelapse. Version 14e also preserves EXIF data, includes Ultra Long Streaks and more! Compatible with Adobe Photoshop CS3 through CC including CC 2015. Not compatible with any other version of Photoshop, particularly not compatible with Photoshop Elements or Photoshop Lightroom.
**NOTE: MAC Users with Yosemite or El Capitan and PS CC 2015 are reporting installation problems. We recommend you do NOT purchase this product until we have been able to resolve this issue.
Indicate your operating system and Photoshop version. If you have more than one, please indicate which you use the most. You will be sent links for BOTH the Mac and Windows versions.



Using the Advanced Stacker PLUS

Usage of the Advanced Stacker PLUS is very similar to prior versions. Below is a video that may help you get started. If you want to start at the usage example, please click here instead, or advance the pointer to 7 minutes and 6 seconds.

NOTES: Version 14E Presents a dialog BEFORE it creates the base document. Press CONTINUE. See “Common Usage Problems Below”. The beginning of the video shows how to install ASP 14e on Windows.


Most Common Usage Errors

  1. It keeps warning me about “color space” or image size, or popping open the Adobe Camera Raw utility.  You also may get  “Move is not currently  available.” Be sure to check all the indicated options when executing.

    The File->Automate->Batch Dialog. Older Photoshop versions have the same content but a different layout. Click for larger view.

  2. After using intermediates, there is only one file that has been saved. See the hint above. There must be a “serial number” or all saved files will have the same name.
  3. I get an error “The Command ‘Move’ is not currently available.” the most common cause of this is described above, however another cause is when layers are turned off or collapsed prior to running one of the stacking steps.  Do not collapse layer sets. Also make sure you “Do This First” before attempting any other stacking. Finally, be sure you press Stop when the text indicates “PLEASE PRESS STOP now”, not on any other screen of the Do this First.

    Do NOT press Stop now. Nothing has happened yet!


    Do Stop Here! Note that the text will not be yellow.


  4. If Stacking seems to go a bit slow,  hide the Layer Palette and Action Palettes and things will go quite a bit faster. Photoshop will not spend so much time drawing those displays.

Known Problems

  1. RE,MJ: “Place Command Not available” when using Do This First. Unknown cause. Disabling the watermark resolves the problem (let us know if it does not!).
    Workaround for "Place" Problem.

    Workaround for “Place” Problem.

  2. How do I stop that ugly watermark? UGLY? Hey, we don’t think it’s ugly :-). But see Customizations, below.


You may want to turn off the default watermark. There are two simple ways to accomplish that and a 3rd way you may find more appealing.

  1. The watermark is a layer in a layer group. To vanquish it, turn off the visibility of the watermark layer (click the eye in the example below) on the Layer palette. To see the Photoshop layer palette use Window -> Layers or hot key F7.  Then click the eye on the watermark layer. The actions expect a watermark group to remain, so do not turn off the eye on the Watermark Folder.  You can turn off this layer at any time – before or after stacking – if you turn it off BEFORE stacking the watermark will not appear in any intermediate files.
  2. Disable watermarks by selecting a blank watermark (see Known Problem 1, above).
  3. Create your own watermark.  We suggest you use the “Create My Watermark” in the ASP Customizations, and then instead of turning on the StarCircleAcademy or No Watermark, select “Load My Watermark”.  You can always turn it off later if you wish as described in step 1.   Watermarks are automatically scaled to match your image size and positioned as selected in the “Align My Watermark” action of the ASP Customizations.
  4. Do you have a dialog in “Do This First” that bugs you?  Here is how to turn it off:
    If this dialog is turned on, you can turn it off.

    If this dialog is turned on, you can turn it off.

Problems Under Investigation

Problems Resolved

No open issues.

How to Report Problems

  1. Please be specific about the nature of the problem. Doesn’t work or fails is like taking your car to the mechanic and saying “it’s broken”. To get help you need to say more. For example when does the failure occur?
    • If the download links fail with an error message, tell us “Download failed” and provide the error message.
    • If installation fails, please check the INSTALL instructions. If that doesn’t help, please specify what message or failure you get.
    • If an error message pops up, what is it?
    • If you get an unexpected result (appearance) – what was unexpected?
    • Screen shots are often very helpful.  (See here for how to get a screen shot on almost any machine).
  2. Before reporting a problem with using the Advanced Stacker PLUS, please check the “Known Problems” and Common Problems sections above. And please also do a fresh re-install.
  3. Consult the videos above, too.
  4. Let us know (by making a comment below) what the problem was. Please include the following information:
    1. What operating system and Photoshop version you’re using (e.g. Mac OS X 10.8, PS CS4 Extended)
    2. What kind of files you’re using and their size (e.g. 5000×4000 8 bit JPEG)
    3. What step(s) you’ve taken.
    4. What errors or anomalies you’ve noticed.  (e.g. Move not allowed)
    5. If needed we’ll contact you for follow up.

77 thoughts on “Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14

  1. Steffen Eidem

    Hi Steven.
    I’ve just downloaded the trial and made my second star trail image, the only thing here is that it compresses the image so much the quality gets really poor, even though I used .DNG files I get the same results, is there something I’m doing wrong or not doing since this happens? My 1st one turned out great, no problems at all…


    Steffen Eidem

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      Steffen, You’re asking about the TEST stacker, right? From the test stacker page:

      By default the Test Stacker creates images that are 800 pixels wide and include a watermark. Of course the test stacker doesn’t have features that the Advanced Stacker PLUS has, for example, there is no Comet mode, no mode with intermediate files, and no Punch up the Stars operation.

      The Advanced Stacker PLUS does not have any file size or watermark restrictions. By the way, it’s interesting that you’re using DNG files. As far as we know, the Advanced Stacker PLUS (and Test Stacker) are the only tools on the planet that support that file type for this purpose.

      1. Steffen

        Thanks! I was looking around to see if I could find that info about the pixels, 9 more days then I’ll be able to buy the advanced stacker plus, I really like the test version, and I learn alot from your webpage so keep up the good work!
        Thanks for the quick reply Steven=)

  2. Scott

    I purchased this a year or two ago. I went to run the stacker after a recent shoot, but at some point over the last year I have set PS5 to open images in RAW before opening them in PS. So now, when I attempted to run the stacker, each image pops up in Camera RAW. How can I go in and resolve this? (I forgot what I did to set Camera Raw)

  3. Nigel Ball

    Hi, really enjoying using the stacker! 🙂

    Slight issue in that I cannot generate hi res jpg intermediate files without the annoying save as dialogue appearing. I’ve checked the override save as checkbox. Save jpg with quality 8 runs fine, however save jpg quality 12 always stops with dialogue. Other formats run okay ie png, tiff

    I am running Photoshop CC on Windows 7

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      It’s possible we shipped it incorrectly, or that you’ve accidentally turned on the interactive dialog option for that step.

      Make sure that the box to the right of the checkbox is NOT set. (Just click it to turn it off if it’s on). It’s also possible that you did not select Destination: Folder in the File -> Automate -> Batch dialog.

  4. Morten Ross


    I need to change some options in the actions, in particular the “convert to 8 bit sRGB (for web)”, but am unable to, as the only option I have found for editing is a non-working xtools that (when working) will convert atn to xml and back.

    A quick fix would be if you added a sRGB save action without save for web, as I need the exif data.

    Versions involved: Photoshop CC / StarCircleAcademyAdvancedPLUSv14d.

    I realise now that the EXIF is erased way before the save – it’s removed after the initial actions in “Do this FIRST” (StackResult), but I don’t understand how or why you deliberately delete the EXIF.

    Opening hundreds of Raws as layers and then merging/flattening them does not delete EXIF, so please clarify and help restore end-to-end EXIF.


    Morten Ross

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      Unfortunately Photoshop only preserves EXIF data from the “base” document. In the example of a multi-layer stack, only the EXIF data from the first document loaded is kept which might not make sense if the EXIF data is different for each shot.

      NOTE: The Advanced Stacker PLUS 14E now preserves the EXIF data from the first loaded document (if any).

      If you want to “Set” the EXIF data to match one of your shots you can

      1. Stack the document(s).
      2. Flatten the result.
      3. Load one of your original documents
      4. Duplicate the flattened stack onto the original shot (Duplicate Layer to document) and then save.

      The EXIF data will match the original document that way (and you can rename the document however you wish when you save it).

      Also, while there is a conversion to 8 bit RGB there is no “Save for Web” option in Advanced Stacker PLUS. You can add a new save type if you wish by recording a new Save Step in the “My File Save Type” action of the Customization set.

      We will look into trying to preserve the EXIF data for the first-loaded document, but we’re not sure that will make sense in all cases.

  5. Paul Cotter

    Just installed Advanced Stacker PLUS. I’ve checked the appropriate “override” and “suppress” boxes when batch processing from Bridge. (First selecting “Do This First”, then “Lighten Mode” with the same images selected.) Yet I keep receiving multiple “COMMAND UNAVAILABLE” messages for every layer loaded: Move … Layer Stack Result … Layer New Background … Merge Layers … Layer First and Last. (All unavailable, all requiring I hit Stop or Continue without that action being executed.) This doesn’t seem to be covered in the common issues I read above. Any solutions? I’m using DNG RAW files, about 15MB each, with Photoshop CC and Windows 7, 64-bit OS. Thank you ~

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      We haven’t tested with DNG files lately, but we think the problem is your default color mode for Photoshop. We use RGB 16bit throughout – indeed the first thing the action does for every opened file is to convert to 16 bit RGB, ProPhoto. Is it possible you’re specifying something other than RGB? (LAB, Grayscale, Bitmap, Duotone or CMYK color modes?)

      Many commands do not work if not in the expected color mode.

      Check in Edit -> Color Settings

      By the way, anytime you get ANY error you should stop. Once one step fails there is no way to insure the integrity of the operations. If, for example, you get any error at Do This First it’s pretty much a guarantee that stacking steps will fail because layers or groups may be missing.

      <<Follow up>>
      After running this through live, we discovered two problems: 1. The “Stop” in Do This First was being stopped too soon (the first stop message was about the Watermark, the second about Watermark placement)
      2. The “Customization” set appears to have been damaged.

      Reinstalling the original distributed action sets did solve the problem.

      1. Ali

        Hi guys!! I just downloaded the stacker and am getting all of the errors noted above and then some. I tried reinstalling the actions which at least corrected the issue I was having when running ‘do this first.’ However, I am unable to get anything to run because of the error “The object “document “StackResults.psd”” is not currently available, followed by all of those noted above if I click on continue. I did not follow all the way through. any help would be greatly appreciated!

  6. Steven Christenson Post author

    Andrea wrote: Just starting to try night photograph and star trails. Saw article by Matt Molloy and his suggestion of Star Circle Academy program for what he is doing with clouds. This lead me to your sight.

    I am a beginner and do this for fun and with my local camera club, so I do not have full photoshop. Just hoping I can do something similar with the programs that I have.

    Sorry, Andrea, but Photoshop Elements doesn’t offer all of the features needed. And Lightroom is also a poor vehicle for this purpose since Lightroom does not natively support layering of multiple photos. If you look around you’ll find standalone programs like StarStax that will do some of what Advanced Stacker PLUS does and you can then re-import the results back into Photoshop Elements or Lightroom to complete your editing.

  7. Michael Jordan

    I’m installing the new upgrade ASP14e_Mac for the Macintosh OS X version 10.9.4. with Photoshop CS 6. After the installation in Photoshop the PSD watermark loads with a dialog error “command place not currently available”. Hit OK and new error dialog “not able to complete installation check please close photoshop manually. Hit OK and new error dialog appears “Error: general error occurred. This functionality may not be available for this version of photoshop. Could not complete command because there are no layers to be moved.

    I’m unable to determine is the installation was successful or not.

  8. David Carbonnier

    Hello !
    If i buy the “Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14” in the future do i’ll have access to free updates ?

    thank you !

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      David, We can’t make any promises about the future.

      We’ve discontinued Stacker Light – it ceased making financial sense to offer it. We clearly stated that we do not offer email support for Stacker Light but many people were undeterred. Most of them were asking for installation instructions despite the written instructions and video which were sent along with the purchase details.

      We are actively supporting the full version, but even here we have limits on what we’re able to help people with.

      To get back to your principle question: “Will there be free updates in the indefinite future?” No. If your question was “Will there be free updates to whatever comes after 14E?” The safest answer is “No.” But we will make that determination on the basis of:

      1. How long ago the user purchased the full version
      2. How significant the updates are (we’ll offer bug fixes for free, but significant feature improvements will incur a fee).
      3. How well we can manage updates in our ordering and tracking system.

  9. Paul Cotter

    You mention that there’s a must-update-by date. Is this mandatory? I just got the previous software installed about two months ago and we had some issues getting it set up and running. It’s not a priority for me to update at this time, as I’m quite busy — and I want to make sure the software won’t stop working because I didn’t update.

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      No updates are mandatory, however in the next update we will be squashing a few bugs and usability issues. The point of the “update by date” is that beyond that, there will be a charge for the update – it won’t be free.

      Sorry that you had an issue with getting everything working… that’s one of the bugs we are addressing!

  10. David McGuire

    Having just purchased and installed
    “Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14” in PSP CS6 ( non cc version) I have hit my first ‘snag’,
    How do you cope with 18% grey skies?
    Here in the northern part of the UK clear skies or interesting cloud skies are merely wishful thinking at the moment.

  11. matt chen

    Drar sir,
    I am interested in  Advanced Stacker PLUS. How to download the test stacker? Would you kindly let me know?
    Best Regards,

  12. markalberhasky

    I purchased the Advanced Stacker Plus with 2 hr instructional video, but can’t seem to find how to access that video. Please advise.

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      The link to the video comes in the same email with the link(s) to the Mac and PC versions of the software. It’s NOT the email you get from PayPal, by the way. The PayPal email is a purchase confirmation that is NOT sent by us.

  13. Peter Mueller

    I’ve been hunting your site for specifics on minimum hardware requirements but am not seeing any. I have CS5 on Snow Leopard (10.6.8) with 4 GB Ram. Please advise…

  14. Steffen Eidem

    Hi Steven.

    I wanted to install the Star stacker plus 14E version today, but I’ve gone to use photoshop CC instead of CS5 since I recieved the updated version (updated from version 14D)
    When I start the installer it wants to install it in CS5, is there any way around this?
    Haven’t tried uninstalling CS5 yet.


    Steffen Eidem

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      The installer will insert itself into every version of Photoshop that it finds – one at a time. It found CS5 first… let it keep going and it will install in the other versions it finds.

  15. Tianyang Geng

    hello, i wanna buy this for stacking clouds like a time stack. However, i am not sure if my mac is supportive when it see Mac 10.11 not supported, I am confused. my version is OS EL Captian 10.11.3. Please let me know. Thank you!!!

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      At this point, Tianyang, Mac Yosemite and El Capitan are not supported. We finally got our mac fixed and updated to El Capitan, so we hope to track down and fix the problem(s) soon.

  16. Roger Haydn Howell

    Had to upgrade now running El Capitan and Photoshop CC 2015 repurchased a copy APE and I cant get the same list in Automate batch, no do this first or lighten options its all about watermarks?

    1. Steven Christenson Post author

      Sorry, don’t understand your question. What is APE? What does “cant get the same list in Automate batch” mean?

      We state on our purchase pages that we do not support Yosemite or El Capitan. Now Sierra is on it’s way out and that doesn’t work with Adobe products as of a few weeks ago. So Apple’s cooking isn’t just killing us small-fry developers, it’s also unfriendly to large companies with extensive staff. Funny, but despite all of Microsoft’s bad choices, our tool seems to still work without us having to change anything.


What do you think about this?