Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14

History of the Stacking Action

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

  • April, 2014 (planned) version 14E to be released with Mac installer and more.
  • 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


Click HERE for the Instruction Manual (large PDF file).

For yet more tips, please see the instructions on the TEST Stacker as they are similar.

  1. HINT: Windows users can use the InstallSCA batch file as described in the ReadMe.txt
  2. Unpack the .zip directory (will unpack all of the *.atn and .jsx files into a directory called “StarCircleAcademy”.
  3. Open Photoshop.
  4. Drag each of the ATN files into Photoshop.
  5. Copy the StarCircleAcademy directory (after unzipping) into the Preset\Scripts. directory for your Photoshop version(s) and restart Photoshop.
  6. Then run the “Check Install” action.

How Do you Unpack the ATN Files?

On a MAC You can Unpack (Unzip) files using the built in Archive Utility or stuffit as described here:

On a PC You can do this:

  • Double click the ZIP file and “expand all” or use a utility like WinRar (highly recommended)
  • Use or PKUnzip

Can I Install This Without Using the Installer (e.g. on a Mac?)

Yes. The step the windows installer automates is putting the SCRIPT files (*.jsx files) in the proper place(s). Unfortunately to use any Adobe supplied installer the user has to download and install the installer first – blecch.  Also remember that if you’re using CS2, CS3 or CS4, the actions must be fixed up or they won’t point at the correct script locations. Finally, the scripts are not required. If you do not install them everything will work fine except the Install Check. Stacking will not be able to keep track of the file names that are loaded but this, of course is a nice to have, not a necessity.

On Windows

In general on Windows, place the SCA_DuplicateDocFromLayerNames.jsx and SCA_RenameLayerToDocName.jsx files into:

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Presets\Scripts  or
  • C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC (64 Bit)\Presets\Scripts or
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC\Presets\Scripts

Notice that the 32 and 64 bit locations are different. I’ve only shown CS2 and CC, but CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6 and CC all could be substituted above.  We recommend installing the scripts in ALL of the directories that you find that match the patterns above.  For your own sanity, you can create a subdirectory “StarCircleAcademy” under the Scripts folders and install into that.

On a Mac

Place the SCA_DuplicateDocFromLayerNames.jsx and SCA_RenameLayerToDocName.jsx files into:

  • Applications > Photoshop CS5 > Presets > Scripts

Or similar depending on your Photoshop version(s). If anyone knows of other places, please let us know in the comments below.


You must stop and restart Photoshop after copying the script files so that Photoshop will find them.

If you are using CS2, CS3 or CS4, you must correct the installed actions in two places. Details are described in the first video below – start watching at around 4:00.


Installation and Operation Videos

VERSION 14 installation and operation instructions, see here. For older versions, please see here.


Purchase Options

Advanced Stacker PLUS [14D] with Online Video and Notes
Includes the easy to install Advanced Photoshop action set version 14D, 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 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 CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6, CC (standard or extended). NOT Compatible with Photoshop Elements, or Lightroom.



Advanced Stacker PLUS Version 14D
Includes the easy to install Advanced Stacker+ Photoshop action version 14D. Compatible with Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6, CC (standard or extended). NOT Compatible with Photoshop Elements or Photoshop Lightroom.

Most Common Usage Errors

These are the most often reported problems:

  1. Can’t install the ATN files.  The files come zipped in a single .zip file. You must unzip them then drag them into an open Photoshop to load them.  Don’t drag them onto an open document, however as Photoshop won’t know what to do. (See the video).
  2. It tries to open some “ilovetricia” file!  Tricia is Steven’s wife and if you don’t overide the path (see next question), it will try to load a file you probably don’t have on your machine!  It may also mean you’ve try to run the action directly instead of from File -> Automate -> Batch.
  3. It keeps warning me about “color space” or other warning.  Be sure to check all the indicated options when executing.
  4. It keeps asking me to confirm file saves (see Override Action “Save as” Commands setting above).
  5. After using intermediates, there is only one file that has been saved! See hint for 4. There must be a “serial number” or all saved files will have the same name.
  6. I get an error “The Command ‘Move’ is not currently available.” the most common cause of this is when layers are turned off or collapsed prior to running one of the stacking steps.  Do not collapse layer sets.

Known Problems

  1. (LW) Stacking slows down dramatically after 5th or 6th file on Windows 8, 64 bit.
    Status: We’re stumped.  Believe it is something in the environment for that machine. Might be due to very large change history setting as we don’t see this problem on our Windows 8 machine.

Problems Under Investigation

None at present.

Resolved Issues

  1. (MW/JJ) “The command MOVE is not currently available” is shown when stacking in LIGHTEN mode.
    Status: Resolved. The “Override File Open” option was not selected resulting in many tabs. In another case, the user had collapsed the layer sets.
  2. (Greg) Did not have ArialNarrow font installed and the Watermark creation in version 13 – which happens by default – was creating extra layers and confusing the action. Resolved by upgrading to version 13B.
  3. (JS) I go to do “lighten with intermediates.” I get the error “The object “layer “Watermark”” is not currently available.
    Status: Resolved in 13B
  4. (Deb) Unable to install TEST Stacker actions on CS2
    Status: Unable to resolve
  5. (Tass) When processing the intermediates it kept asking me to save the file after each one. I did have the override save command checked.
    Status: Unable to recreate.
  6. (JM) Stacking fails with “‘Set’ is not currently available” when stacking TIFF files
    Status: Received TIFF files, unable to recreate problem at present.
  7. (JP) Install Check fails on French version of Photoshop.
    Status: Problem has been corrected in version 14b.
  8. (KD) On PS CS5 Extended: After “Do this First” the StackResults.psd contains the necessary layer groups, but no actual layers.  Not sure what causes this, but adding an extra stop in the process seemed to resolve the problem.

How to Report Problems

  1. Please be sure you’ve freshly installed the Advanced Stacker Plus.
  2. Make sure your issue isn’t covered above under most common problems.
  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 OS and Photoshop version you’re using (e.g. Mac Lion, 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.  (“Move not allowed”)
    5. If needed we’ll contact you for follow up.

44 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=)


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