ive never had a problem downloading photos to adobe. it would only download new ones. today I went to download my photos and it wants to download all of them on the card even tho most are already in adobe
To be precise, you don't download photos to 'Adobe'. You are using an Adobe downloader module to transfer your picture files from your card (or camera) to the drive of your computer. The downloader in Elements works like the ones in Photoshop or Lightroom.
It offers an option not to 'import' (download) duplicates into the computer drive is the same file is already referenced in the current catalog. To check the similarity of the picture files, the downloader module compares mainly the file size in kilobytes and the 'date_taken' of your files to see if they are the same (the filename can be different, it can recognize duplicates all the same). So, if there has been the slightest change in size or date, the downloader will not recognize duplicates. It's the same if you have already imported in a catalog but you are importing curently with another catalog.
That process works generally well, but there may be cases where it does fail. It's important to describe precisely how you are importing, the OS version etc.
Nearly always, you only want to 'download' the most recent files on your card/camera. The downloader dialog show a list of files (with thumbnails) sorted in most recent date order.
You Shift click on the thumbnail of the most recent file (not on the checkbox)
You scroll down to the oldest thumbnail you want to import. You shift click on the thumbnail, then on its checkbox. All recent files will be selected for import.