when I try to open the actions for a movie clip, it opens it in a tab a the top of the page, but will not restore, therefore i am unable to see or add to the actions. how can i fix this?
I think you are talking about actions panel here. And have accidently changed the layout.
From top menu list select Window > Workspace > Reset...
This will reset it to defult setting for your earlier selection.
You can also choose from multiple different layouts available or create your own and save.
Refer to the below link for more details:
Thank you so much, I feel a little embarrassed about it being something so simple though.