Are Photoshop and OS fully updated?
As with all unexplainable Photoshop-problems you might try trashing the prefs (after making sure all customized presets like Actions, Patterns, Brushes etc. have been saved and making a note of the Preferences you’ve changed) by keeping command-alt-shift pressed on starting the program or starting from a new user-account.
System Maintenance (repairing permissions, purging PRAM, running cron-scripts, cleaning caches, etc.) might also be beneficial, Onyx has been recommended for such tasks.
Weeding out bad fonts never seems to be a bad idea, either. (Validate your fonts in Font Book and remove the bad ones.)
If 3rd party plug-ins are installed try disabling them to verify if one of those may be responsible for the problem.
It's a virgin computer, with an up to date OSX, and a fresh CS5 install.
My description of the problem would perhaps suggest that the 16Gb of RAM I just installed might be the problem - I'm running the Apple hardware test now.
That said, I've been playing with Actions in CS5 for the last few days on a couple of different computers (I'm normally a CS2 user), and the 'not currently available' warning has appeared several times when I wouldn't expect it. Is CS5 temperemental when it comes to running actions?
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Try changing your actions playback options to slow the action pause for a second, you computer may be running faster now. I see this problem in Illustrator all the time, but never really in Photoshop.
Though if the purpose of your action is to test speed, this may not be a solution for you, but alteaast help you identify the source of your problem.
Some more info.
If I restart Photoshop, the action will run successfully - but only once. If I try to run it again, on the same starting image, is fails at the high pass filter stage. Very strange.
Thanks for the tip. By adding the 1 second pause between steps, the action is now completing reliably, every time.
Not so useful for my particular purpose - speedtesting - but a great tip for general use.
So what's happening here? With the 16Gb of RAM installed the action is running very fast (1min 27s, vs. 2min 12s with 8Gb RAM). Is it running so fast that CS5 trips over itself?