Photoshop Actions

Photoshop actions are a series of steps that will achieve a specified result (kind of like Photoshop Cruise Controls). 

Every copy of Photoshop comes with a set of commonly used actions.  In addition, there are folks who love to write them and make them available for downloading.  They range from the simple to the really, really complicated.

The advantage of using them is that you can eliminate repetitive tasks and let the automated process do a task much more quickly.

Typical actions include ...
  • Aging a photo.
  • Vignetting.
  • Sepia toning.
  • Text effects.
  • Different textures.
Let's say, for instance, that you a a nut about Sepia Toned pictures and you just can't wait to get rid of all that distracting color information on all of your pictures.  There's an action that will do that for you quickly and efficiently.

There are also some actions that will take about 5 or more minutes to run!  These are in-depth and thorough.  I have a couple that were downloaded from different sites and they are, in a word, impressive!

And you know what - the folks who wrote them were beginners with actions at one time and had to learn the basics of writing their own ,,,

Write Your Own Actions

It is surprisingly easy to write a Photoshop Action, especially a simple 2 or 3 step process.

You can also write a very complicated multi-step technique if you feel so inclined.

Rather than give written step by step instructions on how to write an action, the following video will make it much easier to follow along and understand the process.

There are a couple of things you need to know first.

  1. You can stop an action to provide an instructional comment anywhere you wish.
  2. You can open menus and make manual modifications anywhere in you wish in the steps.

To do these things you just need to know how to add a Stop and/or a Menu Item in your action.

The Palette

The recording controls are at the bottom of the Action Palette.

The four that are highlighted are the ...
  1. New Action (Green)
  2. Stop Recording/Playback Button (Red)
  3. The Start Recording Button.(Blue)
  4. The Play Button.(Yellow)
photoshop actions

When you click on the New Action Button this is the screen that  will appear ...

Photoshop actions

  • Name - describing the Action.
  • Set - where you want to store it in the Actions palette.
  • Function Key - a nice little shortcut if you use it a lot.
  • Color - self explanatory.

When the Record button is clicked the palette closes and the Start Recording Button turns red.  Now everything you do with Phototshop will be part of the Action until you click the Stop Recording Button.

To run the Action just highlight the action and click the Play Button and away goes your nice, new action.

Inserting Stops

After recording a Photoshop Action the steps are all visible like on the left image below.

On the left side of the nice new Action are checkmarks for each step that was programmed.   If a step is unchecked then it is ignored when the action is running.

Photoshop Actions Photoshop Actions

If you would like the Action to stop at every step or just a single step click the Toggle Dialogue On/Off buttons (outlined in red).

This is useful if you want to modify an adjustment layer, for instance.  If the Stop is not inserted then the original adjustments will be applied every time the Action is run.

photoshop actions

At the top of the History palette on the right side is a little arrow head.  Click that and a whole menu appears.

Everything that can be done at the bottom of the palette can also be done here and there are some additonal menus.

If the Insert Stop item is selected then you can enter a commnets when the Action Stops.  This can be reminder about the adjustment or instructions to someone who is running your Action.

You can also select one of the steps in your Action and choose Start Recording to insert additional steps.


Photoshop Actions

My Photoshop Actions

I have 1000's of images on my site and they all have to conform to physical and file size constraints.

Most of my images start as Olympus Raw files which are way too big.

Rather than go through the tedious work of downsizing my images using the file menus, I have written a bunch of short Actions to do the resize quickly.

The ones I wrote that are the most commonly used are:
  • Downsize 400
  • Downsize 350
  • Downsize 300
  • Downsize 250
  • Downsize thumbnail
  • Upsize
On the Histogram page, it only took about 5 minutes, using Actions, to prepare all of the images in the table near the bottom of the page.

They really can be a work saver!

Enjoy This Site?
Then why not use the button below, to add us to your favorite bookmarking service?

Return to top

Site build It!

Use the Contact Form to ask questions, provide feedback or comments.

Questions are good - so are comments - or requests!

Return to Photoshop Tutorials from Photoshop Actions
Copyright© 2009-2011.