Photoshop Actions

Saving time with Photoshop Actions

Photoshop Actions together with Image Processor can be a huge time-saver. Let’s say you have a collection of 30 nice images and you need to apply a complex combination of adjustment layers and effects to them. Instead of opening and copying layers or recreating effects, you can record all those steps you need to apply and store it as Actions. Actions are something like “Photoshop mini applications” that will do the job for you. With these actions created, you can apply them to folders containing whatever number of images.

When to use Photoshop actions

Creating a Photoshop action is relevant when you have found general adjustments that are applicable to multiple photos. It is also relevant when you find any perfect combination of adjustment layers or effects that you want to store and use anytime. Let’s have an example.

Recently I’ve made a few adjustments to my wedding photos. With a combination of adjustment layers and effects, I managed to create an effect that worked well also for the other images. This action turns your photo into an old-style-movie-like photo. I really like this soft retro feeling. You can download this Action at the end of this article. To install this action, drag and drop it into your Actions panel in Photoshop.

Preparing proper steps for Photoshop actions

1. To create a Photoshop action, you need to know what steps to record first. In my case, I created four adjustment layers. I used Vibrace layer for skin-tone enhancement, Curves auto preset, Colorized Hue/Saturation layer turned into soft-light blending mode, gradient overlay, inner shadows and blended fibers to add some noise.

Creating a Photoshop action

2. When you have found those steps, you can record them now. Go to Window – Actions (F9). In the Actions panel click on the little folder icon to create a new set. Name it as you want and then click on the little icon Create new action. If you’re ready to record, you’ll see the Record icon in red.

Since Photoshop records every operation you make, don’t forget to stop recording in time. Of course, if you accidentally record an operation that you don’t want to have there, it’s not a problem to select it and throw into trash. Click the Stop icon when finished.

Photoshop Actions Panel

Photoshop Actions Panel

Testing your action

3. Now test your action with another image. Open any image in a new tab, find your action in Actions panel and click the Run icon. If any operation is missing or you recorded something that you didn’t want to, you can delete it or record partially.

The use of Photoshop actions varies from simple operations, just like converting from RGB to CMYK, downsampling the image sizes to some more complex procedures, such as creating an effect that turns your images into a book. However, Actions are especially useful when processing a bigger amount of images.

Photoshop Image processor

4. I love watching my screen when Photoshop is working for me. Or I just go for a coffee break when the operations are more RAM consuming. Depending on the size and amount of images, operations and performance of your computer, Photoshop will do this for you within a few seconds or minutes.

To apply your action to a multiple images create a folder with images that you like to process. Then go to File – Scripts – Image processor. 

For the Select the images to process select folder browse to navigate to select that folder for image you prepared. You can also set up destination folder, where new images will be stored and how to save it. I stayed with JPG.

Photoshop Image processor

Photoshop Image processor

5. Make sure that Run Action is checked and find your action in the dropdown menu. When you’re done, click the Run icon and let Photoshop do the rest.

Let’s get some drink in the meantime.

The images in this tutorial were used with a permission, courtesy of caseyconnellphotography.com

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