Using Actions for Repetitive Tasks in Photoshop


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Actions in Photoshop make performing repetitive tasks faster and reduces the chance of making an error. In this tutorial, learn how to record an action, save it, and use it.
Uses Tool(s) Photoshop CS5


Introduction to Actions

Actions are useful because they automate repetitive tasks, which reduces the chance of errors. This tutorial will create an action that reformats a group of screenshots so that they are cropped, desaturated and saved as print resolution JPEG files. Any set of actions can be recorded and saved for later use.

Actions are often used on large batches or sequences of files. Before starting, make sure that the first file in the batch is opened in Photoshop so that recording can begin immediately. It is also helpful to have a separate folder already created for saving the files once they are Photoshopped.

Creating a New Action

The first step is to create a new action. If the Actions Panel is not already open, click on Window in the menu bar and click on Actions. To create a new action, click on the icon of a flipping page at the bottom of the panel. Name the action and define a keystroke for later use. The record button is automatically depressed once a new action is created, so now any steps that are taken are recorded as part of the action.

Recording an Action

The next step is to record an action. In this tutorial, the image is cropped , changed to print resolution , and then saved as a JPEG. Once all of the steps are done, click on the stop button to stop recording.

Playing and Editing an Action

Now, open the next image and run the action that was just created. To run the action, click on the name of the action in the Actions Panel and press the play button at the bottom of the panel. Another way to run the action is to press combination of keys in the keystroke that was defined when the action was created.

To add more steps to the action, press the record button, go through the steps, and press then press the stop button. In this tutorial, the image is desaturated. If the step appears out of order in the Actions Panel, click and drag it to the correct position. Steps can be re-recorded, deleted, or added in the Actions Panel.

Be sure to check the folder where the new images are being saved to make sure that the action is working correctly.

Saving an Action

To use the action again in the future, choose "New Set" from the Actions Panel menu, or click on the folder icon at the bottom of the panel. Name the set and then drag the action into the folder. When the file is saved as a Photoshop document, the folder will be saved along with it so that the action can be accessed whenever you open the file.

Common Problems