Photoshop Actions to reduce Repetition

If you are using Adobe Photoshop to perform repetitive tasks, why not take a look at the 'Actions' palette?

Actions are macro routines condensed into buttons and quick-key combinations. With Actions you can 'record' routines at any level of complexity to use later on other images.

So many people are unaware of the existence or Actions or are too scared to use them, but they really are quite straight forward to implement.

Where to start?

We will need to open an image within Adobe Photoshop and ensure that the Action floating palette is open. If you can't find the Action palette, simply go to (menu bar) Window>Actions or press Alt and F9.

Depending on your current setup, the Action palette should present you with a collapse and expand list. If all you see are colour buttons, then click on the small menu icon (triangle in a circle) at the top right of the Actions palette and choose 'Button Mode' from the drop-down list. This toggle feature should switch from button mode to development mode, allowing you to create and edit Actions.

Creating an Action

Along the bottom of the Action palette you will find the 'Create new action' button (2nd from the right). Click on it.

The New Action dialogue box should appear. Type in a name for your Action, choose a colour (for colour coding purposes) and a short-cut to it if you wish. You can also organise your Action into 'Sets', but they are not covered in this article.

Now click on record to start creating your Action. Nearly everything you do from now on will be recorded.

Experiment with different Adobe Photoshop features, i.e. add a filter, change the image size/colour mode or even transform a layer, etc. You will notice that each and every step you make will now become incorporated within the Actions palette's listings beneath the name you gave to it.

When you are finished with creating your Action, click on the 'Stop playing/recording' button (first from the left) to end.

You should now have successfully created an Action.

To use it, you'd be advised to change back to 'Button mode' by clicking on the menu icon on the palette and selecting it from the drop-down list.

Try opening another image and apply your Action to it. Can you now see the possibilities? Actions can be saved and transferred; offering the possibility of exchanging or even selling well constructed and useful Actions over the net. So be creative and most importantly - experiment!

One step further

If you have a CD or folder full of images that you wish to apply your Action to, why not use (menu bar) File>Automate>Batch.... Select your Action, choose a source and target, click on 'OK', then go and make a cup of coffee and the job's done!