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Actions in Adobe Photoshop CS4


June 17, 2011

One of the coolest features of Photoshop, which I just discovered last year, is the actions window. This feature can be used to save series of commands or alterations in a group to be performed on demand at a later point. For those of you who are familiar with actions, you know how convenient and helpful it can be, and for those of you who don’t this is something you should know.

Photoshop actions are extremely helpful if you have multiple images you need to modify, be it color correct, optimize, resize, etc., so web designers listen up because this can come in handy. The first thing you need to do is open up an image in Photoshop, and then under the Window menu, select Actions (alt+F9 for PC) to open up tour actions.

Image opened with Actions window

For this example I have chosen several changes such as converting to B/W, resizing, and adding text, but you may replace the following with whatever you may need to do to your own images. So the next thing you want to do is in the Actions window, click the “new layer” icon (second from the left) at the bottom of the window, and a dialogue box will appear for you to name and label your new action with a color and hot key.

Once you have named and labeled your new action, you will want to press the Record button and begin your series of changes (once you click record, the actions will be keeping track of every change you make and saving it in order). For this I have chosen to 1)convert my image to black and white, 2) add a curves adjustment layer, 3) resize the image, and 4)optimize it for the web. Once you have finished making changes you will need to click the square “stop” icon on the bottom left of the Actions window to stop the “recording”.

Once you clicked the “stop” icon you will see your new action with a list of everything that you’ve done to the image as you see below. You will see the action called “Example Action” and its corresponding list.

The altered image with new action saved

Now to utilize this new action that you just created all you need to do is open a new image, select the action from the Actions window, and click the “play” icon which is third from the left at the bottom of the window and you’re all set.

This feature can be your best friend if you are creating thumbnails or same sized images for a website because it saves you from having to do these same changes image after image and you can save them for as long as you need. Many photographers also use this feature if they find a certain technique to convert to black and white, or add contrast so they can have almost custom filters at the press of a button.

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