Adobe Photoshop: Using Actions

You may wish to Automate a certain process within Adobe Photoshop allowing you to save time on repetitive tasks. A ‘Macro’ system is available (within Adobe Photoshop) for recording simple or complex procedures. In order to access this facility, let’s start by opening the ‘Actions’ floating palette. If you can’t find this within your work areas, then click on the Window menu item and choose it from the drop-down list.


Let’s start by creating our first Action. Click on the ‘Create New Action’ button at the bottom of the (Action) floating palette to begin

In this tutorial I will create an Action that will, first of all, reduce the size of a file, and then apply a certain filter to it.

Let’s give this Action a name. It can be anything you want, as long as it is memorable. Once you have done this, you can then assign a ‘Quick-key’ or ‘Function-key’ to this particular Action. You can even add a combination of other keys, so when this key is press in conjunction with another key, then this Action will be Executed. You can also assign a colour to this Action, which we help you quickly identify it in the future once you have change visual modes from ‘Manager’ mode to ‘Button’ mode.


Once you are comfortable with the setup, then it is time to start recording. Click on the record button. (Nearly) Everything you do from now on will be recorded as a part of the Action. You will see, within the Action manager, an item has appeared on the list label with the name you typed in previously. You will notice that the record button is now active, showing you that you are now in record mode.

Now, let’s change our image size by clicking on the ‘Image’ menu item and choosing ‘Image Size…’ from the drop-down list. The Image Size dialogue box should now appear. Type in a new measurement and click on OK. You will see, instantly and a new item appears in the Actions manager. If I expand that menu, a description of this action has been recorded, containing all of the information that we have just typed in.

Now add a filter to complete this tutorial. I am going to add the Graphics Pen filter – click on OK. Once you have done this, it is then time to stop recording. Click on the ‘Stop Playing/Recording’ button – the Action is now complete.


In order to make the most of your Actions, you are better off changing the visual mode of the Actions palette by clicking on the small sub-menu and choosing ‘Button Mode’ from the drop-down list. And there we can see, the Action we have just created. Our Action has appeared on the Action palette as a button – colour-coded with a quick key reference.


Let us close our current image and test this Action out on another image. Now, all I need to do is to click on the button and the Action is executed.

Look at the History palette to see what has happened. As you can see, the Image size has been changed and a filter has been added.


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