how to use photoshop actions

How to Use Photoshop Actions

In Photoshop Tutorials by Stefano CaioniLeave a Comment

Are you looking to understand how to use Photoshop actions to improve your efficiency?

Photoshop has some amazing features that make the lives of artists, photographers, and other users very easy. Photoshop actions are one of these.

In this article, you’ll learn how to use Photoshop actions to make your post-processing edits easier!

Related: Editing Photos in Photoshop

Why Use Photoshop Actions

Photoshop actions are designed to make the life of users easier. They are aimed at reducing the repetitive and mundane tasks performed by the user. Instead, they are automated and performed by the tool itself without human intervention. For example, if you want to resize a thousand photos, you would have to sit down and resize them one after the other. Even using keyboard shortcuts, this is an incredibly taxing task. If you were to use actions, you can resize an image, save it as an action, and then let Photoshop resize all the other photos for you! If you want to add a logo to an image, you can just save it as an action and have the tool take care of it for the remaining photos.

Although these are fairly simple examples, you can harness the power of actions to do more complex but repetitive tasks for you.

How to Use Photoshop Actions Step-by-Step

Step 1: Turn on Photoshop Actions

You must first ensure that the action palette can be seen. If it isn’t, go to Window on the menu bar. Then select actions. Alternatively, you can use Alt + F9 (on PC) or Option + F9 (on Mac) to directly bring it up.

Step 2: Download Actions

The next step is to create some Photoshop actions and understand what they can do. You can go to the Photoshop Actions module and download some actions. There are ATN and ZXP file formats for Photoshop actions. ATN files will directly load into the tool itself, while ZXP will go through the Adobe Extension Manager. Using ATN files is easier and is what you must look for.

Step 3: Loading the File

Once you have downloaded the ATN files, find the .atn file. Double click on it and open it up on the Actions panel. If you don’t see the action, you can click on the panel menu and select Load Actions to load it manually.

With ZXP files, you can install them using the Adobe Extensions Manager. Extension Manager is great for managing all your actions in a single place. The main issue with the Extension Manager is that you cannot find actions on it. You need to first load them into the Action panel before using them.

Step 4: Safety Precautions

Note that not all actions are safe to use. Always ensure that you save your document before running an action. If you use too many actions, you history panel will get filled, and you will not be able to revert.

Step 5: Using Actions

Actions are fairly easy to use. Select one of the actions from your Actions panel and then click on the play icon to launch it. Many actions have instructions also with them, which you must follow. You may have to paint over sections and perform other adjustments. Instructions will appear as pop ups.

How to Use Photoshop Actions: Features

Basic Operations

  • Reset Actions: This option clears all the actions and also sets the default to the action panel.
  • Clear Actions: All the actions and sets are removed from the Action panel.
  • Replace Actions: You can replace actions and sets with the selected ones. All loading actions and actions are combined in a single step.
  • Save Actions: After creating some actions yourself, you can save them as .atn files. They can then be sent to your friends or uploaded somewhere.
  • Load Actions: You can load action sets and actions into your panel.

Button Mode

The Actions panel for Photoshop can be switched over to something called ‘Button Mode’. This makes all the actions clickable like buttons. Click on the Action panel menu on the top right of the panel. The first option in the drop down will be Button Mode.

In Button Mode, you cannot see the commands itself, but only the name of the action.

Control Playback Options

You can set the playback speed for your actions using the playback dialog box. There are 3 options that you have.

  • Accelerated: In this, the actions will be played as fast as possible. This is usually the best choice.
  • Pause for x Seconds: In this option, the action is paused for the defined number of seconds before going on to the net command.
  • Step by Step: This option refreshes the screen after each command.

Final Notes

Now that you know how to use Photoshop actions, your editing and post-processing activities are bound to become faster!

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