Creating (Recording) an Action in Photoshop CS

Peggy Farren 2013-08-12

by Victor Biggs

If you have ever used a Macro in a spreadsheet or a word processing program then you already know what an Action is.

The most difficult thing about actions is convincing people how easy they are to do.

The most useful actions are the simple ones that automate repetitive chores.

In Photoshop go to the top Menu, choose "Window" and make sure Actions is checked. Or Press F9 for the shortcut to open the Actions palette.

The graphic below is the Actions Panel. There are several buttons but right now we are mostly concerned with 2 of them,

  • Create New Action, circled in Green is where you begin.
  • The Square, circled in Blue, is what you click on to Stop recording.

The circle next to the Square will turn red while you are recording, but you don’t need to do anything with it.

Click on Create New Action and you will get this dialog box. Photoshop New Action NameName the Action something that describes what it does, such as "Resize to 72 ppi" or whatever you are doing.

Leave the Set as Default Actions.

For the purposes of this exercise choose F12 as the function key and click on Shift and Control then press Record. (Don’t worry about overwriting Hot Keys or other Actions Photoshop will warn you if the key sequence you choose is already in use. ).

The Record button will turn red to let you know you’re recording. Now just do whatever editing or "actions" you want the Action to automate. When you’re finished click on the square box at the bottom of the Actions panel to STOP recording (See graphic above. The STOP button is circled in blue).

You’re done.

Just to get the feel of it, try creating a few Actions with some simple commands like “Duplicate a layer” and change the Blend mode to Multiply. Actions don’t have to be forever. Just as an example let’s say you were working on large files and you wanted to reduce them to 2000 pixels and 72 ppi. Instead of opening the Layers command and Image Size and changing the Pixels and the Resolution just press your hot key and it’s done. When you’ve finished the project drag the Action into the Trash can.

If you do photography for a living rather than a hobby it would serve you well to become familiar with actions in depth. It can save you hours of nuisance work. A well-crafted Action in conjunction with Photoshop Automate Batch commands is truly a powerful tool.

Victor Biggs is an award winning photographer in Englewood, Florida. He has been a Photoshop enthusiast since Photoshop v7 (over 12 years ago!). Vic is Assistant Vice President of the Brookdale Foundation, which holds as its mission "To enhance the quality of life of America’s elderly".

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