Actions are a powerful feature in Photoshop that can save you time by performing repetitive tasks for you automatically and by batch processing multiple images when you need to apply the same set of steps to many images.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to record a simple action to resize a series of images, and then we’ll show you how to use it with a batch automation command to process multiple images. While we’ll be creating a simple action in this tutorial, once you know the process, you can create as complex actions as you want.
- Action palette
- Create Action Set
- Name your new activity
- Write commands for your actions
- Write the “Save As” command
- Stop recording
- Set up batch processing
This tutorial was written with Photoshop CS3. If you are using Photoshop CC, click the menu button fly out next to the arrows. The arrows collapse the menu.
To capture an action, you must use the action palette. If the action palette is not visible on your screen, open it by going to Windown † Actions †
Notice the menu arrow in the top right corner of the action palette. This arrow represents the action menu shown here.
Create Action Set
Click the arrow to open the menu and select New set † An action set can contain multiple actions. If you’ve never created actions before, it’s a good idea to save all your personal actions in a set.
Enter a name for the new action and click Okay †
Name your new activity
Then select New promotion in the palette menu Actions † Give your action a descriptive name, such as “ Resize image to 800×600 ” for our example. After you click . clicked Record you will see a red dot on the action palette to indicate that you are recording.
Write commands for your actions
Go to File † automate † Post image and type 800 for width and 600 for altitude. We use this command instead of the command resize because it ensures that no image is larger than 800 pixels or wider than 600 pixels, even if the aspect ratio does not match.
Write the “Save As” command
Then go to File † Save as † Select JPEG for the save format and make sure the checkbox is checked in the save options Like a copy † Click Okay then a dialog box will appear. JPEG options † Select the quality and size options and click again Okay to save the file.
Finally, go to the palette Actions and press the button stop to end the recording.
Now you have an action. In the next step, we’ll show you how to use it in batch processing.
Set up batch processing
To use an action in batch mode, go to File † automate † package † You will see the dialog box that appears here.
In the dialog box, select the set and action you just created under play †
Select “Map” as the source and then click Select … to go to the folder containing the images you want to process.
Select as destination folder and go to another folder for Photoshop to run the modified images.
You can choose Not or Save and Close to tell Photoshop to save them in their original folder, but we don’t recommend doing this. It’s too easy to make a mistake and overwrite the original files. If you are sure that your batch processing was successful, you can move the files if you want.
Make sure to check the box Override the Save As action for commands so that new files are saved without being prompted. (For more information about this option, see Photoshop Help under Task Automation † Process a batch of files † Batch and drop processing options †
In the file naming section you can choose how you want to name your files. In the screenshot, as you can see, we add “ -800×600 ‘ to the original document name. You can use the drop-down menus to select predefined data for these fields or enter it directly into the fields.
In case of errors, you can stop the batch process or create an error log file.
After setting the parameters, click Okay , then sit back and watch Photoshop do the work for you. If you have an action and know how to use the batch command, you can always use it if you have multiple photos that need to be resized. You can even take another action to rotate a folder of images or do some other image processing that you would normally do manually.