Actions are a series of commands that are recorded once and then played back on a single image or on several images using the Batch command. You could record an action that first changes a color image to grayscale, then uses a filter to create an effect, saves the file as a .gif to use on your Web site, and then use that action on a whole folder of images to save yourself all sorts of time.

You use the Actions palette to record Record button, play Play Button, create New Action button, or delete Trash button individual actions. Actions can be grouped into organized sets. What follows is a breakdown of the Actions palette.

Actions Palette
  1. Action or set with excluded command(s)
  2. Action or set with a modal control (at some point, a command will ask you for input)
  3. Excluded command
  4. Dialog control (toggles modal control on or off)
  5. Include control (toggles inclusion on or off)
  6. Stop button
  7. Record button
  8. Play button
  9. New Set button
  10. New Action button
  11. Trash button
  12. Set
  13. Action
  14. Recorded commands

Creating a New Action

  1. Open a file.
  2. Click the New Action button in the Actions palette.
  3. In the window that pops up:
    • Name your action.
    • Assign which set the action will belong to.
    • Assign the action a keyboard shortcut (optional).
    • Click the Record button (Record button).
  4. Begin performing the steps you wish to record.
  5. When you are finished, click the Stop button (Stop button). If you make a mistake, you can always stop recording by clicking the Stop button, delete the bad step, and then restart recording by clicking the Record button again.

Playing an Action

  1. Open an image file.
  2. Select the action in the Action palette.
  3. Either click the Play button (Play Button) or use the action's shortcut key.
  4. Watch the miracle of actions!

Batch Processing

There are all sort of ways to put an action to good use. You could open another file and simply click the Play button to perform the action on one image or you could choose to perform the action as a "batch process." The Batch command allow you to perform an action on many files at once with little interaction. This command can be quite handy when you may have hundreds of photos to process (say, to shrink them all to a given size), as is the case now with many people using digital cameras.

Batch Window

To perform a batch process:

  1. Go to File > Automate > Batch.
  2. Choose the Set that your action is assigned to.
  3. Choose the Action.
  4. Choose the Source of the files upon which the batch will be performed (the easiest is to have all of your files in a folder, and choose Folder).
  5. Check or uncheck the appropiate Source option checkboxes.
  6. Choose the Destination for the processed images (choosing Folder is the easiest and safest).
  7. Customize the File Naming options if you wish.
  8. Click OK.


Droplets are small executable files that process an image or group of images that are dropped onto their icon (on the desktop or wherever you save them). Droplets allow portability of your actions from one computer to another (the computers must still have Adobe Photoshop on them).

Go to File > Automate > Create Droplet to access the Droplet dialog. You may notice that the Droplet dialog is similar to the Batch dialog. Where the two dialogs differ is that the Droplets dialog replaces the Batch dialog's Source option with the Save Droplet In option. The rest of the dialog works the same as the Batch dialog.

To use a droplet, simply drag and drop a selected group of images onto the droplet's icon. If Photoshop is closed when you do so, the droplet will open Photoshop, perform the actions, and then leave Photoshop active when it is finished.

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