Automation with Photoshop Action Scripts

Action Scripts are Photoshop ‘s macro scripts. You just “record” a series of actions and save them for future or batch use. You can record anything, from stuff as simple as an image resize operation to a complex series of adjustments and optimizations. You can check out our Lomography Action Script to see an example of a pretty complex script.

Open up an image and file and lets get started!

1/3 Photoshop ‘s Action Window

First off, we must make the Actions window visible. Go to the Window menu and enable the Actions panel.
Photoshop Action Scripts - the Action Script Panel
The Action panel will allow you to create new Action Sets (folders) and Actions. It also allows you to start / stop the recording and adjust any action after you’ve recorded it.

Let’s create a simple image Resize and Hue/ Saturation Action Script.

2/3 Recording your first Action Script

Start by creating a new Action Folder (New Set). Press the Right-most arrow and select the New Set entry. Name it as you please.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Create an Action Set (folder)
Select our New Action Folder and click the Right-most arrow again and select the New Action entry. Once you do this, your new action will immediately start recording.
Photoshop Action Scripts - New Action
This Photoshop Action will contain all the changes you make to this image. Well, let’s jump right in. Click the Image menu and select the Image Size entry. Set it to whatever size you want and press ok.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Resize Action Script
Notice that the adjustment is recorded in the Actions panel. Go to the Image / Adjustments menu and select the Hue/ Saturation entry
Photoshop Action Scripts - Hue / Saturation Action
Set whatever values you want.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Hue / Saturation window
Notice that it again appears in Photoshop ‘s Action list. This is all we want to record for now. Click the right-most arrow again and press the Stop Recording button.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Stop Recording Action Script

3/3 Tweaks and How to use

If you think you’ve missed something, you can always continue your recording by pressing the
Start Recording button.

To tweak your values, just click the action’s arrow and double click the value you want to change.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Tweak Action Script Settings

To use your new Action Script, just go to the File / Automate menu and click the Batch entry.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Use Action Set
Select your Photoshop Action from the Drop-down list and what to apply it on (the files you have opened in Photoshop or entire folders of images)
Photoshop Action Scripts - Use Action Set

When you’re satisfied with your result, just select the Action Folder you’ve created and press the Save Actions button.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Save Action Set
To import your Photoshop actions (for use on another PC or MAC) just copy the file you’ve saved earlier and double click it or drag and drop it into Photoshop.
Photoshop Action Scripts - Import Action Set

The End

Keep in mind that you can record absolutely anything with actions so it’s all up to you. Action Scripts are incredibly flexible. Even manually applying them to every image (and tweaking the settings from the action panel) will save you a lot of time.

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Programmer and 3D enthusiast. Teaches web design, builds games and maintains this site in his spare time.

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2D/ 3D artist. Works as a print designer and does 3D art in his spare time.

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