Use Photoshop Actions To Save Time

Do you have some sequence of edits, mouse clicks, or keystrokes that you find yourself doing on a repeated basis, day in and day out? I certainly do. One of my most repeated pieces of Photoshop work is saving something down for Flickr.

First I have to flatten all the layers. Then I size it down to 800 pixels on the longest dimension. Then I convert to sRGB color space. Then switch over to 8-bits. Then, finally, I can save it to a “Flickr” folder on my desktop for uploading. Oh, and then I have to close the file. This is painful if I have even more than one image to process. So I made a couple of Photoshop actions to make quick work of it.

I made one action for horizontal aspects and one for vertical aspects because I set a specific dimension for downsizing. If I use the horizontal action on a vertical photo, I’ll end up with something that’s 800 pixels on the short dimension. The other handy thing about the actions is that the files get saved to the same folder every time, so I don’t have to specify anything in the save dialog box. It’s definitely handy for me!

If you haven’t made your own actions before, you’re missing out. It’s seriously easy, and you can get quite complex with them if the need arises. A Photoshop action is just a record of a sequence of post-processing steps. If you work on a photo, you’ll see that Photoshop keeps a history of what you’re doing. An action is very similar to that history, but you can play it back on different photos to make the program do the work for you.

In a follow-up article, I’ll show you how to make a Photoshop action and I’ll use my “Flickr save” action as an example. I’ll go through the basics of creating the action, runtime options, and talk about some other examples of what you can do with them.

8 thoughts on “Use Photoshop Actions To Save Time

  1. Lori

    Can you use actions with any photoshop program? I am purchasing the latest elements addition (because it’s in my price range) and was wonderng those work for all.

  2. Brian Auer Post author

    I really don’t know… I haven’t used Elements for a long time. I would assume so, since it’s really not that advanced of a feature. Any Elements users out there who can answer this one? And how about the GIMP? Does that have a similar feature?

  3. Arlo

    I use a watermark action to drop my watermark in any photo I am using. I have one for each camera to save moving the watermark around. I also use a flatten layer action and a 72 dpi action. These were the only ones I used until discovered the Epic Edits Weblog actions set. Great and fun action pack. Thanks.

  4. Cody Redmon

    I’ve been using Photoshop extensively since Version 4 back in ’97 and the Actions functionality is by far one of my favorite innovations to come along. I have a number of large action sets which I use for basic ruling/layout, graphic design, photo production, etc. – together I probably have close to 60 scripts. I can’t even begin to think of the hours of clicks I’ve saved… I hope folks take your advice on this one, Brian, it’s solid. Great post.

  5. Brian Auer Post author

    Thanks Cody, I hope you’ll chime in on Friday when I run the larger article on how to create the actions and talk about different possibilities for action sets. I’m always interested in hearing about or seeing other people’s actions or presets, and i usually collect them whenever I come across something on the web.

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