I find resizing photos for web output to be one of the most boring and repetitive tasks in post-processing. My workflow consists of only creating JPEGs as needed, and deleting them when they’ve done their deed. My photo archive also consists of RAW (from the dSLR), TIFF (from film scans), and PSD files, in both AdobeRGB and grayscale color spaces.

So with all these requirements, I found that a Photoshop action is the way to go. I process a big batch of photos with Bridge/ACR, and I use a batch process to create all my Flickr files at once. The really cool thing about the action I’ve created is that it doesn’t care what kind of file you have or what color space it’s in. The output is always the same — 800 pixels on the long edge, sRGB, a quality of 12, etc.

HOW IT WORKS

The action was built to be fairly robust against an array of possible image settings and file types. The main idea behind the action is to be “hands free” so it can blast through a big set of photos with no interaction from the user.

The action first flattens any layers that may be present. Then it moves on to scale it down while still in the original color space and bit depth. After downsizing, the action converts to RGB mode just in case you were working in LAB or grayscale. And since the intent is to create images for the web, we then convert to sRGB color space. And so we can save as a JPEG, we then convert to 8 bits. Now it’s time for output, so the action saves the file to a set destination at high quality while maintaining the original file name and metadata. The last step is to close the image without saving so it can move on to the next one if using a batch process.

If you don’t have things like layers or other color spaces, the action just keeps going without warning you — it’s no big deal, those steps are just to make it more robust.

BEFORE YOU USE IT

The action is intended to be customized for each person using it. At a minimum, you’ll want to change the location of the saved file. I put my Flickr exports in a folder on my desktop, but you can put yours wherever you want.

To change the location of the saved files, first open up a file to work with. Then go into the action and uncheck the last two lines — “Save” and “Close”. Run the action. Now double-click on the “Save” command to modify it. When you do this, you’ll see a save dialog box. Simply navigate to the folder of your choice and press “Save” — don’t mess with the file name or you’ll end up saving every single image in the future with the same exact name. After you re-record this step, you can check the “Save” and “Close” lines and you should be in business.

You can also do the same type of thing with the “Image Size” command if you want something other than 800 pixels. Just make note of which action you’re editing (horizontal or vertical) because you have to type the values into the corresponding box (width or height, respectively).

HOW TO USE IT

As I just mentioned, there are two actions. This is to take care that vertical and horizontal images maintain a common maximum size. If you run a vertical image through the horizontal action, you’ll get a photo at 800 pixels on the short edge rather than the long edge. And square cropped photos don’t care which one you use.

You can run the action on single photos if you’d like — just be aware of the “Close” command at the end of the action. Uncheck it if you don’t want to close the image after exporting.

The best way to run this action is with a batch process. You can do this from Bridge by selecting the photos you want to export and clicking “Tools >> Photoshop >> Batch…” You can also do it straight from Photoshop by clicking “File >> Automate >> Batch…” Either method gets you the same dialog box. Then you pick the action from the drop-down menu. If you run it from Bridge, all you have to do is hit “OK” and it starts running. If you run it from Photoshop, you’ll have to tell it where to get the files from too.

DOWNLOAD THE ACTION

I hope some of you will find this useful with your workflow. I know it saves me a ton of time! This article is one of my own project submissions to the Action and Preset Extravaganza.

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Very useful action. I often find myself running through the exact same series of steps repeatedly.

One question: is it that there’s no way to automate a max size of 800 in either direction or that you prefer to deal with horizontal and vertical images separately?

December 23, 2008 4:57 am

Great ! Um, is it just me and my Mac that I seem to have problems downloading the action? Even right click/save only downloads a /txt file?

Thanks anyhow for the great contributions and Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2008 8:37 am

The Image Processor script already does everything that this action does (and more). It’s available under File…Scripts, but more usefully you can use it in Bridge by selecting Tools…Photoshop…Image Processor (I think; I’m away from my computer right now). When you use it in Bridge, you can select a single file or a whole folder, and it will convert every file to the format and size that you select, covert them to sRGB if you want, and save them in a subfolder (JPEG, PSD, or TIFF) or a folder that you select. You can throw RAW, PSD, JPEG, and TIFF files at it, and it works just fine.

I use Image Processor, which was originally written by Russell Brown, all the time whenever I’m generating a JPEG that needs to be resized. It’s invaluable.

December 23, 2008 10:48 am

@John I haven’t found a way for it to be wrapped into one action — but somebody else out there might be able to enlighten us.

@Amo I’m sorry to hear it’s not working for you — I really couldn’t tell you what the problem might be, I’m not a Mac. Anybody else on Mac?

@BH Yup, that script does pretty much the same thing (and more). I guess the one thing about the action is that you don’t have to choose a destination folder each time you use it. The intent is to output to the same place every time for your most heavily used websites. But if you want to output to different folders all the time, the script is probably a better choice.

December 23, 2008 11:45 am

Of course, if you have Lightroom…. ;)

LR will also batch save files to a common location AND you can set it to resize the “Long” end of the photo to 800px so orientation is irrelevant. Just set an Export preset, select all photos and go. Better yet, instead of creating JPEGs on disk that you’ll delete later, you can export them direct to Flickr or most other photo sites, or even FTP to a webspace and skip the delete step as well.

Just beating the horse a bit more :)

December 23, 2008 12:37 pm

Hi again Brian,

Yes, once before I tried to download an action that was made with a PC – same thing. I guess it does not work on both types of systems.

Lucky PC ducks!

Amo

December 23, 2008 12:55 pm

@Jason Yeah, yeah, yeah… Lightroom. One of these days I’ll probably start using it. The things you just noted are definitely awesome features.

@Amo there’s got to be a way to get it to work. I wouldn’t think that the action file is specific to pc or mac. I’ll see what I can dig up on this topic.

December 23, 2008 1:12 pm

Yeah, yeah , yeah, Lightroom!

Even better than Jason’s suggestion would be to head on over to Jeffrey Friedl’s Blog (http://www.regex.info/blog) and download one of his many export plugins that will do all of thies automatically, AND upload it to Flickr too. All in one step!

He has plugins for many popular photosharing sites (Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, Zenfolio), and Facebook too. This is definitely the way to go… One day you’ll come around!!

December 23, 2008 3:59 pm

I’ll probably be the last photographer on Earth to jump over to Lightroom. I’m almost convinced… but not quite yet. Maybe LR3 will do it for me.

December 23, 2008 4:15 pm

Too funny! The ice age is coming!

December 23, 2008 4:17 pm

I found a free online image resizer called QuickResizer Image Resizer. If you are away from your PC and don’t want to download any software, you can just use this online version for free. It’s quick and it’s easy to use.

You can also download their full version of QuickResizer image resizer if you want to resize multiple files in a folder with just a click of the mouse.

December 24, 2008 1:56 am

I used to use a very similar script that I made, but once I found out about Image Processor, I started using that. The nice thing about Photoshop though, is there’s 10 billion ways to do the same thing :)

Photoshop does have a tool that will let you have only one action to handle both portrait and landscape oriented images. File -> Automate -> Fit Image

I tried Lightroom 2.0, and never did find it very useful compared to my workflow in Bridge/ACR. Especially now that PS4/ACR has the adjustment brush like in Lightroom,

December 24, 2008 4:14 pm

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2008 11:53 pm

Thanks so much! I hate to admit it…but I’ve just been uploading my full res photos to Flickr! So this will be very useful…and now people won’t be able to steal my stuff as easily! Thanks!

December 26, 2008 1:20 am


worked great for me! Thanks!

AMO: I am on a Mac as well, running Leopard and PS CS4. had no problems with installing it. I right-clicked to Save As download, then pulled it in the PS Actions folder, restarted PS, then double-clicked to install. Works like a charm!

December 27, 2008 10:18 pm

Hi Guys

Is it really necessary to jpeg at 12 for what is effectively a screen image? It makes for large file sizes and I suspect you could get right down to about 8 without noticing any quality loss on the screen. At 800px longest edge, noone is going to be maginifying or printing. Perhaps some experimentation with quality settings is in order.

=) Marc

December 28, 2008 9:59 pm

You’re right, 12 isn’t necessary. I usually save out to a 10 for the images I post on the blogs. Sometimes you can see the artifacts at 9, and usually at 8. Anything below that is definitely noticeable. I figure with my Flickr photos, why not go full quality? It’s not like I’m trying to optimize load times. And at 800px, the files to upload are still tiny.

December 28, 2008 11:06 pm

This is such interesting article. Flickr is the good way to share your photos with all.

December 29, 2008 4:29 am

Hi there,

I’ve searched for a good tool to resize, sharpen and save many jpg images at once for a long time and I’ve finally found a really great freeware that I would like to recommend. It can do a few more things than the interesting action that you programmed, so maybe you’ll find it as useful as I do:

1.You can process many pictures at once.

2. You can define a maximum file size. The software will save all images at that file size, each with the best image quality possible. This is very handy when you want to post the pictures to a website that has a file size limit and you want the best quality.

2. You can resize the picture and you won’t have problems with different orientations. Just leave one axis at “0″ and the programme will automatically detect if your picture is portrait or landscape.

3. You can apply a certain level of sharpening to all images. This is VERY useful because most pictures will look dull after you resize them. I miss this very important option in your action.

4. You can add a custom border (with many options) – only if you want to of course.

5. You can add a signature – only if you want to again…

IMPORTANT: How to switch the software language to English:

The programme is a freeware programmed by a German programmer. Thus the download site is in German only. But don’t you worry: Just download the jpgcompressor.zip (link is on the right site of the website linked below). Then unpack the files into a folder and just run the exe – no need to install! Now everything is German… DON’T WORRY! In the upper right corner of the programme is a button called “Sprache umschalten”. Click that button to switch the language top English!

Dowload the software here (see above for language issues):
http://www.nsonic-net.de/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=296&Itemid=52

There you go!

Have fun, Alex

December 29, 2008 8:05 am

Brian – Success! Thanks to Lynly, I tried one more time with my old Mac and old version of PS ….I right clicked to save and was sent a file called “Flickr Resizer.atn.txt”. I deleted the “.txt” appendage (Are you sure ? they ask – YES!) et voila! a true blue PS Action!! And this is definately one I’d like to tool around with!

Cheers and all the best!

Amo

December 29, 2008 2:30 pm

Great news!

December 29, 2008 4:18 pm

I realized that flickr was doing something weird to my photos, and liked it. Before I stumbled across this I didn’t even know about bicubic sharper resizing. Phew. Thanks!

January 11, 2009 11:43 pm

WoW, This article is not so new but these tips are really new for me and also very useful too … Thanks Brian

April 19, 2009 6:48 am

Comment now!