Create an Action in Photoshop

A Beginners Tutorial

Creating Actions PhotoshopIn Adobe Photoshop, the Actions palette (Window -> Actions) gives you the ability to save time with repetitive tasks by recording routines of certain activities. These Actions can then be then played back and all parts of the recorded routine applied to an image. This tutorial will show you just how easy it is to use and create your own Actions.

The Actions Palette

Let’s start by creating a very simple Action. This action will apply Auto-Levels, UnSharp Mask and Image Size to 400px across:

  1. Ensure that the Actions palette is open on screen (Window -> Actions)
  2. If in Button Mode (see fig.2). Click on the ‘Palette Options‘ button and make sure that ‘Button mode’ to un-tick it.
  3. If you wish to be organised and keep you new Action(s) in a group (a bit like a folder in any file system), then click on the Create New Set icon.
  4. When you are ready to start, open up an image and click on Create New Action. You have the option to give your action a name ‘My first Action’ for example, put it in an Action Set and even set a Function Key shortcut. You can also assign it a colour which will be useful especially in Button Mode. Click on Record to start.
  5. Begin Recording should now turn red. You are recording!
  6. Start building your action elements:
    1. Image -> Adjustments -> Auto Levels
    2. Filters -> Sharpen -> Unsharp Mask
    3. Image -> Image Size(set width to 400px)
  7. Stop recording by clicking on the Stop Play/Record button.

Action PaletteYour first Action has now been created! You may have noticed that as you were recording, a list was forming in the Actions palette (opposite). Although the recording process has now ended, you can still tweak and record part of your Action by simply double clicking on an Action element. This will bring up the options that you have applied and give you the opportunity to change it. You can also delete elements by dragging them onto the Delete icon.

Playing your Action

This couldn’t be simpler – you have two modes to view your Actions – as you see it now ‘Action manager’ or Button Mode. Button Mode is a simple palette, showing the Actions as buttons. In this mode, you simply click on the button to apply the Action. In Action Manager mode, you can click (select) the Action title and click on the Play selection button to apply.

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