How to Use Photoshop Actions to Automate Common Tasks

When you automate tasks and tie them to events in Photoshop, it’s easy to simplify some of your most common steps in document design, making your workflow more efficient. While scripting is one way to accomplish this, Photoshop also allows you to create Actions that function similarly. Unlike scripts, Actions are recorded as a user interacts with the software, so they do not require any coding experience. Actions can be installed from .atn files, but in most cases, this is temporary, and they will not persist in the Actions Palette once your system is rebooted. That’s why many designers keep their most common actions organized in easy to reference folders.

Using Photoshop Actions
Understanding how to use Photoshop actions means knowing both how to load the preset actions you can use to perform common operations and how to record your own as you find the need to automate your common tasks. To start with, the preset actions are located in one of your Adobe files, and they can be loaded to the actions palette to allow you to experiment with them.
  1. In the Actions panel, click on the panel pop-up menu arrow and choose Load Actions.
  2. Photoshop should open the presets folder, showing you the choices that come with the software.
  3. If this is not the case, navigate to the Actions folder to find presets to choose from.
  4. Click on the one you want to add it to the Actions Palette.
  5. Repeat until you have loaded all the Actions you need.
Using the actions will sometimes require extra fine-tuning on your part, since they apply a standard set of operations to images. Tweaking layer opacity and making other minor adjustments will help you get the best performance out of each Action.
Recording New Actions
Creating new actions of your own is easy, and you should be able to do it by simply clicking Record Action on the Actions panel. After the recording starts, any operations you execute will be saved as commands. When you are done, click on the Stop Playing/Recording button, and then save your new Action. If you save it to the default folder with the preset Actions, it will be easy to find the next time you need to load it.
Using Actions to automate some of your most common editing commands and tie them to events can make it easy to start on any new image, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now that you know how to use Photoshop actions, you should be able to set up your own profiles of commonly used Actions for your projects.

Images hand-picked for you
We’ve curated images for every occasion. Find your perfect shots now.
View Collections
  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?