Written instructions for this tutorial are below the video. Enjoy!
How to Load and Use Actions in Photoshop
By Linda Sattgast
All versions of Photoshop
Actions save you time by performing long, tedious, or frequently repeated tasks almost instantaneously by simply clicking a button. In the video I used a set of actions I created that allow you to save scrapbook pages, no matter what size or orientation they are, in your choice of three different sizes for uploading to an online gallery.
If you want to follow along, download the Resize for Gallery action set. (Right click on the link and choose the Save option. The exact wording for saving will vary depending on your browser.)
Download and Unzip
- Most actions you download from an online source will be zipped, so before using the actions you’ll need to extract them. If you’re using Windows right click on the zip file and choose the option to extract it. If you’re using a Mac, double click on the zip file to open it.
Load and Delete Actions
- Open Photoshop and open the Actions panel, which you can access from the Menu Bar by choosing Window > Actions.
- The Actions panel comes preloaded with a set of actions inside a folder called Default Actions.
- Click on the triangle next to the folder to expand or collapse the folder.
- Click on the icon in the upper right corner of the Actions panel to open a menu where you can load additional actions that come with Photoshop. These will be listed near the bottom of the menu. Clicking on one of these actions will instantly load it into the Actions panel.
- To delete an action, click on an action set folder in the Actions panel to make it active and click the Trash icon. Click OK to the dialog box to delete the action.
- Press Alt (Mac: Opt) as you click on the Trash icon to delete an action without getting a dialog box.
- To delete an individual action, click on the name of an individual action inside a folder and press Alt (Mac: Opt) as you click on the Trash icon. This doesn't alter the original action. The next time you load the action set, all the actions will be at the default setting.
- If you ever want to reset your actions to the default settings, open the Actions panel menu and choose Reset Actions. You will be asked if you want to replace the current actions or append the default actions. Click on the option you desire.
- To remove all actions from the Actions panel, open the panel menu and choose Clear All Actions.
- To load a new action, open the Actions panel menu and choose Load Actions.
- Navigate to the folder on your computer that contains the action set you want to open and double click on the name of the action to load it. In my video example I loaded the Resize for Gallery action.
- If you currently have actions in the Actions panel, the new action you load will be placed at the end of the action list.
How to Run an Action
In the video I demonstrated how to run an action on a 12x12 scrapbook page, but you can use any size or orientation of page you desire, or you can use this action on a single photo or image that you want to resize for the web.
- Decide which action you want to run. For the Resize for Web action, choose the correct aspect ratio for your file—square, vertical, or horizontal—and the pixel size you prefer, 600, 700, or 800 pixels.
- To run an action, click on the name of the action to make it the active action. (Don't just click on the triangle next to the name. Clicking on the triangle shows you the action steps but doesn't activate the action. You must click on the name to highlight it.)
- Click the trianglular play button on the Actions panel to run the action.
- Photoshop will run through all the steps and perform the action on your active layer or document.
- If you're using the Resize for Web action, it will flatten your image and change the longest side of your document to the pixel dimmension you chose. It will then open the Save for Web dialog box. That’s because a gallery image must be compressed further to reduce the file size enough for most galleries.
- In Save for Web, in the panel on the right, choose JPEG for the file type and enter a Quality of 65. Check Optimized and Embed Color Profile. This makes the file size plenty small enough for an online gallery. Once you save for web, the Save for Web dialog box should default to these settings the next time it opens.
- To continue on, click Save. You’ll be taken to a computer navigational window where you have the option to change the name. I usually add “-web” to the end of the file name. It’s good practice for a web image to have no spaces in the file name.
- Navigate to the location on your computer where you want to save your image and click Save to complete the process. When uploading your scrapbook page to an online gallery, you'll need to navigate to this location to choose your saved-for-web file. It may be helpful to have one folder that contains all your gallery-sized images so you always know where to find them.
- Saving the gallery-sized image doesn’t save the original image. To revert your scrapbook page to its original size with all its layers, you can either close the original image without saving it or choose File > Revert.
This is just one example of what actions can do. For other actions, follow the same steps to unzip, upload, and run them, and enjoy letting actions do the work for you!
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