How to Create an Action in Photoshop

How to Create an Action in Photoshop

Are you willing to find out how to create an action in Photoshop easy and fast? Follow these 2 easy ways of recording Photoshop actions and using them for batch photo editing.

There are two ways you can create action in Photoshop. The first one is for simple actions, the second one allows recording difficult, multi-step actions.

1 Way - How to Record an Action in Photoshop

Step 1. Start Photoshop and Upload Photos

Step 2. Click on "Create New Action"

photoshop actions tutorial

In some cases, instead of this button, there’s a little gray cross. The Actions Panel is a place where you create, edit, remove or apply actions to your images. This panel is generally combined with the "History" tab.

As an option, you can also click on the "New Action" button in the Actions Panel.

If the Action Panel is not displayed on your screen, firstly click on the "Windows" button and then on "Actions" one at the top.

Step 3. Select Action Parameters

how to create an action in photoshop cc

Name: Select a name for your action that you will associate with its function. For example, an action for cropping photos, giving them square shapes and correcting their colors can be named "Polaroid".

Action Set: This is a combination of actions which you can use together. You can create actions for layers, brightness, contrast and combine them into "Lighting Correction" set. If you are not sure about it or you are a beginner, you can always select "Default."

Function Key: With this parameter, you can match the action with the button on your keyboard. In this way, whenever you click the button, the action will be applied automatically.

Color: Color encodes a particular action and helps you detect it faster.

Step 4. Click on "Record"

how to create professional photoshop actions

When you record actions in Photoshop, it will remember the process you carry out as an action. When it starts recording, you will see a red button on the Photoshop Action Panel.

Step 5. Edit Your Photo

create an action in photoshop

I advise you to perform some easy operations in order to find out how action in Photoshop works. For instance, you can click on the "Image" button, then select "Adjust", move on to "Brightness/Contrast" and practice there with buttons. Click "OK" each time you finish one or another operation. You will both edit your picture and save these changes as an action. Such actions are named "Commands".

The number of commands that you can create is unlimited. Each of them will be recorded as one action.

Step 6. Stop Recording to Finish

photoshop actions how to use

You can find this button on the Action Panel or click on the red "Recording" button instead. The action will be saved.

Step 7. Try This Action on Another Photo

photoshop create action

Upload another photo, click on the action in the Action Panel, then go to the "Play" button and the action will be enabled. The photo will be edited in the same way as the previous one since Photoshop carries out all the changes in the exact order you executed them.

Step 8. Apply an Action to Other Images Simultaneously

Click on "File" button, move on to "Automate" and thereafter "Batch". 

Select an action. If you have many sets and your action isn’t displayed, return and pick another one.

Select images you’re going to edit. You can also upload images from Adobe Bridge, Photoshop or images being transferred to your PC from the camera.

2 Way - How to Create an Action in Photoshop

Step 1. Change, Exclude and Reverse the Order of Actions

how to create actions in photoshop

The Action Panel is very adjustable. Click on the right triangle button right by your action in order to see its commands. Double-click a step to alter the values, un-check the box next to it to exclude it, then click and drag-and-drop steps in order to reverse their order.

Imagine you want to work with "Brightness" action but the photos are way too dark. No worries, you can customize the "Brightness/Contrast" command to add more light without the necessity to create a whole new action.

Step 2. Insert a "Stop" to Correct a Photo in the Middle of an Action

create an action in photoshop stop

"Stop" gives you an opportunity to tweak a photo or insert a specific command while working with an action. You can insert "Stop" by clicking on the command when you feel like stopping and go to "Add Stop" button in the Action Panel.

After you have finished, click on the "Play" button to continue the action where it stopped. Check "Allow Continue" box to continue the action without performing changes.

Step 3. Modify Settings Using Modal Controls 

how to create a photoshop action

With modal controls, you can customize particular commands when you work with an action. 

Look for a command in the Action Panel. You will see a little gray or white dialogue window right by modal commands. Click on this window and turn on or turn off modal control. There’s an option to click on this window and turn all the commands into modal ones.

Step 4. Edit "Playback Speed"

action in photoshop cc

Click on "Playback Options" button in the Action Panel and set the speed. Select "Accelerated" to make it quicker. Due to this, Photoshop will not show each action but rather proceeds to the final photo when it’s done.

If you would like to see each action, select "Step by Step" or "Wait ____ Seconds".

Step 5. Save Actions in ".atn" Format

record actions in photoshop

You are able to do it only having full action sets. Select "Save Action" if you want to have a copy of the action on your PC.

You can also save your actions into "Actions/Presets" folder in Photoshop and make these actions part of your program by default. In order to find this folder, look for it in "My Computer" or "Finder."

Step 6. Select "Load Actions"

how to make photoshop actions

If you want to use your action again, you can load it by clicking "Load Action".

Step 7. Make a Droplet to Carry out Multiple Actions

Droplets let you perform a lot of changes using one button. Make a shortcut to a droplet in any place of your PC, transfer pictures to that shortcut.

Click on the "File" button, go to "Automate" and "Create Droplet". Pick a place on the computer where you want to save it. If you’re going to use it often, place it on the desktop.

Select one or a few actions. Name your pictures and save them. Save the created droplet. To send droplets to other people, move the droplet onto Photoshop shortcut and optimize it to the operational system of your computer before starting to use it.

How to Apply Action in Photoshop to Multiple Photos?

Using batch edit, you may apply similar actions to all the images you upload. You can actually do it to a full folder without the necessity to open pictures separately.

Step 1. Select “File”, “Automate” and Click on “Batch”

how to apply action in photoshop to multiple photos

You don’t need to open any pictures in the program before performing this step.

Step 2. Pick the Necessary Parameters

You can pick to apply actions to photos from your computer or the ones you have already uploaded to Photoshop.

Personally, I always apply actions on previously uploaded pictures. That’s why at the end of the process, I just click ‘None’ and, as a result, my photos will be opened after applying the action. In this way, I am able to make some adjustments before I save them.

There you have it! Now relax and watch Photoshop do everything for you!

FREE Actions in Photoshop

For those who don’t want to create an action in Photoshop by themselves, I suggest downloading these 5 wonderful Photoshop filters which can simplify your photo retouching in Photoshop.

Hard Contrast


If you lack experience, this Photoshop action adds more contrast to your photo and details it at the highest level.

Creamy


If you’re willing to add some creamy effect to your wedding photos, this action will be of great help. It emphasizes the main object in a picture and equally distributes creamy glow around it.

Contrast Green


Use this action to add some green color to trees, bushes, plants, grass and make your pictures more natural.

Cool


This action makes colors colder and highlights blue shadows. It also eliminates yellow hue which makes a photo rather “dirty”.

Colorful


It makes your photos more natural and “alive”. The action adds saturation, contrast, deepens shades and creates more intense colors.


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Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.

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