How to Use Photoshop Actions

How to Use Photoshop Actions

Wondering how to use actions in Photoshop for batch editing or giving a consistent look all your photos? In this article, I will tell you how to use actions in Photoshop easy and professionally. You may download 10 Free Photoshop actions and make photo editing faster.

How to Use Photoshop Actions Easily?

As soon as you found a necessary action and installed it, you would probably want to learn how to use it and apply to your photos. This process is called “running” the action because the software performs the series of recorded tasks. Follow these steps to see how easy it is to run an action.

how to add actions to photoshop

  1. To make an action palette visible, go to Menu > Window > Actions. Or you can use shortcuts ALT(Windows) or Option + F9(Mac).
  2. Select the necessary action and run it in the Actions panel.
  3. Expand the list of available actions by clicking the triangle to the left of the action name.
  4. Select the action and click the “Play” button.
  5. The play button is located in the top right corner of the menu or at the bottom of the Actions panel.
  6. The photo will be modified according to the action settings.

How to Install Photoshop Actions?

To open the desired action in Photoshop, just double-click on it. Mind that this way, the action will not be saved when you restart the software.

where is the actions palette in photoshop cc

  1. To begin with, you should activate the Actions window.
  2. Press Alt + F9 shortcut or go to the Window tab > Actions.
  3. In the Actions tab, you may begin installing the .ATN files.
  4. Find the button with four bars, click it and proceed to Load Actions.
  5. Find the necessary actions on your computer and select Open. By doing this, all the actions you want will be saved in the list.

Photoshop CC Actions Basics

PS actions will shorten your image editing workflow time. You will not need to perform repetitive tasks and merge all picture editing paths manually. Now it is possible to do it just in one click.

What Is a Photoshop Action?

A PS action is a series of recorded steps that are designed to be applied to a photo. They are useful when you want to apply the identical commands to a bunch of images.

Working with PS actions is an optimal solution for saving time when you want to perform repeated actions. This feature is great for multiple image edit. The adjustments applied to the recorded action may change various images in a different way. This is particularly the case for the photos with different resolution and size.

Photoshop Actions Menu Panel

In the Action Panel, it is possible to create, record, stop, play, save, load, delete and manage the actions. Follow the instructions on how to do it:

how to run actions in photoshop

1. Stop: Allows you to pause playback or recording.

2. Record: Begin recording a new action or performing new operations to any available action.

3. Play: Play back a chosen action.

4. New set: Allows creating a new action set.

5. New action: Use this option to add a new action to a set.

6. Delete: With this button, you can delete a set or command you want.

7. Action set: This folder includes and manages your actions, for instance, organizes them in different groups like color corrections, mockups, templates and others.

8. Action: Here is the action itself. Consider an action as a set of various tasks, for example, open image, convert image, import image and others.

9. Steps/Command: A single command in Photoshop. Multiple commands create an action.

10. Checkbox: Checked commands are carried out and unchecked commands aren’t.

11. Menu dialog: This function allows controlling the user’s contribution to the action. Let’s say you record an action in order to apply a Gaussian blur filter and you adjust a default radius to 2 pixels. With a visible menu icon, you can change certain parameters (for example, radius) for each picture. If the icon is off, the action will always use the setting by default (for example, the radius of 2 pixels). In this case, you can regulate the flexibility of each action.

actions in photoshop

12. Action panel menu: This menu comprises plenty of buttons that I have already mentioned. However, there are several items on this menu that you can find helpful.

Button Mode

professional photoshop actions panel

The actions are located in a List View mode as shown above. If you switch the Button Mode, they will appear as buttons. To uncheck the Button Mode, just click the Button Mode again.

The picture above shows how the Button Mode looks. The main difference between the Button Mode and the List Mode is that by activating the first one, you will be able to see only the names of the action without the commands.

Playback Options

photoshop actions options

Here you can change the playback speed for your actions. It is possible to choose three options. Accelerated: Plays back actions quickly. Typically, this will be the most appropriate option. Step by Step: Refreshes the screen as soon as each command is executed. Pause for x Seconds: Stops for a certain number of seconds and then proceeds to the next command from the action.

Clear All Actions

Allows deleting all actions/sets from the action panel.

Reset Actions

It is similar to Clear All Actions function, but this adds the set by default to the action panel.

Load Actions

With this function, it is possible to load actions/sets into the action panel.

Replace Actions

Allows the user to replace actions/sets as well as remove and load the actions in one click.

Save Actions

You can save the file with the .ATN extension or share it with your friends.

Photoshop Actions FAQ

Along with the question “How to use Photoshop actions?”, the users face the other, no less important ones. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions.

I have installed the action, but I received the result that is different from the one shown as an example. What is the issue?

It is necessary to select actions individually for every single picture. You might need to experiment with the action’s adjustments to receive a stunning result.

What operating systems do Photoshop actions work with?

Photoshop actions are compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS. The main thing is the installation of the Adobe Photoshop version that is compatible with your computer.

Which Photoshop version is the best for working with actions?

FixThePhoto shares the actions sets that will work with Adobe Photoshop CS4, CS5, CS6 and Photoshop CC. It is worth noting that for some actions, you will need to use Photoshop CC or a later version as they require the support for certain camera's RAW files.


Which image format will I receive after working with Lightroom presets?

You can save the picture in any desired format, including RAW.

What if I can't get my Photoshop actions to work?

To troubleshoot problematic actions, you need to restart and reset the program settings. The users often make a mistake by downloading the actions in the. ZIP format. Unzip the installation files and try again.

Top 10 Free Downloadable Photoshop Actions

Do you want to get a desired effect for the image or a whole photoshoot? Then do not hurry to spend money on expensive action or time for creating your own ones. Use these free Photoshop filters to improve your photos.

Color Tone

Sometimes the skin in the photos may look too pale or conversely too red. This PS action will make your skin appear smooth but natural at the same time, retaining its texture.


With this "Sparkle" action, you will receive a perfect teeth whitening effect in one click. Make your teeth even more appealing by brightening the dark areas.

Change Iris to Green

These free Photoshop plugins allow you to change the eyes color into green. You will get a perfect result of outstanding eye color. It can be applied to portraits, close-up photographs or to the animal pictures.

Vintage Tone

Give your photos an antique look by using this outstanding action. It performs quick rendering and doesn’t distort the image completely.

Retro Colors

“Retro Colors” improves the red, yellow, brown and green color palette in your pictures as well as regulates the color balance. The action creates a unique atmosphere adding a spirit of the last century to your images.


This PS action increases the clarity of the details and makes your photo look more dramatic. Due to clear lines, the viewer will be able to feel a general atmosphere and the subject’s mood.

Matte Effect

It creates faded colors and tones. Moreover, this filter makes the picture look softer. It will work great with any genre of photography.


Use this action to give your images the film-like black and white matte effect that pairs well with a stunning vintage vibe of the image. If you want to receive an amazing but washed-out and trendy look, this action is just what you need.


If the picture’s colors appear muted and you want to make the lines sharper, highlight the details and change the intensity of color, then this awesome free PS action from the wedding collection is the best choice.


The universal action makes emphasis on details and slightly brightens the image. It allows you to receive a well-saturated photo with visible details, contrast and beautiful natural color.

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