Photoshop Actions are a series of preset commands that you can add to one or more files within Adobe Photoshop. Like a shortcut, an action helps users speed up the editing process or add effects with a simple gesture in a more automated way. Photoshop actions also eliminate the need for you to repeat the edits for a large number of photos.
Create an action in Photoshop
In this example, we’ll add a light and airy feel to this photo of a child and create an action for it. We will essentially create a filter that we can save as a preset and run on other photos.
Step 1: Go to the Actions panel, click on Create new action
If your Actions panel is not visible on the right side of your Photoshop window, go to the menu and select Window† Select from the drop-down menu Actions† this will bring up the Actions pane on the right.
Then click on the Create new action button at the bottom of the Actions pane.
Step 2: Name your action and assign a keyboard shortcut
Try to think of the most efficient and direct way to achieve what you want your action to achieve. I will be adding curves, brightness and contrast, color balance, and selective layers of color to this photo. You can rename your action to something you can easily remember.
At this point, you can also assign a hotkey to your action, but I’ll leave mine without one.
Step 3: Click Record
When your pop-up contains all the information you want, click file† The record button turns red when you start recording.
Step 4: Perform the action
Action! Perform your action so that it is logged. This means adding the adjustment layers, filters, and other edits needed to your photo and Photoshop includes them as a preset.
Step 5: Stop recording
Snow! Press the Esc key or the Stop button once you complete the commands for your action and the photo looks the way you want it to look.
Step 6: Test your action
To test your action, you can open another photo and use the selected keyboard shortcut to repeat the preset, or simply press Play while selecting your Action to add the edits to the image.
A big draw of Photoshop actions is the ability to share them with others for free or for a fee. Actions can be imported to and exported from Photoshop, so if you have an idea of what you want to do with your photo, but aren’t sure how to get there, you’ll likely find an action for it online. This means that you can also sell them in the same way.
Step 7: Place your action in a set
Create a new set or map to place your action in. Click the folder at the bottom of the Actions pane or select New set from the Actions menu.
Rename the new set. It can be a descriptive name of what the action does or a generic name. Generates a file that can be renamed later.
Step 8: Save your action
Place the actions you want to export into the new set you just created and make sure the set is selected. Go to the Actions menu, select Save actions to export it.
Step 9: Choose where to save your actions
The actions in the set are saved to your computer as .atn files. These can be shared with others, who can load them into Photoshop.