Photoshop actions capture all of the steps needed to transform a file and let you apply them with just one click. And with a single click, you can take the creative effect and workflow steps from another artist and add them to your own picture, creating everything from improved portraits to radically altered double-images. Photoshop actions can also be extremely useful timesavers when you find yourself performing the same steps on all of your images.
In this roundup, I've scoured the web for 100 of the best free Photoshop actions for your ease of use. We'll also take a look at ten premium options.
For beginners, we'll start off with a brief explanation of how to create and install Photoshop actions. Let's dive in!
How to Create a Photoshop Action
Recording a photo action in Photoshop is pretty simple. Open up the Actions panel and click the New Action button seen in the image below. (Tip: If you can't see the Actions panel, click Window, then click Actions. This will add the Actions button to the panel dock.)
This should pop open a new window containing various options for the photo action. Here you can name the action and place it in a set. You can also assign a keyboard shortcut that will activate the action immediately in Photoshop. This is quite handy for those actions you find yourself using on a daily basis.
Once you click Record in the window above, all that's left is to carry out the steps you'd like to be recorded in the photo action. Keep in mind that selection sizes, saving, and other very specific steps will be replicated exactly in the action. Try to keep your steps generic enough that they'll work on the full range of images you'll need the action to apply to.
When you've finished carrying out all the desired steps, click the Stop button in the action menu. You can click the Play button to perform the action on another file.
If you want to delve deeper into making photo actions, our series of short courses on actions for photography is a great place to start.
How to Install Photoshop Actions
There are multiple ways to install Photoshop actions. For starters, you can drag the downloaded actions into the Actions folder contained within the Photoshop Presets folder in your Photoshop application folder. Note that actions placed here may require a Photoshop restart to appear in the Actions menu.
Alternatively, you can hit the hamburger menu on the right of the actions menu and click on the Load Actions option. This allows you to navigate to any actions on your computer and load them instantly into Photoshop.
Now that you can install Photoshop actions and even create your own, download a few of the free options below and start making your images look amazing with a single click!
For an in-depth look at how to install actions, see our tutorial, How to Install Photoshop Actions. If you're a visual learner, you can watch the tutorial from our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel instead.
10 Premium Photoshop Actions for Photos
Don't have time to sift through and test the 100 free Photoshop actions in this tutorial? Need professional-quality results? No problem. Try out some of the actions below from Envato Elements, an all-you-can-download service for creatives that includes hundreds of top-quality Photoshop presets and actions.
Just as the name suggests, this action allows you to quickly introduce double-exposure effects to your photos.
This stunning action brings fiery sparks to an image. Cosmic is one of the coolest Photoshop actions to download. Perfect for action shots in need of excitement!
Seeking hot results from frozen scenes? Try out this Photoshop photo effect. This special action pack will get you started: rain, snow, or shine, there’s an effect for every condition.
Trying to capture the look and feel of your favorite film? Cinema effects are unmatched for their distinctive quality. And now you can bring them to your own work with this pack of 18 Photoshop actions to download.
Bring a futuristic, apocalyptic look to your photos with the Blockchain action. This Photoshop photo effect is perfect for everything from glitch portraits to sci-fi marketing.
Along the same lines (pun definitely intended), this stylish action transforms your images into a mass of squiggly lines. A quick and visually arresting Photoshop photo effect.
To highlight certain areas and grab people’s attention, selective colorization is the perfect technique. This action takes the guesswork out of colorizing and enables maximum customization with minimal effort required!
Great with photography but not so good at painting? Take the easy way out and transform your photos into beautiful watercolors with this action. It's one of the more effective Photoshop actions to download.
Capturing the big day is all about timing and post-processing. The first is on you; the second can be left to this action-based wedding photography toolbox. Preserve the special day forever with adjustments for any wedding scene.
Pinhole is a cool (but slow) analog photography technique. This action lets you emulate its unique effect on any image you choose.
100 Free Photoshop Photo Effects & PSD Actions
- Nightmare Photoshop Action: Instantly give any photo a dark and moody vibe with this ominous Photoshop action for free download.
- Summer Haze: Relive the glory days of summer with this sunny, lens-flare-driven summer action.
- HDR Action: While HDR is an incredible exposure-blending technique, it tends to remove contrast. Fix it instantly with this easy action.
Photoshop Sunlight and Sundown Action: Add the gorgeous look of warm sunlight to your photos. Or turn down the sun for a cool effect.
- Night to Twilight: Ever missed golden hour and found yourself shooting in near darkness? With this action, it’s never too late to turn a dark and gloomy shot into a vibrant twilight masterpiece.
- Purple Contrast: Wash vibrant colors away and give your photos a downcast, apocalyptic look on the spot. Purple Contrast is one of the best free Photoshop actions.
- Bella: If you've been looking for chic Photoshop actions for free download, try Bella. You can give your portraits a hip, indie vibe with the pink-hued effect.
- Wedding Enhancers Kit: Shoot weddings by trade? Then try one of the best free Photoshop effects for the big day. This one-stop action and effect pack contains all of the most common adjustments needed to make the happy couple say “Wow!”
- Color 024: The aged look of sun-bleached Polaroids has become a retro aspiration. Give this special look to any photo with just a click with one of the top free Photoshop actions.
- 2-Strip Technicolor: 2-strip technicolor, a film variety from the ’30s, gives images from that period their unique and timeless look. Preserve your own photos with the same effect here thanks to this Photoshop action for free download.
- Light Leaks: Light leaks make highlights pop and true colors shine through, and you’ll unlock them with one of the great free Photoshop effects.
- Polaroid Generator V3: The Polaroid might’ve fallen from favor back in the nineties, but you can still unlock the magic and apply it to any photo instantly. Try out the nostalgic look with one of the best free Photoshop actions.
- Old Photo: Bring the retro vibe to any image with this color-and-contrast boosting, fade-adding Photoshop effect. Not many free Photoshop actions can get this look right.
- Color Pop: The best of us sometimes review our images and find them to be dull and lifeless. No reason to scrap them: free Photoshop effects like Color Pop bring out the hidden color and turn dull into bright!
- Matte: Here's a great option if you've been looking for Photoshop actions for free download with a matte touch. Ideally suited for prints or wall art, a matte effect softens glare and brings artistic flair to your portraits and landscapes.
- Deep Matte: If you’re going for a deep, aggressive matte effect, look no more. This is one of the best free Photoshop actions to deliver a haunting Victorian look to your photos.
- Vibrant Film: Not shooting film? No problem. No one will know the difference when you’ve brought this vibrant film action to your best work. It's one of those free Photoshop actions that blends in seamlessly with your project.
- Intensity: Perfect for marketing or advertising shots that have to pop, Intensity pulls up color and highlights to add stunning brightness to your pitch. It's one of many fun free Photoshop effects online.
- Copper Photoshop Actions: A coppery, metallic cast gives images a surreal and otherworldly cast. Make this free Photoshop action yours here.
- Lomo Action: Lomography is a hip, quirky faux-retro photographic style: and you can capture its spirit in any Photoshop photo by applying this Lomo action.
- Instant Hipster: This free Photoshop actions download pack is like Instagram for professionals. You’ll find ten retro actions that bring the popular social filters to your photos.
- Glory Days: Looking for a low-frills, easy-to-use retro effect? Glory Days does the trick. Make any look-back a throwback in just a click.
- Vintage Wedding Photoshop Actions: Relive timeless moments retro-style with these custom-tailored wedding actions.
- Sunset: Sunset photography is all about being at the right place at the right time. But suppose you were close, but not quite there? Fill in the gaps with this action, designed to turn an average sunset shot into something spectacular.
- Creamy Photoshop Actions: A soft, creamy cast is welcome for abstract and landscape shots alike. It’s an easy way to create a summery, warm look to bring your audience right into the scene.
Weather Photoshop Action: Capture the beauty of the weather with this Photoshop action. Add various climate effects like snow and more to your landscape photography. It's a great alternative if you want a Photoshop autumn action.
- Marshmallow: Marshmallow is a portrait effect that softens edges and warms light. It’ll also pull up the contrast, making your subject pop and fade the background into the shadows.
- Bold Black and White: For all the talk about colors and light, some scenes are best suited to the timeless elegance of black-and-white. There’s an art to even grayscale work, though: but you can avoid it by applying the bold black and white action.
- Spoon Graphics Action: Get 14 actions for the price of…. none? Indeed you can, with this high-quality creative bundle best suited to fashion and portrait work.
- Mini Fusion: This action is built around color conversions. You can manipulate the various color profiles in your image to find the mix that works best. Exposure and tint sliders give you even more control.
- Faux HDR: HDR photography exploded onto the scene when it arrived in smartphones. But it’s valuable for professional work too. This action brings HDR vibrance to any photo.
Vector Pop Art Photoshop Action: Transform your subjects into cool vector pop art with this one-click action. Use it on portraits, objects, or pets!
- Ice Photoshop Action: Make a subject stand out from its background, bolding its colors and fading its surroundings. This is a hallmark of good portrait photography, and there’s no need to get there with a ton of adjustments. This action does the trick
- Cinema Action: Plot, dialogue, score, and look: the last is often what makes a movie memorable to us. Give your photos a distinct cinematic cast with this free action.
- Photoshop Autumn Action: Pumpkin spice and harvest time: some call it the most wonderful time of the year for nature photography. Capture the warm tones and cool air with this Photoshop autumn action.
- Desert Dust: Dream beneath the desert skies (or at least through your photos) with this dusty, shimmering action.
- Warm Cider Action: Ideal for holiday cards or family portraits, Warm Cider brings a soft, warm haze to portraits. Even in harsh lighting conditions like snow, this effect softens the bright spots and delivers a warm, golden glow.
- Vintage Red: Suited for senior pictures and ideal for cosplay photography, Vintage Red pulls out red tones for a vibrant reddish-gold cast.
- Tension: For all the talk about soft, warm photos, sometimes you need a cold and detached feel. Intensify provides just that. It introduces sharp, cold distance perfect for shots of the world’s cold and lonely places.
- Winter Breeze: Capture forever the raw, sharp edges of a winter day with Winter Breeze, a chilly action sure to warm up your audience.
- Soft Pastel Actions: You’ll feel spring in the air any time you use this soft pastel pack. It’s especially great for floral or wedding photography. Enjoy the level of control you get with these actions. This pack is a great alternative to Photoshop presets.
- XXEP Fantasy Photoshop Action: Fantasy effects are known for their lens-flared warmth. Deliver this to your work with this fantasy-genre inspired action.
- Golden Cashmere: Distinctive among its peers, Golden Cashmere is a unique landscape softener. The end result is a compelling hybrid of Polaroid fade and retro filter.
- Snowy Dreams: Some of the best family portraits are made in the snow. But they’re hard to get; snow reflects the sun and can bleach your treasured snapshots. Have no fear… frost is no match for Snowy Dreams, which warms up icy photos into something magical.
Long Shadow Generator: Ever wanted to make long shadow effects fast? Check out this quick Photoshop action that generates a trendy long shadow effect for text and logos.
- Pure B&W Action: Looking for an equal transformation from color to grayscale without touching 20 other adjustments? Here’s your action. Color will be washed away, but highlights, exposure, and contrast will be neatly preserved.
- Golden Hour: That magic time between day and dark. But you might miss it. Fudge a bit and bring its vibrance to images shot at any time of day.
- Paint With Light: A walk in the woods; sunlight filtering down between the trees. Easy to see, impossible to forget, and hard to capture with your lens. Add it back later with this free action.
- Glorious Light: Bring a warm glow to flat portraits with Glorious Light. Glare is softened, and golden colors pop to build something incredible. This action gives you control over how you edit your photo, which makes it a nice alternative to free Photoshop presets.
- Washed Matte: Matte images are color-flattened and well-suited for portraits. If you’re looking to wash out even more color, then you'll like Washed Matte. It's one of the great choices for free Photoshop presets.
- Soft Velvet Matte Actions: Soft Velvet gives the matte adjustment an extra haze layer for an indie, retro feel. It also includes a black-and-white adjustment for an extra level of change.
- Vintage Matte: Matte isn’t just for portraits. It can give a new look to your landscape work as well. This action, designed for nature, delivers a 70s-style flat feeling to wide open spaces.
- Light Leak: To film photographers, light leak might be a bug. But to many creative photographers, it’s a feature. Bring it to your own photos with Light Leak. You’ll have the ability to tweak the leak’s position however you want.
- Faded Action: Classic cars and cobblestone streets: drift back in time and bring your photos with you. As this action is applied to layers instead of the whole photo, editing is more fine-tuned than with free Photoshop presets.
Sketch Photoshop Action: Make extraordinary sketch effects with the click of a button! This next Photoshop action transforms your selfies into a work of art!
- Misty Blue: A blue hue is cool, yet intimate. Perfect for shots in the studio or the seashore, it’s now easily added to your photography with the Misty Blue action.
- Old Film: Film-photography purists like old film for the distinctive fade it provides. The easy way to capture it is with a Photoshop action that delivers the same result in just a few clicks. And congrats: you’ve just found it.
- Walden: The Walden action shares its name with a popular Instagram preset. It’s a grungy, gritty look beloved the world over. And now it’s yours to apply to your own images.
- Silver B&W Action: Think it’s impossible to make color adjustments in a black-and-white image? Think again. This action pulls out silver tones for a bright, metallic look.
- Sunlight: Here comes the sun, and it’ll look even better when you maximize its vibrancy with the Sunlight action pack.
- Blue Action: Blue Action is a blue-hue action perfectly suited to portrait photography. Pulling up blue tones provides a sleek, modern look that’ll look great for startup head shots or marketing photos.
- Burgundy Wine Matte: Burgundy Wine Matte is the perfect complement to senior photos or engagement shoots. It’s a split-tone that simultaneously brightens and softens light for a washed, warm feel. It’ll also work great for macro work in the garden.
- Express Eye Bright: The eyes make the face, and the face makes the portrait. Enhance the brightness and color of the eyes, and turn your portraits from mere photos to windows into the subject’s soul.
- Matte High Contrast Black & White Photoshop Action: Yes, it’s totally possible to have a high-contrast matte photo. You can even do it with black-and-white. Start right here.
- Thinking of You: Thinking of You is an otherworldly portrait action, complete with unreal colors and a metallic, hard-rock vibe.
- Forest Actions: Don’t miss the forest for the trees, and don’t miss the shot for the bad light. This action pack dials in the spectral magic of forest photography and brings new light to your photos.
- Baby Miracle: Baby portraits are instant candidates for most-treasured-possession status. This action is meant just for them, brightening and smoothing skin tones and sharpening hair and eyes.
- Intense Cinema Action: Cinematic photography is the art of imagery at its peak. Bring some of this top-flight quality to your own work with this action.
- Overcast: While overcast weather isn’t perfect for photography, sometimes it can’t be avoided. This action will enable you to use the gloom to max effect, adding a soft haze.
- Vintage Dream: Run down your dream with this vintage pack. It’s the best way to turn an everyday snapshot into something timeless.
- Yellow Mood: Yellow Mood gives landscapes an earthy yellow-centric feeling without distorting natural colors. It’s ideal for forests and to dress up dull, flat shots. Yellow Mood also makes for a perfect Photoshop autumn action.
- Summer Delight: Bring warmth and light to the forefront with Summer Delight, and forever relive the glorious heat of the season.
- Flashback: Sometimes you want a vintage feel without it being overpowering or overstated. Flashback is the perfect tool for you. It’ll soften objects around the edges but keep the overall image more vibrant than a typical vintage action.
- PSD + ATN 4: Looking for a quick and easy portrait adjustment? Here it is: a fast transformation from good to great.
- Vintage Gold: Turn good into old and gold with this retro action. It packs a powerful one-two punch of retro softening and golden popping for spectacular results.
- StarStruck: StarStruck is a unique pink-hue action for subtle brightening. Best suited to portraits, this action helps pink pastel tones stand out.
- Violet Light Leak: This quirky adjustment splashes a soft, violet wash over an image. It’s great for senior portraits, or for advertising your band!
- Unbroken: Unbroken is a stunning portrait action designed to give subjects a new glow. Use it best for head-shots and studio scenes.
- Sunken Sunlight: Sunken Sunlight is an HDR-inspired tool to make sunset colors explode to the forefront of landscape scenes. It's a great alternative to similar free Photoshop presets.
- Glitch Photoshop Actions v2: In just a few years VHS has passed from contemporary to classic. And now you can bring its glitch vibe to your photos with this free action pack.
- Glitch Effect Action Kit: For even more glitch variety, look no further than this powerful action kit. These spectacular adjustments are great for music promotion or gritty senior portraits.
- Grunge Photoshop Actions: Grunge actions bring a gritty mood to your photos. You can get started right here, with this variety pack of the best glitch actions.
- Vintage Photo Effect Vol. 7: Combine the best of grunge and retro in this hard-hitting effect. A mundane image will be transformed by the timeless true grit in this action.
- Action Distortion: Action Distortion is a simple but strong action that instantly enhances the color in any image. And unlike Photoshop presets, this action will be applied to the project layers. It’s best for photos that need only slight changes to become their best.
- Photoshop Actions for Real Estate Photography: Trying to close a big sale? It’s essential to attract interest by showing off the best photos possible. This action will help you make the deal by retouching real estate shots and making them their best.
- Free Film Photoshop Actions Pack: Film carried photography from birth through its glory days. Recapture the bygone elegance of film with these free actions.
- 12 Cinematic Actions: Love and war, adventure and horror: no matter the mood, you’ll unlock it here with this power pack of cinema-inspired actions. Each is custom-tailored to create a unique vibe in every image.
- Oil Painting: Instantly transform photos into true works of art with this abstract-inspired effect. Any portrait can adopt the oil-portrait feel with just a few adjustments.
- Color Play: Color Play is a one-stop shop for color adjustments. You can adjust the brightness and warmth to achieve either slight or significant adjustments.
- Glacier Ice Lights: Aiming for a frosty, chilly tint? Glacier Ice Lights unlocks a brisk new feel for any photo.
- Skin Retouching Actions: Built for headshots, these actions are a must-have for any portrait photographer. Bring out the glow and remove blemishes instantly to make your subjects look their best.
- Soft Pastel Actions: This straightforward pastel action brings soft colors to the forefront, bringing an intimate spring feel to an image.
- Faded Film Photoshop Action: Faded Film captures the look of old prints on new photos. What’s new will become old again, forever in the grip of this ageless adjustment.
- Sapphire Luxe: Sapphire Luxe is a strong tint action well-suited for portrait work. The distinct sapphire hues will grab attention and make your photo stand out above the rest!
Modern Artist Action Set: Looking for a colorful effect that's modern and unique? Check out this glorious action set dedicated to delivering to you a trendy geometric look in only a few moments. Customize it with your favorite colors!
Imagine: Introduce powerful fading techniques and gorgeous colors to your work! This Photoshop action applies a lovely green aesthetic that's perfect for vintage photos and cityscapes.
- Shifted: Shifted is a black-and-white inspired action that preserves just a hint of color. The end result is an Ansel Adams-esque metallic glow.
- Buttered Toast: Buttered Toast brings golden, warm tones to any scene. Perfect for greeting cards and family portraits, it’s a new dose of earthy realism.
- Pro Sharpening: Need to sharpen the soft areas of an image? For quick and clean edits, start with this free action.
- Merlot Luxe: Merlot Luxe adds burgundy gloom to the scene. Use it for forest scenes or anytime you’re looking for a dark, intimate feel.
More Great Photoshop Actions
Love these resources? Discover more great Photoshop actions from these links:
- Adobe Photoshop50 Free Photoshop Actions for Black and White Photography (And How to Make Your Own)Envato Elements
- Photoshop Actions15 Best Fashion Photography Actions and Presets for Photoshop and LightroomMarie Gardiner
- Photoshop Actions10 Best Photoshop Actions With Cool Art Effects for PortraitsMarie Gardiner
- Adobe Photoshop15 Top Adobe Photoshop Actions for Photography on Envato ElementsEnvato Elements
- Photoshop Actions100 Super Awesome Adobe Photoshop Actions From Envato ElementsMelody Nieves
- Photoshop Actions20 Vintage Photo Effect Photoshop Actions & Old Retro StylesMelody Nieves
- Adobe Photoshop29 Best New Photoshop Actions & Photo Effects for 2020Melody Nieves
- Photoshop Actions50+ Best Free Photoshop Actions of 2020Nona Blackman
- Photoshop Actions30+ Best New Photoshop Portrait ActionsMelody Nieves
- Photoshop Actions42 Best Photoshop Illustration Actions (From Photo to Illustration)Ivan Gromov
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