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  2. Photoshop Actions

How to Create a Photoshop Batch Action

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Photoshop actions let you achieve stunning photo effects with a single click. But if you have a lot of photos to edit, there's still plenty of clicking to do! That's why in Photoshop there's a special function to apply an action to a batch of files at once. 

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create an action in Photoshop and turn it into a Photoshop batch action. I'll also show you how to install Photoshop actions to use them this way.

Follow along with us over on the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

Also check out this post to discover a huge range of free Photoshop actions:

How to Create a Photoshop Batch Action

Step 1

Let's create a simple action first. Open one of the files that you want to edit. Open the Actions panel and create a New Action. Give it a name.

create new actioncreate new actioncreate new action

Step 2

Go to Image > Image Size and select some dimensions to resize the photo.

change image sizechange image sizechange image size

Step 3

Add a Posterize adjustment and adjust the Levels.

add posterize adjustmentadd posterize adjustmentadd posterize adjustment
adjust posterizationadjust posterizationadjust posterization

Step 4

Now add a Gradient Map. Select some cool colors.

add gradient mapadd gradient mapadd gradient map
adjust gradient mapadjust gradient mapadjust gradient map

Step 5

Lower the Opacity to make the effect subtler.

lower opacitylower opacitylower opacity

Step 6

All right, it looks pretty good! Save the file to any location, just to define the save settings for the action. Then close the file.

save the filesave the filesave the file

Step 7

Click Stop Recording to save the action.

stop recordingstop recordingstop recording

Step 8

What do we do now if we want to apply the same effect to the other photos? It's very easy. First, make sure you have two folders: one with the files that need to be edited, and an empty one where the edited files will be saved.

prepare two foldersprepare two foldersprepare two folders

Step 9

Go to File > Automate > Batch. In the Play section, select your action.

select your actionselect your actionselect your action

Step 10

In the Source section, choose the folder with your photos. Optionally, you can tell Photoshop to use the action on the opened files, ones imported directly from your camera, or ones selected in Bridge.

change source pathchange source pathchange source path

Step 11

In the Destination section, choose your empty folder. If you want, you can also save the photos directly in their original folder, but it's not recommended. Better safe than sorry! Optionally, you can also choose not to save the files at all and to leave them open, which can be useful if you want to further edit them.

change destination pathchange destination pathchange destination path

Step 12

Check Override Save As in order to save the files automatically, without having to define the name and location for each one.

override save asoverride save asoverride save as

Step 13

You can also define the name of the file by creating a special formula. You can use the document name, a serial letter, a number, and a date, in any combination you wish.

prepare name formulaprepare name formulaprepare name formula

Step 14

Finally, you need to choose what to do in case of errors: stop the action, or ignore the errors and log them to a file.

stop for errorsstop for errorsstop for errors

Once you press OK, Photoshop will start applying the actions to all the files in your folder, saving them in the empty folder. It can take a while, depending on the size of the photo, the complexity of the action, and the size of the batch, but the good news is that you can minimize Photoshop and do something else in the meantime. When it's done, you'll find all the modified files in the destination folder.

multiple photos editmultiple photos editmultiple photos edit

Professional Photoshop Actions & How to Add Actions to Photoshop

Film Style Effect

As you can see, you can save a lot of time by creating a batch action. But you can save even more by using actions created by other people on Envato Elements. For example, this Photoshop action contains a set of 20 beautiful photo effects inspired by film. But how can you add actions to Photoshop? It's very easy—just download the file and drag it to the Photoshop window. Now this action can be batch-processed.

how to install photoshop actionshow to install photoshop actionshow to install photoshop actions
film style effectfilm style effectfilm style effect
Film Style Effect

Vibrant Colors Effect

This Photoshop action contains 20 vibrant filters for your photos. You can play them all at once, and then simply choose the effect that you want to keep by moving through the History states. You can turn your ordinary photos into something completely new with these cool effects!

vibrant colors effectvibrant colors effectvibrant colors effect
Vibrant Colors Effect

Duo-Tone Effect

This Photoshop action adds a trendy duo-tone effect to your photos. There are 20 effects to choose from, each including a different pair of colors. You can play them all and then simply hide and show the layers to compare the results.

Duo-tone EffectDuo-tone EffectDuo-tone Effect
Duo-tone Effect

Cool Glowing Effect

But some actions are more complex than that. For example, this powerful action requires a masked area to add separate effects to the subject and the background. This is something that a Photoshop batch action can't do automatically. To batch-process your photos with such an action, first you need to create a mask in every photo, and save the file in the PSD format to keep the layers.

Cool Glowing EffectCool Glowing EffectCool Glowing Effect
Cool Glowing Effect

Good Job!

Now you know how to create a Photoshop action or how to install an action and apply to it a batch of files, creating a Photoshop batch action. If you want to learn more about how to use Photoshop actions, you may be interested in these tutorials:

edit batch actionedit batch actionedit batch action
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