Recording an Action in Photoshop

Actions in Photoshop let us automate a process. For example, instead of spending the time to apply 5 steps to an image, then re-applying those same steps to more images, I only need to record an action one time, then at a click of a button, apply that same action to the other images. Actions can consist of only 1 step or up to as many steps as needed. Actions can also be used within a batch process – so that the action is quickly applied to numerous images.

I use Photoshop Actions to create thumbnails, to reduce image resolution, to add a stroke, etc. In this tutorial, we will set up an action to reduce the size of an image. In Part 2 of this article, we will use the Action within a batch process to resize a folder of images.

Let’s get started!

Let’s open an image that we want to resize. To set up for recording an Action, open the Actions Palette under the Window menu. This palette is usually with the History palette.

Actions Palette

Actions Palette in Photoshop

Photoshop comes with a set a Default Actions. Click on the arrow next to the Default Actions folder (set) to see the actions. At the bottom of the Actions Palette are the icons to stop, record, and play an action; and icons to add a new set (folder) of actions, create a new action, or delete an action.

Let’s create a new set called My Actions. We’ll place our new action inside this new set.

Click on the ‘New Set’ icon at the bottom of the Actions Palette and call it My Actions. Click OK.

Create New Set

Create New Set

The new set appears in the Actions Palette. Be sure My Actions is highlighted and click on New Action. Because My Actions is highlighted, the new action will be placed inside this set. The New Action dialog box appears. We’ll name the new action ‘resizeIt’ and verify that the new action is placed inside the My Actions set. Click OK.

Create New Action

Create New Action

Create New Action

At this point, we want to be familiar with the steps of our new action. Once we click record to create the action, we want to successfully go from step to step we complete the entire action. If we mess up, we can stop recording, delete the action and start over.

Let’s review the steps for our new action. We’ll resize the image via the Image Size dialog box. To add a finishing touch before saving the image, we will add a white stroke just inside the perimeter of the image. Here’s a detailed list of the steps:

Change Size
Image > Image Size
Change width to 400 pixels (height will automatically change)
Add Stroke
Select rectangle marquee tool
Drag marquee tool ¼” inside perimeter of image
Edit > stroke: 1 pixel, white
Save Image
Save inside resizedImages folder

Be sure the resizedImages folder is created before recording the action.

OK, let’s record the action. Click the record button at the bottom of the Actions Palette and go through each of the steps listed above. As each step is completed the step is listed inside the resizeIt action.

Recording New Action

Recording New Action

When completed click on Stop recording at the bottom of the Actions Palette.

Stop Recording Action

Stop Recording Action

Each of the steps are listed inside the resizeIt action. Below is our finished image:

Finished Image

Finished Image

To apply this action to another image. Open the image, highlight reSizeIt in the Actions Palette, and click Play at the bottom of the Actions Palette.

Second Finished Image

Second Finished Image

Walla! Just like that we have resized an image, added a stroke, and saved the image. That is the beauty of actions! Next time, we’ll use this action (and the magic of Photoshop) in a batch process to easily and quickly apply the action to a folder of images.

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