Actions in Illustrator are, like those found in Photoshop, a great way to “record” frequently used commands and play those commands back on artwork. This can save you a lot of time when performing similar formatting to artwork. Here’s how it works:
- Choose Window > Actions to open the Actions panel (see Figure 4).
- With an Illustrator document open, select the Delete Unused Panel Items in the Actions list. Click the Play Current Selection button at the bottom of the Actions panel to run the action. This action will remove any unused swatches, symbols, brushes, and more to help clean up your file.
- To create your own action, click the Create New Set folder icon at the bottom of the panel. This will create a folder for your actions to keep them separate. Name the folder in the dialog box and click OK.
- Click the Create New Action button at the bottom of the panel. In the New Action dialog box, give the action a name so that you easily remember what it does or what it’s for. Click Record. Almost anything you do in Illustrator will be recorded in the action.
- Click the Stop Playing/Recording button to stop recording.
Figure 4 Create actions
The Actions panel has a series of default actions like Delete Unused Panel Items. The default actions can be run on artwork (like the Reflect action), run on the document (like the Save For Web PNG 24 action), on the workspace (the Delete Unused Panel Items), and more.
Next, you will create an action. When you create an action, you usually will have some artwork open to which you can apply formatting options. As you apply formatting, Illustrator records the steps and saves them in the action.
You can now play the action back on other artwork! I wish I could explore every option of actions, but that is not the focus of this article.