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Complete Guide to Using Actions in Photoshop

Article Description

Whenever you perform a repetitive task in Photoshop, you can save yourself time and effort by using actions. Helen Bradley's quick-start guide explains what a Photoshop action is, how to find and play an action, and how to record your own.

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Finding New Actions

The actions included in Adobe Photoshop CS include a Frame action set that you can use to add frames to your photos. The Textures action set includes actions that create a range of textures, which are best run on a new white-filled image.

The actions included in Photoshop are only a small example of what can be done with actions and what’s already available. Before creating an action to perform a complex task (particularly if you’re unsure exactly how to begin), search the web to see whether an action already exists to do the job. A good place to start looking is the Adobe Studio Exchange site, which is a shared resource for all manner of Photoshop tools. From the Downloads list under Adobe Photoshop, choose Actions and click Go. Select a category of action from the list to display a table listing all the actions in this category—most have been created by other Photoshop users just like you (see Figure 6).

Figure 6

Figure 6 The Adobe Studio Exchange web site is a handy source of actions that you can download and use.

You can sort the list in a number of ways. Click the Downloads heading, for example, to view the most popular actions.

Take care to read the information about an action before downloading it—many actions, particularly the older ones, are specific to certain versions of Photoshop and may not work in later versions. Checking the product and version details for each action should identify which ones work with your software.

You can also use the Advanced Search feature to search for an action of a particular type. When you find an action, download it to a folder on your disk. If the action is in a .zip file, extract the files from it. Actions don’t need to be located in any particular folder, but it helps to make a folder to store them in so they’re easy to find.

To load an action, open the Actions palette menu, choose Load Actions, navigate to where you saved the action, select the .atn file, and click Load to load it. You can then play the action by opening the actions set, selecting the action to play, and clicking the Play Selection button.

3. Creating Your Own Action | Next Section Previous Section