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Actions in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 7 of 7

Create Sharable Actions

Ben Willmore

Actions in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

7. Create Sharable Actions

Lesson Info

Create Sharable Actions

Now let's look at how we can enhance actions to make them more user-friendly, especially if you're gonna share them with other people. In one of the other lessons, that is part of the complete guide, we had one called Advanced Retouching. And in that lesson, I used an action that comes with that lesson that was called Frequency Separation. And I have that action here, and you can see all the steps that are contained within. The problem is, not everybody's gonna be using an action within a few days of creating it. It might be a year before you end up deciding you need to use an action again. And so, if I happen to have that action that came with the Advanced Retouching lesson, when you played it, it did something and Gaussian blur came up. And if you start applying this action a year after you acquired it you might not remember what are ya supposed to do when Gaussian blur comes up? So, let's figure out how we could put instructions into our action to tell the user of the action what th...

ey should be doing. So here I'm gonna click Cancel. I'm gonna revert our image back so it's like the original. And let's see if we can modify this action to add instructions. We were right at the step of Gaussian Blur. I want to put in what's called a Stop directly before that. If I want to put it in before that I need to click on the step above, because anytime you record a new step in your action it's always added directly below the step you are working on. Now, I want to go to the side menu and there's a choice called Insert Stop. Insert Stop means insert message. That's gonna stop the action and prompt the user in some way. So if I choose Insert Stop, I can type a message. I can say, when you continue this action (keyboard clicking) or, I'll say it this way, (keyboard clicking) Anyway, I'm telling them, in this particular action what you're supposed to do is blur the image until just the fine detail goes away, but you can still recognize objects. And so, I somewhat worded that. Then at the bottom there's an Allow Continue button that if you turn that on, when this message appears, there will be a choice of continuing. And if they were to hit it the action will just continue on If you don't turn on Allow Continue, what it means is what you're requesting is something they need to do that might be a multi-step action. And it might be telling them, go open a picture of a texture you like, or type in your name, or something else that couldn't just let the action continue. So, I'm gonna turn on Allow Continue, I'll click Okay, and now if you look in My Action you'll find there's a new step it's called Stop and if you expand it, it just has the text that's in there, and let's see what happens now when I play this action. I'll click on the name of the action, I'm gonna end up clicking the Play button, and now it tells me the exact text that I typed in. When Gaussian Blur shows up, adjust the amount until the-- I should say 'fine' instead of 'file'. All right, and then I'm gonna click Okay, or click Continue I should say, and then Gaussian Blur shows up and I have an idea of what I'm supposed to do. There's the fine detail. Fine detail is gone right about there. Click Okay and now it's done what it's needed to. Now, I had a typo in there. How do I fix a typo? Well, I find which step it's in. It's in that step called Stop. I expand it and right there's the text, just double click on this. It will bring open the step that you had, and I can change the text. Click Okay. And we can modify it. Then there's one other thing you might wanna end up doing in your actions. Let's say you have an action that ends up adding space to your document. And, whenever you're done applying that action what you wish it would do would be zoom out so you could fit the image in the window that you're currently looking at. Well, when you're recording an action there's a whole bunch of commands that completely ignored when you record an action. And that is any step that does not have the potential of changing the contents of your picture. And, changing your view, like the zoom in our zoom out kind of view would end up not changing the true contents of the file that's there. And therefore, it's just ignored. If you end up-- watch, I'll record a brand new action and I'll call it Zoom to Fit. And, if I end up going to the View menu and saying I want to view it at 200% view, and then I come out here and say let's zoom in further. Look in my actions panel and notice it's not recording anything at all. Or, if I use keyboard shortcuts, like Command zero to zoom out, not recorded at all. Because that doesn't change the contents of the file, and therefore the Actions panel ignores it. So, how can you have it apply those things even though they're usually ignored? Here's how you can do it. If you go to the side menu of the actions panel there is a choice called Insert Menu Item. And if I choose Insert Menu Item then a little screen comes up and it's just waiting for me to choose something from one of the menus. If I go to the Window or View menus and I choose Fit on Screen now, it just wrote down the name of whatever I chose from the menu. I click Okay, and now that's a step in my action. An instance of when you might to do that is, let's say, that one of the steps in your action sharpens an image. Well, in order to see sharpening you shouldn't be zoomed out in your picture. You really should be viewing it at 100% view to actually see the effect of that sharpening. So, why not have a step in your action that inserts a menu item and it just has you go to the View menu and choose 100% view. That means you're seeing all the detail in the image. Then after it goes beyond the step that sharpens your picture, if it's asking you for settings for the sharpening that is, then afterwards, again, Insert Menu Item and tell it to Fit on Screen at the end of the action. So it doesn't end up being zoomed in all the way on your image. So, actions take a while to get used to and there's a lot of troubleshooting involved, but I find it's really worth it for anything that's either repetitive, extremely complex, or something where you're just not gonna remember the steps. Then see if it's something you might be able to record as an action.

Class Description


  • Automate a wide variety of multi-step techniques
  • Apply an Action to hundreds of images using the Batch command
  • Use subroutines to incorporate a set of steps into multiple actions
  • Utilize Conditionals to change the course of an action based on the unique characteristic of a layer
  • Troubleshoot existing actions


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)

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Danna Chiasson

Good stuff ... learned some valuable tips ... thanks !