Technology & Tutorials

Actions in Adobe Photoshop

Actions in Adobe Photoshop can save your time. Actions are just recorded steps which are stored in photoshop. No matter what so tiny or big a step is, you can record it and play it (Apply it) anytime.

(Do not get confused between Action Tab & Action Panel. It’s the same!)

So let’s understand how this action works via a simple tutorial.

  1. Open up any stock image in photoshop.

    1. Use Ctrl+O to open and select any image from windows explorer
  2. Opening up Actions panel

    1. Use Alt+F9 to activate the Action panel.
    2. Another option is Click on Window + Actions to activate the Action panel.
  3. Just to be sure that you’ve all the default actions in Actions Panel

    1. Click on Collapse located on the top-right-hand side of the actions panel.
    2. Click on Reset Actions.
  4. Just for safety purpose always copy the background layer and lock it so that if any weird thing happens you can just use the locked one!

  5. Now let’s apply a simple Sepia Toning Effect using Actions in the image.

    1. For that Select Actions TabàSepia Toning and then click on Play selection (Tiny play button) located on the bottom of Actions Tab.
    2. Tada, as you can see the effect has been applied.
    3. Now, you can notice that some saturation effect has been done on layers. That’s it! That’s the actions!
  6. Now, let’s create our own Action.

    1. First using Ctrl+Alt+Z go back to our original image.
    2. Click on Create new set located beside the play button.
    3. Let’s Create a Sharpening Action
      1. In that new set, Name the action ‘Sharpen Image’.
      2. Select the Set 1 or your given new set name.
      3. As soon as you click the button Record, it’ll start recording all your steps.
      4. Create New Layer.
      5. Click on Image–>Apply Image. This will just take a snapshot of everything you see and pops it up on your layer. Click on OK.
      6. Desaturate the image by selecting Image–>Adjustment–>Desaturate. Desaturating the image will help us not to affect the colours of an image when we sharpen the image.(We use Desaturation in photoshop when we want to eliminate the colours from the image.)
      7. Convert the image to the smart object. Click on Layer–>Smart Objects–>Convert to Smart Object. (Why we did it? Because By making the layer smart object, we can make it non-destructive.)
      8. Change the blend mode of the layer from normal to overlay.
      9. Select Filter–>Other–>High-Pass. (High-Pass filter will give nice sharpening effect to the image).
      10. That’s it. Click on Stop playing/recording button located at the bottom of Action Panel.
      11. Sharpen Action is created!
  1. Now try visible/invisible it to see the effect of the action on the layer.



Now As I said we use actions when we want to apply any number of steps in one click. But what if we want to apply certain steps with some modification at any time.

Let’s understand it with our previous example. Suppose that we’ve taken another image, applied the sharpen action in the image. But the intensity of the sharpening effect is still not up to the point. Now, you cannot go to the actions panel, edit the sharpen action all the time to change the intensity of the effect.


To make it dynamic, we use Dialogs.

Let’s go back to the 6-c-ix th step.

Now, all you’ve to do is just click on dialog box located on left-hand-side of the checkbox in Actions panel of High-Pass step.


Doing this will allow you to add the different value of High-Pass filter whenever you apply the sharpen action on the image.


Now, what if we want to add a note there to know what we’re going to do by applying this action. To do this, we use stop.


Click on the collapse of Actions Panel–>Insert stop. This will generate a step in current action with a dialogue box. In that write your desired words. Just like below and hit OK.



Now if you want to save the action.

Goto Action panel–>collapse–>save actions.


Now if you want to load the action.

Goto Action panel–>collapse–>load actions.

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