Using Adobe Photoshop Actions to Enhance Productivity

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Photoshop Actions is the equivalent of running a macro in Microsoft Excel. It allows you to record yourself carrying out a specific set of steps in Photoshop and then, when you trigger the recorded Action, to have Photoshop step through that exact sequence of actions again.

This is a huge time saver if you need to carry out a repetitive task. For example, standardizing a large number of photos to be used on a website. It will carry out the steps very quickly and perfectly, provided that you have set up the actions correctly, removing human error from the process. Something that is quite likely given how boring the task is. I use that also when making time-lapses out of my images when I want to add something specific to each image out of several hundreds of images. Naturally doing this one by one would be tedious and time-consuming. So using Photoshop actions can be a life changer in cases like these.

Learning to use Actions is a huge time saver for professional Photoshop users and was rated the top productivity tip in this Adobe expert article.

Let’s take a closer look at why:

Simple To Use

Actions are easy to use. It isn’t technically complex to work with.

It can get a little complicated if you want to use it to carry out a complex sequence of editing tasks as you’d expect, however, you would only be doing that once you are experienced with Actions. If you’re a beginner in that case you would break up the sequence into a small number of Actions that you would apply one after another and because they are so quick it wouldn’t slow you down much.

However, in general Actions is very easy to work with. There’s really no excuse to not start using it!


Focus On Value-Added Tasks

As mentioned above, editing a long list of photos can be very dull and pretty low value. The ability to record a standard edit and have it applied consistently to a long list of photos is great. It removes user error and allows you to focus on the higher value and more creative parts of the task at hand.


Consistent Results

Actions can be saved for use in future. This means that you don’t need to remember what settings you used for a piece of work in the past. So long as you record your work at the time, if someone asks for a similar edit even a number of years in the future you will be able to reproduce them extremely quickly.

Image and Actions: DesignShack

Improve Your Process

Setting up and recording an Action forces you to think closely about what you are doing, how you are doing it and in what order. This will allow you to streamline your process over time.

Many of us get stuck in ruts. We continue to carry out tasks in exactly the way that we did when we first figured out how to do them. This is usually not the most efficient way.

Being forced to reflect on how we are doing things allows us to make small improvements to our process. Most users find that these add up significantly over time.


Build On The Work Of Others

Many photographers put their Actions on the web for others to download. Sometimes people charge for them, but more often than not they are often free.

For examples see this CreativeBloc article and this PhotoArgus article containing more than 100 actions.

Being able to download other people’s Actions allows you to recreate their effects almost instantly and, more importantly, see how they create those effects. It also allows you to build on what they have produced to quickly create effects of your own without starting from scratch.


Save Time And Money On Editors

In the event that you are a great photographer but a less capable photo editor, this can save you a large amount of time and money. Rather than paying someone to edit your photos for you and waiting for them to come back to you, you can use a standard library of Actions to carry out the vast majority of your processing.

If you are still not happy you can then send them to an editor but for many of them, you can save the time and money of post-processing.

Featured image: CreativeTacos

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