Photoshop actions allow you to record a series of steps that you might do numerous times on other images, and then play back that series automatically on a new image. Photoshop CS4 comes with dozens of actions already created for you. In this article, I’ll give a pictorial and descriptive run-down of Photoshop’s built-in Production actions.
See Related Posts at the end to click through to the other built-in action sets.
To open a non-Default set of built-in actions:
- Window > Actions
- Click on the menu icon at the top-right corner of the Actions panel.
- Look near the bottom of the menu where there is a list of seven sets (such as “Image Effects”).
- Select a set. It will added below the Default Actions set.
- Click the gray triangle to the left of the action set you just added, to open the list.
- Select an action, and click the Play selection button at the bottom of the Actions panel.
You can find more ready-made actions at the Photoshop Exchange.
Like the Commands actions, these do straightforward work. I’ve summarized each below.
- Letter Canvas 150 – creates a new 8.5″ x 11″ (portrait) document at 150 pixels per inch
- Letter R Canvas 150 – creates a new 11″ x 8.5″ (landscape) document at 150 pixels per inch
- Tabloid Canvas 150 – creates a new 11″ x 17″ (portrait) document at 150 pixels per inch
- Tabloid R Canvas 150 – creates a new 17″ x 11″ (landscape) document at 150 pixels per inch
- Legal Canvas 150 – creates a new 8.5″ x 14″ (portrait) document at 150 pixels per inch
- Legal R Canvas 150 – creates a new 14″ x 8.5″ (portrait) document at 150 pixels per inch
- 640 x 480 – creates a new 640 px x 480 px document at 72 pixels per inch (an outdated Web page size)
- Save as GIF89a Web Palette – converts your document to indexed color, flattens the file, and saves as a GIF with “Web-safe” colors and transparency
- Conditional Mode Change – gives you a dialog box that gives you options for converting the color mode of your file (also found under the File > Automate menu)
- Batch Processing – opens the Batch dialog box which gives you options to run an action on multiple files (also found under the File > Automate menu)
- Reduced Color Palette – opens the Index Color dialog box which gives options for reducing the colors in an image
- Fit Image – reduces the image size so that it is no larger than 432 px wide or 600 px high
- Custom RGB to Grayscale – Use a color (RGB Mode) image. It pops open the Channel Mixer with a suggested mix of Red, Green and Blue channels. You fiddle with it until you get a beautiful grayscale image, and it then converts the Image Mode to Grayscale.
- Custom CMYK to Grayscale – like the action above, it opens the Channel Mixer so you can convert the image to grayscale manually to achieve the richest tones
- Make Clip Path – Clipping paths are a type of selection that is created on images that you want to use in a page layout program. Areas outside the clipping path will be transparent when they are placed in the page. The outside areas will still be visible in Photoshop, and the path is editable via the paths panel and the Direct Selection tool. This action creates a clipping path around a selection you have created. It will ask you to name your new path. It will also ask you for the device flatness in pixels; this refers to how accurately the path will be followed by the printer or press.
- Save as JPEG Medium – flattens your image and saves it as a .JPG file at medium (5) quality
- Save as Photoshop PDF – This action is just like choosing File > Save As and selecting Photoshop PDF as the format. It will ask you to name the file and tell it where to save it. Then you will see the Save Adobe PDF dialog box. It defaults to “High Quality Print” and a 300/450 downsample. Edit your compression settings here.
- Make Button – reduces the image size so that it is no larger than 75 px wide or high; it applies a button style to the image if it is on an editable layer (not the Background, for example.)