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Photoshop Actions

Want to speed up photo workflows? A Photoshop action can save you time and effort when it comes to processing multiple images at the same time. In this series, you’ll learn how to use Photoshop Actions and find professional examples to use in your own design work.

Use an action to create a specific filter or style or just about anything else that you can do in Photoshop. “Record” the process and use it repeatedly. Don’t want to create your own? There are plenty of great options out there ready to download.

What Is a Photoshop Action?

photoshop actions
You can record most Photoshop commands in an action to reuse later.

A Photoshop action is a “recorded” command that you can use later to perform tasks in the popular editing software. Using actions can help you tap into creative techniques, cutting edge post-processing styles and beautiful effects.

Here’s how Photoshop describes it:

An action is a series of tasks that you play back on a single file or a batch of files—menu commands, panel options, tool actions, and so on. For example, you can create an action that changes the size of an image, applies an effect to the image, and then saves the file in the desired format.

Actions can include steps that let you perform tasks that cannot be recorded (for example, using a painting tool). Actions can also include modal controls that let you enter values in a dialog box while playing an action.

5 Places to Find Photoshop Actions

photoshop actions

While you can create your own Photoshop actions, there is an abundance of them available from third parties, with paid and free options. The nice thing about downloading a Photoshop action is that it can help you get comfortable with this design technique if you haven’t used it before.

Here are five places to find Photoshop actions for your projects:

  • Envato Elements has a huge library of Photoshop actions that are all available to subscribers at no extra cost.
  • Fix the Photo has a good collection of actions for portrait touch-ups that are all free to use.
  • Shutter Pulse has an extensive library of Photoshop actions, most of which are designed for photos of people with easy to see previews.
  • Creative Market includes a library of nearly 300 actions in .psd format that you can purchase one at a time for as little as a few bucks.
  • Creative Tacos has a collection of several hundred Photoshop actions that are grouped by category for easy search and filtering.

How to Add an Action to Photoshop

photoshop actions

Adding an action to Photoshop is easier than you might think. Once you add an action it is part of your Photoshop library and available to use over and over again.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Download and unzip the action file.
  2. Open Photoshop and navigate to Window, then Actions. The Actions Panel will open. (The placement often defaults to the top right.)
  3. From the menu, select Load Actions, navigate to the saved, unzipped action and select it. The file you want to install ends with .atn. Many downloadable actions also include readme or instruction files that are not installed.
  4. The action is ready for use.