Photoshop uses preset scripts called actions to automate repetitive tasks. For example, creating a drop shadow can involve inverting a selection, deleting a background, inverting the selection again, offsetting it, feathering it, and filling it with a transparent fill. Actions allow you to apply multiple steps such as these with a single mouse click. This can save you timeespecially when you're processing multiple images in the same way. You can view actions in a simplified button mode (which allows for one-click application) and in a more detailed mode (in which you can examine each step in the action). In this task, you'll work in Simplified Button mode. You'll get more detailed information in the following tasks.
Open the Actions Palette
Choose Window, Actions to open the Actions palette.
Set Palette to Button Mode
Click and hold the arrow in the upper-right corner of the palette and drag to select Button Mode. The Actions palette changes to display all the actions as clickable buttons. Select this option again to disable Button mode and return the palette to the simple List mode.
Select an Area of the Image
Actions can be applied to a selected area of the image; in many cases, actions can be applied to the entire image. Click the Marquee tool and drag to select the area of the image you want to modify with an action.
Click the Action Button
Click the desired action button in the Actions palette to execute the effect. You can apply multiple actions to the same selectionjust click another Action button.
If you deselect Button Mode from the Actions palette menu, you can set custom keystrokes for each action. For example, instead of going to the Actions palette to click the Vignette button, you could assign a keystroke such as Shift+Ctrl+F2 that executes the Vignette action. In the Actions palette, select the action you want; open the palette menu and drag down to select Action Options. In the dialog box that opens, specify a keystroke to launch the action.
More Actions with Photoshop 7
In previous versions of Photoshop, it was generally acknowledged that the default set of actions was not very useful. Sure, you could create fake wood-frame effects with a push of a button, but that's not an effect you would use on a daily basis. The presets were there as examples of what you could build yourself, but nothing that anyone would call a useful library.
To address this, Photoshop 7 includes a host of new action sets, accessible from the Actions palette menu. Select any of the files with the .atn suffix to load the action set in the palette. Each action set includes numerous actions that are useful in daily applications. The topics for the new action sets are Buttons, Commands, Frames, Image Effects, Production, Text Effects, and Textures.