Task 8 How to Create Custom Actions

Although the preset actions that ship with Photoshop are useful, it won't be long before you'll feel the need to build your own. An action should be generic enough to work in a number of situations and on multiple images. There may be some editing tasks that just don't translate into actions. Keep trying, though, because building a clean action can give you a great deal of satisfactionas well as save you a lot of time.

  1. Open the Actions Palette

    If the Actions palette is not currently displayed on your desktop, choose Window, Actions to display the palette. If necessary, exit Button mode and return the palette to List mode (see Step 2 in Task 7).


  2. Create a New Action

    From the palette menu, select New Action to open the New Action dialog box. Type a name for the action you're going to record and select the Set orientation. You can create multiple sets of actions, which you can then select from the Set menu. If no other sets of actions are created, select from the Default Actions set that appears.


  3. Execute the Action

    Click the Record button in the dialog box to begin recording the action. The New Action dialog box disappears to give you free access to your desktop. In this example, I converted a file to grayscale, changed it to index color, and inverted it to create a negative image.


  4. Select Stop Recording

    After you perform all the steps of the action you want to record, choose Stop Recording from the Actions palette menu to end the recording process.


  5. Check the Action Sequence

    Go to the Actions palette and find your newly created action in the list. Click the right-facing arrow to display the list of steps you recorded for that action.


  6. Add Any Missing Steps

    If necessary, you can add steps to the action sequence by selecting a step as an insertion point (here I selected Convert Mode) and then selecting Insert Menu Item from the palette menu. Then type the name of the command as desired; Photoshop automatically records it and adds it to the action sequence after the selection. You also can select Start Recording and execute the commands to add steps after the selected command.


How-To Hints

Cutting and Duplicating Actions

In the course of recording actions, certain tasks may become obsolete. To delete an action, select it in the Actions palette and choose Delete from the Actions palette menu. In the dialog box that appears, click OK to delete the action.

It can also be helpful to duplicate an action and modify it to create a new result. Highlight the action to be copied and select Duplicate from the Actions palette menu. Click the triangle next to the action to expand it, showing the associated parameters. To change the settings, double-click the action, which launches an appropriate dialog box. Enter the new information and click OK to create the new action.