Processing photos for the web — rotating, resizing, renaming and compressing -– can be tedious and time consuming, especially if you do everything one file at a time.
Using the Actions palette in Photoshop, you can record all of those little tweaks you perform to prepare your photos, then “replay” them to instantly complete the same list of tasks on multiple images. This process, called a batch operation, can save you a ton of time since you’ll be able to zip through each of the same, tedious tasks any number of times with a single click of the mouse.
For this How To, we’ll use the example of resizing an image from a digital camera. Most digital cameras capture photos in high resolution that are thousands of pixels wide — great for studying the details in a scene but hardly ideal for sharing on the web. We’ll shrink these images to a manageable size that’s easy to e-mail or upload to an online gallery.
What You’ll Need
- A bunch of large digital images
- Adobe Photoshop
- Some Photoshop experience
Record A Custom Action
To begin, open a large digital image in Photoshop. We will be using this image to record the action we wish to automate.
1. Go to Window > Actions to bring up the Actions palette.
2. Click Create new action and type “Resize for web”
3. Click Record.
4. In the main Photoshop menu bar, go to Image > Image Size.
5. Select “Pixels” from the drop-down menu next to Width.
6. Type in “600” and click OK.
7. Go to the Actions palette and click on the Stop button to stop recording.
You should see a new action in your palette, like this:
Running the Batch Operation
Here’s the part where you get to line up a bunch of images and resize all of them at once. Start by creating two folders on your desktop. Name one “Originals” and name the other “Resized.” Dump all of the images you want to batch resize into the “Originals” folder. Then,
1. Go to File > Automate > Batch to bring up the Batch dialog:
2. Under the Play header, find the “Resize for web” action you just recorded in the Actions drop-down list.
3. Under the Source header, select “Folder” in the drop-down list and click Choose. Navigate to the “Originals” folder you just created on your desktop.
4. Check the boxes to suppress warnings and options dialogs.
5. Under the Destination header, select “Folder” in the drop-down list and click Choose. Navigate to the “Resized” folder you just created on your desktop.
6. If you want to change the names of your files, you can do so here under the File Naming sub-header. We’d recommend selecting “2 Digit Serial Number” and keeping the extension.
7. Make sure your photos will be viewable to all by checking all of the “Compatibility” boxes.
8. Click OK.
Photoshop will now open each photo in the “Originals” folder, resize it, and save it to the “Resized” folder. You may be prompted to select save settings for each photo — that’s fine. Every time you click OK, Photoshop will save that image and automatically move on to the next.
You can skip those extra clicks by adding a “Save As” step to your action. Just open up a photo, click Record again and save the image with whatever settings you’d like. When the image saves, click Stop. The next time you run a batch, you should check the “Override Action ‘Save As’ Commands” box in the Batch dialog, since that will force Photoshop to follow the specific save action you recorded. Adding a “Save As” step is especially useful if your camera captures images as TIFF or BMP files — using “Save As,” you can turn them all into web-friendly JPGs.
Once you get the hang of batch operations, go ahead and add other actions like “Auto Color,” “Auto Levels” or “Auto Contrast.” You can even group these actions together in the Actions palette to create an automated photo assembly line that preps your snaps in one click.