Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions | WebReference

Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions

Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions

This book excerpt is from Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions ISBN 0-7821-4334-2. All rights reserved. Chapter 2: Actions in Action, is posted with permission from Sybex.

You would think that the best way to learn actions is simply to read on the subject and then begin creating them. In my experience, this was not the case. When I started working with automating processes in Photoshop, it was easier to view how others had put their actions together first rather attempt to create my own. From the feedback I receive on the subject, I'm not the only person who finds this to be true. Some people need a visual reference to make things click, rather than step-by-step text instructions. That is why this chapter covers using actions, and Chapter 3 covers creating actions. If you want to jump right into building actions, I suggest you move straight to Chapter 3 and then return here to learn how to modify your creations.

Chapter Contents: Loading Actions, Saving Actions, Playing Actions, Editing Actions.

Loading Actions

As discussed, actions are excellent tools for shaving time off repetitive tasks or applying past tricks to new images, but they don't do much good unless you can get them into Photoshop and play them. You can load actions into the Actions palette when the palette is in either Button or List mode. To load an action set (this is what actually occurs, as actions are saved in sets), follow these steps: If the action you are looking for resides in the Presets\Photoshop Actions folder in the Adobe Photoshop subfolder, the action set appears at the bottom of the Actions palette menu. Simply open the menu, and select that action set from the list (see Figure 2.1).

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Figure 2.1 Action sets saved in the Presets\Photoshop Actions folder appear at the bottom of the Actions palette menu. If, like me, you eventually become addicted to these little scripts and decide to build a library of actions that you create and also acquire from third-party sources online or elsewhere (see Chapter 4 for a listing of online action resources), I recommend that you not save these to the Adobe Photoshop\Presets\Photoshop Actions folder but in another folder.

Note: In Photoshop 7 and earlier versions of the software, the palette menu can become unavailable if too many action sets are saved to the Photoshop Actions folder in the Adobe Photoshop subfolder. This problem seems to have been corrected in Photoshop CS. If you encounter this problem, simply removing the extra action sets from the Photoshop Actions folder corrects it.

Beyond the warning just given, I've discovered another downside to installing far too many actions. Take a look at Figure 2.1 again. See how of the action sets are listed in a single column, leaving plenty of room on the desktop? If you save 20 or 30 action sets in that folder, the list appears in two columns, still leaving plenty of room on the desktop. Now take a look at Figure 2.2, with hundreds of actions saved in the Pre-sets\Photoshop Actions folder. The Actions palette menu dominates the entire workspace.

I work with a dual monitor system, and the excess actually spills over to the other screen.

The other reason I recommend saving additional actions to a folder outside the Photoshop folder is simply for organization. I have thousands of actions on my computer;some from other action fanatics and thousands of my own that run the gamut from simple image correction to melted chrome text effects. With so many varieties, it is simply easier to keep these scripts in a manageable folder system elsewhere on the hard drive. This also makes it easier to find the default or packaged actions that were installed with the software. If you have a smaller hard drive or concerns about clutter, you can load the actions from a CD or from an external drive. Burning large numbers of actions to a CD and then using them with Photoshop is definitely an option. Loading externally saved actions is the same as loading actions from your hard drive, except that you access the CD instead of the hard drive.

Figure 2.2 Saving too many action sets to the Presets\Photoshop Actions folder results in the palette menu dominating the workspace.

To load action sets, follow these simple steps:

1. From the Actions palette menu, choose Load Actions to open the Load dialog box, which is shown in Figure 2.3.

Figure 2.3 Find the action set you want to load on your hard drive or CD-ROM.

2. Select the action set and click Load. The action set is now available for use in the Actions palette (see Figure 2.4).

Figure 2.4 Clicking the Load button makes the highlighted action set available for use in the Actions palette.

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: September 3, 2004