The Actions palette (see Figure 1) displays all of the available actions. If the Actions palette is not visible, choose Window/Actions. As can be seen in this figure, Photoshop comes with a number of default actions. While these actions certainly have value, most photographers will be interested in creating their own actions.
Recording an action is very simple. After launching the New Action dialogue box, the tasks are simply performed as they would normally be executed while Photoshop records the steps performed. For example, assume that a photographer wishes to automate a sharpening step as follows:
For demonstration purposes, the steps to creating this action will be shown. The process is started by clicking the Create new action icon at the bottom of the Actions palette (see Figure 2).
The New Action dialogue box will appear. There are four fields in the dialogue box:
This action will be named the Sharpen action. The action will be assigned to the default actions (it will be moved later). The action will be able to be played by pressing the F2 and Shift keys. Red will be assigned as the color. These settings are shown in Figure 4.
It is now merely a matter of performing the sharpening steps. Figure 5 shows the Layers palette for the image that will be used to create the action.
The Layers palette is selected, and the top layer is chosen by pressing Alt and >.
A new layer is added by clicking the Create a new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette (see Figure 6).
The visible layers are merged into the new layer by holding down the Alt key and choosing Layer/Merge Visible. The Layer is renamed as the Sharpen Layer. The Layers palette now appears as shown in Figure 7.
The new action can now be seen in the Actions palette (see Figure 13). Clicking on the triangle next to the action will expand the action so that each of the individual steps can be seen (see Figure 14).
At some point, it may be decided that one of the tasks performed by an action needs to be edited. This is fairly simple. Simply double click the step in the action (while in the Actions palette) and make the necessary changes. For example, the Unsharp Mask step can be edited by double clicking on the Unsharp Mask step as shown in Figure 15.
Sometimes, after an action is created, it may be determined that additional steps need to be added to the action. The process to do this depends on whether the additional steps need to be added to the end of the action or someplace in the middle of the action. If the additional steps are to be added to the end of the action, the action is selected in the Actions palette and the Begin recording icon at the bottom of the Actions palette is clicked (see Figure 16). Then, the steps that are to be added to the action are performed. After the last step has been completed, the Stop playing/recording button at the bottom of the Actions palette is clicked (see Figure 17). The new steps will have been added to the action (as seen in Figure 17) In this case, the action now has a mask on the sharpening layer).
If the additional steps are to be added to the middle of the action, the process is similar except that the step just before where the new step is to be inserted is selected. For instance, in Figure 19, a new step will be added just after the Unsharp Mask step. Figure 20 shows the Actions palette after a step was added to reduce the Opacity of the Sharpening layer to 50% (note that, in this figure, the new step was expanded to show the step detail).
In some cases, it may be desirable for an action to stop so that the photographer can perform an edit that can not be programmed into the action. Then, the action can continue to complete the rest of the steps. For this type of task, a stop is inserted into the action. To insert a stop, the step just before where the stop is to be inserted is selected. Then, the pop-up menu on the Actions palette is clicked and Insert Stop is chosen (see Figure 21).