This tutorial is going to provide a step-by-step guide on how to use Photoshop Actions. Actions are an easy way to apply the same thing (cropping, rotating, filters, etc.) to a large collection of images. In this tutorial I'm going to demonstrate how to crop the center out of every image in a folder.
Actions are simply a recording of all the tools used during a period of time. The action can then be played back on a collection of images to yield the same result.
Step 1: Open the 1st Image
The first thing we need to is open an image that will be used to create the recording. This should probably be one of the images you're going to process, but it can be any image.
Step 2: Create a new Action
Now we need to create a Photoshop Action that will hold the recording. Locate your Actions window. Mine appears on the left side of the screen. If is not visible, you can bring it up using the main menu: Window->Actions.
What we need to do now is create a new Action using the 'Create new action' button located at the bottom of the Actions window.
When the new action button is clicked, a window similar to the one above will be displayed. From here you can set the name of the action, any shortcut keys, and a color to represent it. Shortcut keys are used to playback the action after it has been created. For instance, if you chose F2 as the key and checked the 'shift' checkbox, every time you hit shift+F2 on your keyboard, the action will be applied to your current image. For this example, I'm going to leave everything as the default values.
Step 3: Record the Action
As soon as the record button is clicked, the action will begin recording.
As stated above, the example I'm going to use is cropping the center out of my images. All that I need to do is perform a single crop while my action is recording.
Here's my example image. Let's say I have a bunch of shots of this flower and I want to crop out the grass. Here's the crop I did while recording.
All that I need to do now is save the new image. It doesn't matter where I save it to because we're going to override where the Action saves later. We just do this so the Action knows it needs to save. If the image you did this to is in the folder you're about to process, don't save it to the same location. If you do, it will be processed twice.
To finish your action, hit the stop button located on the Actions window.
Step 4: Apply the Action
This is the last step. We're now going to apply the Action we just created to a folder of images. Bring up the Batch processing window: File->Automate->Batch. It should look similar to the window below.
There's a lot on this window, but we only care about a few options.
The first thing we need to do is set the correct Action. Up in the 'Play' area, select the Action you just created.
In the next area down, set the source as 'Folder'. Hit the choose button and select the folder where the image you'd like to process are located.
In the next area down - Destination - set it to 'Folder' also. Now choose a folder in which to save all your processed images. I like to keep all of my originals, this is why I choose a separate folder to save processed images. Check the 'Override Action "Save As" Commands' checkbox so the Action saves the images to the destination folder.
The "File Naming" area lets you specify how output files are named. For this example, I just left them named the same. Usually I'd tack on a "cropped" to the end of the filename or something similar to that.
As soon as you click 'OK', your action will begin running on each image in the source folder. When it completes, all the images will be cropped and saved in your destination folder.