Photoshop Actions

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Once loaded into Photoshop, Photoshop actions will extend it with new effects.

Photoshop allows you to record a sequence of operations that you apply to an image and save this sequence to a file. Such files have an .atn extension and are called Adobe Photoshop Actions. Depending on the action recorded, some actions can be applied to images or text, others can generate images themselves.
(Support for Photoshop actions has been added to Photoshop 4.0. All newer versions have this feature as well.)

  1. Photoshop actions are mainly used to automate image work. For example, if I want to reduce a hundred images, I will record the operation of reducing one image and then run the recorded action on the remaining images. Photoshop actions can save a lot of time.
  2. Another example is the actions on this page. I recorded a sequence of various artistic effects applied to the image to achieve an interesting effect. Because actions can be saved and loaded into another copy of Photoshop, this effect can reach other people.

Photoshop actions are not real programs but just calls to existing Photoshop features. Therefore, the size of .atn files is extremely small (only a few kilobytes). Yet they can create amazing new image effects, like plug-ins. The uniqueness of the resulting effect is guaranteed by the fact that there is an infinite number of combinations of calls to numerous Photoshop features.

Advantages of Photoshop actions:

  • Small size.
  • You can modify them and fine-tune the result to your liking.
  • You can record your action. Save it. Distribute it.

Their disadvantages:

  • Compatibility. If some action uses a Photoshop feature that is not included in your version of Photoshop, then this operation will skip, which will affect the result. The positive thing is that according to experience Photoshop developers maintain compatibility with older versions.
    Each of my Photoshop actions has minimum Photoshop version requirements listed in the details.

  1. Double-click the .atn file to load it into Photoshop. (Or, in the 'Actions' panel, click in the upper-right corner to see the drop-down menu. In it, select the option 'Load Actions'. Locate the downloaded .atn file on the disk and click 'Load'. If the 'Actions' panel is hidden, you can make it visible by clicking Window > Actions in the top menu.)
  2. Open the image to which you want to apply the action. (Some actions do not require this step because they create a new image themselves.)
  3. In the 'Actions' panel, a new folder was created that was loaded with the action. In it, select the action you want (click on it). A single .atn file can contain multiple actions.
  4. Use the 'Play Selection' button in the 'Actions' panel to start the action.
  5. Admire the result.
REVISED: 2021-05-02