Seven Ways To Automate Repetitive Photoshop Tasks

Posted on May 21, 2012 by

For web designers, appropriate Photoshop habits are easy ways to improve the efficiency of their mundane daily tasks. If you have been in web design career for more than a few years, odds are, there are quite a few repetitive tasks that can be streamlined or even automated. Web designers’ workflow is highly organic and many of their tasks can be automated.

Photoshop can handle repetitive tasks for you and over the years, it can save you plenty of time. Automating Photoshop tasks is so simple that newbies can handle it with ease. Open a palette by choosing Windows>Actions and click the “New Action” button. From here, Photoshop will start recording your task and it watches everything you do. Hit the “Stop” button to stop the recording process and after you are finished, you can automate the same task at lightning speed by clicking the “Play” button. However, this method may not be appropriate for some generic actions, such as saving a file, because it will also record the filename and the directory path.

1. Creating a New Document at a Specific Size

This may seem insignificant, but you’d be surprised how much time we spend opening the “New Document” dialog box over the course of your career. If you’re like many web designers, you may create blank documents that are of the same size repeatedly. This is particularly true for blog designers, who need to incorporate images with the same size for all or most blog posts. It is a good idea to record an action for creating blank documents for specific size. For example, you can churn out blank 640px by 480px Photoshop documents quickly using this method. Name each action with the dimension of the blank document to help you identify them easily. This perhaps could save you plenty of time as you don’t need to dig around trying to create documents with proper size repeatedly.

2. Editing Images

Good web designers should at least have a basic set of photo editing skills. It is another thing that people naturally think when they want to automate repetitive Photoshop tasks, and for a good reason. Many web designers and photographers perform this step over and over, perhaps dozens of time in a single day. It is often the case that images that work with are not quite up to par and they could use a little editing. Web designers can automate common image editing tasks such as resizing, sharpening, fixing red eye, boosting colors or creating specific effects.

3. Saving multiple file versions

For the sake of being thorough, some web designers save every file in multiple versions; at least, a full-blown PSD file for editing and a “save-for-web” JPG file. In a complex project, a file may have more than ten different versions, which means you could spend half of your day resizing and saving multiple files. As a solution, you can use the same method to speed up the process. You could record an action to flatten a file, resize it and save it at specific quality level. It has been pointed out earlier that automating saving actions can pose a huge problem, because you’ll use the same filename and saving location risking overwriting important files or documents. To solve this problem, you can record all steps before choosing the filename and hitting the “Save” button.

4. Creating dummy content

Here is a super handy automated task for initial mockups and wireframes. With this method, you can also create a “lorem ipsum” generator, by pasting placeholder content to a specific area. Whenever you want to create a placeholder content, you should run the recorded action.

5. Make 3D content

This is one thing that you might enjoy. Making a 3D element in Photoshop could be really time-consuming, especially if you still use an older version that doesn’t offer built-in 3D features. Automated actions can help you create quick 3D effects that don’t suck.

6. Batch processing

This is the best example where automated Photoshop action can start saving you hours. Anytime you have dozens or even hundreds of images that need to be brightened, converted or resized; the batch processing command allows to automate the task completely without purchasing a third party tool, thus saving you time and money. Create a common folder for storing the images, start recording the action, choose File>Automate>Batch and perform the remaining steps. After all the steps are recorded properly, you only need to sit back and watch the task completed in seconds, what often takes you hours.

7. Actions within an action

Some experienced users record a parent action to run a few child actions sequentially. A few recorded actions within a large recorded action may sound crazy, but this can be a powerful tool and speed up your work drastically. This should work like an assembly line in factories, where results of an action is fed to another action. Just create a normal new action and run all the necessary actions. Photoshop will insert references to each action within an action, which allows you to run multiple actions. With this trick time saving can really become exponential.


If you have been using Photoshop for years, this article should have your brain on overdrive as you think up new ways to speed up and automate your daily workflow. For any designer, it is a shame to skip such a powerful feature that can make you a far more productive web designer.

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