For anyone who deals with images on a regular basis—whether they’re photographers, bloggers, or digital artists—Adobe Photoshop is an indispensable tool. And while the program can be used to make extensive alterations to a single photo, there are times when what you want is to make more simple alterations to lots of photos. Fortunately, Photoshop makes that easy. Here’s how you can use the batch-processing capabilities in Photoshop to kick-ass-ify all your photos at once.
1. Create an Action
The basis of Photoshop’s batch processor is always an action—a predefined set of commands that can be set to run on any picture. Photoshop comes with a set of built-in actions ranging from the mildly useful (Sepia Toning) to the downright befuddling (Molten Lead? Really?). But unless your job down at the boardwalk Old West photo booth requires you to apply sepia tone en masse, you’re going to want to be able to create your own actions.
Here’s how you create an action: First, open a file like the ones you will want to batch process. To record an action, you’ll have to have an image to perform that action on.
Next, open up the Actions window (above) if it’s not already visible. It will appear as a tab next to the History browser. Then, click the Create New Action button at the bottom of the Actions window (it looks just the same as the Create New Layer button). You’ll be asked to give your action a name (pick something descriptive), and then the action will start recording.
Carefully perform the action or set of actions that you’ll want to apply to all photos in the batch. When you’re done, either save the image (if you want to overwrite the original) or save it to a new location, close the file (but not Photoshop), and hit the Stop Recording button in the Actions pane. You don’t have to save and close the image as part of the action—the batch processor can do that automatically—but by making it part of the action, that action becomes more useful if you want to use it as a stand-alone macro.
2. Batch Process Your Files
Now that you’ve got your action recorded, you’re almost ready to go. Group all of the images you want to process into a single folder, and start the Photoshop batch processor by clicking File > Automate > Batch. This will open the batch processor itself, which has three sections you should worry about.
The first section lets you select the action to apply to all images (above). If you stored your action in any set other than the default one, you’ll have to select that set from the first drop-down list.
The second section is where you define the input for the batch processor (below). Frequently this will be a folder, though you can also perform an action on all images open in Photoshop.
The third section tells Photoshop what to do with the images the action outputs (below). If your action has its own save process built in, you can select None. If it doesn’t, choose Folder to output all your processed photos to a folder. Even if your action includes a save, you can choose to overwrite it by checking the Override box. The six drop-down boxes in this section allow you to define a naming convention for the files the batch process will output.
Once you’ve got all three sections filled in, you’re set. Just click OK, and Photoshop will open every file in the input folder, apply your custom action, then save the result to the output folder. It’s a little complicated the first time, but can save you a ton of time over the long run.