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How to Batch Edit Photos with Photoshop Actions Feature

Digital imaging has revolutionized photography. Photoshop and Lightroom allow you to achieve results that were just unimaginable a few years back. But it’s no longer about what you can do with the computer for your photography; it’s also about what your computer can do instead of you. Today I’ll show you how to batch edit photos with Photoshop with the help of Actions.

Why this Technique is Useful

While Lightroom is perfect for a simple batch edit like exposure, contrast, white balance, etc., it won’t have you covered when you need something a bit more stylized. That’s where Photoshop comes in. If you need a batch of images that are stylized to fit a company’s overall vision, this is the perfect solution.

unprocessed images sample Photoshop batch edit

All you have to do is apply your edits to one photo, then let Photoshop repeat the same steps for the rest.

processed images sample Photoshop batch edit

Step 1: Preparing your Photos

Note: This method works best on pictures of identical size and quality. Whether it will work on photos of variable size and quality depends on what steps your recorded action consists of.

Make sure to have all your photos ready and saved in the same folder.

images organized folder separate Photoshop batch edit actions

Step 2: Recording your action

Note: You may want to make a copy of the first photo on which you are going to execute your edits. Otherwise, you can just directly work on the first photo you need your edits applied to.

Start by opening your photo.

file open Photoshop image photo edit batch edit

Then navigate to the actions panel. It should look like a large play button. If you can’t see it, you can enable it from the Windows menu in Photoshop.

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actions panel Photoshop batch edit access window menu

Create a new set for your action (or folder as most people call it) to keep things nice and tidy.

actions panel create news set organize set icon batch edit
new set dialog box Photoshop name batch edit

Then create your action with the small button that looks like the “New Layer” icon. Give it a proper name, optionally assign a function key and color. Once done, press “Record” to begin creating the action.

actions panel Photoshop new action button create new action batch edit
new action dialog box Photoshop name set function key color record action batch edit

From now on, anything that you do will be applied to the image. All commands, including save and open, will be recorded and stored as part of the action. Here’s a quick time-lapse video of the changes I committed:

Here’s a quick time-lapse video of the changes I committed:

Remember to go back to the action panel and press the “Stop” button when ready.

TipTo speed up the batch editing process, I highly recommend you always finish your action by flattening the image and then selecting File > Save followed by File > Close. This way processed images will automatically close out of Photoshop, giving you no RAM limitations on how many images you can process at once.

Step 3: Using the Action to Batch Edit your Photos

Once you’re done creating your action, you can immediately put it to good use. Start by selecting File > Automate > Batch.

file automate batch Photoshop batch edit feature menu panel

Once in the Batch Edit dialog, choose the settings appropriate for you. Since my Save and Close steps were part of the action I essentially just had to pick my folder and press OK.

batch edit settings dialog box Photoshop configure

Once you do this Photoshop will give you a short epileptic experience, and you will come to the sudden realization that no matter how fast you become at a software program the computer will always be faster than you. All of your desired steps will are executed to each image in the blink of an eye.

But hey – look on the bright side – your clients have no idea whether it was you who did all that work or if Photoshop did it for you! Nice and easy way to dramatically speed up your workflow. And here are the final images:

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finished photos Photoshop batch edit photos

While I only used three images for this example, you can use this process to let Photoshop batch edit thousands, even millions of photos if you wanted to (assuming you have that many in the first place). Aside from the example I’ve shown you, this will also work for batch sharpening, resizing, rotating and much more.

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