Tips for Creating Better Photoshop Actions

  • Brush strokes, cloning, and most manual tools from the toolbox do not record properly with actions. Instead, use an alternative, such as a Gradient Fill layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient) instead of the Gradient tool.
    • To play a single step of an action, double-click it.
    • If you make a mistake in an action, click Stop. Delete the incorrect steps by dragging them into the Actions panel’s trashcan. Choose Edit > Step Backward as many times as needed. Then click Record and start again from the last good point.
    • Button mode lets you launch actions quickly—just click an action and it runs. You can access the command from the Actions panel submenu. You’ll need to disable Button mode to access recording and editing features.
    • Choose Playback Options from the Actions panel submenu. Specify that you want the actions to play back an action accelerated. Photoshop can process faster than it can redraw the screen.
    • Be sure to back up your custom actions to two locations: the default location and a secondary backup location. This way, a reinstall or upgrade won’t blow away your custom actions.
    • To create an action that will work better on all files, set the rulers set to measure using percentage.
    • Use File > Automate > Fit Image to resize an image for a specific height or width.