Batch Actions


Today’s Question: In your answer about using an action in Photoshop to add a watermark to an image you said it was possible to apply the action to multiple images at once using a batch process. How do you initiate that batch processing?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My recommendation is to start with Adobe Bridge, selecting the photos you want to process with an action and then choosing Tools > Photoshop > Batch from the menu to get started batch processing the images.

More Detail: The first step is to use Adobe Bridge to select the photos you want to batch process with an action in Photoshop. You can make use of all of the various features in Bridge for this purpose, such as applying filters to narrow the range of images you’re viewing, and then selecting only the images you actually want to process.

Once you’ve selected the images you want to process, you can go to the menu in Adobe Bridge and choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. This will cause Photoshop to be launched if it wasn’t already running, and the Batch dialog will appear.

Because you selected the images for processing using Adobe Bridge, the source of images to process will already be selected. You can then select the set (folder) that contains the action you want to use from the Set popup, and then the specific action from the Action popup.

You can then choose how you want to save the images from the Destination popup. Note that when you’ll be using an action for batch processing, it is generally necessary (or at least helpful) to include a Save As command as part of the action, so that step in the action can determine the settings for saving the images as part of the batch processing.

As a general rule I recommend using the Folder option from the Destination popup, because this will cause additional copies of the source images to be saved in a new location. In other words, the source images will remain unaltered, with new copies created as part of the batch processing.

After choosing the Folder option, you will want to turn on the “Override Action ‘Save As’ Commands”. In other words, for batch processing with an action you’ll generally want to include a Save As step to define how the images should be saved, but then you’ll need to override that step so that the images are saved individually in the location you specify in the Batch dialog, rather than in the location and with the filename that is included as part of the original action you recorded.

There are other options that may be applicable to some workflows, but in general the above process will work for most scenarios. Once you have defined the settings for batch processing, you can click the OK button to initiate processing of the images you selected in Adobe Bridge, using the selected action created within Photoshop.

Note that it is possible to initiate batch processing directly from within Photoshop as well. You can get started by choosing File > Automate > Batch from the menu. The challenge is that with this approach you either need to process a full folder of images, or to open all of the images first. In other words, the advantage of initiating this process with Adobe Bridge is that you’re able to filter and select photos from any source and then process only the selected images.