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Photoshop Actions


Hi all,

I was just wondering if any of the gurus here use actions in there work flow ?, I've spent many hrs learning how to do things, but sometimes an action that gives you the same result that was purchase from a site i feel is just as good as taking the time to learn it yourself.

Although it's good to know how things work, is it just as good to use an action as a time saver in your work flow, or do you see that as a cheat ? just wonder what other peoples thoughts on that are ?.

Tom Mann

With respect to "cheating", personally, I couldn't give a hoot about that argument. For my paying and my personal photography work, I'll do whatever it takes to make the workflow more efficient and the result look good.

To me, the only situation when that comment holds water is if you have a PS newbie who claims to want to learn PS, hasn't mastered even the basic concepts and tools of PS, and asks for 1 button fixes (i.e., actions or presets) to do his work. Guys like that really need to get the basics down, and I feel are "cheating" in an academic sense, i.e., not learning appropriate skills and concepts that they desperately need in order to progress.

That being said, everyone is different w.r.t. their use of actions. FWIW, I have a whole bunch on my machine that I tried out in previous versions of PS, but found that I just wasn't using them, so I never moved them into either CC 2014 or 2015.

So, specifically, there are two major reasons that I don't use actions:

(1) I find that because the effect of an action is so incredibly dependent on the starting image, that I almost always wind up opening it up and tweaking it, and if I take the time to do that, usually, just as easily I can generate the same effect myself from scratch.

(2) Actions are incredibly sensitive to the names and other specifics of the menu structure in PS, so if Adobe makes what appears to be a trivial change in their menus it often breaks actions that rely on the previous layout, naming, etc. Over time, this means that you wind up with a bunch of broken actions. In contrast, plugins usually stay compatible until there is a major change in PS, eg, going from 8 to 16 bits per channel, or going from 16 to 32 bit SW, OS's, etc..

The flip side of this, of course, is that by opening up someone else's action, you can often learn something new or some approach you hadn't previously thought of.

Just my $0.02,

Tom M


Staff member
Well stated Tom Mann

I have also gotten away from using actions in the same manner in which Tom described. In addition to what he said, I do use some actions for simple tasks such as creating and centering guidelines and grids etc,.

Again, also in agreement with Tom, even though I don't use many, I think the better option to actions would be a well designed plug-in.

I certainly think that if you find an action that meets your needs in most situations and it makes your workflow easier, then by all means use it. I won't even comment on the cheating argument, that comes from ignorance.