In Adobe Photoshop, an action is a series of functions that have been automated into a list. When you use the action, you save time by having all of the steps in your process be in one place and automated.
Step 1: Make sure that the actions window is open. It can be found by looking at the top navigation bar and choosing Window, then Actions.
Step 2: Create a new folder for your actions. This way they’re easy to find. Do this by clicking on the button in the actions window that looks like a traditional file folder. Name your folder. Click OK.
Step 3: While having your new folder highlighted, create a new action. Do this by clicking on the button that looks like a piece of paper. Name your action and click record.
Step 4: A series of steps Anything you do from this point on will be recorded. If you want to resize images, then resize an image. If you want your action to make your pictures black and white, then make an image black and white. The action can be as simple or as complex as you like and may or may not include a step to save the image.
Step 5: If you need to stop partway through for some reason, click on the stop button. You can also click on this as you are running an action to stop it from playing.
Step 6: Click on the record button to add more steps after you’ve stopped. Make sure that the step you want to precede your recording is the one that is highlighted.
Step 7: If you want to remove a step, simply highlight it and click on the delete button, which looks like a garbage can. You can also use this to delete entire actions or folders.
Step 8: To play an action, highlight the name of your new action and click on the play button.
Step 9: If you want to only play part of the action, then highlight the step you want to start on and then click on the play button.
Actions are one of the biggest time savers in Photoshop.
You can buy and find free actions online that others have made.
You can create actions that combine multiple actions by creating a new action and then recording yourself clicking on the actions you want to combine.
This article was written based on and using images from Photoshop CS3, but the instructions should be the same for at least several versions back and work in CS4 as well (I’ve tried).