This morning I’m making modifications to some files at the click of a button thanks to batch processing in Photoshop. Basically what batch processing allows you to do is take an action you’ve created and apply it to photos in one location and make new saved copies in another location. This is a feature I don’t use very often but I love it when I find a use for it. Batch processing saves me the hassle of having to do the same thing multiple times by hand.
Ok so here’s what you do.
Find the Actions window and record a new action. Window>Actions or Option+F9 will get you there. Press the little paper folding button on the bottom to name a new action just as you would in the layers panel. Then press the record circle to the left of that same button to start recording what you’re doing in Photoshop. It’s very important from here on, or at least while you are recording your action, that you do only what you want to be recorded. Doing extraneous tasks takes the action much longer to play back in the final output. You will be able to modify events in the pulldown view of the actions you’ve recorded and change events afterward if you wish, this is extremely convenient.
For those who don’t know, actions are little saved presets in Photoshop that you can use to record what you’re doing and play it back later. This is most commonly found with effects. Many photographers offer original recorded actions of effects that you can use on your photos. This is how you’d save a lot of time post processing and also be able to create the same look or feel across many photos. Just like there are presets in Lightroom, there are actions in Photoshop. Actions and presets also allow you to seem like you’re really good at editing when really you did nothing at all.
So you’ve got your action, great! Now we just need to batch process it. Make two folders in your hard drive, or perhaps for this exercise just make two on your desktop entitled Before and After. Put a file or two in your Before folder. I’ve added two files entitled Mock-Up…
Ok now we’re set to open up batch processing. Go to File>Automate>Batch and this dialogue will pop up.
This dialogue is pretty self-explanatory, select your set that your actions are in (sets are just folders to organize actions) and then select the action you would like to batch process. You can then choose your source folder which is our before folder in this case and then you have a few tick boxes to look over.
I have checked the “Suppress Color Profile Warnings” tick box because I know I’m going to be opening JPEGs into the batch process in Photoshop and they will conflict with my current working colorspace. I don’t really want to get into right now but for the sake of time my working colorspace is ProPhotoRGB and the colorspace of my JPEGs are sRGB. This tick box will make sure to handle that warning box that would otherwise appear. If I uncheck this then I will have to confirm the colorspace settings of each file as it opens during the batch process. So ticking this checkbox just makes it a little more hands free on my part and in my case. If you are opening JPEGs into your working space and your working space is already sRGB then you wouldn’t have this warning dialogue appear and could probably do without checking this box.
Now you can select the output/Destination folder which in our case is the After folder. There’s also the options for file naming to contend with. The settings I have above will maintain the original file name and extension which is great. A lot of the other options are again self-explanatory and can add or change things to the file names and extensions such as a serial number or alphabet letter.
Also unless you’re using a serial number in the file naming section you can leave the serial number at 0 and it won’t be factored into your batch process. I also have the “Override Action ‘Save As’ Commands” box checked. If you check it Photoshop will probably tell you what it does but I’ll explain. This check box means that you have recorded a “Save As” part of your action and will use those settings to save each of the files in the batch process.
If you didn’t record a “Save As” part of your action you can go back to it in Photoshop and click on the last event you recorded and press record to pickup where you left off. Save the file however you’d like to save it, I just saved mine as a JPEG with a quality number of 12. This “Save As” command when used in conjunction with the batch process in this case does not take into account the file path that is recorded in the “Save As” part of the your action. This is great because otherwise all the batch process files would be named the same thing and overwrite each other for the entire process. But if you don’t check the “Override Action ‘Save As’ Commands” box you will be prompted to save each file in Photoshop in its own location after the action has been run. This check box just adds more fluidity and automation to the already automated process, again, not necessary but nice to have. Small things like this are what make batch processing a one-click process where you don’t have to sit through the batch processing to warning boxes and saving dialogues. Checking things like this can make batch processing completely seamless so that you can click OK and then go grab a snack and come back with all the shiny new files modified and exported for you.
Now you’re all set to run your action and watch in childlike wonderment as each file flies through Photoshop, runs the action, and saves itself faster than you ever could by hand. It’s a beautiful thing.
Also just as a side note for those of you wondering, my action during this post is created to place a layer with a picture frame cutout onto each of my files, flatten it and save it. I’m doing this to replace the frames on the items in several images I took this week and an action is very useful for this. All I had to do was make sure I saved a PSD of my one frame on a layer with appropriate masking and make sure I referenced it during the recording of my action. To get this one layer into photoshop it’s best to have the PSD saved somewhere and locate it not using File>Open but File>Place. That way the file gets placed on its own layer as a smart object in the working file. Then all I had to do was confirm the placement, flatten and save the image and my action was ready to go for everything to work properly.
I hope you found this post super-helpful although it is sort of a niche technique. Bookmark it and come back later if you’re not doing batch processing today.
See you next week