Actions allow you to work faster and smarter in Photoshop. Peter Wear shows you how.

You can work faster in Photoshop with Actions. Actions let you record any changes you make to an image and apply those changes to another image or batch of images.

How do you do it? Open an image and go to the Actions panel (‘Window > Actions’). Click the ‘Create a new action’ icon at the bottom of the panel (it’s the one that looks like a dog-eared piece of paper).

Give the action a name like ‘Start-Up’, allocate a function key shortcut (if you like) and click the ‘Record’ button. Now, any changes you make to your image will be recorded in the action.

Let’s say you want to create a simple action you can use when you first open an image. First, duplicate the background layer then open one each of the following adjustment layers ‘Levels’, ‘Curves’, ‘Brightness/Contrast’, ‘Hue/Saturation’ (and any others you want). When you’re done go back to the ‘Actions’ panel click the square ‘Stop’ button to finish recording.

From now on, once you load an image, tapping the function shortcut key (or the play icon at the base of the Actions panel) will build a stack of your go-to layers on top of a duplicate of the original – an instant workflow template!

Here we are creating a new action called Start Up. Once the Record button is clicked, any changes we make in Photoshop will be recorded in the action and can be replayed later with one easy click.

Here we are recording an action that we can use whenever we first open an image. In this case we have duplicated the background layer and created several adjustment layers. To stop recording we simply press the square 'Stop' icon in the Actions panel. Now, when we open an image, we only need to select the action and press the 'Play' icon (or tap the F11 function shortcut key) to build a stack of our go-to layers on top of a duplicate of the original!

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