Batch processing in Photoshop


Introduction to Batch Processing

What is batch processing?

Batch processing is a feature of Adobe Photoshop that allows you to apply an action to a large set of images. For example, you might be editing 300 images and need to perform the same action on each of them, such as adding a logo in the corner. Batch processing simplifies this procedure so that you don't have to add the logo to each image by hand. This can be a huge time-saver when working with large collections of images!

How batch processing works

In order to use batch processing, you must first create an action to apply to the batch of images. This action is entirely defined by you, and can be anything from adding text to rotating the image to saving the image in a different file format. Then, once you have an action created, you simply automate the action and apply it to a batch of images. Again, this is defined by you and can include a set of opened files, a selection of imported images, or an entire folder. You can then specify where each file will be saved and how it will be named.

Creating an Action

The first step in batch processing is to create an action that you would like to apply to a set of images. For this tutorial, we will use a simple action: adding a layer of text with your name. In order to do this, you must have an image open in Photoshop to work with. You can download a sample image here (right-click on the image and choose "Save As" to save it to your hard drive).

  1. Begin by opening the Actions pane in the Photoshop window and selecting the "Create new action" icon. When you click this icon, a New Action window opens that asks you to name the action and choose a set (or folder) to store the action in. Here you may also associate the action with a function key and give it a color association. We will call our action "Add Name" and store it in the Default Actions Set.
  2. Once you click record, any changes you make to the image will be recorded as part of the action from that point on.
  3. Now that the action is recording, we will define its steps. Click the Text icon in the Toolbar and place the text cursor anywhere in the image. For this exercise, simply type your name.
  4. Once you have finished making all the changes you want to apply to the image set (in this case, adding your name) click the "Stop" icon to stop recording. Your action is now complete.

You will notice that the Actions pane now includes your new action, Add Name. If you open the menu of your new action by clicking on the arrow next to it, you can see each step that is taken when this action is performed. This can be helpful if you are creating a complicated action with multiple steps and want to check that you've included everything.

You can delete individual steps within an action or delete an entire action by grabbing the action or step and dragging it to the trash bin in the lower right corner of the Actions pane. You can also drag steps around within an action (to change the order in which they occur) or between actions (to add a step to a different action).

Applying an Action to an Image Set

Now we will apply our Add Name action to a set of images. Link to image set?

  1. Click on the File menu, hover over Automate and select Batch. This will open a window where you can make a number of selections about your actions and images.
    1. First you must choose the action to automate. Select the set (folder) in which the action is stored, in this case the Default Actions set. Then select the action from the drop-down list. The default action selected is the most recently created action, so for this exercise you will not need to select an action.
    2. Then select the source of the image set you want to use. Here you can select all the images currently open in Photoshop, you can choose a folder, in which case the action will be applied to all the images in that folder, or you can import images from a camera or scanner. For this exercise, choose a folder with a few images in it. downloaded/linked folder? There are several options you can select to determine how Photoshop will treat the files:
      • Override Action "Open" Commands - If there is an "open file" command within the action you are using, this will ignore that command and use images from the chosen source folder instead. This option is not necessary for this exercise.
      • Include All Subfolders - This will include images in any subfolders within the chosen source folder. This option is not necessary for this exercise.
      • Suppress File Open Options Dialogs - This will prevent you from having to choose file opening options for each individual image as they are processed. This could occur with certain file types, but is not necessary for this exercise as we are using jpegs.
      • Suppress Color Profile Warnings - Again, this will prevent you from having to close a dialog box for each individual image as it is processed. This might be an issue when processing .psd files, but is not necessary for this exercise.
    3. Finally, you must choose a destination for the images after they are processed. There are three options:
      • None - The images will not be saved or closed after the action is completed. They will simply remain open in the Photoshop window.
      • Save and Close - The images will be save in their current folder and closed after the action is completed. The file names will not change and the new files will replace the original ones. This option also allows you to "override action 'Save As' commands". This will cause any Save or Save As steps in the action to be overridden by a simple save and close. This option is not necessary for this exercise.
      • Folder - This option allows you to specify file naming conventions and a destination for the images. They will be saved according to your settings. Again, you have the option to override the action's "save as" commands.
    4. For this exercise, go ahead and select "none" as the destination, that way you can see the changes to your images after the automation is completed. Click "Ok", sit back, and watch as your action is applied to the image set. Voila! You have just learned how to batch process images in Photoshop!