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Actions are Photoshop's oldest and most essential form of automation. Simply put, an action is a recorded sequence of commands and other operations. Record a multi-step action, test it to make sure it works, and it may well serve you for years to come, from one version of Photoshop to the next. You can even share actions with employees and coworkers. As I am fond of saying, invest an hour or two in actions today, and your future self, drinking mai tais on a beach while Photoshop toils away like your dutiful robot, will thank you.
Photoshop's Actions panel let you record and play back a sequence of operations on a single image at a time, which is useful enough, but the real power of automation kicks in when you batch process an entire folder of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of images. Photoshop's Batch command lets you open, edit and save as many images as you like, but again, it imposes a limitation. You can apply just one action to those images at a time. So what do you do if you need to play two actions: one that converts a bunch of RGB images in the CMYK TIFF files and another that down samples and saves web-ready JPEGs? The answer: you record two independent actions and then group them into a larger action that plays the first, resets the image, and plays the other.
It requires a bit of finesse, and you have to create the equivalent of a reset switch in the History panel, but it's rife with possibilities, as I explain in the following exercises.
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