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How to Use Preset Actions in Photoshop CS6

Preset actions are the actions created by the folks at Adobe that come with Photoshop Creative Suite 6. You may need to load an action into the panel so that it’s ready to use. Then, you can apply all steps in that action in one fell swoop by playing the action.

How to load preset actions

Photoshop’s preset actions are located in a series of files in the Actions folder. The default actions load by default when you first open Photoshop. However, you can open and use other preset actions.

They include Frames, Text Effects, and Image Effects, among others. Using LAB-Black and White Technique is a nice way to convert a color image into grayscale. The Oil Pastel action is a nice way to make images look more painterly.

[Credit: ©istockphoto.com/willyvend Image #4860678]
Credit: ©istockphoto.com/willyvend Image #4860678

Follow these steps to load preset actions:

  1. In the Actions panel, click the panel pop-up menu arrow and select Load Actions.

    In the Open dialog box, Photoshop opens the Actions folder in the Presets folder. This folder contains several sets of actions presets. If the folder is empty, navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS6\Presets\Actions. (On the Mac, go to Applications\Adobe Photoshop CS6\Presets\ActionsMacintosh HD\Applications\Adobe Photoshop CS6\Presets\Actions.)

  2. Select one of the actions sets.

  3. Click the Open button.

    Easier, Photoshop’s additional actions presets also appear at the bottom of the Actions panel pop-up menu. You can add any of them to your current list of actions by selecting the set’s name.

    The new actions presets appear in the Actions panel below the default actions. You can show or hide the actions by clicking the expand/collapse arrow in the third column.

You can also make actions available — or unavailable — for an entire set by clicking the first column in the Actions panel to the left of the actions set’s folder icon.

Here are some other tidbits about loading and working with preset actions:

  • Any actions sets that you create appear in the pop-up menu if you save them in the Photoshop Actions folder. If you save them somewhere other than the Actions folder, you can navigate to that folder by using the usual file navigation commands.

  • To remove the existing actions and replace them with the set you’re loading, select Replace Actions from the panel pop-up menu.

  • To reset the Actions panel to the Default Actions set (removing all other sets that you may have loaded), select Reset Actions from the panel pop-up menu.

  • To clear all actions from the Actions panel, select Clear All Actions from the panel pop-up menu. (You might want to do this if you’re creating your own set of actions from scratch.)

  • To rename an actions set, select it and then select Set Options from the panel pop-up menu.

Check any file that you download from the Internet for malware, using an antivirus program.

How to play a preset action

You perform an action on an image by playing that action. To play a preset action, just open the file that you want to apply the action to, and then do one of the following:

  • In Button mode, click the action that you want to play. You don’t have any other options.

  • In List mode, select the action that you want to play, and then click the Play Selection button at the bottom of the Actions panel or select Play from the panel pop-up menu.

If you want to play back just one step of an action, select the step that you want to play in List mode, and then Ctrl-click (Command-click on Mac) the Play button in the Actions panel. You can also simply double-click the step in the list while holding down the Ctrl key (the Command key on Mac).

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