photoshop actions

Photoshop Actions: Finding, Installing, and Implementing

Photoshop actions can be extremely useful timesavers when you find yourself performing the same steps over and over on an image. They’re also an excellent way for photographers to quickly and easily pass on their favorite techniques to others.

– Josh Johnson,

Step 1: Find What You Need

Most people don’t think to utilize the obvious when it comes to photoshop information because they automatically assume it’ll be too complicated or too technical. But the first step here is

Google: Free PSD Actions


*PSD is short for Photoshop Document.

There will be plenty of options for you to choose from. We are going to make life easy and click the first one there featured on

Step 2: Scan Through and Find an Action

There are several options to choose from and when you scroll through them you’ll see that each one has an image that features the before/after of the action.


Step 3: Choose an Action You’d Like to Use

Pick one of the actions that you feel best suits your needs. I’m going to pic Set 28 by TheYummyOne


By clicking the title “Set 28” it takes me to the author’s (TheYummyOne) DeviantArt page. Deviant Art is a site that features work that people can allow a downloads aspect too, so many developers of PSD actions make their actions downloadable through

Once there check and make sure it’s a Zip file download. I’ve found that ones that are RAR files are more difficult to open later one, so I’d say unless you’re file savvy to stick with Zips.


Once you’ve checked that, click Download file.

Step 4: Open your Dowload in Finder

Once you’ve clicked Download file your browser may show you your dowloaded zip file in your finder or you’ll have to select that option.


It will most likely show up in your Dowloads folder, unless you have your preferences set up to send your online downloads elsewhere.


Once you find it –  double click on your .zip dowload, or Right click and select Open.

This will unarchive your file and you’ll end up with a folder that holds your action, maybe some text from the author that describes how you are legally allowed to use the action, and/or the preview jpeg.


Mine just has the preview jpeg and the Action file.

Step 5: Moving the Action to the Proper Location

Click once on the action file and either  Command + C or Right click and select Copy File.


The next step is to take this action and place it with your other Photoshop file actions. Go to Applications » Adobe Photoshop CS4 » Presets » Actions and then Right Click » Paste Item or Command + V.


Step 6: Opening and Accessing Your Action in Photoshop

If you have photoshop open before you moved the action, quit it. Then Click on the action file (now in your Photoshop Actions folder) to re-open photoshop.

Once you have opened (or re-opened) Photoshop go to Windows » Actions.


Your actions will either pop out as a separate box or be revealed in your toolbar. Mine is in my toolbar:


You should now see your new action at the bottom of all the other actions:


Step 7: Choosing and Using your Action

Click on the triangle/arrow next to the folder icon of your action to reveal all of the different actions in this folder.


Open up an image you would like to implement the action. I’m going to use a portrait photograph I took of my friend Anessa.


Now all I’ve done is File » Open: Anessa.jpg. But I would still like to keep the original of this image. So to protect my image I’m going to go to  Image » Duplicate and work on Anessa copy.jpg.


After clicking OK I’m going to close the original file Anessa.jpg and only have my Anessa Copy file open.

Then I’m going to select the action titled Action 1 in my brand new actions folder. It will highlight that action in blue.


Then I am going to click the play button (image) on the bottom of the actions fly-out window.


Then just sit back and watch it work.

Step 8: Finish & Save Image

You should now have a newly colored image, like so:


And if you want to know how it went about it, you can check your History and Layers. By going to Windows » History and Windows » Layers.



And that’s it! You’ve found, downloaded, installed, and used your PSD Action. Enjoy!



Quote at the beginning and Actions Database:

Action Used: Set 28 by The Yummy One

Photograph used: Backstage at the Show, by K. Friedgen © 2012

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