#84. Using Actions in Photoshop and Illustrator
If you find yourself performing the same task over and over again in Photoshop or Illustrator, it's probably high time you take a couple of minutes and create an action to handle the task for you. Actions are a sequence of commands that you can record and repeatedly play back on a file or a batch of files.
To start working with actions, open the Actions palette (Window > Actions) (Figure 84a). A set of default actions is available in both Photoshop and Illustrator for you to start experimenting with. If the Default Actions folder set is collapsed, click the triangle to expand it and reveal the actions it contains. You can expand each action to expose its steps. You can load other sample actions from the Actions palette menu. Deconstructing the sample actions is a great way to learn just what's possible with actions.
Figure 84a. The Actions palette houses just about everything you need to create and manage actions.
To play an action, select it and click the Play Selection button at the bottom of the Actions palette. If any of the steps in the action has a dialog icon next to it, you'll be greeted with a dialog. This allows you to enter custom values each time the action is run. You can click a dialog icon to toggle it off. A red dialog icon indicates one or more of the steps in the action have dialogs enabled, whereas a dark gray dialog means all the steps have dialogs turned on. You can also omit steps of an action by drilling into them and unchecking the check mark icon beside the step you want to skip. Actions can be represented in the palette by buttons by choosing Button Mode in the palette's menu. You can then click the button of the action to play it.
To create an action: