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Photoshop Tips: Batch Processing Images

Converting formats, setting up actions and running batches By Dave Nagel
As you already know, it's possible to batch process folders full of images and save them out in various formats (JPEG, TIFF, etc.) using Photoshop's presets. But how do you create your own export presets if you don't like the ones supplied by Adobe? And how can you save images to multiple formats in one step? We'll look at these issues in this week's "Tips for Beginners."

Last time around in this series, we looked at methods for creating your own Actions, which can be used to automate repetitive tasks in Photoshop. Actions are also used for batch processing images--whether you're adding a watermark to a group of images or simply exporting them for the Web. When you batch process images, all of the presets you see in the Batch window are, in fact, simply Actions that Adobe has supplied for you. And because they're just regular Actions, it's easy enough to create your own.

If you have not done so already, you may benefit from going back and reading the previous installment in this series, which covers the basics of creating Actions. You'll find it by clicking here.

For this batch process, we'll keep it simple, focusing on exporting images to different formats. We'll create an action whose purpose is to export a folder full of images to two different formats (JPEG and TIFF) and save them to separate folders without any interaction from you.

1. To begin, I'm going to create three folders on my Desktop: one called "JPEG" and the other called "TIFF." (You can name yours whatever you want.) These will be the destination folders for my exports from Photoshop.

2. Now I'll open up an image. Do this before creating a new Action so that the process of opening the image isn't recorded in the Action. It doesn't really matter what image you open; this is just going to be used during the process of recording the Action.

3. Now I'm going to make a change to this image. It doesn't really matter what change it is. The purpose of this is that when I eventually close this image, I want the "Save Changes?" dialog to pop up so that I can click the "Don't Save" button. Why? We're going to record the closing of this image as a part of our Action. And in the event that something during the batch process asks you to save changes, recording the "Don't Save" will prevent you from having your batch interrupted while you're playing it. In my case, I'm going to make a simple change--just double-click the background in the Layers palette to turn the background into a regular layer. It doesn't matter what change you make; just make some small change to the image you have open.

Now you're ready to start recording your Action.

Creating an image export action
Open up the Actions palette, and create a new folder. Call it "Batch Actions." Then create a new Action, and call it "Export JPEG-TIFF."

This process was described in our previous "Tips for beginners" article. Please refer to it if you don't know how to create a folder or new Action.

Your Action should now be recording, so anything you do from this point on will be included as an Action step.

Here are the three steps we'll record.

1. Choose File > Save for Web. In the dialog that pops up, choose JPEG as the image format, and set the quality to something you would typically want to use when saving an image for the Web. I'll use a quality setting of 40 percent.

In the next dialog that pops up, select the folder where you want to save your JPEGs. In my case, that folder is called, simply, "JPEG." DO NOT change the name of your image when you save.

When you're done, you'll see this new command listed in the Actions palette. If you expand this command, you'll see all of the settings you've applied during this export, including the destination where you saved it.

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