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Linda Sattgast

How to Load and Use Actions in
Photoshop Elements

By Linda Sattgast

Actions save you time by performing long, tedious, or frequently repeated tasks almost instantaneously by simply clicking a button. In the video I used a set of actions I created that allow you to save scrapbook pages, no matter what size or orientation they are, in your choice of three different sizes for uploading to an online gallery.

If you want to follow along, download the Resize for Gallery action set. Right click on the link and choose the Save option. The exact wording for saving will vary depending on your browser.

Versions Older than PSE 11

Beginning January 2016 our classes no longer support actions for versions of Photoshop Elements that don’t have an Actions panel (any version older than PSE 11).

If you have actions created specifically for older versions, click here to watch my video for Mac or Windowsfor older versions.

Download and Unzip

  • Most actions you download from an online source will be zipped, so, before using the actions, you’ll need to extract them. If you’re using Windows right click on the zip file and choose the option to extract it. If you’re using a Mac, double click on the zip file to open it.
  • Open the Resize-for-Gallery-actions folder and you’ll see the action file, which has a .atn ending. A preview image and Terms of Use are also included.

Load and Delete Actions

I don’t recommend that you open actions directly from your computer by right clicking and choosing to open with Photoshop Elements. Open actions from the Actions panel inside Photoshop Elements.

  • From the Menu Bar, choose Window > Actions to open the Actions panel.
  • The Actions panel comes with some default actions.
  • Each folder is an action set that contains one or more actions. Click on the triangle to the left of a folder to see the actions within the set. Click the triangle again to collapse the set.
  • To delete an action, click on an action set folder in the Actions panel to make it active and click the Trash icon. Click OK to the dialog box to delete the action.
  • Press Alt (Mac: Opt) as you click on the Trash icon to delete an action without getting a dialog box.
  • To delete an individual action, click on the name of an individual action inside a folder and press Alt (Mac: Opt) as you click on the Trash icon. This doesn’t alter the original action. The next time you load the action set, all the actions will be at the default setting.
  • If you ever want to reset your actions to the default settings, click on the icon in the upper right corner of the Actions panel to get a menu and choose Reset Actions.
  • To remove all actions from the Actions panel, open the panel menu and choose Clear All Actions.
  • To load a new action, open the Actions panel menu and choose Load Actions.
  • Navigate to the folder on your computer that contains the action set you want to open.
  • Double click on the name of the action to load it. In my example I loaded the Resize for Gallery action.
  • If you currently have actions in the Actions panel, the new action you load will be placed at the end of the action list.

How to Run an Action

In the video I demonstrated how to run an action on a 12×12 scrapbook page, but you can use any size or orientation of page you desire, or you can use this action on a single photo or image that you want to resize for the web.

  • Decide which action you want to run. For the Resize for Web action, choose the correct aspect ratio for your file—square, vertical, or horizontal—and the pixel size you prefer, 600, 700, or 800 pixels.
  • To run an action, click on the name of the action to make it the active action. (Don’t just click on the triangle next to the name. Clicking on the triangle shows you the action steps but doesn’t activate the action. You must click on the name to highlight it.)
  • Click the trianglular play button on the Actions panel to run the action.
  • Photoshop Elements will run through all the steps and perform the action on your active layer or document.
  • If you’re using the Resize for Web action, it will flatten your image and change the longest side of your document to the pixel dimmension you chose. It will then open the Save for Web dialog box. That’s because a gallery image must be compressed further to reduce the file size enough for most galleries.
  • In Save for Web, in the panel on the right, choose JPEG for the file type and enter a Quality of 65. Check Optimized and Embed Color Profile. This makes the file size plenty small enough for an online gallery. Once you save for web, the Save for Web dialog box should default to these settings the next time it opens.
  • To continue on, click Save. You’ll be taken to a computer navigational window where you have the option to change the name. I usually add “-web” to the end of the file name. It’s good practice for a web image to have no spaces in the file name.
  • Navigate to the location on your computer where you want to save your image and click Save to complete the process. When uploading your scrapbook page to an online gallery, you’ll need to navigate to this location to choose your saved-for-web file. It may be helpful to have one folder that contains all your gallery-sized images so you always know where to find them.
  • Saving the gallery-sized image doesn’t save the original image. To revert your scrapbook page to its original size with all its layers, you can either close the original image without saving it or choose Edit > Revert.



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