10 Replies Latest reply on Oct 4, 2017 4:16 AM by JJMack

    tricks about actions

    wyf51999 Level 1


      In this thread I'll record my thoughts about writing actions. And more often, when we download some action and try to use it in our own way or adjust it a little bit, weird things happen! I'll try to fix this kind of problem, too.

      I know nearly nothing about scripts, so maybe my "trick" is too complicated.

      Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.


      1, about stamp layer, especially action begins with it.

      Using ctrl+J command or ctrl+shift+alt+E is natural but often wrong ---  if your current layer is an adjusting layer, ctrl+J will not get a stamp layer, of course. But ctrl+shift+alt+E also is not perfect - if you only get one layer "background", you'll get nothing. Obviously an action can not easily tell if it's adjusting layer or background layer. Or, with so many actions in hand, you just can not remember which action need you to prepare a stamp layer for it, which will make stamp layer for you.

      My trick: new layer; apply image.


      2, run action multiple times, causing duplicated layer names

      Let me take an example here.  Frequency Separation(FS) is a wide spread tech, with so many possible personal variations. We could download so many actions about FS. But if you try to run it more than once, something could happen - in mose cases, gaussian blur or Apply Image will need to use target layer by name, so if you ran action again, the calculation will be based on old layer or alert error.

      My trick:  at the end of the action, record/add some more steps, changing every possibly related layer's name. Thus, every new running of this action will still have unique layer names.

        • 1. Re: tricks about actions
          JJMack Most Valuable Participant




          Stop recording Icon in Action palette

          add an empty layer Alt+Ctrl+Shift+N

          Target the stamperd visible layer one layer down in the layer palette

          Click Record in action palette



          The Alt+Ctrl+Shift+N will and a new empty layer above the current Photoshop targeted layer and become Photoshop current targeted layer

          the Alt+Ctrl+Shift+E will stamp the composite on the visible layers into the added empty layer you normally want the late on top of the stack but it may not be where the new empty layer get added depends on where the current Photoshop target is in the layers stack which may depend on where the users uses the action. If the layer is on top Layer Arrange to front will not record in the action for the layer is on top.  So you stop recording the action add a layer on top an re-target the stamped visible layer down one layer] record Shift+Ctrl+] move layer to front


          There are other problems recoding Alt+Ctrl+Shift+E  nothing will record if the current target visibility is off and a layer may or may not be added. When the current is Alt+Ctrl+Shift+N a new  empty layer added it will be the target will be visible and will receive the stamped and the action will be compatible with very old versions of Photoshop where you always needed to add the empty layer for stamp visible before you could use stamp visible.  How Photoshop works changes from release to release.  Adding Adjustment layer in action since CS4 is a problem  Adobe added bad option in the newly added Adjustment panel ]they can cause actions not to play the way they were recorded.   You need to work around bug that bite in Photoshop.


          Crafting Actions Package UPDATED Aug 10, 2014 Added Conditional Action steps to Action Palette Tips.




          • 2. Re: tricks about actions
            wyf51999 Level 1

            Marvellous! Couple of hours and I already learned a lot from this!

            Thank you, sir.

            • 3. Re: tricks about actions
              wyf51999 Level 1

              Here's another trick, with help of the above JJM tutorial:

              3, Too many actions in an action set, hard to locate some specific action to edit  (because list is too long in actions pallete since/if almost everything is expanded)? 

              Trick: First, Alt_click triangle of the action set to collapse everything; Second, click that trangle again to expand (not Alt_click). Thus, you only see action list in this action set, nothing more.

              • 4. Re: tricks about actions
                JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                Its good to hear I do not do text well so I'm very happy to read your getting some benefit from what I have written.   Thanks for the feedback...  make me feel good.


                Do not miss the points about editing  actions and  using Ctrl+Clicking on Play to single step through action to observer  how each step works.. You can learn a lot stepping through actions.....


                Programming Photoshop Scripts is not an easy task like recording and editing actions. Most Photoshop users will never program a Photoshop script. They will just use scripts programmed by others and Adobe like photopmerge, merger to hrd pro etc...


                • 5. Re: tricks about actions
                  wyf51999 Level 1

                  I got a new problem (not just happening in action): say I have layers 1,2 and 3. Current layer is 3. Make layer3 invisible, then select layer2 or ALT+[, it did selected layer2, but I lost layer highlight blue color, and from then on, ALT+[ or ALT+] will cause error - "object layer not available". Touching around can not fix this, only history rollback could.

                  How so?

                  • 6. Re: tricks about actions
                    Stephen_A_Marsh Adobe Community Professional

                    Although the following resource is from 2004 and a little dated – not to mention being hard to navigate… at the time Danny Raphael’s “PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS – THE MOTHER OF ALL TUTORIALS” was once the bible on actions:



                    1 person found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: tricks about actions
                      wyf51999 Level 1

                      Thank you very much. I'll learn.

                      • 8. Re: tricks about actions
                        JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                        I do no follow  what blue highlight? Every time I Press Alt+[ I see Photoshop target in the layer palette switch between layer 2 and Layer 1. The Photoshop  gray target indicator switches between layers and I get no error message.  CC 2017 Window 10 64 bit

                        Adobe Photoshop Version: 2017.1.1 20170425.r.252 2017/04/25:23:00:00 CL 1113967  x64



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                        • 9. Re: tricks about actions
                          wyf51999 Level 1

                          It's weird, testing with another image, I just can not reproduce the problem, everything fine. I'll have to wait for it to occur another day.

                          By "highlight blue color" I mean which is the selected layer in layer pannel. In my version CC2014 X64, with grey layout, it's blue.

                          • 10. Re: tricks about actions
                            JJMack Most Valuable Participant

                            Yes CC 2014 is the version I use by default.  The highlight is more a blue color in it.  CC 2014 has fewer bugs than the newer versions of Photoshop. Still if you use Actions and Scripts that add Adjustment layers do not change the option in the Adjustment Panel Fly-out menu that effect the way  Adjustment layer are added.  They work more like Photoshop preferences change the way Photoshop works and will brake some actions and scripts because of that.  They automation will not work correctly and may or may not through up an error message.  Adobe added the bugs is CS4 and does not seem to care.