Get Some Action to Make Your Photo Editing Easier

They’re fast. They’re easy to use. They do amazing things for your photos. Actions, people! With Photoshop Elements you can use Actions as big shortcuts (and even to do things you don’t know how to do on your own). Actions make Photoshop Elements run through a series of photo edits automatically, to give you amazing effects without you having to manually create each layer, or limiting you to the stuff pre-installed in PSE. And you will have complete control over each layer within the effect allowing the attention to detail that you don’t have in the Quick and Guided modes. Just run the action, then adjust some of the layers or layer masks if you want to, then BOOM! You’re done.

For example: if I want to edit a group of photos using the same effects on all of them, instead of having to go through twenty to thirty steps to edit each photo, I can just run the action once on each photo, Photoshop will automatically run through each of the edits involved in that effect, then I tweak the layers and layer masks to my liking. It shaves hours off editing time.

Where do you get Actions? You can download them from many sites. My favorite sources for free PSE actions are The CoffeeShop Blog and The Pioneer Woman. Both of these sites offer some amazing stuff for free—more than just Actions, mind you. If you aren’t opposed to paying for Actions there are other sites like Florabella with gorgeous stuff, for a price.

How do you install Actions?

Step 1: When you download the Action, save the .atn file in a special designated folder for actions, where ever you want to put them. I have a folder on my cloud drive where I keep my actions.

PSE Actions Tutorial 1

Step 2: Have Photoshop Elements 12 opened. You should be in Expert Mode with the Layers panel populated on the right.

PSE Actions Tutorial 2

Step 3: Click on Window from the tool bar at the very top of the PSE Window

Step 4: Click Actions

PSE Actions Tutorial 3

Step 5: Click the little menu icon in the top right of the new window’s tool bar.

Step 6: Click Load actions

PSE Actions  Tutorial 4

Step 7: Navigate to your designated Actions folder and open the action you want to load.

Step 8: Your newly loaded action will now show in your actions window.

How do you use Actions?

Step 1: Open Actions window by clicking on Windows in the tool bar at the top

Step 2: Click Actions

PSE Actions  Tutorial 5

Step 3: Click on the tiny little carrot to the left of the Action name that you want to use

Step 4: Click on the line just below the Action name (should be the action name again)

Step 5: Click on the triangle (it looks like a play button) near the top of the Actions window

PSE Actions Tutorial 6

Step 6: When Photoshop Elements is done running the action, adjust the individual layers and layer masks to your liking

Now you are all set and ready to download, load, and use Actions in Photoshop Elements 12. Your photos can look professional without having to complete each editing step by hand. Woot!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.



About the author

Cecilia Harvey

I'm a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I've also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.

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