Edit Multiple Pictures with Photoshop
Posted on May 8, 2009 by Jared
One of the best things about digital photography is how easily you can take dozens of pictures and quickly share them with your friends and family. No longer do we have to keep up with envelopes of negatives or worry about getting your film developed. However, with each improved model of digital camera, the number of pixels used to create our photos increases, often by the millions.
This isn’t a problem when it comes to printing your photos. In fact, the more pixels you have the better your printed photos will look. The problem arises when we just want to share these pictures on the web or email a few of them to a friend or relative. You see, the more pixels an image uses, the larger its file size will be. Large file sizes mean longer downloads for your friends and family, and can also be the reason why your emails won’t go through (many email servers won’t accept messages larger than 10mb).
So, we are often left with the task of resizing these images so that they are “web ready.” That is, reduced in dimension (how large they appear on screen) and in file size (how much room they take up on your hard drive). Resizing images is a simple task, but it can quickly become a boring and tedious task if you have more than just a few images to resize.
There are a couple of little known features in Photoshop, called Batches and Droplets, that allows us to perform an Action (or a series of Actions) on many photos at once. If you often edit hundreds of photos in a given month, this feature will save you hours of time.
Before we get into the details about automating Photoshop with Batches and Droplets, we need to take a quick look at Photoshop Actions. Actions are used to record anything you may do to an image, such as applying a favorite filter or resizing, and assigning it to a keyboard shortcut. For example, if you find yourself resizing your images to 800px wide and then applying the Unsharp Mask filter, you can create an Action to do these processes, and then execute them by simply pressing a key on your keyboard. You can record just one edit/process, or record many edits within a single Action.
Create a New Action in Photoshop
To create a new Action, click the New Action button within the Action window. If the Action window isn’t on your screen, click Window > Action from the main menu or press Alt + F9 (Windows) on your keyboard.
When you create a new Action, a dialog box will appear. You can choose where to save your action, what to name it (use a descriptive name) and what key or key combination to assign to the Action. Click Record when you’re ready to begin recording your new Action.
At this point, apply the edits that you routinely do to your image: resizing, applying filters, save to web, etc. Don’t worry about trying to do things quickly. Photoshop is only recording what you click, not how quickly you click around the screen. When you’re done, click the Stop Playing/Recording button in the Action window. Note: you’ll want to include saving the file as part of your Action if you intend to use the Action in a Batch or Droplet.
Now, anytime you want to apply that action to an image you’ve loaded into Photoshop, either highlight your Action and click the Play button, or simply press the key you assigned to the Action. Your edits will be made in the blink of an eye!
Edit Multiple Pictures with a Photoshop Batch
Now that you’ve seen how handy Actions can be, lets see how we can apply them on a large scale. You can apply any Action you’ve created to a Batch of photos, which can save you lots of tedious work.
To apply your Action to a Batch, click File > Automate > Batch from the main menu.
A new window will appear that shows all of the Batch settings you’ll configure. The most important settings are which Action to apply, where the images you want to edit are stored, and where to save the edited images. Note that you must apply a Batch to all photos within a folder. You cannot selectively apply the batch to particular images (but you can with a Droplet, which I’ll discuss in a moment).
Once you’ve configured your Batch, click OK at the top and sit back to watch the magic. Photoshop will apply your Action to every photo in the chosen folder and save them to the folder you indicated in the Batch settings.
Using a Photoshop Droplet to edit Multiple Pictures
A Droplet is simply a Batch that you’ve saved to your computer. When you set up a Droplet, you’re actually setting up a Batch job and then saving it. This creates a special Droplet icon that you can drag and drop a folder or selected image files onto. So, the next time you have lots of photos to edit, you can just drag and drop to the Droplet Icon and your job is done.
Creating a Droplet is very similar to creating a Batch job. Click File > Automate > Create Droplet from the menu.
From there, configure the droplet settings, which you’ll notice are nearly identical to the Batch setting you saw a few moments ago. The most obvious difference is that you must designate a place to save the Droplet icon, and that you won’t choose a folder that contains images you wish to edit (because you’re going to drag and drop the photos you wish to edit onto the Droplet icon).
When you’re done setting up the Droplet, click the OK button at the top of the window. You’ll find that a Droplet icon has been saved to where you’ve indicated. Now, any time you want to apply your common edits to one or several photos, just drag and drop them onto the Droplet icon. You don’t even need to have Photoshop open, it will open for you automatically.
Something you should realize about Droplets is that every time you use them, your edited images will be sent to the same place. It’s best to set up a temporary folder for the droplet to send your edited photos to and then move them to a more permanent place afterwards.
One more thing to remember is that you can have lots of Droplets! Set up a Droplet for each of your common edits and let Photoshop do all the work!