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How to Load Actions in Photoshop

Published: 15/06/2021

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While working on a Photoshop project, you might want to apply the same editing operation multiple times. This may feel frustrating and exhausting. However, Photoshop makes it easy with its remarkable feature of ‘Actions.’ 

Let’s learn how to load actions in Photoshop. We will look into using the default, external, and recorded Photoshop actions.

How to Load Actions in Photoshop

There are three different types of Photoshop actions that you can use while working on a project. First, there are a few default actions that come built-in with Photoshop. Second, you can download actions from the internet. Third, you can create your own set of actions based on what you want to do.

Here, we will be explaining the methods of loading and using all three types of actions in Photoshop. Go through them and make them a part of your regular Photoshop workflow. Once you start using actions, you will find them to be really helpful in making your work easy and quick.

Introduction to Photoshop Actions

We believe that Actions is one of the most useful features of Photoshop. It essentially automates any specified course of action for you. So, if you need to make any changes repeatedly on your Photoshop project, you can do it with a single click using Actions.

You can either use the default actions in Photoshop or download them from the internet. These actions are created by photographers and graphic designers who know how to create exceptional effects. Moreover, in case you have anything specific in mind, you can record your own action and save it.

Loading Default Actions in Photoshop

Photoshop comes with a large set of actions already built-in. You can easily load and use it for any of your Photoshop projects by following the steps below:

  1. Launch Photoshop and open up your project.
  2. Now, hover your cursor to the Action Panel that is usually present at the top right side of your Photoshop screen. In case you are not able to see it, you will have to activate it from the menu bar at the top. To do this:
  • Click on Window and then select ‘Actions’ from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can also press the ALT + F9 keys.
  1. Once your Actions Panel is visible, you will see various default actions over there. Now, you can easily use any of these on your image. Just click once on the action you want to use and then select the ‘Play’ button present on the bottom of the Actions Panel.
Default actions in Photoshop Actions Panel
  1. You will see that a series of editing tools will be applied simultaneously to your image without you having to do anything.

Loading External Actions in Photoshop

You can easily find an enormous collection of ready-to-use actions available online. All you have to do is do your search and find those actions that match your Photoshop editing goals. Most of these actions are created by experts, so you do not have to worry about their quality.

Once you have downloaded your required actions, you will need to load them into Photoshop in order to be able to use them. To do that, follow the steps below:

  1. First, you will have to unzip and save the actions you downloaded in an organized manner. So, unzip the downloaded file using the default unzipping tool or any other unzipping program of your choice.
  2. Once you have unzipped the folder, save all the action files in the same folder so that you can easily find them later. The action files for Photoshop have the ATN extension.
  3. Now, launch Photoshop and open up your project.
  4. Go to the Actions Panel, which should be at the top right side of your Photoshop screen. In case you can’t see it, then go to Window > Actions or press ALT + F9. Your Actions Panel should now be visible to you.
  5. Find the small button for ‘Tab Group’ present on the top right corner of your Actions panel and click on it. This will open a drop-down menu for you.
  6. Now, from the menu, select ‘Load Actions.’
Selecting ‘Load Actions’ in Photoshop
  1. Navigate to the particular folder where you saved all your Photoshop actions files. Double-click on the action that you want to use and then click on ‘Load.’
  2. The action you just loaded will now be visible within your actions panel. Click on it once to select it, and then press the ‘Play’ button present at the bottom of your actions panel.
  3. You will see that the action you selected will now be automatically applied to your project. The multi-step editing procedure will be done without you having to do anything.

Recording Your Own Actions in Photoshop

Sometimes, you may have some very specific requirements for your Photoshop image editing, and you may not find any action that meets your requirements. Photoshop helps you with that too. You can easily create, load, and use any action of your own in Photoshop by following the steps below:

  1. Launch Photoshop and open up your project.
  2. Go to the Actions panel, which is usually present at the top right side of your Photoshop screen. In case you are unable to see it, then go to Window > Actions or press ALT + F9. 
  3. Now, press the ‘Create New Action’ icon present at the bottom of your Actions panel. This icon looks like a sign of addition placed within a square.
Recording Your Own Actions in Photoshop
  1. As you click on the button, you will see a dialog box. Here, write any name for the action you want to create and press ‘Record.’
Creating a name for the new recorded Action
  1. Now, perform the command and operations that you want to convert into action. The complete course of action you take here will be recorded. 
  2. Once the procedure is completed, click on the ‘Stop’ button present at the bottom of the actions panel.
Clicking the Stop button in the Photoshop Actions Panel
  1. You will now be able to see this newly created action within your actions panel. You can easily load and use it whenever you want by selecting the action and clicking on the ‘Play’ button.
Clicking the Play button in the Photoshop Actions Panel

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Benefits of Using Actions in Photoshop?

There are many remarkable benefits of using actions in Photoshop. The most obvious and helpful one is that it saves you a lot of time. Using actions also speeds up your work significantly. You no longer have to spend long, frustrating hours doing the same editing operations repeatedly. 

Moreover, by applying actions that are created by experts, you are able to avail their professional expertise on your own project. Consequently, your graphics become highly impressive, and your Photoshop workflow becomes increasingly efficient.

How Can You Download Photoshop Actions?

To download Photoshop actions, you will only have to go online. There are countless Photoshop actions available that you can purchase or simply download for free. Just search for ‘Photoshop Actions’ on your search engine, and you will find any action you want.

Can I Modify the Effect of an Action in Photoshop?

Yes, you can easily modify the effect of an action in Photoshop. Every image is different and has different requirements. Therefore, all actions cannot look good on every image. You may need to make some alterations and modifications to the existing actions for it to match with your editing goals.

So, if you have a preset action that can be used on your image with certain changes, you can do that by using any of the techniques below:

  • Adjust the opacity of the entire layer.
  • Adjust the appearance of different elements in individual layers


Here, we have covered everything that you need to know in order to be able to use Actions in Photoshop. This incredible Photoshop feature allows you to apply even a complex editing operation using a couple of clicks. It automates your Photoshop editing procedure so that you can complete it efficiently and quickly.