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How to Batch Edit in Photoshop

Batch editing is one of the most useful and time-saving things you can learn as a photographer. It will take a lot of the stress out of editing, as well as cutting down your time to almost zero.

Batch edits can take care of a lot of simpler things, like color correction, toning, levels, sharpening, adding copyright to your metadata, and so on. It can’t do more individual edits, like tweaking the shape of someone’s eyes or erasing their blemishes, but it can do all of the rest and get you to that point much faster.

Here’s how to employ batch editing in Photoshop to make your post-production process go so much smoother.


Set up your edits

The first thing you need to do is to set up which edits you are going to batch process. This is not too time-consuming and really simple to do, so don’t panic. Let’s go through it step by step!

If you already have a preset installed in your actions panel, for example one of our Summerana editing actions, then you can easily use one of those. If you would like to set up a custom process, however, then you have to first create it.

It’s also really handy to create a custom action which includes a lot of different actions in one go. Let’s say that you want to first sharpen your image for web, then adjust the levels to an automatic value, add a colorization layer to change the mood, and save with your copyright details in the metadata.

The first thing is to create all of those individual actions. You may already have them set up, but if not, you don’t have to do it individually. You can record this all as one big action, though it helps to have the individual parts broken down later if you only want to use one of them on a different image.

Sharpening for web is a filter, not an action, so you don’t need to create anything new for that. Next up is your levels. You will need to have an image open to start this process, so why not start with the first image in the batch you are working on? Create a new action, call it ‘auto levels’ or something similarly memorable, and hit record.

Open your levels panel, and hit auto. This will make the adjustment you want. Now hit that red record button again to stop recording, and your first action is ready to go.

If you are working on a big group of images shot under the same lighting conditions, and you want to be more precise, you can actually record the specific adjustments under levels, hue, brightness and contrast, curves, color balance, and so on that you want. I like to name it something easy to remember, like ‘temp winter Alice’ for a winter shoot that involved a model called Alice. I delete these temporary actions later after I have finished working on the images.

Your colorization layer will be one of our Summerana actions, so you already have that plugged in and there’s no need to create anything new.

Next, create another new layer and call it ‘metadata’, then go ahead and record. Go up to the menu, enter the metadata editing interface, and put in all of the details you want. It’s a good idea to just add your basic studio and copyright details here, so that you can use the action for any shot in the future, but you could also record a new one with specifics for each shoot if you want. Once you are done, save and stop recording your new action.


Create the batch

With all of your different actions ready to go, it’s time to record the big mega-action that will contain everything in one single click. You can go back in your history if you like and start again on the same image, or you can save what you have done so far and open the next one waiting to be edited.

First, create a new action and choose a new memorable name. I like to make sure I know what each action does, so I would probably call it ‘sharp levels color meta’, naming all of the processes which will take place.

With that record button turned on, let’s go through the process. First, head to filters and click sharpen for web. Now go ahead and run your auto levels action, followed by your colorization action, and finally your metadata action.

Are you happy with the way the image looks? Make sure that everything worked as you expected, and if you feel like you need to make some tweaks, do so now. Then hit that button to stop recording, save your image, and close it. You are done creating your mega-action!


Run your batch process

This is the fun bit, where you get to watch things flashing by on your screen like you’re an ace Hollywood hacker. You don’t even have to touch a thing once you set it going!

You can open all of the images that you want to work on in Photoshop already if you want to, or you can select a folder and batch process everything in it. If you have already edited one or two images in that folder, just move them out temporarily and pop them back in when you’re done.

From the main file menu, selected automate and batch process. Choose your image source (either the folder, or your already opened files) and then select your mega-action from the drop-down list.

Now decide what happens next – do the images stay open? Will you automatically save them?

Once that is done, just click to confirm everything and watch it go.

If you’re saving files that have never been saved in Photoshop before, you will likely get a pop-up confirming save as details for each image. You can just hit the enter key on these if everything is set how  you want it to be.


And that’s it! You are done with your big batch process. How quick was that? Leave the images open to do further individual edits such as retouching, and you will get them to your clients in no time at all.

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