|, Actions & Presets, How to Install & Use Actions|1 Great Secret from the Pros: Actions & Elements 11

1 Great Secret from the Pros: Actions & Elements 11

I’ve mentioned the new Photoshop Elements 11 several times on this website.  Today, we are going to focus specifically on using actions in Elements 11.  Let’s start at the beginning.

What are actions?

Actions are a recorded series of edits to apply to your photo.  They can adjust exposure and white balance, create beautiful effects and looks, or help you prepare your images for presenting to the world.  I edited the image below using actions.  (Click to zoom in.)

 

Why should I use actions in Elements?

Actions can speed up your workflow, sneak in a few tricks not normally available in Elements, and teach you new techniques.  More on that last one later.

Can I use actions in versions of Elements prior to 11?

You bet.  Actions can be compatible with prior versions of Elements all the way back to 5.  Each action maker is different, however, so check specifications before you buy.

Are there separate versions of actions for Mac and PC?

No – you can install the same file on your Mac and your PC both.

When should I use actions in Elements?

To get the most out of actions, you need to understand the basics of Photoshop Elements.  What are layers and how do I adjust them?  Where is the brush tool?  What is a layer mask and how do I use it?  Once you are comfortable with those tasks, you are ready for actions.

What’s different about actions in 11?

Elements 11 gives us an actions panel.  This is the same way that full Photoshop users access their actions.  Each yellow folder is one set of actions with multiple actions inside.


Of course, the Elements version is limited compared to the actions panel in full PS.  We still can’t create or modify actions.  But it sure is easier for us to install them!OK, then, how do I install them?If you have a version of Photoshop Elements prior to 11, check out this page.  And set aside some time.If you have Elements 11, here is what you do.

  • Download your actions from the action maker.  Save them somewhere on your computer, like My Documents.  It’s good to save them to a place that you normally backup, in case your computer ever crashes.
  • Display the Actions panel via the Window menu
  • Click on the button with 3 horizontal lines at the top right of the actions panel and select Load Actions.


  • In the window that opens, navigate to the location on your computer where you saved your new actions.  Click on the action, then click the Open button.
  • You can even shift+click or command/control+click to select and load multiple actions at the same time!
  • Return to the actions panel to play your new actions.  Every once in a while, you have to restart Elements in order to see your new actions.  But that is not common, and it doesn’t take long.

 

What’s with the folders?  How do I change them?

Just about any action that works in PSE 10 can be installed as I showed you above in Elements 11.  However, in order to have the folders full of multiple actions, your action maker needs to design the actions appropriately.  You can’t change or re-organize these folders yourself.  (If you have actions designed for the old Guided Edit Actions Player in prior versions of PSE, they will work perfectly here!)

If you install ATN files designed for PSE 10, each individual action will be a separate file to install and will have its own folder in the panel, rather than one folder holding an entire set of actions.  (Actions designed for Elements 11 will have one file only per set or folder of actions.)  If you are installing files made for PSE 10, ignore any PNG or XML files.

Can I still install them the old fashioned way?  

Yes, if your action maker hasn’t upgraded their actions to be compatible with Elements 11, you can install them the same way you would install them into the Effects Panel in PSE 10, navigating through the PSE 11 folder instead of 10.   That way, you can still use the thumbnails and menu items, if available.

Do actions automatically transfer when I upgrade to a new version of PSE?

No, you need to re-install them each time you upgrade.

What about that secret way to learn from the pros?

Most actions that we run in Elements, no matter the version, create a series of layers that we can inspect.  If they are adjustment layers, we can see their settings, study their blend modes and opacities, and apply those techniques to other images with our own personal touches.  Sometimes, in prior version of Elements, you could look at your Undo History panel to examine steps that the action went through.  But, in Elements 11, you can actually read through each step in the process to see exactly how the action maker created each layer, adjustment or pixel.  Talk about a great way to learn.

If you find something in this list of steps that you just can’t do in Elements, odds are its one of those tricks that you can’t access in PSE unless you sneak it in via an action.

If that’s too much info for you, you can always collapse the lines so that just the name of the action is visible.

Why use actions then, if we’re learning these secrets?  An action will always be faster.  How long would it take you to remember and create each of 25 different layers for an image?  It might take an action 1 minute.  Plus, action makers are always studying the latest and greatest ways to learn Photoshop.  If they’re good, they will incorporate new techniques into each new action set.

Need another cool tip for using actions in PSE 11?

I like to skip over the first few steps of some actions.  For instance, when I made the collage above, I wanted to run an action, the action I was running resizes images and flattens them.  My collage was already the right size, and I didn’t want to flatten.  So, I created a new layer to sharpen on by using Stamp Visible, and then started the action at the Unsharp Mask step, rather than the beginning.

Pretty cool trick, right?  I’m a big fan of Elements 11, as you can tell. 🙂

By |2016-10-17T17:31:11+00:00November 8th, 2012|Actions, Actions & Presets, How to Install & Use Actions|39 Comments

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ShiloToriShannon WilfongErin Peloquincharmaine Recent comment authors

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Shannon Wilfong
Shannon Wilfong

Erin,
I have Photoshop Elements 13. Whenever I try to unzip and load the actions as directed from the freebie zip files, when Ioad the actions, I can see the folder but not the little play button below them and therefore cannot get them to execute. Any thoughts?

Shilo
Shilo

I am having the same issue. I feel like I have just wasted a ton of time and space trying and re-trying to get these to work! Please help!

charmaine
charmaine

new to this, and just learning how to actually use the actions in PSE 11… how do I change the intensity of the action? Say to 50%…?

GAMBLE
GAMBLE

Is it possible to use actions created for PSE versions 11 and higher in the original effects palette? I much prefer the icons there. I can tap the undo button once to undo an entire action there. If I play an action through my actions palette I have to hit the undo button like 100 times to back out. Until I can figure out the secret way to undo an entire action with one click the action palette is a time hog for me 🙁 Any suggestions?

Charla
Charla

Hello, can I use my actions I purchased for photoshop elements and put them into PS6? I have florabella actions. Thank you

Maree
Maree

Erin, I just want to say thank you! I was so frustrated that I couldn’t arrange or organize my actions in PSE 12 in any way, but from this article, I realized that I could install them the same way I did in PSE 10–into the effects panel. While I wish there was a better way to do it in the actions panel, at least I now have them all settled and organized into the menus that I had previously. Yay! Thanks so much for taking time to post and also answer questions. I have taken several of your online… Read more »

BruceB
BruceB

I am a novice user of elements 11. I am in the process of scanning and cleaning a large number of old B&W family photos. Some up to 65 years old. They all had white borders around them, but when scanning it is easier to remove the border than fight with it. After cleaning up I want o install a border. This would be almost the last step in editing. In actions, E11 comes with a standard 1″ bottom border. That works great, but I would like to do a border of between 1/8 and 5/8 on the sides and… Read more »

renee
renee

I have elements 12, I can’t load multiply action folders or actions at the same time, ctrl or shift doesn’t work at all, it won’t select more than one item. Please help. Thanks.

stephanie williams

I just got PSE 12 and it is not letting me select more than one action at a time, just one. Can you help? I have tons I have purchased and if I have to load one by one it is going to take me forever! Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Lacey
Lacey

Can you create your own Actions in PS11? If so, do you a blog on that? It would make my editing life SO much easier! Thank you! Love your blog and all your tips

jackie
jackie

I am wondering whether you can run an action on multiple photos in elements 11. If so, how?

Thanks!

Ginger
Ginger

SO I bought some new actions from 2 different people and when I go to load them in my action panel I get the folder but it does not open… I have never had this problem before.

Audrey M.
Audrey M.

Hi, I just got a new Mac, and subsequently had to install PSE11 (my old CS2 was windows only), so I’m working with a small learning curve, but I think I understand things well here, and I’ve been able to add all my old actions to the new PSE11 without trouble. They work fine. I have a question though – in CS2 using PW actions, you could adjust the amount of each layer applied (reduce soft light to 0 or increase saturation, etc) within the action (it was a slider bar in each layer of the action). This allowed you… Read more »

Becky
Becky

I’m new to elements 11, I have some actions from love that shot. I’m having trouble loading them so I googled and got your directions but still cant load them. I’m ready to quit! I think the problem is in the download I have a mac and I don’t see that you can save it to docs, it just goes into downloads. nothing works from there!

Emily
Emily

Just wanted to say “Thanks!!” I just downloaded all the amazing actions from the Pioneer Woman. I’m very new to the whole Photoshopping world, and I was just about ready to gouge my eyes out with a pencil because it has all been so confusing and frustrating. Your instructions were simple and very clear. My eyes and I thank you!!

Jennifer B.
Jennifer B.

Hi, I use PSE 11. I can install actions and styles. Where do I load patterns and how?

Thanks!

Jennifer B.

ahmad
ahmad

cant find the “new action” button in actions panel in PSE 11 why ?

Melony

I finally just loaded them all the old way into photo effects.

Lori Nicolls

OMG….absolutely HATING the new PSE 11….

Laurie
Laurie

I am having the same problem Melony, I can’t highlight or load more then one action at a time, it is taking forever. Is there a trick. I have tried both ways.

Melony
Melony

Shift/Click or Contol/Click won’t work for selecting multiples. 🙁 Still can only select 1 action at a time to load.

Sylvia
Sylvia

Hi, I love PSE 11. Loading actions are a breeze, for sure. However, I am running into a problem. Often I try to run an action and I get a message that the command “make” is not currently available. Of course, the action won’t run. Why is this happening and what can I do about it?

Bev
Bev

Oh my, this really frightens me…I am so comfortable with PSE9. I ordered the new PSE 11 yesterday. I might just have to take a sabbatical to learn this new version! Really worried now… Bev

Wanda

Marking this post as I just got Elements 11 and I look forward to diving into the new software.