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If you use an Illustrator action on a selection, it applies it to that selection as a whole.

Illustrator actions can be applied as 'batches', but this means batches of files, not batches of objects.

Is there a way to apply an action to each object in turn (like Transform Each does), not the whole selection?

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With scripting yes. Modified the AI scripting docs:

var docSelected = app.activeDocument.selection;
if ( docSelected.length > 0 ) {
    if ( docSelected.length > 0 ) {
        for ( i = 0; i < docSelected.length; i++ ) {
            docSelected[i].selected = false;
            //Do Something to docSelected[i]
    } else {
        docSelected.selected = false;
        //Do Something to docSelected[i]
} else {
    alert( "Please select one or more art objects" );
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