Is it possible to run an Illustrator (or Photoshop) action without running the processes for displaying it? I assume this would speed up the performance—or maybe this is minimal.


3 Answers 3


by "running the processes for displaying", I am assuming you mean you can see each step of the action being run. Well, photoshop or illustrator actions are just a shortcut way of doing repetitive things without you having to do them manually.

If you have an action to create square and center it. The software does each step on its own on your artboard. It selects the tool to create a square and creates the square. There is no background process where the action calculates the end result and renders the output on your artboard. Each step is carried out in front of you. You can also pause the action while it does so. You could pause the action before the software centers the square.


Neither app has a "headless" version. They both rely on the GUI.

However, you might want to choose the Playback Options in the Action Panel Menu and ensure the Accelerated option is ticked to make things run faster. (Note Playback Options is available in both apps.. same location)

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That way you don't have to sit through every step... it plays back at a faster rate when possible.


You can run illustrator and photoshop hidden via the COM interface (Visual basic) on Windows. There is however no speed benefit that i have noticed, inDesign is in fact a bit faster. Mostly because it has a better designed and more modern api.

Scripts are faster than actions anyway, as they do not echo individual steps like actions do. But if your intention is to run actions then calling actions on hidden window is just as slow as it is without the update. There is a intentional slowdown in actions that is independent of your refresh rate.

  • What is this COM interface? Is it the same as the one we use in ExtendScript?
    – ricardo
    Jan 9, 2023 at 13:55
  • @ricardo its microsofts implementation of CORBA. Its basically a computerize interface that any language can request a API for that language to hook into the software. Its not the same as used by extendscript, but its very similar but its documented under VB API. because thats what they envision you using. But all VB apis are actually COM bridges so if you dont want to work in VB you can work in whatever language you want. The main benefit of a COM API is that it gets access to all other COM api on the computer, so you can use your email calendar, excel, CAD application... in same code.
    – joojaa
    Jan 9, 2023 at 15:03
  • @ricardo see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Component_Object_Model
    – joojaa
    Jan 9, 2023 at 15:04

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