Does anyone know if there's a less clunky way of creating actions than by using the built-in recording function in Photoshop? For instance, if I have an Action I want to alter slightly (add a step, alter a single step, etc.) it seems like I have to duplicate the action in the Actions menu, click down to where I want to alter the individual step, turn recording on, perform that step, stop recording, delete the old step, etc.

It would be a lot simpler if there was a simple scripting language that you could use to go in and alter an existing Action. I use expressions in AfterEffects and ActionScript in Flash so I know Adobe allows some scripting. Just wondering if anyone had an easier way to do this in Photoshop (I'll occasionally run Photoshop actions in Bridge if I need more pain / suffering in my life so I figured I'd ask about bridge, too).

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    On which platform are you using Photoshop? Knowing that will greatly affect the answers given to you on this topic. Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 18:52
  • Mostly MacOSX. I am looking for something to script within either Phtoshop or Bridge, which should be platform-independent. Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, once an Action is made in Photoshop, it can't be changed later; a whole new one must be created from scratch. It's a real drag.

As an alternative, but for Mac OS X only, you should look into Automator, which offers up a lot of at least basic tasks that can be easily combined to make somewhat complex workflows.

Beyond that, you have to looking into the scripting APIs, which can be complicated to those who don't know how to program. The only cross-platform API for scripting the Adobe Creative Suite is Javascript. Tutorials abound and any questions related to it should be directed to Stackoverflow. At the same time, once you wrap your head around using the scripting APIs in the language of your choosing, just about anything you can imagine is possible.

  • I've been able to edit sections of an action, but as I said it was clunky. I wasn't sure if there was a way to do this in bridge(hence the second tag) but I'll look into Automator. I've done a little Javascript hacking, so if it comes down to it i could probably look into that. Thanks! Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 21:10
  • Note that photoshop scripting is accessed via the file menu
    – horatio
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 21:18
  • @horatio: That's not entirely true. Javascripts are typically application specific, and I believe Visual Basic is as well. But on Mac OS X Applescript and Javascript (utilizing certain calls to the OS) can script Photoshop from outside the application itself. Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 21:24
  • I know, but it's a start. DDE etc was way beyond the intended scope of my comment.
    – horatio
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 21:27

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