Using actions to process photos

Actions overview

An action is a series of steps (tasks) that you play back on a photo. These steps can be menu commands, panel options, tool actions, and so on. For example, an action that creates a snapshot effect, is a series of steps that changes the size of the image, applies an effect to the image, creates a border that extends below the image, and then saves the file in the desired format.

A set of actions is available in Photoshop Elements, in the Actions panel (Window > Actions). You can play one or more of these actions on a photograph. Action files cannot be created in Photoshop Elements. However, you can load more action files (.atn files) that have been created in Adobe Photoshop.

Actions that share a theme are grouped into Action Sets.


Photoshop actions that contain steps that are unsupported in Photoshop Elements will fail to play. Not all action that are created in Photoshop can be played in Photoshop Elements.

Play an action file on an image

  1. Open an image that you want to process using an action.
  2. If the Actions panel is not open, click Window > Actions.
  3. In the Actions panel, click an action, or click the triangle next to an Action Set.
  4. Click the Play button to apply the action to the image, or click the Actions panel menu, and then click Play.

Manage action files

Add actions

In the Actions panel, click the panel menu icon, and then choose Load Actions. Specify a .atn file, and access the added actions from the Actions panel.

Remove actions

In the Actions panel, select an action or action set, and then click the Delete button. Click Ok to confirm deletion of the action.

Reset actions

In the Actions panel, click the panel menu icon, and then choose Reset Actions. All actions available in Photoshop Elements by default are restored.

Adobe logo

Sign in to your account