One of the next great automation tools in Photoshop is the Batch command. As the name implies, Batch will run a saved Action on a batch of files. It can be run on a set of files open in Photoshop, a folder of files on your drive or a selection of files from Bridge. Once started, Batch will run the saved Action on the files and will either save over the original files or save a new set of files in another folder specified by the user in the Batch window. Its a great way to process a bunch of files and perform some action to them. In this tutorial we'll run a saved Action we created in the Actions tutorial on a folder of files.
Batch can be performed from either the Photoshop menu File > Automate > Batch... or from Bridge in the menu Tools > Photoshop > Batch... The advantage to using Bridge id you can select certain files in a folder and not run the Batch on an entire folder's contents.
Lets take a look at the Batch window and the different options we have to choose from.
Set: Choose the Action set.
Action: Choose the Action you want to run on the batch of files.
Folder: The folder option runs the action on the contents of the selected folder with the Choose... button.
Bridge: the Bridge option will process the files you have selected in Bridge or if none are selected it will process all of the files in the current folder showing.
Override Action “Open” Commands: Ensures that the files you selected in the Batch command are processed, without opening the file you may have specified in the action’s Open command. Unless you have an Open command in your script it will not open any files. Keep this unchecked.
Save and Close: This saves the files in their current location, overwriting the original files.
Folder: Use this option to choose a destination folder for the files after the action has been run on it.
Override Action “Save As” Commands: If you don’t select this option and your action includes a Save As command, your files will be saved into the folder specified by the Save As command in the saved action when it was recorded instead of the folder specified in the Batch window.
File Naming: changes the different naming options where you can change the name of the file or use the original name.
Stop For Errors: Suspends the process until you confirm the error message.
One of the tricky parts when running the Batch command is to understand the Override Action “Save As” Commands check box which becomes active when you choose either Save and Close or Folder in the Destination drop down menu. You will run in to some head scratching moments if you don't understand this part of Batch and wonder what happened.
For example, if you run Batch on a folder of images with a saved Action that does not have a "Save As" step recorded in the action and you check the box Override Action “Save As” Commands, Photoshop will run the action on the folder of images and not save the files. This is where you scratch your head and say "Huh, where did they go?".
I have listed the results of running Batch on a folder with the different scenarios but a simple way to remember this is to uncheck the box if there is no Save As step in the Action you are running and to check the box if there is a Save As step in the action. This will produce predictable results when saving either a set of files in another folder with the Folder option selected or saving over the existing files when selecting the Save and Close option.
Another problem you may encounter is with alpha channels. If you are running the Batch on a file with an alpha channel in it or if the action creates one, you must also have a command to remove the extra channel in the saved Action. If you do not have that step in the action Photoshop will prompt you to save the file in a format that supports alpha channels such as TIFF or PSD.
So now that we have some of the genral rules out of the way lets run a Batch on a folder of images. In Photoshop go to the menu File > Automate > Batch... You should now have the Batch window open and we can start setting our options.
In the Play options we can select our Action Set which if you did the Actions tutorial you can select the set name we saved before and the Action of Email 800. You can use your own saved action if you have one already saved.
In the Source options select Folder and click on the Choose button underneath. When you find the folder of images you want to run the Batch on select the folder then the Choose button.
You might want to select the bottom two options of, Suppress File Open Options Dialogs and Suppress Color Profile Warnings when running the Batch which will bypass any of the warning windows Photoshop may encounter when opening the files during this process.
In the Destination options we will select Folder from the drop down menu then click on the Choose button to select where we would like to save the new files we are running the Batch on. You can create a new folder or select an existing one then select the Choose button. We should now have our folder of source of images selected and a destination for our new ones selected.
Now the important part, if you are using the Email 800 action we created in the Actions tutorial you should check the box for Override Action “Save As” Commands. If the Action you are using does not have a Save As command in the set you should leave the box unchecked.
If you would like to rename the files that are going to be created then use the File Naming option below. You can use any naming or numerical scheme for the naming and the Example above it will show you a sample of how it will name the files.
You should leave the Errors option set to Stop for Errors so you will know if there are any problems with the files you are creating or if the action can not be run on a specific file.
Now we should have all our settings where we want them and we can now run the Batch by selecting the OK button at the top. Once running you will see Photoshop opening files, executing the series of actions and closing the files. When done you should have a folder with a copy of all the files you ran the action on.
Again, this is another one of Photoshop's automation tools that can save you lots of time running files through an action that would normally take you a lot of time doing it manually. I hope you find it useful and please leave a comment of how it works for you.
For those who would like to know more about the results of the Override Action “Save As” Commands check box and what happens when you have a Save As command in your action or not, read below to see the results but you may want to take an aspirin first.
The results of no “Save As” step recorded in the Action.
None: Runs action on files and leaves files open in Photoshop.
Box Unchecked (Preferred)
Folder: Runs action and saves set of files to the chosen folder.
Save and Close: Runs action and saves over files in same location.
Folder: Runs action but no files will be saved.
Save and Close: Runs action but no files will be saved.
The results with a “Save As” step recorded in the Action
None: Runs action and prompts you to choose where to save file.
Folder: Runs action and saves file to the spot where action was first recorded.
Save and Close: Runs action and saves file to the spot where action was first recorded.
Box Checked (Preferred)
Folder: Runs action and saves set of files to the chosen folder
Save and Close: Runs action and saves over files in same location