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When working as a designer, completing each project as quickly and efficiently as possible is one of our main goals. We get paid by the hour, so anything that we can do to save time means that we can do more and essentially make more money for our time. Here are a few things that you can do to save time.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are essential to any designer’s workflow. Knowing these can sometimes cut your production time by as much as a third. It may be daunting at first to learn all of the shortcuts, but your time spent learning shortcuts will be made back ten-fold in the long run. You can find a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts by going to Window> Workspace> Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus. Simply flip through the different menus and look for the adjustment or action that you would like to perform and its keyboard shortcut should be listed next to it. Many things in Photoshop don’t have keyboard shortcuts, so if you find that a shortcut doesn’t exist for your task, you can make one. This makes Photoshop customized to your needs and saves you time and effort.

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Actions

Actions are an amazingly huge time saver in Photoshop. You can open up the actions panel, record an action, perform all of the steps that you want to perform on an image, and when you are finished, you save and name your action. You can literally record as many steps as you like. This is handy, because you can run this action on any image. All you have to do is select the action and click play. The steps are performed automatically from start to finish, meaning you simply get to sit back and watch.

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Another useful thing about actions is that you can set it up so that an action has a keyboard shortcut. This means that if you have an action that you know you will use a lot, such as resizing an image to a certain size, or running the same filter on an image, you can simply click a button and the entire action is ran. You don’t have to sift through menus, scroll, run filters or do anything repetitive. Imagine using a keyboard shortcut to instantly add a watermark to your photos. Actions will save you a lot of time.

Batches

Imagine having a large project to do, such as an online catalog, where you have to resize thousands of images to a certain size and save them as a different format, for example, from jpeg to PNG. Performing this task manually would be extremely time-consuming and boring. Performing repetitive tasks is exactly what batches are made for.

Batches usually run Actions, but over an entire folder of images. This is where you can save a huge amount of time, because you can go to File> Automate> Batch.

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The great thing about batches is the great level of control you have over the process and the outcome of running a batch. In Play, you decide what set of actions to work from, as well as which action within the set to run. This includes your own custom actions!

Source asks you where the folder of images is located, so simply point to the main folder on your computer where all of the images are located. The 4 options under the source folder customize the process to save you time. Override Action “Open” Commands disregards the open action from your custom actions. Include All Subfolders saves time, because it looks for every image in every folder in the folder that you have selected.

If you have your project broken down into multiple sections or chapters, Photoshop will look inside and perform your batch on the images in each of these folders as well. Suppress File Open Options Dialogs stops any open file dialog boxes from opening, which will stop the batch from running. The next option Suppress Color Profile Warnings, will keep your batch running by ignoring color profile warnings and simply performing the action that you chose. These are all important options, because they take the manual labor out of performing these tasks.

For Destination, you have two main options, which are to save and close the file once the action has been performed, or to save it to a different folder. Professionally, I would always recommend saving to a different folder, and not saving over your working files. If you save over your originals and somehow make a mistake by performing the wrong action; you will have nothing to go back to. Also, if you were saving files for the web, you can’t resize the image to go back to 300dpi from 72dpi.

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Once you choose a destination, you have a total of 6 boxes with options for naming your processed images. You can choose from dates, serial numbers and serial letters, all with unique formats. You can even determine the starting serial number and determine what systems the processed images are compatible with. If there are errors, you can have Photoshop stop the batch when an error occurs, or you can tell Photoshop to keep running the batch no matter what, and to log the errors, so that you can review them when the batch has finished running. This is strictly up to preference, but personally I would let it run, and go back and fix the possible 1 or 2 that encountered errors, instead of having to run the batch multiple times.

When I set this up, I usually just leave the name the same as it was before, just saved in the new destination folder. Many times, when working on catalog projects, the image is named the manufacturer’s part number so that I know where it belongs. Renaming it something different would make it hard to find, especially if I am writing a function to call the images via part number on their website.