How to Insert Action Stops in Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop Actions are great for speeding up or automating repetitive processes. Most, but not all commands can be recorded in an action. Action stops can also be created to allow user input at the end of a recorded command. In this example, an action will be recorded to create a Black & White adjustment layer and then apply a gradient to the layer mask, with an action stop for the user to determine where the gradient should be applied in the mask.
- First, a few tips on creating actions:
- When certain layers need to be selected, use the keyboard shortcuts: Alt+[ (PC) / Option+[ (Mac) to record a Select Backward Layer command, or Alt+] (PC) / Option+] (Mac) to record a Select Forward Layer command. This way, you'll avoid having the action stall when used on files with different layer names.
- Minimize the number of steps in an action by using dialog boxes wherever possible. For instance, if a new layer is to be duplicated and renamed, use the Duplicate Layer command in the Layer menu. That way the dialog box opens so that the layer can be named while creating the copy, and it's recorded as one step.
- Now, to create a simple action with an action stop. Click the New Action button in the Actions panel.
- Name the action in the dialog box and click Record.
- The red dot at the bottom of the Actions panel indicates that the action is being recorded.
- Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White.
- Name the layer in the dialog box, if you wish, and click OK.
- When an adjustment layer is created, the layer mask is active by default.
- Select the Gradient Tool [ ].
- Before dragging the gradient, go to the Actions panel menu and choose Insert Stop.
- A dialog box will open where a message can be written to prompt the user. There's also an option at the lower left to Allow Continue. If you don't want the action to continue without user input, make sure this option is not checked.
- Drag out the gradient, then go to the Actions panel and click Stop.
- Test the action by opening another image, selecting the action in the Actions panel, and clicking Play.
- When you see the message with the prompt, click Stop, drag through the image, then click Play in the Actions panel again to continue the action. (In this case, a Save As command was also added to the action to save the file to a different folder and change the file format to .psd.)