How To Install Photoshop Actions & Brushes in Photoshop

How To Load Photoshop Actions

There is more than one way to install Photoshop actions into Photoshop.

The Easiest Method:

  • Simply double-click the .atn file.
  • Note: When you restart your computer actions installed this way tend to disappear.

The Best Method (to get your actions to stick):

  1. Save your actions in an easy to find location on your computer.
  2. Open Photoshop and go to the actions palette.
  3. If the actions palette is not visible, go to “Window”, then click “Actions” in the dropdown.
  4. In the top right corner of the actions palette, click on the small box containing an upside down triangle and 4 horizontal lines.
  5. From the drop down menu, select “Load Actions”.
  6. Navigate back to where you saved the actions and select the file ending in .atn.
  7. Click “Open” and your actions will load into the actions palette.

When the actions are loaded into the actions palette they will remain unless you delete the original folder where you saved the actions.

Video: How To Install Actions Into Photoshop CS2 – CS6

How To Use Photoshop Actions in Photoshop

How To Use Photoshop ActionsTo correctly run and use Photoshop actions, first make sure your Actions palette is open and visible.  If it is not visible, the go to “Window” and click on “Actions” from the dropdown menu.  With the Actions palette open and Greater Than Gatsby actions already loaded, follow these easy steps.

  1. Click the action you would like to run.
  2. Navigate to the Bottom of the Actions palette.
  3. Find the button shaped like a triangle lying on its side.
  4. Click the “Play” button and wait for the action to complete.


Once the action is complete, you can click the visibility “eyeball” next to the newly created layer and see the effect with and without the action being applied.

As an added bonus, Greater Than Gatsby actions include easy-to-follow explanations and guides built within each action, which become visible in the form of a pop-up message box when an action is run.

How To Modify The Effect Of A Photoshop Action in Photoshop

How To Modify The Effect Of A Photoshop ActionAll images are different and in most cases the default settings for an action will need to be tweaked to achieve the perfect look for your photo. There are two main ways to modify or customize a Photoshop action once it has been applied.

The most common method for adjusting the effect of a Photoshop action is to adjust the opacity of the entire layer group. You can select a layer group by clicking the “folder” icon next to an already run action within the layer palette. Once the layer group is selected, you can adjust the opacity by adjusting the intensity of the effect up or down.

The more detailed method for adjusting the effect of an action is to adjust the individual layers within the layer group. This requires a deeper understanding of the different components within the layer group, but the method for adjusting the opacity remains the same. Simply select the individual layer from within the group and adjust the opacity as needed.

Note: Actions will always work better on RAW images, simply because there is more information and data to manipulate. When actions are applied to a JPEG image, the effect can sometimes be overpowering. When this happens, you can simply reduce the opacity of an action’s layer to calm the effect.

How To Install Photoshop Actions in Photoshop Elements

how-to-load-actions-into-photoshop-elementsThere is more than one way to install Photoshop actions into Photoshop Elements.

The Easiest Method:

  • Simply double-click the .atn file.
  • Note: When you restart your computer actions installed this way tend to disappear.

The Best Method (to get your actions to stick):

  1. Save your actions in an easy to find location on your computer.
  2. Open Photoshop Elements and make sure you are in Expert mode.
  3. Go to the actions palette.
  4. If the actions palette is not visible, go to “Window”, then click “Actions” in the dropdown.
  5. In the top right corner of the actions palette, click on the small box containing an upside down triangle and 4 horizontal lines.
  6. From the drop down menu, select “Load Actions”.
  7. Navigate back to where you saved the actions and select the file ending in .atn.
  8. Click “Open” and your actions will load into the actions palette.

When the actions are loaded into the actions palette they will remain unless you delete the original folder where you saved the actions.

Video: How To Install Actions Into Photoshop Elements 11-15

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Joshua Hohweiler

16 thoughts on “How To Install & Use Photoshop Actions

  1. Patty says:

    How do you load actions under effects with thumbnails? I like to click on thumbnails versus clicking on actions and clicking play.

    • mm
      Joshua Hohweiler says:

      Hi Patty. Our PSE actions only load into the Actions palette which was introduced in version 11. Since the Effects palette is the older way of creating actions, we no longer offer them in our current sets.

  2. Anna says:

    I just purchased the Innocence Bundle and am using PSE 13. I thought everything uploaded correctly, but I am not seeing things that I saw in the tutorial. Things like re-touching the lips, adding blush, highlights to the hair. What am I missing?

    • mm
      Joshua Hohweiler says:

      Hi Anna. There are two files that you need to load if you bought the Innocence bundle (one is the retouch and the other is the workflow). The actions you are looking for are in the Innocence Retouch.

  3. Christine says:

    I previously ordered the innocence collection and somehow I found the innocence collection recipe guide which I absolutely love. I have now ordered the Three Nails, Editorial and Radiance collections…I am hoping there is a recipe guide for them? If so where would I locate it?
    Thank you very much

    • mm
      Joshua Hohweiler says:

      Hi Christine. Recipe guides are a new feature for us, and we currently have them for Innocence and Editorial. We are currently working on creating recipe guides for our other collections as well. You can find the recipe guides on the product page tabs.

  4. Christina says:

    Hi I recently purchased the innocence collection as well the wedding collection I’m not having any trouble with the innocence collection. I’m having trouble with the wedding collection file I can’t seem to open them in Photoshop. Any help please 🙂

    • mm
      Joshua Hohweiler says:

      Hi. The Wedding Collection is a Lightroom preset collection and won’t load into Photoshop because it’s not compatible.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Is there a way to turn off the pop up instructions to enable batch editing in Photoshop? I have to select continue for every file during the batch edit.

    • mm
      Joshua Hohweiler says:

      Hi. Yes, to turn off the pop-up commands, just go into the action and drag the word ‘Stop’ to the trashcan inside the actions palette.

  6. Mila says:

    Hi there. For Newborn Collection II – I used to be able to see Actions organized by colour and they were one-click. I have purchased a new computer and now that I load this collection into my photoshop, the actions are no longer one-click (you have to click on the action and then click play) and they are not organized by colour. Can you please help me to make it one-click and colour again? Thank you.

    • mm
      Joshua Hohweiler says:

      Hi. Yes, there is an Open Layer version and Standard (Closed Layer) version option for Elements users. Since you cannot open and close action folders at will like you can in the full version of Photoshop, we give you two options based on how you prefer to edit. The standard version keeps your action folder closed and you can only adjust the overall action opacity, but it keeps your layers palette simple and clean. For those that want to adjust the individual layers inside each action, the Open Layers version exposes all the layers inside the folder.

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