If you work regularly in Photoshop, there’s a good chance you’ve employed actions to make your work easier. An action is a series of commands that perform automatically, just like a macro in Microsoft Word or Excel. Typically, you play an action from a recorder-like console in the Action Palette.
But to make an action more accessible and even simpler to use, why not turn it into a droplet, a cool little program that will perform Photoshop actions on any file, from anywhere? Just drag and drop the original image on a Desktop droplet icon.
This month we show you how to create a droplet from an action and provide tips for using it. For this tutorial, you need basic familiarity with Photoshop actions. Also, operating droplets requires lots of free RAM to run properly. If you have difficulty getting your droplets to perform properly, try restarting your PC to free up some RAM.
Collect Practice Images
Before you begin, create a folder on your Desktop called Droplets. Copy an image or two here to practice with; we’re using a Web page mock-up in the PSD format (Photoshop’s proprietary file format) that we need to convert to PDF (Portable Document Format). But you can use any image file.
Create The Droplet
Again, you can create a droplet from any action, but we’ll be working with the Save As PDF action, one of many available by default in Photoshop. Go to File, Automate, Create Droplet. This will open the Create Droplet dialog box.
First, in the Save Droplet In section, click the Choose button and select the Desktop as the destination for the droplet application. Name the droplet createPDF.exe. In the Play section, under Set, click the drop-down menu and choose Default Actions. Under Action, click the arrow and select Save As Photoshop PDF. Leave the optional checkboxes empty.
In the Destination section, select Folder, click Choose, and select a directory for the new file to appear in. Specifying a new folder for the new file isn’t necessary, but depending on the type of file you’re creating, saving to a new folder protects against overwriting an original image. The Save And Close option places the new file in the same folder as the original. The None option lets you manually choose a destination for the file when the action runs.
Next, under File Naming, keep the default file-naming convention. Under Compatibility, check the options for Mac and Unix compatibility if the potential users of this PDF file run Mac or Unix operating systems. Under Errors, keep the default selection to Stop For Errors.
Finally, click OK. The droplet you’ve created appears as an arrow-shaped Photoshop icon on your Desktop.
Use The Droplets
If you wondered why this little application is called a droplet, it’s time to find out. Minimize Photoshop. Open the Droplets folder on your Desktop, then drag and drop (get it?) your Photoshop image onto the droplet icon.
Although droplets run actions automatically, you’ll still be prompted to provide input. This particular action prompts you to save the file (where you can type in a new file name if you wish), then to specify JPEG (lossy) or ZIP (lossless) compression encoding. If the image has large sections of single colors, like our Web mock-up, use ZIP. Otherwise, click JPEG and select the file quality you want. Check the Image Interpolation box if you expect someone will print the PDF. Click OK.
More About Droplets
When using a droplet, you do not need to open Photoshop first; dropping a file on the droplet will do that for you.
You can create your own actions, but Photoshop comes with many predefined sets. Some handy actions in the Production set include Save As GIF89a (transparent GIF) and Save As JPEG Medium.
To create droplets from actions other than those in the default set, first you may need to add new ones to the Actions Palette. Go to Window, Show Actions. Click the right arrow in the Actions Palette and select Load Actions. Select a set and click Load.