Why and How to Record Steps with Messages in Photoshop Actions

Why and How to Add Messages to Photoshop Actions

Actions are one of the coolest features in Adobe Photoshop. Even simplest action can save tons of time and make the user happy. However, sometimes actions can start to be more complex while other times some requirements must be met before running action for a batch process, for example, as in this situation posted on Adobe Forums. The problem is solved with some effort and testing which requires time and brain muscles. Chances are that exactly the same action can do the job in the near or far feature. Instead of multiple tests runs and expands to read steps and understand action, wouldn't be easier to add a reminder (message) at the beginning of action which will inform the user how the action works or what requirements should be met to successfully run action? That's the point where I want to draw your attention to option Insert Stop when recording the action. This option allows you to add even multiple messages anywhere inside the action. The message can inform/remind user(s) and save them a time or avoid frustrations which come with action fail.

Why add messages when recording Photoshop actions

Messages can be useful when recording actions for personal use but also and very important when recording actions to share or for mass distribution. There are options to allow continue after displaying a message or to disallow and stop action at that point (step). There are a couple of things that can be achieved using messages inside Photoshop actions:

  • To remind/inform user or yourself about requirements to successfully play action. Depend on the action, the requirement can be only one layer in the document, some specific layer/layer mask selected, the path in the paths panel present, minimum or maximum allowed dimensions and so on.
  • To inform the user what is the next step and what action/choice is expected from his side. There are many dialogs with multiple options in Photoshop so it can be useful to inform the user which options to customize, for example. 
  • To ask the user to do something then to resume playing action. Action can perform an unlimited number of steps and sometimes action will require some user input or customization like to position specific layer, to indicate area using selection tools or to brush on a separate layer and so on...


From my personal experience, it is extremely useful to use messages for both: actions for personal use and actions for mass distribution. Never assume that detailed explanation with video tutorial or easy of use will do the job. It is better to add a message and inform the user how to turn step with message off then to skip message and believe that users will watch a tutorial or understand where the problem is. Believe it or not, the problem will occur regardless of action simplicity or amount of user input.

How to add messages when recording Photoshop action

To add a message as a step in Photoshop action do the following:

  • Select step after which you want to add a message. Without any step selected step with the message will be placed as the last step in action.
  • Click on Actions panel menu then click on Insert Stop...
  • Type your message in the text field. 
  • Check Allow Continue if you want to display a message and allow the user to continue playing action immediately after reading your message.
  • Click OK button and you are done.
  • To reposition Stop step with a message just click on it and drag on a new position.
  • To change message double click on Stop step, retype message then click OK button.
Add step with message in Photoshop action
Steps to add action step with message in Photoshop and to reposition it as needed.



Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

Reference:
Creating actions

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