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Four Essential Steps to Speed Up Your Editing in Photoshop


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speed-up-editing-600x362 Four Essential Steps to Speed Up Your Editing in Photoshop Lightroom Tutorials Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

If editing your photos has become a time consuming chore, we are here to help.

There are a number of ways that Photoshop CS and CC users can speed up their editing.

  1. Start in Lightroom – Use Lightroom to organize, sort and cull your files – and ideally to fix exposure and white balance if necessary.  Of course you could edit your photos from beginning to end there, using our Lightroom Presets. But if you prefer the control of Photoshop, then consider starting in LR beforehand.
  2. Once in Photoshop Use Actions to Speed Up Your Workflow – Of course we sell actions, so you might be thinking, “obviously you would say that.”  Actions record a series of steps and play them back, so whether it is MCP actions or ones that you record on your own, if you do the same processes over and over to keep your edits consistent, they will save you time.
  3. Use Shortcut Keys While Editing – learn some of the most important shortcut keys.  We have a guide you can print out for free that lists built in shortcuts. Additionally you can assign actions to the F (function) keys on your keyboard.  Pick your favorite actions or even ones that can help.  Our keyboard is filled with them – from mix and match actions in Fusion to the Little Helpers (like the Group Everything, Flatten, and Convert to sRGB) in MCP Inspire Photoshop actions.
  4. Take Out Annoying Pop-Up Messages Inside of Actions – yep, we really said that.  When you first get a Photoshop action set, having pop-up directions helps for the more complex actions, especially ones where you need to paint on a photo with the black mask to activate the results. After you get used to using them, the directions that we build in can be super annoying and even slow you down with a few extra clicks.

Watch this video now to learn how to assign F key shortcuts to your actions and see how you can remove directions and pop-ups:

This demo uses MCP Inspire, but the same methods apply to all of our action sets.  Note: These two options are perks of full Photoshop and cannot be done in Elements.

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There are definitely other ways you can edit faster too.  Share some of your tips for speeding up your workflow in the comments below.


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  1. Kim DeLoach on May 28, 2009 at 9:04 am

    PREACH ON, SISTA!!!! LOVE this article-#1 pet peeve of mine! #1 hardest time to bite my tongue!

  2. Katy G on May 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Great advice…I recently got the MarkII and the pictures were good, but still didn’t know how to use it to get proper exposure manually until reading a book you recommended to me. So thanks! Now to convince my husband I NEED those L series lenses. 🙂

  3. Beth B on May 28, 2009 at 9:07 am

    You’re so right! Thanks for the reminder Jodi! (Although, I’m dying to get the 5DM2!)

  4. Jessica on May 28, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Very good point. I am struggling right now wanting the d700 and a 70-200mm lens…but I’m trying to hold off till fall. Thanks for reminding me that I do have some learning to do before I upgrade! 🙂

  5. Tanya on May 28, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Absolutely!! So true Jodi!

  6. Linde on May 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Amen to that!!! I HATE when people say “wow, that is a nice camera, I bet you take good pictures”. So, I took this picture and posted it on flickr.

    • admin on May 28, 2009 at 10:06 am

      That is awesome – thank you for sharing. LOVE IT!!!

  7. Renee on May 28, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Absolutely correct thanks for posting this!!

  8. Andrea Hughes on May 28, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Amen sister! I started out with a point shoot and wanted desperately to be a photographer. I got amazing photos on my point shoot. Then..I stepped it up and got a 40D. NIGHTMARE! I literally had no clue what I was doing. hunt to educate and start doing workshops. 2 years later…I’m proud of myself for seeking out workshops and learning from the pros. I can’t say enough about going to workshops and learning your camera…2 words: MANUAL MODE! Thanks for posting!

  9. Wendie D on May 28, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Well said Jodi…

  10. Emily Murdock on May 28, 2009 at 9:42 am

    In this time of “Anybody Can Be A Photographer, Just Buy A Good Camera,” the ONLY thing that will distinguish you as the best will be what you do with your camera, and whether or not you know how to use it. This is a post that is so full of truth! It really touches on one of my pet peeves about photography—people who dump a ton of money into expensive equipment, expecting that the investment alone will make them a good photographer. You are right, Jodi–a great photographer will be able to create art with any level of equipment, because it’s the talent and the knowledge combined that will create the art. Not the camera.

  11. Ginna on May 28, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I just heard that from my brother in law the other day. I didn’t really appreciate him attributing my “better” photos to a camera upgrade! Ah well.

  12. Stephanie on May 28, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I agree totally! I don’t even have a Canon or Nikon…mine is a Sony alpha 300!! I didn’t want to invest a lot of money when I started out last fall and I thought if it didn’t work, that at least I’d have a decent camera. Well, I have learned it and I enjoy it, but at some point I will invest in a Canon and learn it too. So, point, the best equipment doesn’t always equal the best photography! Even mediocre equipment has worked for me, for now! Thanks Jodi!

  13. Lisa on May 28, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Great post Jodi. I just stepped up to the 5dM2 and while I absolutely love it, I still feel great pride in the photos I took with my Rebel when I was just starting out. Good equipment is essential, but so is a great eye, patience, and solid technical knowledge.

  14. Kim on May 28, 2009 at 10:05 am

    SO very true.. I always get if I get that camera can I take pictures like yours? And I wish it was that easy.heck I am still learning .. great post.

  15. Molly Keyser on May 28, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Oh so true. I love when people laugh at me when i shoot with my 50mm prime lens cause its not HUGE looking. But when they see the photos they are always amazed.

  16. Megan@SortaCrunchy on May 28, 2009 at 10:43 am

    It took me getting a D40 and really LEARNING it to fully understand the truth of this – and to understand how offensive it is to say to a photographer.Here’s my question . . . I’ve heard photographers advise to start with an entry level camera and use that until you “outgrow it” and you feel you can no longer take the pictures you want to with the equipment you have. How do you know you have outgrown your equipment?I can’t wait to read your thoughts on editing/processing. Before I really learned some basics of photography, I would take crappy pictures thinking, “Oh, I’ll just fix it in PS.” Now my goal is take better shots so I need to do as little post-processing as possible. Not that I don’t like editing, I just don’t have TIME to edit poorly taken shots. Looking forward to hearing more on this!

  17. Kansas A on May 28, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Great post Jodi and so true! I have no idea who originally wrote this but I love it: The real difference between an average photo and an amazing photo, is the photographer, not the camera.

  18. Tiffany on May 28, 2009 at 10:46 am

    LOVED this post!!! It was very encouraging! Thank you for sharing your opinion…because it was very well said!!

  19. the BLAH BLAH BLAHger on May 28, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Really good stuff!!!!

  20. Amy Dungan on May 28, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Love this Jodi! I agree 100%. It makes me nuts when people say what a great camera I must have. They have no idea about the knowledge that is needed to get that shot they like so well.

  21. Deborah Israeli on May 28, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Bravo! ‘Nuff said. Though, after working in the field for 17 years professionally, I think I can get away with the 1DS MK III :).

  22. Sheila Carson Photography on May 28, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I completely agree. I shot with a Rebel XT for years. I have only just recently started to feel like I have outgrown it and need more from my camera. Now I’m starting to upgrade my equipment. I don’t think I would have really been ready for a professional camera a few years ago. I might not have thought so at the time, but knowing what I know now, I really think it would have been too much camera for me.What cracks me up is how people will say “oh, what a nice camera you have” when I have a long lens on it. The camera could be crap, but because they see this big lens on it they think it must be really nice. Great topic Jodi!

  23. Denise Olson on May 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    well said Jodi!!!!!!

  24. Beth @ Pages of Our Life on May 28, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Learning how to focus and metering and all that other stuff is right where I am at. Learning slowly but moving forward all the time. LOLThanks, for the reminder!

  25. Michelle on May 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Sing it! 🙂 I’m far from “there” yet but do have people comment on my camera being the reason I take good pictures. Yah… it’s not the 1000’s of pics I take and HOURS reading books & practicing. 😉 It’s not the 12 week class I’m taking… right. 🙂

  26. Elo on May 28, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    and here I was feeling jelous of my friend getting a d700.. I have a long way to go 🙂 thank you!

  27. gail on May 28, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    This is a great post.

  28. Kassia on May 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Amen. A friend/photographer once said to me (when I was lamenting about not being able to afford to upgrade my camera)… “It’s not the pots and pans that make the chef…” It was a little side comment that was meant to make me feel better in that instant, but it really stayed with me. In a field like photography where very often people judge you by the equipment you have, it meant a lot. And that goes both ways! 🙂

  29. Kelly Ann on May 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm <– WTD shirt, My camera takes really good pictures, I ain’t so bad either.Comic with the response to “Oh, you have an amazing camera. So that’s how you get such great photos.” =)

    • admin on May 28, 2009 at 3:05 pm

      Kelly – I am so adding that comic strip to the post – thank you for leading me to it!!

  30. Daniel Sullivan on May 28, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Another thing to consider is subject matter. Say you’re shooting a bowl of fruit, perfectly lit on a set. Is your camera and lens choice going to matter? Not that much. But let’s say your shooting a wedding ceremony in a the back of a very dark chruch. Pray that you don’t have a P&S!

  31. Nicole Haley on May 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I just got an email the other day saying the same thing so this post definitely made me laugh! It’s all so true. Thanks for posting!

  32. Andrea Adams on May 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    My favorite comparison is that no one told Van Gogh he must have nice brushes. Agreed that a good photographer can do more with better equipment (at least that is what I am telling my husband all the time), but the art is not in the equipment.

  33. honey on May 28, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    SOOOOOOO true! I hear it all the time. Years and years of practice and reading and it’s the camera. I can’t tell you how many times i hear that. I think that is what leads people to believe they can ask you to do so many things as a friend because they think it is nothing more than owning the camera. The talent at the time of the shoot is only part of it … how about all of the talent and time (not to mention your actions) that go into editing. Love the comic … killed me!

  34. Danielle on May 28, 2009 at 9:03 pm


  35. Rose on May 28, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I am a beginner, and this post is awesome! I have a Nikon D90 and really just want to know how to use it inside and out. As it is I shoot on manual mostly, but thanks alot of generous bloggers, I’m getting more creative and testing out different functions, and seeing what I can do with this camera. 🙂

  36. Johanna on May 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    happens all the time! I love wtd! thank you Jodi!! and the responses to that stupid comment are so great on the link from Kelly Ann above. I love the one…”I bought it at the same place DaVinci bought his paintbrushes.” now all I have to do is remember the smart comebacks! 🙂

  37. Jodi on May 29, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Oh – the other comment that “kills” me – is when I bring my camera to a school function – to get pictures of my kids… I always get asked’ “can you take one of my kids since you have the better camera.” OR even the principal or teachers asking, “since you have such a great camera can you just snap some of the event so that we can put some up in our classroom/office, etc.” I do not mind, but I much prefer when asked like this, “since you are an amazing photographer, can you…”Anyway, they assume it is one in the same. I mean shooting in a dark school multimedia room? I would love to hand the camera to someone (it has no flash) and see what they could do with it if they did not know photography. Fun experiment.Oh and then the post processing end… When you do that favor – they assume you just get home, dump them in an email. Nevermind the processing in LR and PS for say 100 school shots (yep – hours). It is the least I can do, but still, as photographers I know you will appreciate this.Jodi

  38. honey on May 29, 2009 at 9:47 am

    jodi, your last comment is so true. I ended up doing the whole yearbook because i have such a good camera. I love to volunteer but my husband swore if he woke up at 3am and saw me cloning zits off a 5th grader we don’t even know one more time …!!! Hours of your actions … I would be better off (much less work) running the pta!

  39. JM on May 29, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I’m so glad someone mentions this every now and then! As the end quote on all my email states:”If you buy a camera you’re a photographer. If you buy a piano…well, you just bought a piano” it is so appropriate nowadays when everyone has a digital camera. I know many who have purchased the latest and the greatest and have NO IDEA how to use the equipment–as an example one person I know still has the camera’s flash pop up whenever light is low…Anyway, great post.

  40. Kirsty-Abu Dhabi on May 29, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I’m totally with you – I never get pics of my whole family so at an event recently I handed my old D80 to a guy with a D300 saying “I thought I’d ask you to take a pic of my family as you look like you know what to do” oh no – big mistake – he took 3 photos and not one was in focus and I was gutted. a good camera means nothing…

  41. photography on July 14, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks, I enjoyed your post immensely. It’s nice to see someone writing something worth reading

  42. John Gillespie on October 16, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Great comments and great knowledge of photography. Thanks for sharing!

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