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Speed Up Your Editing Process With Actions, AutoLoader and Shortcut Keys


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3 Ways to Save Time and Speed Up Editing

There are three things that have helped me create a faster photography workflow. MCP Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets, Autoloader, and programming shortcut keys.  As MCP’s tag line explains, they are a “shortcut to better photographs.” Actions perform a series of recorded steps that would otherwise take more time going step-by-step.

AutoLoader is my favorite editing companion to MCP’s Photoshop actions! It saves me an extraordinary amount of time, and I enjoy editing again. Visit here, here, and here to read a few archived articles about the program.

Read on here to learn how you can cut down on editing time and get your life back using both AutoLoader, actions and shortcut keys.

What is AutoLoader?

AutoLoader is a Photoshop workflow plugin created by MikeD Photoshop tools that handles tedious file management. It is compatible with any Windows PC or Mac running Photoshop CS3 through CS6. Once configured (it’s quick), AutoLoader moves the files you specify with a single keystroke and automatically performs the boring stuff (open, close, save, etc). It easily saves me hours a week in editing time and keeps my computer running efficiently during editing too.

Think about how much time it takes you to do the following each time you want to edit one photo: click File, then click Open, navigate to the correct folder, scroll and find the file you would like to open, click OK. When you’re done, you’ll have to click File, then click Save As, navigate to the correct folder, click OK, set JPEG options, click File, and then click Close. Whew! Even if it takes you 10 seconds to do that for each file, imagine how that time adds up after editing 350 images? It would be nearly an hour of just file management that just isn’t necessary.

How does AutoLoader work?

After it’s purchased, you install AutoLoader only once using the included instructions. Then you’ll give AutoLoader it’s own special shortcut key. I use the apple key plus the forward slash buttons as my shortcut because it’s easily accessible to me, but you could choose anything you like.

Next, you select the menu option “AutoLoader Set” which allows you to choose your loading folder, your saving folder, the types of files you’d like to edit, and your saving settings for your particular editing batch or project. If you prefer, you can also specify which action you’d like to run as soon as a file opens or you can select an action that will run immediately before saving. Here is an example of a setup that I would use when editing a client’s photos:

autoloader_set Speed Up Your Editing Process With Actions, AutoLoader and Shortcut Keys Guest Bloggers Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

What this example would do is open each JPEG file in the “Family Session – Original JPEGs” folder on my desktop and run MCP Fusion’s One Click Color action immediately upon opening. Once I was done tweeking the edit, I would use my shortcut key combination, the file would save automatically to the “Family Session – Edited JPEGs” folder on my desktop as a JPEG level 10 and then the second file in the “Family Session – Original JPEGs” folder on my desktop would open up immediately.

What other features can save me time?

I love how I can take a break from editing and AutoLoader remembers where I left off. It allows me to use an extra 10 minutes here and there instead of feeling like I need a large block of time to edit. AutoLoader does work with Bridge, if you prefer to manage your files using it. It also allows me to load my files in reverse order, if I need to. Small features, but very helpful!

AutoLoader opens each file one at a time so you don’t waste precious RAM with batched files open in the background. Your computer will be much faster this way.

I can also choose which types of files to load AND save. The plugin supports PSDs, TIFFs, and JPGs. (In case you’re wondering, AutoLoader does not load RAW images, and for good reason. For more information about why, I’d recommend checking out the creator’s explanation here.) Sometimes, I just want to tweek a certain set of JPEGs and save them as PSDs. AutoLoader will ignore the other file types in that folder for me! If I’m working on an album design and editing a variety of PSD files, I often wait until I’m done with the PSDs to save to JPEG versions. In this case, I learned that I can just point AutoLoader to my folder with the PSD files, specify a save folder and hit my AutoLoader shortcut a dozen times. If I need to re-size the files in the process, I can ask AutoLoader to do this for me by specifying a specific action to run. In 60 seconds, my re-sized JPEGs are ready to go!

How else can I save time editing in Photoshop? Use shortcut keys.

If you use the same actions over and over again, you can specify a shortcut for them as well. By right clicking an action in your action toolbar, you can specify “Action Options” as shown below. In this example, I have assigned the Color Fusion Mix and Match action to run when I press the F1 key on my keyboard.

action-shortcut Speed Up Your Editing Process With Actions, AutoLoader and Shortcut Keys Guest Bloggers Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

Here’s an example of how this might be useful: I use MCP Fusion’s Color Fusion Mix and Match action and B&W Fusion Mix and Match Photoshop actions frequently. However, I like to take a good look at my image before deciding whether to process it in color or black and white. Once my new image is loaded by AutoLoader, I look at my image and decide how I’d like to edit it. By making the color action F1 and the black and white action F2, I just have to click one button and my action begins running. Once I tweek the settings and am content with the image, I just have to hit my AutoLoader shortcut again and my next image comes up. I barely even touch my mouse.

In addition to setting shortcut keys for these two actions, I also like to set shortcut keys for other frequently used actions. For example, if I find myself correcting skin tone or brightening mid-tones often in a set of photos, I can create an action with that specific adjustment layer and run it with a shortcut as well. That way, all of the layers I need to play with are ready immediately.

This time saving tip works wonders whether you’re working with AutoLoader or not.

This sounds like just what I need, where can I purchase AutoLoader?

If you’d like to purchase AutoLoader, head over here to purchase your copy.

You won’t be disappointed! If you have any other time saving tips, please share with us in the comments.

This article was written by Jessica Rotenberg of Jess Rotenberg Photography. She focuses on natural light family and child photography in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can also find her on Facebook.

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No Comments

  1. Erin on July 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I loved this post! Thank you so much – I definitely need something to help speed up the editing process.A question though… do you typically save both the .pds file with all of your fusion layers, or do you just save the final .jpg version? I’ve been saving both just in case I need the .pds for something (although I rarely do). But I’m wondering if it’s necessary? From what you’ve said, it doesn’t look as though you save them.

    • Erin on July 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Definitely meant to type .psd not pds… 🙂 Coffee anyone?

  2. Jess on July 24, 2012 at 5:36 am

    I typically don’t save the psd files.I usually jot down what I do (as in which layers or actions I use) if it’s outside the ordinary edits I usually make with fusion actions. That way if I have to re-edit, I know what I did.

  3. Anna Hettick on July 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I love using actions!! I much prefer that to trying to edit from scratch myself. I only use Elements 10 (soon lightroom too!) so I was a bit bummed out that the Autoloader isn’t available for Elements…till I realized that Elements seems to have this already as a built in plugin. To be honest I haven’t yet used it but it looks very very similar!Shortcut keys are something I would love to learn!! I use a few very basic ones but I’d love to really know how to use them more!! I KNOW that would save time!! =)

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