In the user forums at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, we get many questions from users who are trying to batch process multiple images. Typically, the object is to convert a bunch of images – from several files to several hundred files. The conversions may be oriented to a specific file type, such as TIFF or JPG, or to a specific size, such as a low res output for proofs, email or web thumbnails, or to perform a specific action such as sharpening or adding a watermark.
The first place people tend to look when confronted with these sorts of tasks is Photoshop’s Batch processing capability. While the Batch command will allow you to perform all these activities, there is an easier way already built into Photoshop – and it is available from Bridge. It is a script, called the Image Processor.
The Image Processor script has several advantages compared to the Batch command. For starters, the Image Processor (we’ll call it “IP” for short) has a great deal of capability already built in, and you can get a lot of work accomplished without creating a single action at all! The IP will allow you to do all of the following easily:
- Create a new file in either JPG, TIFF, or PSD, or all three simultaneously.
- Places the output in a folder of your choosing, creating subfolders for each file type you choose.
- Processes any type of file Photoshop can open, including Camera Raw – use it to create JPG output from your raw files, including adjustments you’ve made.
- Resize your images to fit within a specified maximum boundary you set.
- Convert to sRGB color profile automatically for the web.
- Include Copyright metadata in the output images.
You can run an action as well, as part of the processing, if you choose!
You can run IP from Photoshop, or from Bridge. Running this script from within Bridge allows us another huge advantage over running it from Photoshop:
- Process any set of files you have selected within Bridge. This can include part of a folder, or the results of a search, or a collection.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the details of how we can put Image Processor to work. First, just for grins, we’ll look at the Photoshop implementation of IP. Then we’ll jump over to Bridge and see how it blows Photoshop out of the water.
In Photoshop, choose File > Scripts > Image Processor… and you will get the following dialog box (we’re just looking at the top part of it for now). Check out section (1), “Select images to process:”
As you can see, within Photoshop, we have several options:
- Use Open Images – if you have images already open in Photoshop, this option is active and you can choose it. Otherwise, it is greyed out.
- Select Folder… – This allows you to choose an entire folder of images from your hard drive. It will select every image in the folder.
- Include All sub-folders – checking this box this will select not just the selected folder, but every image in every subfolder beneath the one you’ve selected.
- Open first image to apply settings – check this box if you are opening a series of camera raw images and want to adjust settings, such as white balance, and have it applied to the entire group of images (not very useful, in my opinion).
Within Photoshop, that’s what you get.
Let’s now consider Bridge, and from here on out we will work with Bridge. We’ll take the IP script one step at a time, and make quick work of it.
Part 1 – Select the images to process
In Bridge, start the process by selecting the images first. You can use any means of selection at your disposal within Bridge. Control/Command click to select individual images, or use Ctrl-A/Command-A to select all with in a folder. Or, create a search and select photos from the results of the search. Or, go to your Collections panel and choose one, several or all files from a collection.
With Bridge, the sly is the limit. Any method of selecting files is fair game. Once you’ve selected your files, from the Bridge menu, choose Tools > Photoshop > Image Processor…:
Notice that Section (1) is now changed. Gone are all the options for selecting photos (you’ve already done that in Bridge). The only option left is the checkbox for opening the first image to apply settings. The rest is already done. Notice that the dialog is now hard-wired to “Process files from Bridge only” – that is exactly what we want.
On to the next step…
Part 2 – Select location to save processed images
In this part, we tell IP where we want the output files to go. You have two basic choices, one being to place them in the same folder, the other being to place them at some other location of your choosing.
In either case, IP will create a subfolder based on the type of file we ask to export (in the next step). Here is our dialog box showing part 2:
As you can see, we have our radio buttons with the two choices mentioned above. When you click on Select Folder, you get the standard system dialog allowing you to choose a folder for output, or create one on the fly. In this case, I’ve selected a folder called “To E-Mail” in my personal folders. We’re ready to move on to….
Part 3 – File Type
This third section is where the work happens, and this is the most complex part of the dialog. We’ll break it apart to see what is happening. Here’s what it looks like:
Under this section, there are three main areas separated by ruled lines. These three areas are activated by the checkboxes, and represent the three types of files that IP can create:
- Save as JPEG – this will create a sub-folder named “JPEG” and will save converted files in that subfolder. There are three options within the JPEG selection:
- Quality – this is a number from 1 to 12 representing the JPEG quality setting.
- Convert Profile to sRGB – Converts the color profile to sRGB on output. This is useful for web and email.
- Resize to Fit – this will constrain the output image to a maximum dimension. Note that the image remains proportional, this will NOT stretch or distort your image. It simply defines the largest dimension that your final image must fit within.
- Save as PSD – this will create a sub-folder named “PSD” and will save converted files in that subfolder.
- Maximize Compatibility – saves a composite (flattened) version of a layered image for compatibility with programs that can’t read layers (such as Lightroom).
- Resize to Fit – same as above.
- Save as TIFF – this will create a sub-folder named “TIFF” and will save converted files in that subfolder.
- LZW Compression – compresses the TIFF file on saving.
- Resize to Fit – same as above.
Note also that these three file type are checkboxes – you can enable any one, two, or all three at once, and IP will create the output formats you choose!
Part 4 – Preferences
In this section, we have a few miscellaneous options that we can enable, some of which are quite useful:
Run Action – this is an option, it is not required, but can be useful. In this example, you can see I’ve set IP to have Photoshop run my watermark action.
Copyright Info – Here you can enter information which will be written directly into the Copyright field of the image’s metadata. Convenient! However, if you’ve followed my series of tutorials on applying copyright metadata automatically, you probably don’t need this 🙂
Include ICC Profile – this option will embed the color profile in the image as it is created. This is important if you are planning to use the image as part of a color-managed workflow.
Let ‘Er Rip!!!
Now, we’re ready to roll. Just click the “Run” button and watch Photoshop do its thing. Or better yet, go have a cup of coffee, or move along to the next job, because this one is taking care of itself! Here’s the dialog, ready to run. In this case, I’ve set IP to save a series of JPEG files for me, in a folder called “To E-Mail,” with quality 10 and a maximum dimension of 800 pixels on either side. They’ll be watermarked, copyrighted, and will be saved in a subfolder called “JPEG.”
Finally, notice the two buttons we didn’t cover? “Load…” and “Save…”? You may have figured out by now, that once you have all these settings the way you want, you can Save them off to a file, and re-load them again later… for an extra-speedy process.
It’s just that simple!
I hope you enjoyed and benefited from this little demonstration of some of the hidden power of Bridge, and the Image Processor script.