Photoshop Scripts: Hidden Magic

Mindy Wagner, Former Design Director

Article Category: #Design & Content

Posted on

This one's going to be short and sweet, unlike most of my posts. I just wanted to share a little something that I find myself using daily in Photoshop: Scripts

The ability to script Photoshop started all the way back in version 7, but still doesn't get the attention it deserves. Most people don't know it even exists, and fewer still realize it's possible to write your own custom scripts to automate tedious tasks. There are a few great resources out there if you're so inclined. If not, you can still take advantage of the ones that come pre-loaded and others available freely on the web.

Pre-loaded Scripts

Photoshop comes with a few handy scripts right out of the box. You can find them under File > Scripts. The one I use most often is:

Layer Comps to Files

This one does exactly what it says, outputting your Layer Comps to separate files. If you have never used Layer Comps, read up! They're a pretty fantastic way to create "snapshots" of your comp in various states. The script makes outputting those snapshots fast and simple. You can output to various file types including PSD, PDF, and JPEG. If you have clients who like to see everything in PDF format, there's also "Layer Comps To PDF" which outputs the layer comps into a single PDF document with multiple pages.


Add-On Scripts

Photoshop scripters have been generous, sharing freely and even writing scripts that people request. A few worth looking at:

Remove Copy From All Layers

I use this daily, and get giddy just thinking about it. Before installing this script I would manually go through and remove the word "copy" from dozens of layers every day. I HATE that Photoshop adds the word copy to a layer automatically when you duplicate something. HATE. But I love that I can run a script at the end of the day and get rid of all those ugly add-ons. It removes the word copy and also the number next to it, so "mylayername copy 12" becomes simply "mylayername".

Read more and download the script.

NOTE: In CS5, you can opt to turn this off. In your Layers palette click the button on the right for more options. Toward the bottom, you'll see Panel  Options. Select that and you get a dialog box that looks like this:

Layer Palette, CS5

Make sure the Add "copy" to Copied Layers and Groups box is unchecked.


Delete Empty Layers

Another layer palette clean-up script, this one gets rid of any layers that have no pixel content in them. Which happens more than you might think, especially when the text tool comes out.

Read more and download the script.


Close Without Saving

Close one or more documents without saving - and without going through the prompt twenty times. This one is nice for times when you've opened a ton of images and done some futzing but just want to close out of everything. Use with caution, since it does exactly what it says - closes without saving. 

Read more and download the script.


These are small improvements, but they add up to a less tedious workflow. Which means a much happier Mindy. If something bugs you every day, a script might be the solution.

Do you have scripts you find useful for everyday tasks? I'd love to hear what everyone else is using!


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