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Photoshop Friday! Batch Processing in Photoshop Elements: Resize and Watermark

Hi there! Happy Photoshop Friday! 

Well, we have an incredible list to work from, don’t we? :D In the coming weeks I’ll be parsing out your comments and addressing the major topics in various ways, whether through online classes at my site, or through my column at CK, or here in Photoshop Friday (or some other way, still to be determined. ;)).

I nabbed one that seemed to come up fairly regularly in the first few hundred comments: how to process multiple files and add a watermark. This is a fun one, and while it’s not specifically about digital scrapbooking, there are lots of uses for PSE’s batch processing capabilities.

Batch Processing in Photoshop 

There are several reasons why batch processing is awesome. These include the fact that pretty much a lot of the resize and save procedures in Photoshop are exacly the same, and could be done by a smart button-pushing monkey as well as anyone else. And they probably make you feel about like that by the end as well.

The full version of Photoshop allows you to run ANY action on a folder of images, or on all your opened images. You can check that out under File > Automate > Batch. For example, I’ve created a “Web-i-size” action (using the Actions palette under Window > Actions) that resizes the file to 72 dpi, changes the color mode to sRGB, and runs a low-intensity sharpen on it. Most of the time that’s good enough for a web photo, and it’s quick and easy to run it on a bunch of files at once. Best part of CS3 is that the files remain open for you to tweak afterward (you’ll see that this isn’t the case with PSE).

Photoshop Elements, on the other hand, is somewhat more limited in the number of things it’ll let you do in a batch. These are:

  • Rename files
  • Resize files (that’s what we’ll do today)
  • Add watermark text (text only, no graphics)
  • Perform PSE’s “smart fixes”, such as Auto Levels, Auto Color, Auto Contrast, and Sharpen

As I mentioned before, if you are targeting a set of open images, PSE will force you to select a folder to drop them in, and will close them after the action is performed. Puzzling, but true.

Shall we explore the batch processing capabilities in Photoshop Elements? Yes! Lets! First we’ll go through what the whole thing does, and then I’ll show how I use it myself.

What Does This Thing Do? 

1. Open some photos. I always like to actually see the pictures I’m working with before I run them through the batch process.

2. Go to File > Process Multiple Files. You get this fancy dialog box here


For a full-size screen shot, click on this one: 

Click for Larger

 Okay. Let’s break down the areas of this box and what they do.

1. Process files from: Choose Opened Files (assuming you have actually opened photos at this point)

2. Destination: Here’s the part I warned you about, where Photoshop forces you to pick or create a folder to put these images in. I chose my desktop for ease of explanation here.

3.  File Naming: If you wanted to rename all your files in a sequence, you can do that in the File Naming area. For example, you could open all your Reunion pictures (or conceivably have them in their own folder somewhere on your computer), and you’ll tell Photoshop that this batch of Photos should all be called “Reunion”, and it will rename them and add a sequence number to the back. Nice if you work in batches and care about this. I never have, but who knows? :D

4. Image Size: This is the important one. Here is the equivalent of my “Web-i-Size” action I told you about earlier. You have some choices to make, though.

  • If you’ve opened all horizontal or all vertical pictures, you can set them to be an exact height or width (say you know your blog width is 450 pixels wide), check the Constrain Proportions checkbox, and leave the height parameter blank. Then drop down the Resolution box and choose 72.
  • If you’ve opened a combination of horizontal and vertical photos, and you simply want them to be sized more web-friendly, leave all the Height and Width parameters blank, and simply set the Resolution to 72.

5. File Type: If you’re dealing with digital photos, the Image Size area should be enough to make your photo web-friendly. If you still would like to compress it, you can set the File Type to give you a Low, Medium, or High Quality .jpg (this is the equivalent of the File Type dropdown you see when you go to File > Save for Web). Feel free to leave this checkbox unchecked and no change will be made to your file type (which is probably a .jpg anyway, so you’re good.)

6.  Quick Fix. This lets you apply any of PSE’s “quick fix” tools to your photos. Sight unseen, and without the ability to tweak or modify. Make you nervous? Makes me nervous, too. But if you typically don’t do ANY editing to your photos at all, or you’re just sending a quick batch of pics to Grandma, try these out to see how they work. Especially the Sharpening one, which is the only one on this list I’ll ever use, I think.

7. Labels: Click on the  word Labels to drop down PSE’s watermarking functionality. Set the type to Watermark, and then fill in the blanks with what you’d like printed over your photo. No images here - just text - but you get all your fonts, any color you want, and you can set the opacity.

My Workflow

So how do I actually use it?

Here is how I set up my batch processing.

1. I open and edit my photos. See #6 above if you never edit pictures.

2. Go to File > Process Multiple Files.

3. In the Process Multiple Files dialog box,  set the following parameters:


  • Process multiple files from: Opened files
  • Destination: A folder on my system that I’ve called WebPics, which (shockingly) I store all my Web-sized photos in.
  • File Naming: Unchecked
  • Resize Images: Width 300 (all of my photos in this batch are vertical, otherwise I’d leave this blank); Resolution 72 dpi; Constrain proportions is checked
  • File Type: JPEG High Quality
  • Quick Fix: Sharpen is checked
  • Labels: Watermark; Custom text is my name; centered, Variex font, 24 pixels, 50% opacity, white.

When I click OK, Photoshop flickers for a few seconds, and then all my images disappear.

Disconcerting? Yeah. A bit. Not only am I sort of impatient and want to see the things already, I most likely want to keep fiddling with them too, right? Maybe this will prevent us fiddlers from fiddlin’. You can go into your Web Images folder and see what you get! It’s like Christmas, right? :P

Here’s what I got with these settings:




They came out nicely! The auto-sharpening even did a pretty nice job as well, I think.

The Tradeoff: Automation vs. Control 

How much automation you like probably depends on how much control you like - and there is the tradeoff. For me personally, I would never print or scrap a photo that I had only run through a batch process and hadn’t seen and tweaked myself. On the other hand, if you’re a busy scrapbooker and you’re looking for some quick ways to enhance whole groups of photos, the Quick Fix section of this Process Multiple Photos dialog box might be just the thing you’re looking for.

Remember that you don’t need to use this only to resize for the web - you can resize photos to 300 dpi 5x7s if you want. It’s all up to you. 

So, how is this useful?

If you’re a blogger, this tool as a web-resizer has instant usefulness. If you email pictures to anyone, again, pretty useful. You could even use this for printable files: just throw it at a folder you’re getting ready to upload to your online developer and convert them all to 5x7s, for example.

But what about pointing this at an entire folder of your printable .jpg digital layouts and creating a huge pile of web-sized files to share in an online gallery? Utter coolness, and in only a few seconds. (Just make sure you make your Destination a DIFFERENT folder than your original, ok? Ok.)

I think the watermark adds a cool, sophisticated touch (kind of that professional sort of feel. And so super easy with a batch process.

I hope you’ve found this information useful. There are lots of ways to use this tool, I think, to automate some of the smart-money processes we sometimes find ourselves repeating over and over in Photoshop. :)

Have a super, Phabulous Photoshop Phriday and a great weekend!


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