Using the Image Processor

All of the methods we've discussed, while incredibly flexible, share a specific limitation. They produce just one instance or version of the processed image file. Photoshop's Image Processor is unique in that it can save up to three versions of the original image file, at different sizes in a choice of JPEG, PSD or TIFF formats. From a single image you can optimize output for print, slideshow and web, for example. Image Processor can even include an action to be run on the images. Here's how to use it.

1. Go to File>Script>Image Processor. If you
are working in Adobe Bridge, go to Tools>
Photoshop>Image Processor.
2. Click the Select Folder button to specify the
the images to be processed. Here I've chosen
a folder of images on an external hard drive.

Understanding the dialog's 'Open first image to apply settings' box is crucial if you are processing raw images. Checking this box will open the initial image in ACR so that  you can then adjust image settings to taste. These exact values will be used on all of the remaining raw images. Leave this box unchecked and instead of presenting the ACR dialog, the Image Processor will honor all existing ACR settings for each image or use the default ACR settings if no custom settings exist. If you've previously made individual adjustments to all of your selected raw files, this option makes the most sense.

3. If you checked the 'Open first image to
apply settings' box, make the desired edits
to the image that opens in ACR. These same
values will be applied to all remaining images.
4. Specify a location to save the processed
images. If you choose the 'Save in Same
Location' option, a sub-folder for each file
format (shown here) is automatically created.

Image Processor's Resize to Fit option is perhaps the tool's most useful feature. That's because in the boxes for pixel width and height (shown below) you specify maximum, not absolute dimensions. Image Processor will then resize the image's longest dimension while maintaining its original aspect ratio. The upshot is that you can set one specification that works for both horizontal and vertical images.

5. Set identical pixel dimensions for both width and height. The image's longer dimension will be set to the specified value with the shorter dimension maintaining its proportional value.
6. Select any combination of JPEG, PSD or TIFF files to be generated from the same original image. If your JPEG is destined for the web, you should check the Convert Profile to sRGB box.
7. Select a prerecorded action to run by choosing an action set in the left drop-down menu (expanded here) and then selecting your desired action.

7. You can type in copyright data which will be embedded in the image's metadata. It will not appear onscreen as a watermark.

8. I always recommend selecting the Include ICC profile option.

9. Click the Run button and the Image Processor applies your selected action, creating as many separately-sized versions as you've specified.

Any settings you’ve made in Image Processor can be reused by clicking the Save button near the top of the dialog. This will generate an XML file that you can save to any available hard drive. To recall these settings in the future, simply hit the Load button and navigate to this same XML file.


Ellen Anon is the co-author of Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers; A Workshop in a Book (Anon & Anon, Sybex 2010.)