The Forgotten Timesaver: Photoshop Droplets

Many moons ago Adobe saw fit to include a feature that would make batch processing images faster and easier. Droplets are a very handy thing to have, especially when a client sends over a disc full of images that need processing. In this tutorial I’ll demonstrate at it’s simplest form how to create your own droplet.

These instructions are for Photoshop CS3 but if I remember the previous versions correctly they should work for those as well. Dare I say Photoshop CS4 probably hasn’t changed the way droplets are handled either, but if anyone knows for sure feel free to correct me in the comments.

This is a 2 part process that involoved creating an action and then creating a droplet from the action.

Part 01: Create an action

Start by creating a folder on your C drive called processed.

Load Photoshop and open a photo. In the Actions Palette (ALT and F9) press the Create New Action button. In the dialog that appears give the action a suitable name – I’m going to call it 800 wide optimised that way I will know what it’s purpose is later on, and also because for this action I plan to make the images 800 wide and save them optimised for web. Click OK.

Now you need to alter the image. Press CTRL, ALT and I to bring up the resize dialog. Enter a new value in the Width field. I am going to make mine 800 and make sure the Constrain Proportions option is ticked. Click OK.

Next, press CTRL, Shift and S to view the Save As dialog and change any settings you want to optimise your image. Browse to the folder you made earlier called processed and click Save.

Close the image in Photoshop and click the Stop button in the Actions Palette.

Part 02: Create the droplet

The next stage is the easiest. Go to File menu, Automate, and select Create Droplet.

In the dialogue that appears, hit the Choose button and browse to the location where you want to save your droplet. I’ll use my desktop. Give the droplet a name that describes the action is best – usually the same name as the action is suitable so in this case I’ll call it 800 wide optimised.

Now from the Action list selection the action you created earlier (800 wide optimised). Make the remaining options the same as I have below. Click OK.

droplet_01.gif

Congratulations on making your first Photoshop Droplet. On your desktop you should see an icon that looks like this:

droplet.gif

Take it for a test drive

To use it, find a picture or folder full of pictures on your computer that you want to resize and drag it onto the droplet located on your desktop. Photoshop will automatically launch and do the rest.

When completed, look inside your processed folder and you will find all your images optimised and resized to 800 pixels wide.

By following these steps you can create droplets for many different tasks, and they will save you oodles of time when you have to process a lot of images.

Droplets are also handy because you can create one for a client who has Photoshop and get them to do their own batch processing. They will have to create a folder in C drive called processed for it to work though.

The idea is you can create a whole bunch of droplets for tasks that you repeat often, like resizing images, colour correcting, applying a custom watermark, or anything else that comes to mind. If it can be done as a Photoshop action, it can be converted into a droplet.

Now I know you’re probably thinking “Hey Web Guy! Why don’t I just run the action from within Photoshop instead?”. Truth be told there is nothing stopping you from doing that. But for the sake of convenience and for the ability to share them, droplets become an attractive alternative.

Too easy.

Who is That Web Guy?

Michael is a veteran web designer / developer / usability evangelist, practitioner of W3C guidelines, occasional judge for the Australian Web Awards (2011, 2012, 2013) and creator of Task Rocket.

  • Harmony

    Another great tutorial from you, thank you :) I use Actions constantly, and sometimes batch commands, but I must admit I’ve never used a Droplet – I’m going to give it a try.

    On a related note I assign function keys to all my Actions (F2, F3 etc) to make image editing that much faster.

    Looking forward to your next post! I love that this blog is about quality not quantity, I’d much rather read this sort of article any day than yet another “30 free photoshop brushes” ;)

    Harmony

    http://www.harmonysteel.com

    http://www.alarinmusic.com

  • That Web Guy

    Thanks for the terrific compliment Harmony.

  • Josh

    I’ve been using photoshop for a while, but never used actions or created a droplet. This post will save me a ton of time in the future. Another great post, thanks Web Guy!

  • Greg Molyneux

    Now this was a great tip! This will be a lifesaver for some of my clients.

  • JJ Mason

    Why haven’t I known about this before?!!? Thanks for a fantastic tip.

  • dELICIOUS

    the thing is,for expample, you need to resize pictures of the team of your client or whatever, it can happen that one guy is more to the right and another one more to the left/top…

    if you really care for your client and want to do good(!) work, there is no coming around at editing the images by your hand.

    just telling that it is not really the best solution. I hope you understand what I mean.

  • That Web Guy

    Absolutely, and there are some times when hand cropping is the best solution, but for every other time there are droplets.

    I’d like to think nobody would think about running a batch of staff photos through a droplet anyway, unless of course my some miracle the subjects are all in the exact same position and hight.

    Don’t discount droplets though. If you aren’t using them, or at least actions in part of your workflow then you’re doing yourself a disservice.

  • Angelina

    Noice! Will they work on older versions of photoshop and can older droplets work on newer versions?

  • That Web Guy

    I couldn’t tell you for sure, but as droplets are basically just Adobe scripts, I’d say that as long as they don’t contain functions that are incompatible with earlier versions of Photoshop, it should be fine.

    Talking the other direction, I’d also hazard a guess that droplets made on older versions of Photoshop would work on newer versions.

    It’d be good if anyone could actually verify either of those scenarios though.

BTT