How to Not Lose Your Photoshop Actions

by | Sep 30, 2019 | Updates & Opportunities | 8 comments

The time had come.

Two weeks shy of four years of steady operation, my computer hard drive decided it was time to die.

Thankfully, most of my stuff was backed up. But it turns out that there was something I thought was backed up, but actually wasn’t.

My Photoshop Actions.

I don’t use Photoshop a ton, but there are certain rote processes that I do on a regular basis that Actions really help make go more efficently.

Well, as I was getting back into my normal grind after the crash, I noticed that all the custom Actions I had made over the years were missing.

No sweat, I thought. They’re probably in some AppData folder somewhere, like where Adobe stores most of its other presets.

So I looked, and looked . . . and looked, and looked, and looked!

And I couldn’t find them anywhere.

And that’s because, unknown to me, those presets never were saved anywhere. I had always figured that if I had created the Action in the program, the corresponding preset file would be automatically created behind the scenes as well. Not so. After you create an Action, you need to save it if you ever want to see it again after a hard drive failure.

(UPDATE: a friend who read this post contacted me and helped me find where the Actions were stored! So the above paragraph is not actually true, thankfully. While it still is a good idea to save your Actions as I describe below, I will also mention below where the presets are stored as my friend showed me.)

So, this is what you have to do:

  1. Create an Action Set (oddly enough, individual actions can’t be saved to your computer; it appears that only sets of Actions can be saved)
  2. Create an new Action inside the Action Set
  3. Select the Action Set
  4. Go to the Action pallet menu
  5. Choose “Save Actions…”
  6. Save the .atn file wherever you want on your computer

After this crash, I decided I would start saving little preset files like this in one location. That way, I won’t have to go searching through all those hidden program folders in my backups every time my hard drives crash. So I created a new folder in Documents called, “In Case of Emergency” and synced it up to be backed up online automatically using Google Drive.

Hopefully this will help recovering random files from a hard drive failure a little easier next time. Little details make a big difference sometimes.

The Little Guy

Harrison County, West Virginia

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UPDATE: Ok, so here’s what my friend showed me I needed to do to restore my Actions without having to save them beforehand. FYI, I had already tried to do this, but I had done the process in the wrong order, so here’s the correct order:

  1. Close Photoshop
  2. Navigate to the following location on your backup: Users\[user name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop [version]\Adobe Photoshop [version] Settings
  3. Copy the “Actions palette.psp” file
  4. Navigate to the following location on your computer: C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop [version]\Adobe Photoshop [version] Settings
  5. Paste the “Actions palette.psp” file (the pasted one should be larger than the current one)
  6. Reopen Photoshop

And you should now be able to see your old Actions! Thank you Ben for showing this to me. 🙂

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  1. Tara

    Very helpful, glade i found this. The only problem now is to find out if and where i have a back-up somewhere 😮

    • James Staddon

      Oh dear, sounds like you had a computer crash?

    • Eric

      Save actions is not active on my Macbook Photoshop 2022!! Don’t know why. Running Monterey 12.3.1.

      • Ezra Morley

        Hey Eric, it could be that the “Save Actions” menu item isn’t working because you need to first create an “Action Set”. Try creating a new Action Set and then see if you’re able to save your Actions to your hard drive.

  2. Debbie

    Thank you for this! I breathed a huge sigh of relief to be able to get years worth of my actions back from my Crashplan backup using these instructions!

  3. Mark Friedman

    Hi, in moving from CS6 to PS2022 I lost all my own actions that I have been using for years. I’m pon a Mac. I found the “actions palette.psp” files but am wondering if you happen to know where it should be pasted? The Mac file structure is different than what is described above.


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